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Windows 10 likely to land at PC makers this week

Microsoft is in the final phase of preparation ahead of the July 29 launch date for the next big update to its marquee software.

The updated Start button layout in Windows 10: one of many improvements coming on July 29. Nick Statt/CNET

Microsoft keeps wending its way past the mile markers en route to getting Windows 10 out to the public on time.

The software titan is putting the finishing touches on the operating system software and will finalize its prerelease development by July 10, The Verge is reporting, citing people who claim to have knowledge of the company's plans. This version of Windows 10, called "release to manufacturing," will then be sent to PC makers to be bundled into their products.

Windows 10, which is slated to launch on July 29, is Microsoft's big opportunity to make up for the missteps of Windows 8, which arrived three years ago. While Windows overall remains the dominant force in desktop operating systems, running on over 90 percent of computers worldwide, according to NetMarketShare, Windows 8 dramatically failed to catch on with consumers and businesses -- it has mustered just 13 percent market share worldwide, far behind the 61 percent share for Windows 7 and just barely ahead of the now ancient Windows XP.

The issues with Windows 8 were numerous, ranging from Microsoft's design choice, called Metro, to a steep learning curve for those used to the old days of Windows. Windows 8 also came as consumers and business users were increasingly attracted to tablets and smartphones, which typically ran either Apple's iOS software or Google's Android.

With Windows 10, Microsoft is looking to make amends. The Start button is back and the design a bit more traditional, while CEO Satya Nadella has made clear that Microsoft is a "mobile-first (and cloud-first)" company that will allow for Windows 10 to run on multiple device types without sacrificing features. There's also a new browser, called Edge, to replace the decades-old Internet Explorer, as well as a more robust version of Cortana, Microsoft's voice-enabled digital software assistant.

To boost adoption, Microsoft will offer free upgrades to customers currently running Windows 7 and Windows 8 -- a first for the company. Microsoft has even softened its stance in its longstanding battle with pirates, saying that any pirated copy of Windows can be upgraded to Windows 10 free of charge.

While Microsoft seems to be on pace for a July 29 launch, the company cautioned last week that the rollout could be slow going. The first to get the high-stakes update to the company's marquee software will be those who have been helping Microsoft get the kinks out of Windows 10, working through the Windows Insider program that went into effect last October.

Then things will progress "in waves, slowly scaling up after July 29th," Microsoft said in a blog post that hinted at fine-tuning of the software yet to come. "Each day of the rollout, we will listen, learn and update the experience for all Windows 10 users."

That's for those who will be upgrading computers already in their possession. The release-to-manufacture (RTM) version of the software will be going into new hardware getting ready to go on sale.

Microsoft itself has yet to say when its operating system will hit the RTM phase, but in the past, the company has announced the milestone on its site.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.