Days before it’s set to show a new version of its Windows 10 operating system for smartphones, tablets, notebooks and desktops, Microsoft has sent out an email, hinting at a new download for users after its January 21st event.
Read: What is Windows 10?
It’s not much, but it’s the closest Microsoft itself has come to confirming a new version of the Windows 10 Technical Preview at its January 21st event. Until now, the only thing that hinted at an upcoming release for users to put on their machines were reports from Microsoft watchers and reporters who have sources inside the company feeding them information about future plans.
The Windows Insider Program operates almost like a club. It’s not exclusive, absolutely anyone can join the Windows Insider Program. In exchange for getting access to early Windows 10 releases, Microsoft tracks telemetry data about how you’re using Windows and sometimes asks what you think of a feature. All of this happens inside the operating system, not through email or some kind of spyware.
Today, joining the Windows Insider Program gets you access to the last stable version of the Windows 10 Technical Preview, Windows 10 Technical Preview 9888. It was released in November of last year. Since then, we’ve seen two other versions of Windows 10 leak to torrent websites. Microsoft didn’t officially release a new version of Windows 10 in December.
By all accounts, the coming Windows 10 Technical Preview update should have a lot for users to try. It’s expected to be the first version to include Continuum, a new interface that changes the interface for users depending on whether they have a touchscreen or keyboard available to them. Microsoft gave us an early look at Continuum during its intimate Windows 10 briefing event in September.
One of the leaked builds, Windows 10 9901, include tons of features we haven’t yet seen publically. There’s a search bar with voice prompt built into the Taskbar on the Desktop. Both of them are meant as easy and convenient ways to access Cortana, the personal assistant that currently calls Windows Phone 8.1 home. A number of different Windows Store apps were included in that build too, like an Xbox companion app, a new Camera experience inspired by Lumia Camera for Windows Phone and a new getting started guide. Some apps, like Photos, had a new design.
Microsoft has only said that it expects to have Windows 10 ready and available for users by the end of 2015. Exact timing remains unclear, though Microsoft usually releases big operating system upgrades in the summer or fall to coincide with Back to School or Holiday shopping season. Rumors are that users can expect Windows 10 to launch in that time frame too. We don’t have any reliable information about pricing though. Some have speculated that Microsoft could make Windows 10 available to Windows 8 users as a free update, but that hasn’t been confirmed. We do know that Windows Vista users will need to do a fresh install for Windows 10 instead of a simple upgrade.
Microsoft’s Windows 10 media briefing kicks off on January 21st at 9AM PST. It’ll offer streaming and on-demand video for users at home.