Windows 10 is on track to launch later this month.
Microsoft will soon ship the release to manufacturing (RTM) version to PC vendors, giving them the opportunity to test hardware and install the operating system (OS) on devices that will be sold to consumers.
The RTM date is a significant milestone in the Windows 10 development process, but even more significant is the system’s much-anticipated July 29 release to Windows Insiders. Those users have been providing feedback on Windows 10 builds since September 2014.
Following the initial shipment, customers who reserved Windows 10 Home or Pro will begin receiving their copies in waves, based on device compatibility. The upgrade is free for the first year for consumers and small businesses moving from Windows 7 or 8.
While Microsoft’s free upgrade offer does not extend to Windows 10 Enterprise or Education, volume license customers will enjoy an expanded set of security, management, deployment and service features when those editions launch on Aug. 1.
According to a Microsoft comparison chart, Enterprise customers will also have the exclusive option to delay new features updates for up to 10 years. The extended deferment period far outlasts that of Pro customers, who must trust Microsoft to fix bugs before automatic software deployments occur.
As it turns out, many IT decision makers won’t even commit to Windows 10 for business until they know what’s in store. A recent Spiceworks survey shows 67 percent of IT professionals intend to hold off on adopting the OS until developers fix initial bugs or release the first service pack.
But that initial hesitation won’t necessarily hinder the eventual success of Windows 10. A full 96 percent of survey respondents expressed at least some interest in the OS, citing enticements like the return of the start menu, the free-for-a-year upgrade for small businesses and the improved security features.
The system’s other key features — like the touted Cortana personal assistant, Microsoft Edge browser and Continuum mobility feature — could also help ensure Windows 10 receives a warm reception.