Windows 10 will be released tonight at midnight ET, and Microsoft so badly wants you to download it that it's being given away for free.
Windows 10 comes nearly three years after the launch of Windows 8, whose tile-based user interface caused some confusion for longtime users of the operating system. Microsoft heard the complaints, made some tweaks, and is now ready to make amends—the Start menu is back!
Taking a page out of Apple's playbook, Microsoft is giving away the OS for all current Windows 7 and Windows 8 users. (These users should have been prompted within the past few weeks to claim their download code.) If everything goes without a hitch, all it will take is a couple of clicks to upgrade.
Aside from the usual checklist of new features, like the inclusion of Cortana, Microsoft's Siri-like digital assistant, and the (perhaps unwanted) presence of hit game "Minecraft," Windows 10 can be seen as Microsoft's latest chance to prove that it still has what it takes to attract top developers. The company has taken great pains throughout the the Windows 10 development process to assure developers that they can code their apps in such a way that they can run on everything from PCs, to tablets, to Xbox One games consoles.
Given that Microsoft only a few weeks ago all but capitulated in its attempts to make Windows Phone a major smartphone platform, the company's launch of Windows 10 could not come at a more critical time.