Windows 10 is a personal computer operating system released by Microsoft as part of the Windows NT family of operating systems. It was officially unveiled in September 2014 following a brief demo at Build 2014. The first version of the operating system entered a public beta testing process in October 2014, leading up to its consumer release on July 29, 2015, and its release to volume licensing on August 1, 2015. To encourage the adoption of Windows 10, Microsoft announced that during its first year of availability, upgrades to the operating system would be made available free of charge to users of genuine copies of eligible editions of Windows 7, and Windows 8 after update to Windows 8.1.
Windows 10 introduces what Microsoft described as a “universal” application architecture; expanding on Metro-style apps, these apps can be designed to run across multiple Microsoft product families with nearly identical code—including PCs, tablets, smartphones, embedded systems, Xbox One, Surface Hub and HoloLens. The Windows user interface was revised to handle transitions between a mouse-oriented interface and a touchscreen-optimized interface based on available input devices—particularly on 2-in-1 PCs; both interfaces include an updated Start menu that blends elements of Windows 7’s traditional Start menu with the tiles of Windows 8. The first release of Windows 10 also introduces a virtual desktop system, a window and desktop management feature called Task View, the Microsoft Edge web browser, support for fingerprint and face recognition login, new security features for enterprise environments, and DirectX 12 and WDDM 2.0 to improve the operating system’s graphics capabilities for games.
Microsoft described Windows 10 as an “operating system as a service” that would receive ongoing updates to its features and functionality, augmented with the ability for enterprise environments to receive non-critical updates at a slower pace, or use long-term support milestones that will only receive critical updates, such as security patches, over their five-year lifespan of mainstream support. Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group, argued that the goal of this model was to reduce fragmentation across the Windows platform, as Microsoft aimed to have Windows 10 installed on at least one billion devices in the two to three years following its release.