Microsoft held its Windows 10 Consumer Preview event on January 21, 2015 in Redmond, Washington and announced, well, just about everything, even a few surprises. From new smart glass technology (HoloLens) to Windows 10 going free for the first year, Microsoft definitely surprised not only the media but consumers with its own push towards the Internet of Things (IoT.)
Windows 10 certainly sounds like the operating system that the consumers wanted. We’ll breakdown what Microsoft announced at its Consumer Preview event and what you can look forward to in 2015 from the company.
Windows 10 Consumer Preview Event Roundup
Here’s a look at the big announcements from the Windows 10 Consumer Preview event.
While we’re cover Windows 10 from the Consumer Preview event in greater detail shortly, the biggest announcement about Windows 10 at the event was that it will be free for Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 users for the first year. Microsoft is pushing towards a service-based OS, where they support you for the lifetime of your PC, not the lifetime of the OS.
This is a sharp contrast to the upgrade model Microsoft has had in place for over two decades and should encourage just about anyone unhappy with Windows 8 and 8.1 to upgrade on day one.
Everyone from Joe Belfiori to Satya Nadella stressed the concept of “Windows Everywhere” at the event. Windows Everywhere, which you’ve already seen on some levels between Windows 8/8.1, Windows Phone and Xbox One, is taking connection to the next level. Microsoft wants the transition from devices to be seamless and make your life easier, not more frustrating.
Microsoft plans to introduce Windows 10 to multiple devices, including the PC, Windows Phone, tablets, Xbox One and its new smart glass product, HoloLens. This will connect Microsoft users completely across the broad range of products they use on a daily basis better than integration has been seen so far.
Once again, Microsoft is revamping its Office suite for mobile devices. All new Windows Phone devices will come with Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word pre-installed.
They’ve been redesigned from what seems like the ground up to function better than they do currently on devices across all platforms. New features touched upon at the event include changing font colors, clearing formatting, adding lists and using stylized text.
Universal Windows Apps
Apps will still be a prominent feature in Windows 10 and within the Windows Everywhere universe. Microsoft showed us a preview of the new Windows 10 Photos app, focusing on a clean design and more functionality than the current versions across platforms currently offer.
Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Siri, was touched up during the event, focusing on its integration with the PC. Yes, you heard that right. With Windows 10, you’ll be able to use Cortana on your desktop or laptop, similar to how Google Now works through Chrome on a computer.
It’ll integrate directly into the Taskbar and be accessible by voice command from the get go. There’s been no major updates or changes to Cortana for the PC, other than it being integrated into Windows 10 at this time.
If you’re an Xbox One gamer, your gaming experience is about to change with Windows 10. Microsoft is changing the way you game by integrating the Xbox One and Windows 10 experience, letting you game on both. Yes, on both. There will be Windows 10 versions of popular Xbox One titles that you’ll be able to play away from the console, giving you more time with your games and a more universal experience, pushing once again the Windows 10 Everywhere mantra.
Another exciting announcement on the Xbox One front came from Phil Spencer that will allow gamers to stream their Xbox One content to various Windows 10 devices. You’ll still control the games with your Xbox One controller
Microsoft Surface Hub
In a weird twist to the event, and Windows Everywhere concept, Microsoft introduced the Surface Hub. It’s an 84-inch 4K display, featuring sensors, a dual camera, microphones, speakers and even stylus support. It runs a version of Windows 10 designed specifically for a big screen. This looks like a business product, and so far, no price has been mentioned for this Windows 10 device. It was a surprise announcement but has garnered a lot interest among Windows users.
As we’ve long suspected, Microsoft finally announced the Spartan browser project. We’ll cover this in more detail in another post, but ditching IE for Spartan will put Microsoft on par Google Chrome, Firefox and other third-party browsers that have done it better for over a decade. Spartan looks much more like Chrome than it does IE, integrating Cortana and offering a visually appealing UI.
HoloLens is Microsoft’s jump into the wide world of smart glasses. While calling this a holographic smart glass product is a bit of a stretch, Microsoft is trying to integrate a fully immersive experience – something they’re calling more holographic than others on the market. HoloLens will let you use gestures and voice commands to play games, like Minecraft, and interact with the computing world around you.
Microsoft finally threw the world, and consumers, a bone with their vision for Windows 10 and the leap into smart glasses. Microsoft’s Windows Everywhere is a bold vision and one that it’s too early to tell whether they’ll pull it off.
With Windows 10 being free for consumers on Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 platforms, this is a step forward to putting the Windows 8/8.1 debacle behind them and convincing consumers that Microsoft really has a vision for everyone for the future.