Microsoft releases Windows 10: Six key features

Microsoft’s latest version of its operating system has launched in the UK today, and it will have a familiar feel once again for the hundreds of millions who use Windows computers.

Windows 10 is the first major OS update in three years and Microsoft is eager to be seen as an industry-leader again. The Seattle-based Corporation is pinning its hopes on several key features:

An old friend returns with the re-introduction of the 'Start' button. Credit: Microsoft Corporation
  • Start menu

It's back: In Windows 8, Microsoft ditched its familiar Start menu button and pop-up column in favour of a tile-orientated screen.

The public did not take to it, and now the Windows team has listened to the feedback and is re-introducing the classic menu.

Microsoft has killed off the outdated IE and replaced it with a leaner offering. Credit: Microsoft Corporation
  • Microsoft Edge

Another landmark moment in Windows' history sees Internet Explorer - the web browser of 20 years - replaced in Windows 10 by Microsoft Edge.The new browser will enable users to annotate directly on to web pages as though making real notes, and then save these screens for later referral.

  • Windows Store

Microsoft is very late to the app party, and Apple and Android users still have a better experience in this space, but a new unified Windows Store is the company's way of attacking that problem.Purchases made in Windows 10 will be available across all devices.

Cortana started off life as the supercomputer in Microsoft's 'Halo' game franchise. Credit: Microsoft Corporation
  • Cortana

Personal digital assistants is one area Microsoft is ahead of the competition - its own Cortana regularly outperforms Apple's Siri and Android's Google Now.

Windows 10 will look to run with this advantage by pushing Cortana to desktop for the first time.

The assistant is integrated into lots of apps, including Edge, where it can be used to make reservations, set reminders and get directions based on the web page you are currently viewing.

  • Continuum

A big part of Windows 10 is its ability to work seamlessly across devices. Microsoft's aim is to have the same operating system running on your smartphone, tablet, laptop and games console.

Windows 10 has a feature called Continuum that allows users to stop mid-task on one device, and then pick it up on another without any issues or delay.

Windows 10 will also work on the XBOX One. Credit: Reuters
  • Xbox compatibility

An eye-catching feature if you are a gamer - Windows 10 will also work on the Xbox One, and will hand players the ability to stream games from their console to their laptop or PC in another room.

Millions of PC users will also be able to upgrade for free as Microsoft is making the update available at no extra cost to those who are already using Windows 7 or 8, though this offer will expire next year.

The firm's chief Satya Nadella has said Microsoft wants to move from "people needing Windows, to choosing Windows, to loving Windows".

Windows users who have registered their interest will be notified once Windows 10 becomes available to them, with the roll out beginning in the early hours of Wednesday morning, and set to be staggered over the coming days.

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