Every three years, Microsoft releases a new operating system.  Windows 8 Operating System is three years old as of August 2012 and Windows 7, released July 2009, is a six year old operating system. True to form, Microsoft has announced that the new version of Windows Operating System, Windows 10, will be released July 29th, 2015. How time flies in the IT industry!

You may have already received a pop up message on your pc or laptop asking you to reserve your free upgrade.  Microsoft is offering free upgrades to Windows 10 for Windows 7 and Windows 8 licensed devices for one year.  There is no word yet after the one year period if you will have to pay for the license or use Windows 365, a future web based operating system subscription.

Before hurrying to download the software to your office pc or laptop that you use daily, verify that all of your software and hardware is compatible with the new operating system.  It typically takes most manufacturers a few months to have their hardware and software ready for the latest operating system release. If you have a PC that you do not use as your main PC for work, you may want to download a free Insider Preview of Windows 10 to get a feel for the new features and interface. Visit http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/preview-iso. There are system specifications regarding your hardware and software that you should check before upgrading.  Visit http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/preview-faq-system-requirements-pc.

Microsoft is working to have one operating system across all devices and Windows 10 is an operating system that will cover desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones.  Windows 10 was designed to be a combination of Windows 7 and Windows 8.  The Windows 7 desktop with a Start Menu is back, but with an expanded form from the Windows 8 Live Tiles.  Favorites and pinned apps on the tile screen in Windows 8 will appear as part of the expanded Start Menu.

Cortana is Microsoft’s natural language interface and personal assistant and will be available on all platforms.  Cortana is an adaptive learning application that will get smarter over time based on your use.  It will provide suggestions of other apps based on your web searches and you will be able to use the voice interface with other apps. 

Microsoft Edge is the new browser (formerly Project Spartan).  The browser allows you to write or type on a webpage to make comments and then share them with others.  Cortana will be active within Edge and it will offer suggestions based on your browsing behavior.  According to Microsoft statements, Internet Explorer will still be available for legacy websites, but Edge will be the browser of choice for Windows 10.

Universal apps will be available for Windows 10.  MS Office and Outlook will have the same look and feel of MS Office for desktops on all devices.  Microsoft has a new Photos App that will synchronize your photos into albums using OneDrive making it easy to consolidate and organize your media automatically.

Microsoft Windows 10 has some exciting new features designed more for home use, such as integration with xBox. If this isn’t enough, Microsoft Office 2016 is due to release Fall, 2015!  We’ll have more on that later.

Alicia A. Slade, MS, MBA, is the President of Plummer Slade, Inc., a computer networking firm providing computer networking and IT solutions to law offices since 1988. Alicia has been a Technical Consultant for over 20 years and can be reached at 412-261-5600 x202 or slade@plummerslade.com. Plummer Slade is exclusively endorsed for IT Solutions by the Allegheny County Bar Association (ACBA).