On July 29, 2015, Microsoft officially launched the Windows 10 era. With its new-generation OS, Microsoft hoped to shake off the unhappy memories of Windows 8, and build on its relative success with Windows 8.1, developing a fresh platform fit for the future.
From the start, Windows 10 was envisaged as a cornerstone of Microsoft's vision to build its platforms 'as a service', updating the OS more frequently than ever before to deliver new features to consumers and businesses, and to keep it secure for those who depend on it.
Its efforts to encourage users to embrace this new age of computing have, at times, been controversial. For example, the company was severely criticized for its heavy-handed approach in pushing Windows 7 and 8.1 users to accept a free upgrade to Windows 10. Many users, as well as privacy watchdogs and advocates, have frequently raised concerns over Microsoft's data collection practices in Windows 10, although it has made substantial changes on that front, and introduced new controls to help users manage their privacy more effectively.
Of course, there's more to Windows 10's story so far than just these complaints. Indeed, there are considerable successes for Microsoft to celebrate too. Windows 10 is now installed on over 500 million devices around the world, a huge number by any measure. Even that success is tinged with some disappointment, though; last year, Microsoft admitted that it wouldn't reach its target of a billion Windows 10 devices within 2-3 years. It attributed that failure to its phone division - an explanation that made remarkably little sense.
But while its phone business has all but vanished - Windows phones grabbed just 0.1% of the global smartphone market last quarter - Windows 10 is now available on an astonishing array of devices. Aside from the 'traditional' desktop PC, the OS can be found on all-in-ones, tablets, notebooks, gaming laptops, convertibles, smart TVs, refrigerators, coffee tables, restaurant tables, set-top boxes, keyboard PCs, PC sticks, point of sale machines, IoT devices, specialized collaboration devices, HoloLens and other mixed reality devices, and the Xbox One console family, among many other types of device.
Microsoft has also released three major updates for Windows 10 since its launch: the November Update (Version 1511) in November 2015; the Anniversary Update (Version 1607) in mid-2016; and the most recent Creators Update (Version 1703), which is now rolling out to all eligible Windows 10 devices worldwide. With each of these updates, Microsoft has delivered a ton of new features to the OS, greatly expanding its capabilities, and further enhancing its security.
These improvements have been developed with considerable assistance from the international community of Windows Insiders, of which there are now more than 10 million. Despite the occasional blunder, the Insider Program seems to be a success, helping Microsoft to do a better job of identifying issues during the preview phase, before they roll out to all users in its official updates.
Ultimately, the success (or otherwise) of Windows 10 is judged by its users. So now, two years after Windows 10's launch, we're eager to hear your opinions of the OS. Has it lived up to your expectations? Are there any important features that you think are still 'missing' from it? Has it improved as you hoped it would over the last 24 months?
Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below, and don't forget to let us know which Windows 10 devices you're using!
Original 'man surprised with laptop' image via Shutterstock