Microsoft’s new Windows 10 operating system makes its debut today as the longtime leader in PC software struggles to carve out a new role in a world where people increasingly rely on smartphones, tablets and information stored online.
No one is expected to line up overnight for Windows 10 the way people did 20 years ago for Windows 95, but Microsoft is counting on tens or even hundreds of millions of people to download its latest release for free in the coming months.
Its latest release has no charge because the company wants to get the new software on as many devices as possible. Microsoft needs a large pool of users to convince independent programmers that it is worth their time to build useful or entertaining apps for Windows 10 devices. Executives also believe that if people are exposed to the latest and best Windows they are also more likely to try other Microsoft products on PCs and mobile devices.
CEO, Satya Nadella, says he wants to have 1 billion devices running Windows 10 in three years. Microsoft estimates there are 1.5 billion people who currently use some kind of Windows. Rather than charging them to upgrade, as Microsoft used to do, it is embracing the free download model pioneered by Apple and Google.
The launch will be accompanied by a global marketing campaign for an event the company hopes will be pivotal both for its own future and for a vast audience of computer users around the world.
Windows 10 is coming to personal computers and and tablets first, but it is also designed to run phones, game consoles and even holographic headsets. It has new features, a streamlined Web browser called Edge and a desktop version of Cortana, the online assistant that is Microsoft’s answer to Google Now and Apple’s Siri.
Still, the company insists Windows 10 will seem familiar to users of Windows 7, the six-year-old operating system still running on most PCs. Microsoft and PC makers want to erase the memory of the last big update, 2012’s Windows 8, which alienated many with its jarring, unwieldy design.
Microsoft skipped the name Windows 9 as if to distance itself further from the last release. While many analysts believe Windows 8 made sagging PC sales even worse, it is unclear if Windows 10 will spur the industry back to growth.
Retailers such as Best Buy, Staples and Wal-Mart will have some desktops and laptops with Windows 10 already installed. More models are coming.
Staples, one of the world’s largest internet retailers, is celebrating the launch of Windows 10 with new devices, deals, demonstrations and free services. From today, customers can purchase the latest devices optimised for Windows 10 online at Staples.com and upgrade eligible devices to Windows 10 for free with Staples EasyTech services.
“Staples is excited to help our customers experience the best of Windows 10,” said Peter Scala, executive vice president for merchandising at Staples. “We’ve got the latest tablets, laptops and desktops, and our skilled EasyTech associates can help educate our customers on the benefits of Windows 10, and help them easily experience and transition to the new Windows 10 platform.”
Devices include Toshiba Satellite Fusion, Dell Redwood and Toshiba Satellite S55 laptop.
In addition to the free upgrade, Staples offers Virus Shield Plus and Data Transfer services to help get customers ready to use their devices.
College students can save $50 on a laptop or personal computer by verifying their college email address online at Staples.com/college or bringing a valid college ID or acceptance letter instore.