Microsoft's new Windows 10 operating system is officially available for purchase in Australia from today.
The company held launch events around the world yesterday and last night to mark the availability of Windows 10 in 190 countries including Australia.
It is hoping Windows 10 will make amends for its controversial design decisions in Windows 8, which was deemed too radical a departure from existing user interface conventions by many customers.
In Windows 10, Microsoft has reverted some of those radical user interface changes, and users now get a Start menu and Taskbar for greater familiarity.
New features in Windows 10 include the Cortana personal digital assistant, the new Edge web browser, integration with competing mobile operating systems, user authentication through biometrics and beefed up security.
Australian Windows 10 users, however, won't get a local version of Cortana until later this year.
The OS retires Windows Media Centre and desktop gadgets and introduces automatic updates for home users.
Existing Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1 users will be able to upgrade to the new operating system for free within one year of today's launch. Windows 10 is available in seven editions.
Australians can access Windows 10 retail versions at $179 for the Home edition and $279 for the Pro version, aimed at power users.
Microsoft Australia's Windows marketing manager Jaron Cohen said the new operating system also handled mobility and security better, with a new approach that deals with new threats such as users being tricked into installing BIOS rootkits and more.
Manageability has also been improved, Cohen said.
"Compared to Windows 7, it's much easier to deploy and configure Windows 10 - it's a matter of entering users credentials, and the system is pulled down without administrators having to go through multiple steps as in the past," he said.
Windows 10 is also more flexible for enterprises, Cohen said, which can choose to go with the edition that is supported security-wise for a decade.
Although Microsoft is preparing new versions of Windows Server concurrently with Windows 10, Cohen said admins would be able to take advantage of the new management and security features in the desktop operating system without having to upgrade their servers as well.
Windows licensing, which is deemed complex and something of a minefield by corporate customers, has become simpler to manage.
"The per-user licensing changes for Windows we introduced last year are much more suited to today's environment, where one employee can have multiple devices, some of which are used for VDI," Cohen said.