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Microsoft plans to release Windows 10 in 190 countries on July 29, 2015, specifically for PC and tablets. While the new Windows Phone OS is yet to have a launch date, Microsoft is allowing users to reserve their copy of the new OS through their PC and tablet devices as of now.

According to Kaspersky Lab researcher Kurt Baumgartner, Windows 10 is expected to have a very inclusive features list, along with security measures within its code to provide more protection against outside attacks.

Getting to know the Windows 10 Build 10159

The new build 10159 has been announced, immediately a day after Microsoft has launched build 10158. The company claims the new build will have fixed over 300 bugs from the previous version, and will make way for more improvements in anticipation of Windows 10.

The improved version was able to be announced so quickly thanks to Microsoft’s rigorous internal testing protocols. It would be more suitable for those who don’t simply use Fast Ring.

One of the more drastic changes to the build in Windows 10 is the login screen. Compared to Windows 8.1, the new OS feels more modern rather than vibrant like its predecessor. The profile image during login is also centered instead of being situated near the top of the screen.

Windows 10’s build will allow users to drag and resize apps via Air Tap, as well as float certain programs like HoloLens on the screen. The interface also allows the apps to “follow” users so that they can access them at any point.

The best features of Windows 10 thus far

Windows Holographic and HoloLens

This new software is built into the new OS, and allows developers to make 3D environments for PC users. For example, Microsoft has already released a video showing astronomers “experiencing” a virtual Mars setting, as well as architects designing 3D construction spaces. The use of this feature could offer up future educational advantages, especially in the medical science fields. At Microsoft’s E3 conference, developers even displayed the use of the software by showing the audience how Minecraft could essentially be played on a table-top interface.

It’s believed that HoloLens will allow developers to apply the software to real-world processes, such as overlaying holograms over objects. One of the other presentations made at the conference was an overlap of a virtual robot over a physical one. Those wearing the HoloLens were able to interact with the virtual robot with the use of a HUD. The initial reaction to this release is its potential usage in the manufacturing industry, but the technology here could make way for so many other possibilities. For example, the HoloLens was demonstrated at the conference as being used for gaming with Xbox Live.

Microsoft has also created HoloStudio, which is similar to HoloLens. With it, users can design 3D models and print it using a 3D printer.

All said and done, the question that remains is the price tag for this new product. An amazing piece of hardware like the HoloLens won’t be cheap, but it’s quite difficult to estimate a specific number for it. However, a Microsoft insider recently told the New York Times that the cost would be fairly substantial, much more than the Xbox console you might purchase it for.

Obviously, this isn’t a particularly specific answer, but it’s all we know so far. We believe that if you do wish to purchase the HoloLens when it is finally released, you should expect to pay over $500 per pair.

Cortana

Windows 10 Cortana

Cortana, which is Microsoft’s answer to a virtual personal assistant, will be available in Windows 10. This will have many more features than Windows Phones have ever offered.

Joe Belfiore, Vice President of Microsoft’s Operating Systems Group, has stated that Cortana has the intelligence to gradually familiarize itself with its users. This will help it gather information and help assist users with everyday reminders and tasks.

The program will be able to stay connected to the internet to expand its services online. Belfiore explained how Cortana could provide its user with a restaurant’s menu, hours of operation, and directions via GPS instantly. Additionally, it could provide users’ links to the Microsoft Store whenever it wants to suggest applications.

Cortana will be fully integrated into Windows 10, but whether it is useful to users or not is not yet known. However, we did find it amusing that the program showed noticeable similarities to Microsoft’s classic assistant, Clippy, including the wit and functionality of it.

Microsoft Edge

PC users will be surprised to see Windows 10’s preinstalled web browser, as it’s no longer Internet Explorer. For the new OS, the official browser will be Microsoft Edge, previously known as Project Spartan.

