Microsoft Tweaks Windows 10 Upgrade Rules

More than two months after it was released, Windows 10 is seeing ever-growing usage, especially among people downloading productivity apps and games,Microsoft Relevant Products/Services said in an update this week. Since yesterday, the company has also released two new preview builds of the OS for its “Insiders.”

One of the biggest changes announced yesterday with the launch of Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 10565, involves making it easier for users with product keys for previous versions of the OS to upgrade to the full new version for free using product keys from Windows 7, 8 or 8.1. Users will also be able to do clean installs of Windows 10 by entering their product keys.

Today, Microsoft released Windows 10 SDK Preview Build 10563, a pre-release update to be used in conjunction with the build announced yesterday. The SDK preview build includes revisions to the Windows 10 Mobile Emulator and is only designed for use by developers on test machines.

New Skype, Cortana Capabilities

The Windows 10 build released yesterday is aimed at Insiders in Microsoft’s so-called Fast Ring, which gives users access to the earliest and roughest-edge versions of new builds. It comes with “quite a few new features and improvements,” noted Gabe Aul, corporate VP for the engineering systems team in Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group.

In addition to the new support for previous OS product keys, Build 10565 will let users preview several Skype features that will eventually be available to all users running Windows 10 on compatible devices. These include Quick Reply from the Action Center, which lets users view incoming notifications and reply inline without having to open the Skype application.

Yesterday’s build also adds hover-over previews of tabbed Web sites in the Microsoft Edge browser, syncing of Favorites and Reading list items in Edge, and new abilities for the Cortana digital assistant. With Build 10565, Cortana will be able to “intelligently understand” digitally-inked notes and, for example, set reminders based on times and dates that users jot down by hand on their devices. Cortana will also track e-mail confirmations for movies and other ticketed events, sending users reminders two hours ahead of the events’ start times.

A recent update on Microsoft’s Insider Community pages also noted that users running earlier preview builds of Windows 10 will see Windows stop booting on Thursday unless they upgrade to the current build. The expiration date applies to users running Builds 9926 through 10166.

‘Good Time to Build’ Universal Apps

Windows 10 is now up to a 6.63 percent market share out of all desktop operating systems, according to the latest figures from NetMarketShare. The leading OS is also the leading version of Windows: Windows 7, which holds a 56.53 percent share of the OS user market.

Windows 10 now accounts for more than half of all downloads from the Windows Store, according to a blog post by Bernardo Zamora, product manager in Microsoft’s Windows Apps and Store team. While most downloads of Windows 10 apps from the store have been for games, on a per-available-app basis, productivity applications have seen the most downloads, he noted.

With more than 110 million devices now running Windows 10 and the coming launch of the Windows 10 mobile OS this fall, Zamora added that, for developers, “we believe it’s a good time to build and [publish] a universal Windows 10 app.” Since the new OS launched, developers with Windows 10 apps have generated twice the user engagement and four times the revenue per user compared to Windows 8 apps, he said.


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