Microsoft this week began its Windows 10 advertising and promotional blitz, and Federal agencies are squarely in the company’s sites.

Many Federal PC users still use Windows 7, so they’re looking for an upgrade – Windows 7 became generally available in October 2009.

Federal websites received more than 1.4 billion visits in the past 90 days, according to Federal government’s analytics website,, and nearly 57 percent of those visits came from computers using Windows. Nearly 40 percent came from computers using Windows 7. Federal use of Windows likely mirrors or surpasses that.

Federal agencies and other consumers will be happy to find out that Microsoft is making Windows 10 available for free to most PC users. That’s easy on the budget.

“With over 1.4B PCs running Windows globally, including the majority of those in Federal government, we are excited about our upcoming release on July 29,” said Aaron Rimmer, senior product marketing for Windows at Microsoft. “Windows 10 will boast significant improvements in security and productivity while being intrinsically familiar to those upgrading from Windows 7, all of which are critically important to our government customers.”

What do agencies need to know about Windows 10?

  • The Start Menu makes a comeback after disappearing from Windows 8
  • Cybersecurity is all the rage, and Windows 10 includes security features that allow people to use their fingerprints or portrait photos as passwords to log onto their machines
  • Meet Siri’s sister. Cortana, a virtual assistant that originated on Windows phones, will let users schedule appointments and perform other common tasks using voice commands

Microsoft will also retire a few features. Windows 10 will not include Windows Media Center. The games Solitaire, Minesweeper, and Hearts also are gone (but you can download Solitaire and Minesweeper from the app store).

How can Microsoft afford to give away all those operating systems for free? The company is taking the long view.

“The company hopes the free approach will strengthen Windows as a gateway to sell other Microsoft products and services,” Shire Ovide writes in the Wall Street Journal. “It has set a goal of 1 billion Windows devices in use by the end of June 2018.”

Making Windows 10 available for free is also about boosting Microsoft’s mobile business. The company designed Windows 10 to run on PCs, smartphones, and other devices, which is meant to make it easier for developers to write apps that run across all of them, Nick Wingfield reports in the New York Times.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said “…the free upgrade for Windows 10 is meant to improve our phone position,” ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley reported. Nadella explained that his goal is to ensure that Windows 10 on the desktop is as popular as possible because it drives developers to create apps, which would then turn into Windows Phone apps since they’re essentially the same platform, The Verge’s Dieter Bohn explained.

Microsoft will make the new Windows 10 operating system available July 29.

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