Starting today, Microsoft will try to reinvigorate its flagging Windows franchise, reignite falling PC sales, and maybe even save its almost invisible phone business with the release of just one product — Windows 10.
At its heart, Windows 10, which will begin rolling out gradually as a free update, is a rescue mission. It's an attempt to almost fully backpedal from its 2012 predecessor, Windows 8 (they are skipping 9), which was a radical effort to redefine the way Windows looked and worked. That experiment failed to win the hearts and wallets of consumers, and is estimated to have only about a 16 percent share of global PC users.
Instead, Windows 10 more closely resembles an even older version, the 2009-era Windows 7, with a dash of the Windows 8 look and feel retained. Unlike Windows 8 at its launch, the latest version of Windows will boot into the familiar desktop metaphor, and boast a full, working Start menu.
There are few wholly new big features, and some of them are catchups with those on Apple's Macintosh OS X.
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Also, the near-final build I've been testing proved surprisingly buggy. In particular, I had trouble with Windows 10's sexiest new feature, the voice-controlled Cortana intelligent assistant — Microsoft's answer to Apple's Siri — which has migrated from Windows Phones to the PC.
Still, some of the new features are promising, the balance between old and new styles seems right this time, and — if the bugs get erased — Windows 10 would be a good choice for Windows devotees.