Microsoft held their fall event today, a highly anticipated one where many of us have been waiting to see if the rumors floating around about the company will be validated. Several of them were, along with a couple of surprise reveals.
Here are the five biggest announcements the company made.
Virtual Reality Headsets
Microsoft has been heading the research on VR tech for awhile, but their proofs of concept have been monstrous, giant devices or full room rigs that have had little consumer application. It appears that is set to change. They have announced home ready VR standalone headsets that can be bought for as little as $299. They will be compatible with Windows 10’s growing 3D features, and can be used for unspecified gaming experiences.
All in all, they seem similar to current headsets being launched from companies like Google and Sony. But they don’t require a smartphone, which makes them a tad bit ahead of the crowd.
Update to Microsoft Windows 10
Speaking of 3D, Microsoft is pushing it hard. Windows 10 will be seeing an update that features a lot of 3D capabilities to match the headset, and tempt users into trying out VR. Using smartphone apps you will be able to scan images in 3D, then send, edit, or create with them; 3D and 2D content can be mixed and shared. Viewing VR content will also be easier than ever.
This isn’t a future concept. You can get the beta release of the Windows 10 Creators Edition right now to start playing around with this and other 3D features. Honestly, I am most excited to see how this feature is going to combine with tech becoming more popular, such as 3D printers. Imagine being able to create a concept so precisely using Windows 10, then use that as your blueprint for a 3D printed item. It could help inform the technology and make it grow.
Beam Gaming Stream
Gamers will be excited for some of the releases. Piggybacking on their syncing capabilities between devices through XBox’s premium service, you can now also stream across multiple devices. Beam is a Twitch competitor that allows users to stream their gameplay to viewers on an XBox One console, a computer, or through a smartphone/tablet with the appropriate app. Notifications will be used to alert viewers about a new stream through users they follow.
It is meant to be a fully integrated stream service that doesn’t require a third party app to show off gameplay. It will come with similar features and tools to Twitch, and connect with the user’s gaming profile on XBox Live. Players can also create tournament style competitions in a customized arena, which can be streamed through Beam.
New Surface Book
Microsoft made a splash with their original Surface computer, an ultra thin laptop that managed to pack a lot of power in the slimmest design on the market. Now they are releasing their version two, a visually similar device that is just as slim, and twice as powerful.
We don’t yet have the actual tech specs for the model. What we do know are these facts:
- the same design as its predecessor, including the detachable, ultra thin frame.
- It has doubled the GPU to feature the most insane graphics of any Microsoft yet.
- you can preorder it now for a starting price of $1499, with more costly models featuring greater power moving up in scale to $2499.
- It will begin to ship out next month.
Of course, we can speculate about the improved GPU, and it isn’t hard to see why that was the major hallmark of the new release. An increased emphasis on virtual reality requires better graphics and more computing oomph is necessary to make it work.
Device Synced Communication
Apple has been obsessed with streamlining communication for quite some time, hence the automatic syncing between compatible devices, and of course the auto cloud backup of messages through iOS. Now Microsoft is getting onto that same train, allowing syncing between devices through Windows to bring communication to every area of our lives.
There will be a messenger service built into Windows 10 Creator. Beyond that, it will be easier than ever to share content between people, which is a pretty basic (but still appreciated) improvement on the current version.
As you can see, Microsoft has had some big things up their sleeve. My biggest thrill is in seeing VR, as the tech is spreading far and wide. Through my childhood years I was desperate to see virtual reality come to fruition, the way it was in movies. Attempts like the Virtual Boy left a taste like ash in my mouth about it…that was far from impressive.
But now look how far we have come. Headsets are becoming commonplace. My local theater is releasing VR experiences, and even the haunted house down the street, and numerous conventions held in my city, offer virtual experience.
What an amazing time to be alive.