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Windows 10 Slated for July 29 Release

Windows 8 is, to put it mildly, not the most beloved version of Microsoft's operating system ever released. The company has taken Windows 8 criticisms to heart, though, and created Windows 10: a new OS that hopes to combine the usability of 7 with the slick interface of 8. The program has been in beta for a while, but a full release is coming soon: July 29, to be specific.

Microsoft shared the news via its Windows blog, which also included a voice recording of the Cortana virtual assistant software making the announcement. Cortana, Microsoft's answer to Apple's Siri virtual assistant, is one of many new features making its way to Windows 10.

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In its blog post, Microsoft also highlights how Windows 10 will bind together a variety of platforms, including Windows PCs, Surface tablets, Xbox Ones and the upcoming HoloLens augmented reality glasses. In a move sure to assuage longtime Windows fans, the company will also add back Start menu, a feature noted for its absence in Windows 8.

Other features new for Windows 10 include the Microsoft Edge browser, which promises to make websites more readable and incorporate stylus features, and improved apps for music, movies, photos, maps and productivity.

Perhaps the most interesting innovation in Windows 10 will be increased Xbox Live integration. Windows 10 will allow Xbox One owners to stream their games to Windows 10 tablets and PCs, just like PS4 owners can stream their games to the PS Vita. DirectX 12 on Windows 10 itself may also allow for better graphics in PC games.

Windows 8 users will be able to download Windows 10 for free on July 29, although they will need to reserve a copy through Microsoft's website. Otherwise, expect more pricing and availability details as the date approaches.

Marshall Honorof is a senior writer for Tom's Guide. Contact him at mhonorof@tomsguide.com. Follow him @marshallhonorof. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.