Windows 10 is a series of personal computer operating systems produced by Microsoft as part of its Windows NT family of operating systems. It is the successor to Windows 8.1, and was released to manufacturing on July 15, 2015, and broadly released for retail sale on July 29, 2015. Windows 10 receives new builds on an ongoing basis, which are available at no additional cost to users, in addition to additional test builds of Windows 10 which are available to Windows Insiders. Devices in enterprise environments can receive these updates at a slower pace, or use long-term support milestones that only receive critical updates, such as security patches, over their ten-year lifespan of extended support. One of Windows 10’s most notable features is support for universal apps, an expansion of the Metro-style apps first introduced in Windows 8. Universal apps can be designed to run across multiple Microsoft product families with nearly identical codeâââincluding PCs, tablets, smartphones, embedded systems, Xbox One, Surface Hub and Mixed Reality. The Windows user interface was revised to handle transitions between a mouse-oriented interface and a touchscreen-optimized interface based on available input devicesâââparticularly on 2-in-1 PCs, both interfaces include an updated Start menu which incorporates elements of Windows 7’s traditional Start menu with the tiles of Windows 8. Windows 10 also introduced the Microsoft Edge web browser, a virtual desktop system, a window and desktop management feature called Task View, support for fingerprint and face recognition login, new security features for enterprise environments, and DirectX 12.
Windows 10 received mostly positive reviews upon its original release in July 2015. Critics praised Microsoft’s decision to provide a desktop-oriented interface in line with previous versions of Windows, contrasting the tablet-oriented approach of 8, although Windows 10’s touch-oriented user interface mode was criticized for containing regressions upon the touch-oriented interface of Windows 8. Critics also praised the improvements to Windows 10’s bundled software over Windows 8.1, Xbox Live integration, as well as the functionality and capabilities of the Cortana personal assistant and the replacement of Internet Explorer with Edge. However, media outlets have been critical of changes to operating system behaviors, including mandatory update installation, privacy concerns over data collection performed by the OS for Microsoft and its partners and the adware-like tactics used to promote the operating system on its release. Although Microsoft’s goal to have Windows 10 installed on over a billion devices within three years of its release had failed, it still had an estimated usage share of 60% of all the Windows versions on traditional PCs, and thus 47% of traditional PCs were running Windows 10 by September 2019. Across all platforms (PC, mobile, tablet and console), 35% of devices run some kind of Windows, Windows 10 or older.