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Windows 10: Our complete guide to Microsoft’s next OS

Windows 8 was a bit of a misstep for Microsoft. The removal of the Start menu, introduction of fullscreen “Metro” apps, and redesigned interface caught users off guard, to say the least. Either in an effort to distance itself from the situation, or due to a slip of the finger when typing the name the first time, the newest version of Windows skips right over 9, opting for the much rounder 10.

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Whatever the reason for the name, it’s clear that Microsoft has heard user feedback, and is setting about designing an operating system that people actually want to use again. The Windows Insider program allows anyone to download Windows 10 right away, and then give feedback on concerns and everyday processes that directly affect the development of the new OS.

That means frequent updates, changes, and new functionality at every turn, but it can be a lot to process. We’ve got all the news, bugs, and update info in one convenient place so you know exactly what you’re getting into.

If you’d prefer to wait for the official release of Windows 10, Microsoft announced that of the seven versions, at least the PC and tablet iterations will launch on July 29th of this year. The operating system will also release for Xbox and mobile phones at a later, unannounced date.

Updated on 6-22-2015 by Brad Bourque: With the official release of Windows 10 looming, Microsoft has been more forthcoming about the details of updating to the consumer version from Windows 7 and 8, and how the Insider program will work after release.

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Next Page: The name

The name

There was some debate about how Microsoft would brand its operating system. Would it continue the numerical progression or break off with a name, a la Vista (not that Microsoft wants anyone thinking about Vista)? We know that the OS was referred to as Windows 9 thanks to Microsoft France President Alain Crozier’s public name-dropping. But the codename “Threshold” floated about — along with the abbreviation “Windows TH” – while others suggested the idea of skipping to “Windows X” or even going the way of the Xbox and adopting the “One” moniker.

We now know the official name of the latest operating system from Microsoft: Windows 10. Why skip 9? There’s several theories.

  • Microsoft wanted to unify its internal version numbers with branding, and skipping to 10 was an easy way to do that. Windows 10 versions are designated with numbers starting with 10, while Windows 8.1 was internally version 6.3.
  • Some third-party apps have code that targets Windows versions that start with 9, like Windows 95 or 98. Windows 9 might have caused unexpected compatibility problems.
  • The number nine is unlucky in Japan, and Microsoft didn’t want to alienate that market.
  • Microsoft plans Windows 10 to be the “final” release of Windows, in the sense that all future versions will be revisions of Windows 10. If true, a nice, round number makes sense.

No official announcement about the reasons behind skipping Windows 9 has been made, and it’s unlikely we’ll know any time soon. Pick whichever story sounds best to you.

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