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Windows 10 will be available late next year, preview coming tomorrow

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The next major version of Windows, Windows 10, will be available late next year. The new operating system is being unveiled today at an event in San Francisco, where Microsoft announced its name and began detailing new features, including the return and makeover of the Start Menu, the introduction of multiple desktops, and a new universal search feature. Microsoft isn't hiding that, for mouse and keyboard users, this is a move back toward what Windows users are used to and away from the contentious changes in Windows 8. "It gives the familiarity of Windows 7 with some of the elements of Windows 8," Windows chief Terry Myerson says.

"We’re inviting our most enthusiastic Windows customers to shape Windows 10 with us."

While most PC owners won't start using Windows 10 for a while, developers and enthusiasts can get started much sooner. Microsoft will begin to release Technical Previews of Windows 10 tomorrow, starting with a version for laptops and desktops and following later with a version for servers. The releases will be early, unpolished, and likely buggy versions meant to allow those with technical knowhow to begin working with the platform. It sounds as though just about anyone interested will be able to sign up to use it through Microsoft's newly launching Windows Insider Program, and Microsoft suggests that it's pretty serious about getting customer feedback before the operation system's proper release. "With the Insider program, we’re inviting our most enthusiastic Windows customers to shape Windows 10 with us," Myerson writes in a blog post. "We know they’re a vocal bunch – and we’re looking forward to hearing from them."

Microsoft is pitching Windows 10 as an important new version for developers, finally allowing apps to scale across different device types and sizes. "Windows 10 will run on the broadest types of devices ever," Myerson says. Microsoft also honed in on business features today, and it's evident that those are a big focus of this next release as well, offering more customizability and better management features for companies. "Windows 10 is going to be our greatest enterprise platform, ever," Myerson says. That said, Microsoft promises to start discussing what the average consumer should expect from Windows 10 too, though we'll have to wait until next year for that.