Windows 10 Will Be Free for a Year, Stream Xbox One Games to PC

By January 21, 2015
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Today at a special press event, Microsoft made a series of major announcements relating to Windows 10 — the latest version of their trademark computer operating system. While we’ve known that some features like the voice assistant Cortana would be a staple of the new OS, the special event held on the company’s campus in Redmond, Washington detailed some of the more ambitious and anticipated features coming with the release of the new version later this year. Some of the biggest announcements range from providing an offer of a free upgrade to certain existing Windows users, new implementation with the Xbox One console, as well as the different variety of devices that the OS hopes to create a more unified experience on.

Let’s dive into some of the specifics of the big announcements.

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The Free Upgrade Offer

Careful to explain that this is only active for the first year of release, it was announced that anyone using Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 will be eligible to receive Windows 10 for free. You’ll have to be connected to the internet to do it, but you won’t need to pay any money to upgrade your current OS to Windows 10 as long as you have one of the specified older versions of Windows, and as long as your computer meets the specific hardware requirements in order to run it.

On top of this, Microsoft also announced that there is no limited support window for those taking advantage of this free upgrade offer. Once you get Windows 10, your version will be fully supported until the end of its life, which is rumored to be the longest planned lifespan of any Windows operating system to date. This will definitely help to firmly establish Windows 10 as a major OS in the year to come, since Windows 7 is still the most popular choice for PC users and businesses alike since Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP last April. With this free upgrade offer, it will be interesting to see just how many people will take the plunge and join the ranks of Windows 10 users when it’s made available later in the year.

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Greater Implementation of Xbox

One thing that’s always puzzled me as a Windows user was the lack of implementation of Xbox on Windows platforms. Whichever way you want to slice it, the Xbox brand is a definite feather in the cap of Microsoft, as evidenced by the roughly 80 million Xbox 360’s sold since that console’s release in 2005, as well as the strong holiday 2014 performance of the Xbox One. Now, though, it looks like Microsoft is ready to implement the new architecture powering the Xbox One into the latest iteration of Windows.

Coming pre-loaded with every Windows 10 device will be a dedicated Xbox app. For the first time since the dawn of Xbox and Xbox Live, gamers with the console in their home can text and voice chat with their Xbox Live friends from their Windows 10 computer, and see all of your games, videos, and screenshots within the app. Taking things a large step further, though, is the ability to record your own videos from any Windows app on Xbox, including games from other providers like Steam. One of Xbox One’s most popular features is the ability to record the prior thirty seconds of gameplay by pressing a couple of buttons on the controller, or by telling your Kinect “Xbox, record that.” Apparently responding to the popularity of that feature, Microsoft is implementing that capability to any Windows program through the Xbox app.

Even more impressive, though, is the announcement about actually playing your Xbox One games on your Windows 10 PC. Windows 10 users who own an Xbox One will actually be able to stream their games from their console to their computer, using your in-home Wi-Fi connection. The company also said that some games will have cross-platform multiplayer, meaning that certain games will allow Xbox players to play with PC players, a first for the life of the Xbox platform.

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Cortana is Coming to Your Desktop

Microsoft’s ambitious answer to Apple’s Siri, Cortana will live in the Windows 10 task bar and can be “woken up” with a simple voice command: “Hey, Cortana.” From there, you can ask it several questions relating to weather and other local information, and you can also type commands if you prefer to access the information that the assistant has at its disposal if you don’t want to talk to your monitor. Similarly to Google and Siri, Cortana will also have what was described as a “notebook” of information about its primary user, making it easier to find more personally relevant information depending on your requests. It was also specified in the presentation that if Cortana learns something about you that you don’t necessarily want it to know, then you can easily remove that piece of info.

Overall, Cortana looks like a welcome addition to Windows 10, and will certainly help to set it apart from other operating systems and platforms by having more complete features that are quickly becoming the standard for many mobile device and computer users.

 

For more on Windows 10, be sure to go to Windows.com for the newest information, including details on how you can be notified about the free upgrade when it becomes available. You can also see a new “infomercial” video that Microsoft created in the wake of today’s announcements, including some details about the upgrade, below.

(h/t lifehacker)

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Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.