Amidst the hustle and bustle of Amazon's Prime Day, an interesting fact about Microsoft's upcoming Windows 10 operating system was discovered. Microsoft has listed pre-order pages for Windows 10 Home (opens in new tab) and Windows 10 Pro (opens in new tab) on Amazon.com. The interesting thing is that the OS will be available on USB Flash Drive.
We reached out to Microsoft to verify the validity of these listings, and we were told that Windows 10 will be available on USB flash drive shortly after the release of the operating system. Microsoft has also confirmed that, despite the cost of the flash drive, the new version will carry the same price tag as Windows 8.1.
On first consideration you might be wondering why Microsoft would be releasing hard copies of the OS when it is widely believed that everyone is getting a free upgrade. Although people who own a copy of Window 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, everyone else needs to buy it. You'd also need a copy if you build a brand new PC; something I expect many of our readers do every few years.
Releasing the OS on USB is certainly a new idea, but it's not really a big surprise. Optical drives have been getting less and less popular. Many laptops don't come with an option for one at all, and some recent desktop case designs have done away with 5.25-inch drive bays, such as the NZXT H440 used in our recent water cooled PC build. Windows has supported installation from USB drives since Windows XP, and Microsoft has made instructions readily available (opens in new tab) to create your own USB install drive. As a result, it was only a matter of time before we would see Windows available this way from the factory.
Microsoft stated that USB copies of Windows 10 will be available shortly after the release, which is scheduled for July 29. Amazon's site states the release date for these items is set for August 30. Currently, Windows 10 Home is priced at $120, and the Pro version will set you back $200. DVD versions have not been listed for pre-order yet, and it is unclear if there will be any in the future.