Redmond has officially launched Windows 10 as a free upgrade in 190 countries. Now the waiting begins. Will it resonate better than Windows 8 or be another Vista?

Microsoft is pulling out all the stops to drive adoption, including holding celebrations in 13 countries and rolling out an #UpgradeYourWorld campaign that encourages consumers to share how they plan to use Windows 10 and vote for nonprofits to receive cash awards.

Still, the big question is: is the new operating system worth the hype?

Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft, is proclaiming to the world that a new era of Windows starts today and promised the operating system “delivers on our more personal computing vision, with a natural, mobile and trusted experience.”

Windows Brings This Back

For starters, Windows 10 brings back the Start menu, something Microsoft took flack for removing in Windows 8. The operating system also showcases Live Tiles for streaming updates and has a slew of new security updates.

Windows Defender and Smart Screen, for example, work to keep viruses, malware and phishing attacks at bay. Meanwhile, Windows Hello is a password-free way to log in securely. Of course, Microsoft has a new auto-update paradigm that has been a buzz in the enterprise IT world. We’ll talk more about that in a minute.

Some of the innovations Microsoft is really bragging about are the personal digital assistant Cortana, the Microsoft Edge browser (which does away with Internet Explorer), an integrated Xbox app to woo gamers, and Continuum, which promises to optimizes apps for touch and desktop mode.

A Special Word to Enterprises

Microsoft insists Windows 10 is the best platform for business because it helps thwart cyberattacks, has plenty of bells and whistles for end users and, of course, offers the auto-updates feature that lets IT choose how often patches are deployed.

While Microsoft is doing plenty of celebrating on the consumer front, there are significant changes to the security updating paradigm to consider with Windows 10, Chris Goettl, product manager with IT management software and solutions firm Shavlik, told us. Microsoft is offering Windows Update for Business to help IT professionals keep Windows devices always up to date with the latest security defenses and Windows features.

There are four key parts to the new system: Distribution rings let IT pros specify which devices go first in an update wave, and which ones will come later to ensure any quality kinks are worked out; maintenance windows let IT pros specify the critical timeframes when updates should and should not occur; peer-to-peer delivery lets IT make delivery updates to branch offices and remote sites with limited bandwidth more efficient; and it also integrates with IT’s existing tools like System Center and the Enterprise Mobility Suite.

“For large enterprises on the enterprise licensing Microsoft will have a Long Term Servicing Branch,” Goettl said. “This branch will be available for several years before you would need to update and take in all changes to move to the next branch. This branch is intended for mission critical systems.”

With Windows 10, Goettl said many enterprises will need to change their processes for updating systems. However, that change is overdue, he said.

“Large companies that have the resources and staff to replicate entire test environments and go through weeks of testing and rollout spend a lot of time and effort. At the same time they are running a lot more risk,” Goettl said. “Threats today are exploited much quicker than in the past.”