Windows 10 To Be A Free Upgrade: What Linux Users Need To Know

Written by Michael Larabel in Proprietary Software on 21 January 2015 at 01:16 PM EST. 135 Comments
I watched Microsoft's Windows 10 press event today not for looking toward switching and using the Windows 8 successor but rather to see what's coming down their consumer pipeline for competition to Linux and Android.

If you're curious about the highlights of the Microsoft Windows 10 event to see what Ubuntu Phone/Touch, Sailfish OS, Android, Tizen, and the Linux desktop in general have to compete with this year, here's the top items mentioned during the event:

- Microsoft's focus with Windows 10 is on device mobility and being able to move your working apps from one device to another, trusty/security improvements, and natural interaction via voice, gestures, pen input, etc.

- All devices running Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 will get a free upgrade to Windows 10 for the first year.

- Microsoft is working on improvements to make it easier for developers to target all sorts of devices.

- Windows 10 on the PC will boot to and look more like the "classic" Windows desktop by default while the tile mode is still accessible. Of course, on smaller form factors, it's tiles by default.

- Windows 10 is bringing a notification bar that's always present on the right side of the desktop. Action Center is Microsoft's new notification center.

- Polishing and tweaks to the start menu, including a full-screen start menu.

- The Windows 10 "Continuum" feature allows for switching between a tablet and PC while the UI updates accordingly -- a.k.a. the Ubuntu converged vision. Win32 applications will "just work" with Continuum too.

- Cortana will be built into Windows 10 desktop as a personal assistant app to compete with Apple Siri and Google Now. Cortana will learn over time and allow you to verbally interact with the desktop and applications.

- Universal apps will run across all Windows 10 devices regardless of form factor.

- Windows 10 will feature the new "Project Spartan" web browser. The new browser allows for annotating web pages easily via stylus or text input, sharing annotated web pages, etc. There's also a "reading mode" for better viewing content on a page and a "reading list" built into the browser. There's also Cortana integration into the browser for complementing information on a web-page. Project Spartan also finally builds PDF viewing support into the browser...

- Windows 10 will have an Xbox app by default on the PC and tablet. The Windows 10 Xbox app has many features like is common to Valve's Steam client. Microsoft was also demonstrating Steam on Windows 10. Better integration and cross-gaming with the Xbox One is also a Windows 10 feature. Windows 10 will allow streaming of Xbox One games to any PC or tablet.

- Windows 10 will have DirectX 12 and will be up to a 50% increase in performance for games. There's also power consumption improvements to better Windows mobile gaming with DX12.

- Windows Holographic is an augmented reality hologram-driven experience. Hologram support in Windows 10 is universal and Microsoft will be releasing a "HoloLens" headset close to the Windows 10 launch time.
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Michael Larabel

Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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