Microsoft took to the stage at their headquarters to share new information about Windows 10, the next generation of Windows.
The company shared more Windows 10 experiences and how Windows 10 will “inspire new scenarios across the broadest range of devices, from big screens to small screens to no screens at all.”
Windows 10 is the first step to an era of “more personal computing” for the tech giant. This vision framed Microsoft’s work on Windows 10, where the operating system is moving from its heritage of enabling a single device — the PC — to a world that is more mobile, natural and grounded in trust.
Windows as a Service; Windows 10 free upgrade
The company announced that a free upgrade to customers using Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows Phone 8.1 for the first year after launch.
This is more than an one-time upgrade: once a Windows device is upgraded to Windows 10, Microsoft will continue to keep it current for the supported lifetime of the device at no cost.
With universal Windows apps that work across the entire device family, developers can build one app that targets the “broadest range of devices” — including the PC, tablet, phone, Xbox and Internet of Things.
New Windows 10 Experiences
Together with Microsoft’s Windows Insiders, the company’s well on the way to making Windows 10 the largest-ever open collaborative development effort ever shipped. Since the Windows Insider Program launched in September, 1.7 million Windows Insiders have joined the program, who have delivered over 800,00 pieces of feedback.
At the press event, new details were given on the experience coming to Windows 10, including:
Cortana learns your preferences to give relevant recommendations, fast access to information, and important reminders. Interaction is “natural and easy” via talking or typing, with advanced features to control Cortana for more trustworthiness and transparency.
Windows 10 for phones and tablets
Windows 10 for phones and small tablets features a fast, fluid and familiar experience that “seamlessly interacts” with your PC.
Code-named “Project Spartan,” the long-rumored next-generation browser coming to Windows 102 was built with a new look and feel just for Windows 10. Advanced features include the ability to annotate by keyboard or pen directly on the webpage and easily share with friends, a distraction free reading view that displays articles in a simplified layout for reading articles both online and offline, and the integration of Cortana for finding and doing things online faster.
Office universal apps on Windows 10
New versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook offer a consistent, touch-first experience across phones, tablets and PCs. Designed from the ground up to run on Windows, you can easily create and edit Word documents, annotate slides in real-time with new inking features or easily present PowerPoint presentations, and with new touch-first controls in Excel you can create or update spreadsheets without a keyboard or mouse. The next version of the Office desktop suite is also now in development.
New universal applications ship with Windows 10
New Photos, Videos, Music, Maps, People & Messaging, and Mail & Calendar apps will offer new experience applications that’re consistent across the device continuum. These built-in apps have an updated design that look and feel the same from app to app and device to device. Content is stored and synced through OneDrive, enabling you to start something on one device and continue on another.
Xbox Live, new Xbox app bring new game experiences to Windows 10
Phil Spencer, Xbox Head at Microsoft, shared the company’s vision for gaming on Windows 10 and Xbox One during the briefing. With Xbox on Windows 10, some of the “most exciting features from Xbox and some of the most popular Xbox experiences into Windows 10 itself.” The built-in Xbox app is the place where you world of gaming “comes together.” It’s a unified view of the games you care about, your friends, and your gaming activities. And with Xbox Live, more than 50 million members will now connect across screens in new ways.
“Over the last 15 years, Xbox has been focused on creating and expanding great gaming and entertainment experiences on console. We’re incredibly proud of the Xbox One and are fully committed to ensuring it’s the best place to play console games in 2015 and beyond. Now, we are also bringing that same focus, passion and commitment to gaming on Windows 10, enhancing the PC games and gaming devices you already love, including the Xbox One. We’ve listened and learned from our past efforts in PC gaming and I am excited about what the future holds.”
Let’s take a closer look at what this means for gamers. Here are some highlights of the news announced at the briefing.
- The Xbox App: Whether you only game on the PC, the console or on both platforms, the Xbox app brings together the most important aspects of your gaming life: Games, Friends, Messages, Activity Feed, as well as your gaming legacy with Achievements.
