Today Microsoft officially announced the next version of Windows, which was expected to be called Windows 9, or maybe Windows One, or even maybe just Windows. But it’s Windows 10. Here are the highlights.

The short version is that Microsoft has realized that desktop users really were unhappy with Windows 8, and this version of Windows focuses on using the desktop.  Windows 10 aims to unify everything together, so it’s one platform and one store for everything across all devices. Apps written for Windows 10 will work on Windows tablets and even Windows Phone.

Note: these screenshots were taken directly from the announcement post. We’ll have our hands on the actual release in the next day or so and will be talking more about how it all works once we get into the details ourselves. You can get your hands on Windows 10 from at some point in the next day.

UPDATE: The download is live and here is how to install Windows 10.

The Start Menu Is Back

By far the most important thing about Windows 10 is that the start menu has returned, and now you can pin all of those Metro tiles directly to the menu. You can resize it and customize it however you would like.

Metro / Modern / Universal / Windows Store Apps Run in a Window

We’re not quite sure what they are being called these days, but all of those Windows Store applications can now be run in a window on the desktop just like everything else. On a tablet they can still run full screen, of course, but on a desktop or laptop, they will run like a regular desktop application.

That means you can tile them or switch between them just like you would expect, and it also means that they will finally start to become useful, and maybe we’ll see better apps created by programmers that weren’t interested in writing apps only for touch devices before.

New Task Switcher with Easy Access Button

To make switching between applications more easy, there’s a button on the taskbar that opens up the task switcher view.

Virtual Desktops

That task switcher button also exposes a new feature that has finally been added — virtual desktops. Sure, you’ve been able to use this with third-party software for years, but it’s finally integrated directly into the operating system.

For more on the features, you can watch their announcement video.

Other Details

Some of the other things we know about Windows 10 right now:

  • The final version won’t be available until the middle of 2015.
  • The command prompt finally has been updated and you can use CTRL + V to paste into the prompt. It’s about time!
  • The Charms bar will probably be going away for desktop users, although it might still be in the preview version.
  • Nobody understands why it is called Windows 10 instead of Windows 9.

Getting Your Hands on Windows 10

According to the announcement, you’ll be able to get your hands on the Technical Preview through their new Windows Insider program, which we understand will be open to everybody and available at this URL:

We’ll have a copy in our hands soon and learn as much as we can. The one thing we can tell you right now is that you shouldn’t install this on your primary PC, since it’s just a preview.

UPDATE: The download is live and here is how to install Windows 10.

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Lowell is the founder and CEO of How-To Geek. He’s been running the show since creating the site back in 2006. Over the last decade, Lowell has personally written more than 1000 articles which have been viewed by over 250 million people. Prior to starting How-To Geek, Lowell spent 15 years working in IT doing consulting, cybersecurity, database management, and programming work.
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