Microsoft’s previous version, Project Spartan, had too many issues. While it offered benefits such as HSTS, an HTTP header that provided more security in terms of SSL-related attacks, the incompatibility issues with Internet Explorer (IE) proved too inconvenient. Still, the fact that Project Spartan is much more solid than IE, which was reported to have over 200 vulnerabilities in 2014, made Microsoft want to adapt this new browser over the traditional one.

The main issue with IE is its code base, which is quite large and susceptible to cyberattacks. By revamping Project Spartan, which is already more minimalistic compared to IE, Microsoft could offer users a safer and more functional application. Microsoft Edge will offer new features and aesthetics, including a better New Tab page and a Reading Mode option that is available offline on any device that has Edge installed.

Another feature Edge offers is its webpage annotation. Users can use either a mouse, keyboard, or stylus to write down notes, which can then be synced to OneDrive. This will make sharing information and webpages more efficient in a collaborative sense. This isn’t exactly an innovation, however, as Samsung’s Galaxy Note has had a similar feature for a few years now.

Windows 10 Edge Browser Annotations

Unlike Project Spartan, Edge can load Internet Explorer 11. This will eliminate any compatibility issues with websites that are specifically designed for IE. Basically, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of IE while simultaneously avoiding the old browser’s issues through Edge.

Read more about Microsoft Edge’s high security features in our article here.

Microsoft Edge seems to be a great alternative, and users will most likely appreciate it in Windows 10. It’s uncertain whether Chrome or FireFox users will jump ship once Edge is released, however.

Xbox app and DirectX 12

Windows Live wasn’t exactly a great platform for games in the past, so users will love the fact that Windows has opted to offer an Xbox app for its new OS instead. The app will be preinstalled for both PCs and Windows Phones, and will essentially be an all-in-one game store. It will even be possible to stream gameplay to your Windows 10 PC or tablet from your Xbox One console. With a click of a button, you can save, edit, record, and share your gameplay videos in Xbox Live or OneDrive.

Windows 10 Xbox app

Steam is completely compatible in Windows 10 as well, which is a welcomed change from Windows 8.1. Gamers can choose to go through Steam or Microsoft’s game store without any issues. Windows 10 games will have the same build structure as Xbox One games, so users won’t find any compatibility issues. It’s believed that Microsoft has made this move to try and make PC gaming attractive again.

The introduction of DirectX 12 will also improve gaming immensely. Users will find gameplay to be much smoother and of better quality. CPU usage will also decrease, making games run faster and better. Additionally, Microsoft is sticking to its compatibility mission by also offering DirectX 12 support for Unity, the leading open-source game-development platform available today.

Windows 10 gamification

Neowin has found that the entirety of Windows 10 has been influenced by Xbox-style features, not just its gaming platform. This is most likely done in attempts to push users to try out all the new features of the OS and take advantage of them.

According to Phil Spencer, who leads Microsoft’s Xbox division, Xbox One will offer a beta version of Windows 10 in early fall this year.

Start menu

Windows 10 Start Menu

When Windows 8 came out, users were most disappointed with the odd Start menu, or lack thereof. Microsoft has heard the complaints and has transformed the pros of Windows 8 into a more effective interface. Instead of the app menu you see in Windows 8 or the classic Start menu you see in Windows 7, Windows 10 is designed as a combination of the traditional UI and “app pinning” capabilities.

With the new interface, any Windows device will be able to host the standard programs and any other “universal” applications found in the Windows Store. Any apps you download from the store will open in a new window, which can then be resized and moved like any other application.

Multitasking

Microsoft seeks to make multi-screen multitasking much more efficient in Windows 10. One of the improvements is Snap Assist, a feature that allows you to choose up to four apps and “snap” them together into one window.

Windows 10 will also allow users to design different desktops, similar to what you can currently find on Mac OS X. An easy Task View button will allow users to jump from file to file, which is accessible across all the different desktops.

The command prompt will look different to the more technologically-savvy users. In Microsoft 10, you can select words and lines using the Shift key, as well as copy and paste information directly into the program.

