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Windows 10 – six months in

Windows 10 is officially six months old. Find out about its key features.

indows 10 is now six months old, which means that Microsoft’s operating system is already halfway through its time of being offered as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

Read on to find out more about Windows 10, including how to get it and the key features, including Microsoft’s new holographic computing system ‘HoloLens’.

Laptop reviews – discover your perfect Windows 10 machine

Windows 10 – a free upgrade

Back in 2014 we called on Microsoft to make Windows 10 a free upgrade for any Windows 8 customers, as an apology for leaving many of them feeling frustrated and isolated by the operating system.

The good news is that Windows 10 is indeed offered as a free upgrade to existing users of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 until the end of July 2016. However, owners of Windows XP and Vista will have to pay £100 for the upgrade, as will everyone once the initial free period expires.

Windows 10 – five key features

Windows 10 Start Menu
The new Windows 10 Start menu combines ideas from Window 7 and 8.1.

A universal approach – With Windows 10, Microsoft is looking to create a touch-first experience across PCs, tablets and phones (although Windows 10 for mobiles has yet to emerge). Windows 8.1’s Start screen has been replaced with a Start menu (much like that of Windows 7) though you will still find bespoke Windows 10 apps (like those on Windows 8.1) that allow access to the likes of BBC iPlayer, eBay, BBC Weather and lots more.

Your new, connected Office – The Microsoft Office suite has been redesigned from the ground up to run on all Windows 10 devices, while still retaining the familiar Office features. Apps like Word, PowerPoint and Excel look and feel the same on tablets and phones as they do on desktop PCs, but they are optimised for touchscreens. A new ‘continuum mode’ has been designed to allow a smooth transition between laptop and tablet modes for users of 2-in-1 devices.

Cortana for all – Microsoft’s digital assistant is now available on all devices with Windows 10, including desktops, laptops and tablets. The idea is to make it easier and faster to access important information – whether talking or typing – and to introduce some continuity across all your devices. Cortana also has advanced control features to ensure your information stays safe and secure.

Microsoft Edge – Previously known as ‘Project Spartan’, Microsoft’s new web browser has been designed and built just for Windows 10. The browser lets you annotate webpages by keyboard or pen before sharing them, while there’s also a distraction-free website-reading view that simply gives you a site’s text and key images. The integration of digital assistant Cortana should make searching online and scheduling calendar appointments easier and faster too.

Xbox on Windows 10 – Windows 10 users can access the Xbox Live gaming network through an Xbox app on both Windows 10 PCs and Xbox One. Features include an automated recording feature that allows gaming fans to capture, edit and share their progress using the Game DVR tool, and the ability to stream games directly from an Xbox One console to a Windows 10 tablet or PC. Cross-platform multiplayer gaming means that a player on an Xbox One can compete with others on Windows 10 PCs.

A holographic computing platform – Microsoft revealed that every Windows 10 device will support holographic APIs through Windows Holographic. This computing platform allows developers to create holographic experiences, such as 3D holograms of Windows universal apps. The Microsoft HoloLens is an untethered holographic computer, allowing you to view, hear and interact with holograms. There is currently no word on when the HoloLens will launch, or what it will cost.

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