Microsoft has announced that Windows 10 will be available for free from July 29th to users who are already running Windows 7 or 8.1.
The new OS looks set to be a return to tradition for the corporation, bringing back the familiar Start Menu after its absence in the previous iteration. It is also Microsoft's attempt at building a common platform for developers so their apps will work across desktop, mobile and tablet - and will include voice assistant Cortana across all versions.
Windows 10 will also offer a new browser, “Edge”, in addition to Internet Explorer, as part of Microsoft’s fightback against the likes of Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Edge, which started life as the secretive "Project Spartan" is claimed to be faster and more minimalist than its predecessor. Perhaps more importantly for Microsoft, it will signal a move away from the toxic IE brand.
Users will apparently have a year from the release date to take advantage of the freebie - and once they have upgraded, their device will continue to be updated by Microsoft for free. Interestingly, even users running pirated copies of the older Windows will be able to upgrade - though Microsoft has said they will still be considered "unlicensed".
A free upgrade is a savvy move on Microsoft's part. As the company continues to move from selling individual pieces of software to a more service-driven business model, maximising the number of users who are running the latest version of Windows will make the Windows 10 platform more attractive to developers, and will ensure the users can run all of the latest apps. The move also follows Apple, which switched to releasing its OS upgrades for free with OS X Mavericks in 2013.