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Microsoft started their "Technical Preview" program for Windows 10 back in October, 2014. We've been running the various new builds of this (on the Fast track) on several Virtual Machines here at the office to get a taste of what it's like prior to its official release, expected to be some time this summer.
Anyone was able to sign up for this "beta" test, but it is highly recommended that you don't use this OS on a computer that you expect to work all the time. Since this is beta software, it WILL fail sometimes as the bugs are worked out.
We've heard expectations of a summer release, but I'm going to predict something a bit more specific. Based on what I've read around the net and numerous rumor sources, I believe that Windows 10 will be released on July 23, 2015.
We keep reading the phrase "free for the first year". What does this reallly mean? It could be read as "free (forever) as long as you upgrade within the first year" - an enticement to get everyone on the same page or you could read it as "free to use for the first year, but we charge you after that". In other words, your fee for the first year would be waived, but any subscription fee for the new Windows system would begin in the 13th month.
Wait - subscription fees? What?!? Well, since Microsoft has applied for the trademark for Windows 365, it's not out of the realm of possilbilities that they would do a subscription system for the OS like they do for the Office system. Rather than paying a big chunk of money at once for the new OS (like the $100-$200 that it has typically been in the past), you would pay a monthly fee instead. My estimation of this would be something like $30-$40 per year per computer: much more digestible for most folks, I'd think. I also image that OEMs (like Dell, HP, ASUS, Lenovo, etc) would have some sort of program for new purchases, like "your new computer comes with 3 years of Windows". Of course, this is all just a thought in the wind at this point...
So, how will this all go down? No one knows yet. I can tell you this: People who like Windows 7 will probably like Windows 10. People who prefer Windows 8 (or 8.1 or 8.1 with Update 1) will also like it. It fits nicely into any of these preferences due to its configurability, especially within the Start Menu.
I will be posting some outtakes of Windows 10 in use prior to its release, so please check back here.
As for my predictions, I'd love to hear your comments. Please submit them below!