Microsoft recently had a press conference where they talked more about their vision of Windows 10 and how it would seamlessly merge experiences across a number of devices. Instead of focusing strictly on hardware, Microsoft smartly focused on user experiences. This article will touch on some of the highlights of the conference.
Releases and Cost
The presser had some big news – most welcome is the pricing of Windows 10. It’s Free. If you’ve got a computer that came with Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 you’ll get a free upgrade to Windows 10. On top of that Microsoft talked about a major paradigm shift in how Windows will be released in the future. Instead of having major versions come out every few years, Microsoft is planning on upgrading Windows 10 with significant features, bug fixes and enhancements as free updates. Microsoft wants us to think of Windows as a service – not as a singular point product.
Better yet, since devices running Windows 10 can be targeted by developers as a single platform – no matter the device size or type (think phones, tablets, and laptops) apps should work on any device running the OS without compatibility issues.
If Microsoft can pull this off, it will give many people reason to stop and think about their next phone, tablet or computer purchase. If I can buy a tablet, phone and computer – all running Windows 10 and all of my apps will work on each device – that’s a huge benefit to consumers.
As for release dates, Microsoft remains quiet on any official dates but they have announced the free technical preview will end this April with an anticipated launch date of late 2015 for the final release.
New Features and Experiences
While there were numerous announcements made and discussions about features, one that stood out was universal apps. As mentioned above, Microsoft is really pushing to have a seamless experience when transitioning between disparate device types. Content will be stored and synchronized using OneDrive and will allow you to perform tasks – say browse the web – on one device and seamlessly pick up the same task on a different device.
Microsoft is also attempting to revive the long derided Internet Explorer with “Project Spartan". While we haven’t had hands on time with Spartan yet, Microsoft is promising a better experience with user annotations using touch or pen, simplified layouts for long form reading and the ability to read articles online and offline.
Microsoft is also touting a “Siri-like" personal assistant called Cortana that will allow you to look up information via voice interaction. I know voice control has been part of Windows for years now and as much as Microsoft tries to get people excited by it, the feature always falls flat. I’d like to remain hopeful but after seeing how Microsoft touted Kinect 2.0 as a major improvement over the original I can’t help but be a bit wary.
In a move that I’m guessing no one saw coming, Microsoft announced a technical showcase product called HoloLens. Essentially an augmented reality set of glasses you wear and allows you to project holographic images on top of reality – cooler yet is that you can interact with them. The glasses don’t have any kind of tether and don’t require a PC or phone to operate. It’s probably the closest thing to the user interfaces seen in the movie Minority Report we’ve seen yet. With no release date or pricing I’m guessing this is still a ways off.
Stay tuned for more coverage of Windows 10 as we near the release date later this year.