Microsoft’s new Windows 10 operating system debuts Wednesday, as the longtime leader in PC software hopes that giving the upgrade away for free will help it carve out a new role in a world where people increasingly rely on smartphones, tablets and information stored online.
The company is counting on tens or even hundreds of millions of people to download its latest release in the coming months. Many people will also get Windows 10 as part of new PCs. The launch will be accompanied by a global marketing campaign for an event the company hopes will be pivotal – both for its own future and for a vast audience of computer users around the world.
Windows 10 is coming to PCs and tablets first, but it’s also designed to run phones, game consoles and even holographic headsets. It has new features, a streamlined Web browser called Edge and a desktop version of Cortana, the online assistant that is Microsoft’s answer to Google Now and Apple’s Siri.