The final release date for Windows 10 is July 29, 2015. On or around that day everyone who has signed up to receive the upgrade automatically to their Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 PCs will find a download ready for install. Be aware that the upgrading process takes some time to accomplish. So, don’t begin the upgrade until you have a couple of hours that you don’t need to use your computer. Also, from my experience installing the various beta builds your computer will reboot at least three times in the process of the upgrade and at times it may appear to have stopped working. There are points that the system needs to load large files and reconfigure your system and that can take a long as fifteen minutes even with the fastest systems. If your upgrade happens to fail, the program is set up to automatically restore your previous version of Windows.
Over the past couple of weeks Microsoft has been making a mad dash to the finish line with several competing builds being released to Windows Insiders (public beta testers). In fact, at one point, there were three different versions released over a two-day period. Of these, I found Build 10159 the most stable although it did have a couple of minor bugs. The integrated email application does not work with some POP 3 accounts, which is odd since those very accounts work with the email application integrated into Windows 10 Mobile. Another annoyance was with the task bar remaining visible regardless of whether it was set to auto hide.
Build 10162 was released around the same time but I could never get it to complete the install on my Surface Pro 3. Several other testers had the same problem with it hanging up at around 40% and reverting to the previous version of Windows. I am currently using Build 10166 which installed correctly and, as I understand from rumors in the chat channels, this is a release candidate for the RTM (Release To Manufacturers) build that has been sent out to OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers) so that they can begin producing machines with the new operating system pre-installed.
Build 10166 has a flaky thing going on with the Start menu when it is set in Tablet Mode. It seems to time out rapidly. Annoying, but it works fine in desktop mode when Tablet Mode is switched off. Otherwise, except for the aforementioned issue with POP 3 accounts, the build feels ready for prime time.
The current Windows 10 Mobile version that installs on Windows Phones is also Build 10166, which kind of indicates that there is some level of cross integration of features between the Mobile and PC software. It might indicate that Windows 10 Mobile is nearing completion as well, though there have been many reports that the software might not be released until the fall and would be at the discretion of the phone companies. The Mobile Build 10166 seems stable and quick on my Nokia 920. The issues I had with previous builds have been fixed.
Build 10176 is reported to be the RTM version of the new operating system. This has not been confirmed by anyone at Microsoft. It is possible that it is merely another release candidate in the pipeline. It has not been released to Windows Insiders though there is a Chinese language version that was leaked out to the world. Although I speak Chinese I don’t think I’ll be installing that version.
The later builds have featured more and more integration of the Edge browser, formerly known as Project Spartan, which is the replacement for Internet Explorer in Windows 10. In previous builds, up to 10130, there was still a version of IE that could be used. As of Build 10158 the migration to Edge was required. One of the issues with that process was that Favorites would disappear. However, I discovered that if the import from other browsers feature was used, Edge actually found the favorites from IE that are stored in Windows system directories. As a back up, you might want to store your favorites with Firefox or Google Chrome before upgrading just to have a usable backup plan in place – just in case.
Edge has evolved nicely over the past few Builds and I find it more robust than IE. It is not 100% compatible with everything just yet but I am finding more and more sites that didn’t work well with IE, especially on Windows Phone, now work (but appear differently). They actually resemble how the sites appear on IOS or Android devices. Although I have heard some reports from others of problems with Edge working with sites that use HTML 5.0, I have not experienced those problems. Video feeds appear to work, even those integrated into FB. Adobe Flash player seems to work fine and I have played several YouTube videos even at full screen. There could be some features that don’t work or issues with files made with older versions of software, but I think the support Edge had integrated into it for existing Internet pages and software will be pretty much 100% at launch.
For those of us who have been using the beta software of Windows 10, we may or may not get an advance version of the final release. I kind of think we may end up using a Release Candidate that morphs into the final version overnight – as in the evaluation copy disclaimers will disappear during an update. Apparently we have the option to continue testing the updates or turning off that completely and opting for the final release of the software. The most recent Builds allow for the choice the Windows Update section of Settings, although I don’t think it works yet with the current Builds. I would expect a notice to be sent out to the Insiders when the update is the finished product. We’ll see.