Touch devices will still be able to display the Charm bar, but the interface might be altered by the time Windows 10 is released.

Universal app platform

As previously mentioned, Microsoft’s goal is to make Windows 10 fully compatible in all aspects. Any apps you install will be accessible on any device that has the OS installed, even HoloLens.

Surface Hub

Windows 10 Surface Hub demonstration

Microsoft doesn’t want to simply release an improved version of its OS. Instead, it wants to transform users’ productivity and experience by offering up new and innovative advancements. A way it does this is by launching the Surface Hub, which is available in 84-inch or 55-inch versions. Microsoft is calling this the ultimate boardroom screen and computer, which is meant to be the number one device for Skype and OneNote use among businesses.

The Surface Hub will include a microphone and camera for high quality audio and video, as well as sensors that will recognize gesture controls. Using a smart pen, you can also utilize the Surface Hub like a whiteboard by drawing and writing on it. You’ll also be able to share these screens with others, either on other Surface Hubs or computers.

Microsoft hasn’t released much information about this new device amidst the other Windows 10 news, but more updates are expected to be made before the launch.

Continuum

Windows 10 Continuum

Belfiore state at TechEd Europe that he knew people didn’t find the apps UI in Windows 8 to be very user-friendly on certain devices. To remedy this issue, Microsoft has made it so that Windows 10 will automatically adjust its settings and interface on any device that has the OS installed. This improvement is called Continuum.

For tablets, this means that users will be able to access a similar Start screen via touch. Belfiore states that Microsoft aims to adapt the popular Windows 7 aspects in the new OS, all the while offering the features and apps Windows 8 contains.

OneDrive

OneDrive will be a lot more powerful and compatible in Windows 10. Users will be able to enjoy more functionality and features in the improved version, including remote access to files and backup settings. You will even be able to save your passwords, favorite pages, and personalized Start layouts on the cloud. Auto Play will also offer a new setting, where users can automatically save media to the drive whenever an external storage device is plugged in.

As an added bonus, Cortana will allow you to search for files within OneDrive instantly, even if they aren’t synced into the device you want to access them from.

Microsoft claims that it isn’t done integrating OneDrive into Windows 10, but has not yet released information on what the further improvements will be.

New recovery systems

Windows 10 will have much more disk space available than Windows 8.1, which means Microsoft has included better recovery systems. Users no longer have to access a separate recovery system. The new OS has an integrated Refresh and Reset function that can recover itself via compressed runtime system files.

Compressing system files is nothing new, as Microsoft has done this since Windows XP. However, the company claims that for the new version, the compression will have much more advanced algorithms that allow for more disk space. The 32-bit version will have extra space of 1.5GB, while the 64-bit version will have 2.6GB.

Authentication and trust

All untrusted applications will be blocked from installing onto your device. Trusted applications can be verified by their digital signatures, but Microsoft admits that the authentication model won’t be perfect. The problem lies in the fact that digital certificates can be stolen and reused by hackers. Due to this, even the authentication process in Windows 10 can be faulty and unstable.

However, Windows 10 has other security features built in that users will love. This includes anti-phishing identity protection and access control, two-factor authentication via PIN or biometric scan, and automatic encryption processes for saved data.

Users will easily be able to access data across their various devices, applications, and services. This leaves the authentication credentials and tokens impenetrable against any leaks or attacks. The remaining concerns include potential “skeleton keys” that can be used against Active Directory, Hyper-V attacks, and tokens abuse.

Microsoft hasn’t released any information about their plans to address these issues, but seemingly understands that it should address how tokens and credentials are accessed and handled. An additional concern is that DLP implementation for secured corporate data may be strong enough on PC computers, but possibly a bit unstable on mobiles that only have access to lower amounts of energy.

Windows 10: one family

Though the launch is becoming closer, there’s quite a lot we don’t know about the new Windows 10 OS. Microsoft has yet to disclose the specifics for many of its features, but we expect users will be able to enjoy the details quite soon.

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