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Microsoft event gives us Windows 10, Cortana, Xbox updates, and more

Windows 10 Terry MyersonToday’s Microsoft event was promising to be a biggie, and it didn’t disappoint. A lot is coming in the next year from the company, and these are some of the biggest highlights.

Windows 10 (Free Upgrades)

Windows 10 is the latest installment in the operating system, and another attempt by Microsoft to create an OS that seamlessly integrates between desktop and mobile platforms.

The 8.1 home screen is here to stay, it would seem. Windows 10 has the same configuration, with small aesthetic changes to the icons and placement. The hope seems to be that these will convert well between touchscreen and traditional mouse use, while offering easy access to common features like WIFI on both mobile devices and desktops.

Showing that they are more confident about this version of Windows than they were 8 and 8.1, Microsoft will be providing free upgrades to anyone who is running Windows 7 or higher. This can be redeemed within the first year of the 10 release, a perk that pretty much anyone running 8 is sure to take advantage of.

Desktop/Tablet/Phone Harmony

We saw the use of integration between the tablet and desktop with Windows 8, but with lackluster results. It was expected that they would bring smartphones into the mix, in a bid to collaborate and push the Windows Phone.

The result has been a more thorough and complete mobile version of Windows that is essentially the full 10 experience, set for a smaller screen. That includes notification and feature syncing that will show on desktops, and an expansion of universal apps. Which is one issue they have struggled with for awhile, as their library of compatible applications remains woefully small in comparison to Android and iOS.

Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Skype are all included on phones and tablets now, and have been given higher priority and updates for easy use on all platforms.


The artificial intelligence personal assistance app, Cortana, is being improved. She is supposed to be more knowledgeable, and to be able to do a bit more for you. But the biggest news is that the app is going to be included now on PC’s.

You can speak directly to “her” this way, and give voice commands. She can find files, bring up what you need, give you information, surf the web, and do pretty much everything she does on your phone, on your PC.

She will also create a personal profile of your, your interests, and things that are important to you in her “notebook”. Making interacting with her more efficient and impressive.

Bye Bye, Internet Explorer

Everyone hates Internet Explorer. Even my grandmother, who is still inexplicably running Windows XP, hates Internet Explorer. Microsoft has been trying to polish it up and get us to like it again for years, but their stylish ad campaigns and promises just weren’t enough.

They seem to have finally accepted this fact, and decided it was time to scrap it. Project Spartan has been introduced instead, the code name for an all new browser that they claim will offer a “rich canvas for expressing yourself on the web”.

In includes a number of features, like mark ups, integrated reading lists, multi-device/platform integration, and a pretty sleek look. Will it be able to compete with Chrome and Firefox? Actually, it looks like it just might.

Gaming Goes PC

I have XBox Live, and I hate using the stupid website. It is just the worst, and I will do anything to avoid having to sign in there. Including getting Windows 10, because they now have an app that will allow you to launch your account on your PC.

Access friends lists, achievements, messages and your activity feed. Record video and media clips, or play them from your XBox account on your PC. See your game list. Stream games to a Windows run tablet.

It shows the way forward on integrating products more completely now that the XBox One has been released.

Surface Hub

Microsoft has created a giant touchscreen TV. At 84″, it was one of the most interesting products to be shown at the event. Meant to empower the workspace, it allows for direct touch interaction, including “drawing” or writing on the screen, interacting with the display, and more or less using it like a giant tablet.

It can create modules that sector off different media. For example, one corner could have a video call, another could contain a running video, and the center could be a giant board for writing down ideas.

Windows Holographic

Microsoft is developing holograms for your home. Seriously. They have created a working prototype called the Windows Hololens, and it creates a virtual reality image that projects a hologram. Through the use of sensors, it will react and interact with user’s movements to create a rich environment.

It will be available “within the Windows 10 time frame”, which means it is coming fast.

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