This is it, the dramatic climax to what Microsoft set out to do for computers over four years ago: Windows 10. The Redmond, Wash.-based firm's first attempt to smooth over the inevitable collision of laptops and tablets, Windows 8, ended in what's widely regarded as a flop. (And Windows 8.1 helped, but not much.)
But this time, things are different. Despite learning it the hard way, Microsoft has clearly gathered crucial feedback over the short lifespan of Windows 8 and turned it into what might be the firm's most well-equipped piece of software yet.
And now, Microsoft's refined vision for the future of computing is prime for picking. In fact, until July 28 2016, Windows 10 is free for those upgrading from Windows 7 or Windows 8 devices.
Microsoft slated Windows 10 for a summer launch, and the company has stuck to its word. Following several leaks, it is confirmed that Windows 10 will launch on July 29.
That said, Windows 10 will not release for all device types on this date. Judging from comments made by Microsoft Corporate VP of Operating Systems Joe Belfiore, the company has planned a phased approach to the launch. Windows 10 will release for desktop, laptop and tablet devices first, then trickle down to phones, the Xbox One, Arduino machines and its own HoloLens.
For current Windows 7 and 8.1 users, Windows 10 upgrades downloaded directly from Microsoft will be free for one year, Microsoft's EVP of Operating Systems Terry Myerson announced in January. After that period – for both product keys and standalone copies of the OS sold on those flash drives – the asking price starts at £99/$119.
If you're not eligible for Microsoft's free upgrade program – say you're running a non-genuine Windows version or one older than Windows 7 – Windows 10 Home will cost £99/$119 and Windows 10 Pro will cost £131/$199 per license.