Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Microsoft to Offer Windows 10 for Free

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Microsoft to Offer Windows 10 for Free

Article excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO - Microsoft debuted its new Windows 10 operating system Wednesday, in what the company hopes will be a pivotal moment in its bid regain its sway in a world where the PC is no longer king. The first people to get the new software Wednesday included about 5 million "insiders, or tech enthusiasts who previously enrolled in an early preview program. Microsoft is counting on tens or even hundreds of millions more to download its latest release for free in coming months.

Others will get the software when they buy a new PC. While some new models equipped with Windows 10 are available in stores this week, more will hit the market this fall. Microsoft and major PC makers are planning a global ad campaign that will extend into the crucial holiday shopping season.

Although Windows 10 is coming to PCs and tablets first, it's 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 older 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's far from certain if Windows 10 will spur the industry back to growth.

Here's a look at the launch and why it matters:

Q: What happens this week?

A: Microsoft planned to hold promotional events in several cities Wednesday, tied to a global ad campaign and a series of charitable donations. In addition to the 5 million insiders, anyone with the Home or Pro versions of Windows 7 or 8 - but not the Enterprise versions used by big companies - will be eligible to download Windows 10 for free, at any time over the next year.

It's not clear how many people will get it the first day; Microsoft says it will deliver downloads in waves, to ensure things go smoothly, but it hasn't said how long that will take.

Retailers such as Best Buy, Staples and Wal-Mart should have some desktops and laptops with Windows 10 already installed. They'll also be able to update the software on new PCs that were shipped with the last version of Windows.

Q: Why is Microsoft giving Windows 10 for free?

A: The company wants to get the new software on as many devices as possible. Microsoft is betting that a large pool of users will help convince independent programmers that it's 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're more likely to try other Microsoft products on PCs and mobile devices. …

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