- Xbox Live & multiplayer across devices: Xbox Live is social, interactive, and “seamlessly integrated” directly into Windows 10, bringing gamers the experiences they love across devices, like multiplayer gaming on Windows 10 against players on an Xbox One, and messaging and chat with friends. Developers will get full access to the Xbox Live API, making it easier to create more powerful gaming scenarios across devices.
- Game Streaming: Thanks to Xbox’s “deep integration” on Windows 10, games on Xbox One can be streamed through your home network to your Windows 10 PC or tablet, anywhere in your house. Xbox One gamers will now be able to play many of their favorite console games on their PC. Many Xbox One accessories also work interchangeably on the console and PC, so you can customize your experience to fit your gaming style.
- DirectX 12: Microsoft’s enhanced their graphics technology to “squeeze every ounce of performance” out of your hardware and open up a “new wave of innovation” for high-end graphics. Delivering “greater complexity and detail” on your current PC, games authored or updated for DirectX 12 are “able to run faster with richer visuals.” This technology is in the hands of developers today. The engines used to power hundreds of games are implementing DirectX 12, including Unreal Engine 4 from Epic and Unity.
- Game DVR: On Xbox One, Game DVR is one of the most popular features used. The feature gives “simple access” to recording, editing and sharing out your best gaming moments. This features is accessible in Windows 10 by using the Windows+G keyboard shortcut. With the games you love playing — whether on Xbox Live, Steam or other services — you can record, edit and share game clips with all your social networks.
- Fable Legends: Fable Legends is coming to Windows 10 PCs at the same time as it comes on Xbox One in 2015. This means that Fable fans running Windows 10 will be able to play against their fellow gamers on Xbox One. It’s the same game, in the same world, on the same map. Fable Legends is the first of Microsoft Studios’ major game franchises coming to the platform.
Now, while Xbox is coming to Windows, Windows is also coming to Xbox. As you may know, Xbox One runs its app environment on Windows. Later this year, the Xbone will update to Windows 10 to enable “seamless interaction” with PC gamers and to give developers who want to extend their applications to the television an easy method of doing so.
On two-in-one devices, Windows 10 will move easily between keyboard/mouse and touch/tablet as it detects the transition and conveniently switches to the new mode.
New Windows 10 devices
Two new devices were welcomed into the Windows 10 family at the event: Microsoft Surface Hub and Microsoft HoloLens.
It was a “special moment” when the company was able to share that Windows 10 is the world’s first holographic computing platform — complete with a set of APIs that enable developers to create holographic experiences in the real world. With Windows 10, holograms are Windows universal apps and Windows universal apps can work as holograms, making it possible to place three-dimensional holograms in the world around you to communicate, create and explore in a way that is “far more personal and human.”
Showcasing the possibilities of holograms in Windows 10, Microsoft HoloLens is the “world’s first untethered holographic computer” — with no wires, phones or connection to a PC needed. HoloLens allows you to view holograms in high definition and hear them in surround sound, even if they are behind you. With advanced sensors, Microsoft HoloLens can see what you are looking at and understand what you are communicating with your hands and voice. By putting you at the center of the Windows 10 computing experience, HoloLens allows you to create, access information, enjoy entertainment and communicate in “new and exciting ways.”
Microsoft Surface Hub
From no screen to an 84-incher, the Microsoft Surface Hub is a new larger screen device designed for the ways team in the workplace “naturally interact and come together.” Custom versions of Skype for Business and OneNote are integrated into the Windows 10 shell to take full advantage of the built-in cameras, sensors and mics, as well as the new screen that was built from the ground up for ink and touch. The Surface Hub features “state of the art” digital whiteboarding, instant remote conferencing, the ability for multiple people to share and edit content on the screen from any device, and a trusted platform for large-screen apps. Available in two sizes — 55” and the aforementioned 84” — the Surface Hub removes the current limitations of traditional conference room scenarios to “empower teams to create their best work together.”