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Windows 10 is finalized, and the near-release version is heading to testers

Have you been testing Microsoft's new OS? You get the first crack at the essentially complete version

We are exactly two weeks away from the official release of Windows 10, although given Microsoft’s staggered upgrade plans, it doesn’t sound like every part of the OS launch will be in place on “day one.” Still, it’s reached an important milestone today.

The Verge reports that build 10240 of the operating system is Microsoft’s release to manufacturing (RTM) version, which will be sent to PC makers to put on their machines. Granted, with the release just two weeks away, Microsoft admitted earlier this week that Windows 10-loaded machines won’t be available on 29 July.

Microsoft didn’t acknowledge as much in its post about the new build, but noted that it’s “one step closer to what customers will start to receive on 29 July” – some last tweaks and updates are sure to come in these last two weeks. But testers are starting to receive that build now. It’ll likely roll out in the coming days, with Insider users in the “fast” update ring getting it pretty quickly.

How close is this build to the proper release? Well, the desktop watermark for the preview program is finally gone. Also, Microsoft says that the new Edge web browser has been significantly optimized, and that in various Javascript benchmarks, it’s beating both Chrome and Safari – Edge is 112% faster than Chrome in WebKit Sunspider, for example.

There is one notable downside to Windows 10’s imminent release, at least for preview testers: the native Windows 10 Office apps are about to lose their "Preview" tag, and in about a week, they’ll require a paid Office 365 subscription to edit documents on a Windows 10 PC or large tablet. The free ride is over, at least when it comes to productivity.

We’ve been using the Windows 10 preview for the past several months, and have been increasingly impressed with its enhancements – everything from Edge to Cortana implementation. Read our impressions for more on the impending release, and stay tuned for more on Windows 10.

[Sources: The Verge, Microsoft]