Microsoft began rolling out its Windows 10 operating system Wednesday as a free upgrade for computer users in 190 countries, saying it delivers on its vision for "more personal computing." The stakes are high for Microsoft as it pushes out the new operating system for both traditional computers and mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.
The US tech giant is hoping the new system can help it gain traction in mobile, where is lags Google Android and Apple iOS.
"Our vision was one platform, one store, and one experience that extends across the broadest range of devices from the smallest screens to the largest screens to no screens at all," said Microsoft executive vice president for Windows Terry Myerson in a blog post.
"Windows 10 begins to deliver on our vision for more personal computing. In this world experiences are mobile, moving with you seamlessly and easily across your devices. Interacting with technology is as natural as interacting with people - using voice, pen, gestures and even gaze for the right interaction, in the right way, at the right time. And in our connected and transparent world, we respect your privacy and help protect your information." Windows 10 - Microsoft skipped directly from Windows 8, which got a lackluster response - is being offered as a free upgrade for most devices, making it possible to quickly be available on billions of devices.
It will allow for voice, pen and gesture input, and in some cases biometric identification for improved security.
The Cortana virtual assistant - Microsoft's answer to Apple's Siri and Google Now - will also be integrated.
And Windows 10 will include the Microsoft Edge browser, a move designed to help the tech giant regain market share lost to rivals such as Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.
Microsoft hopes to break the cycle in which consumers shun Windows for mobile because it lacks the large catalog of applications found on rival platforms, thus discouraging app makers from creating Windows versions.
Hit apps could ramp up popularity of Windows-driven hardware made by Microsoft and its partners, and increase opportunities for the company to make money from online activities such as search, shopping and software as services in the Internet cloud.
With Windows 10 and other products, Microsoft is shifting away from one-time software sales to a subscription model - or software as a service - in an effort to better compete in the new tech landscape.