Talking tech since 2003

Today, Microsoft held an event to make a whole slew of new announcements related to its latest and greatest operating system, Windows 10, which is currently in Technical Preview. There are so many announcements, let’s just take them one-by-one, shall we?

Latest Build of Windows 10 Revealed

cortanaMicrosoft will be releasing the newest build of the Windows 10 Technical Preview by next week, which will offer up some of the features that were teased when Windows 10 was first announced late last year. That includes Continuum, the feature that will mold the Windows experience based on the type of device that’s using it. For instance, if you’re using a Surface Pro 3 and detach the keyboard, Continuum will transform the OS to be more tablet and touch-friendly.

The new build will also feature a desktop-version of Cortana, the Siri-like digital personal assistant that’s previously been exclusive to Windows Phone platforms. Now that Cortana is living inside your computer, you’ll be able to sync up your mobile and desktop lives more easily, and will even respond to voice commands. Furthermore, Cortana will be able to plumb your hard drive for specific search requests to save you some time – and will even take voice dictation.

Universal Apps and Touch-Focused Office

Starting with Windows 10, applications will start to work across all Windows 10 platforms, and Microsoft seems to be kicking this off with the new, touch-focused version of Office. That will include the now-standard suite of productivity apps, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and will be useable on Windows RT-level tablets and Windows Phone 10 smartphones – and those apps will be free on the more mobile platforms, too. Additionally, Windows 10 will feature new apps for Photos, Music, and Maps, all of which will offer streamlined, seamless experiences across Windows 10 platforms, along with Cortana integration. No longer will the Windows Store be walled off, it seems.

Project Spartan is Coming

spartanAs we’d heard about in the last couple of weeks, Microsoft will have a new web-browser ready for action on Windows 10 called Spartan. Neowin describes it as running “a forked version of the IE Trident rendering engine,” and has “dropped almost all of its legacy support making it super light-weight and modern.” It’ll also feature stylus support, which will make it the perfect browser for Surface users.

In short, it’ll work fast and smooth, but there might be some hiccups along the way as compatibility issues get ironed out. Hopefully that won’t happen much – or at all – when Spartan is officially released later this year.

Xbox One App

Windows 10 will feature an Xbox app, which is meant to act as your Xbox One’s presence on your PC. The app will list all your Xbox One games and friends and seems like it’s being poised as a social network specifically for your Xbox life. Some games will also allow for cross-platform gaming, allowing PC gamers and Xbox One gamers to play together. Furthermore, the app will provide desktop streaming of Xbox One games, so if your TV is being used by someone else, you can keep the game going from your computer. NOT BAD.

And it’s going to be FREE (Mostly)

During the first year of Windows 10’s availability, Windows 7 and Windows 8 and 8.1 users will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free – which is huge. The same deal will be in place for Windows Phone 8 and 8.1 devices, meaning there’s really no good reason to not upgrade to Windows 10 when it drops later this year.

Hololens Revealed

hololensFinally, Microsoft also revealed the secret behind “Project B”: the Hololens, a new holographic headset that’ll offer a new level of user interaction for Windows 10. The headset is sort of a combination of Google Glass and the Oculus Rift, providing for a holographic, augmented reality experience. The potential applications for Hololens still seem somewhat mysterious: will this primarily be a UI device? Is it meant for walking around? Or will it be gaming focused? We may not know more until later this year.

All in all, Microsoft had a good day, revealing lots of interesting new goodies, and sounding much more like an innovator in the world of computers and tech than it has in a long, long time. I’m looking forward to trying out the newest build of Windows 10 – along with everything else they announced today.

I’m left with one important question: is Microsoft actually becoming…cool?

[Sources: TechCrunch, Neowin (1), (2)]

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