Microsoft has just wrapped up their big Windows 10 event. Perhaps the best way to summarise it is that it was about much more than just a new OS for PCs.
First they showed us exactly that – Windows 10, but more importantly that it will be free – yes, free for everyone running Windows 7 and up. It will be available for free in the first year after release, which means you can keep it for life once you’ve got it but if you don’t get it in that year, you will have to pay.
This seems to be Microsoft’s way of getting as many people up-to-date as possible with Windows, a problem faced by the company with both Windows XP and Windows 7, where many users simply decided to not upgrade. This posed a massive problem for the company, with many millions of people facing security issues after the company ended support for XP last year.
The question is, how is the company going to make money? Microsoft has always been a software company, so does this mean that is changing? Will they make more money from OEMs buying Windows, from Office subscriptions, than consumers purchasing the OS? We’ll have to wait and see.
After that bombshell, everything else on the OS side of things seemed quite insignificant. There are some nice new features for Windows 10 though, including expansive Cortana integration.
Cortana will be on all Windows PCs and tablets now, and you’ll be able to use your voice to do a whole manner of things, from the usual “find me restaurants” to searching your computer’s hard drive. Cortana integrates with the new and improved start menu, allowing easier access to everything.
Another big Windows 10 story was the introduction of a new browser to replace IE. ‘Spartan’, as it’s codenamed, includes a number of features that bring the Windows default browser more up to date with Chrome, Firefox and Safari. It has a Reading List like OS X, where you can save webpages for offline viewing across your devices, and it also has a new annotations feature that allows you to ‘edit’ webpages and share those edits with friends.
They also announced the new efforts to bring Windows desktop and Windows Phone closer together. Developers can create apps that run across both platforms and quite like website these days, they will adapt and transform to fit the screen size and input method you’re using.
There was some gaming news in there as well, as many of the features of the Xbox will be made available to compatible PC games. Yes, With ‘Game DVR’ and the new Xbox app, PC gamers will get a lot of the share functionality that the Xbox brings, and users will also be able to play online with both PC and Xbox gamers of the same game.
A big thing for the gaming part of Windows 10 though is the streaming functions – you will now be able to stream an Xbox game to a Windows 10 PC or tablet in your home – not over the web though. You can sit in bed with a Surface tablet playing an Xbox game with an Xbox controller.
They then moved on to two new devices – Surface Hub and HoloLens. Surface Hub is a little less interesting – it’s a giant touch screen for businesses to use that utilises Windows 10. The big deal though was the HoloLens.
HoloLens is a VR and AR device – a cross between Google Glass and Oculus Rift. It allows you to visualise ‘holograms’ onto pretty much any surface – you can play a game on a table for instance, or watch Netflix on your wall. It’s still in development, but will be available during the Windows 10 launch period.
That pretty much was it for this massive Microsoft event, be sure to look out for further articles from us that will explore all the announcements in detail.