5 Points: Windows 10

On Wednesday January 21st 2015, Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s executive vice president of the company’s operating systems group, unveiled their newest operating system: Windows 10. Set to be a monumental shift in the companies’ overall strategy, Microsoft stressed they are beginning to view Windows “as-a-service” rather than just a stand-alone product. Myerson explained that the latest rendition of Windows is focused on “more personal computing”, and that it will span devices from PCs and game consoles to smartphones and tablets. The “three pillars” Microsoft is basing this new vision upon include “mobility of experience”, “trust” and the “right interaction at the right time”.

Here are 5 takeaways from the event as Windows 10 gears up for its launch later this year:

1) Continuum

Continuum, a feature included in Windows 10, recognizes which device you’re on (PC, tablet, smartphone, etc…) and dynamically adjusts the UI accordingly. Let’s say you’re on a 2-in-1 device such as the Microsoft Surface. When the keyboard is attached, the UI will remain in full-desktop mode, but when the keyboard is removed, the UI will automatically switch to tablet mode, which has a more “touch-friendly” interface. Microsoft is also building what they call “universal applications” that will retain continuity regardless of device.

2) Cortana Integration

Throughout the past few years, Microsoft has been playing “catch-up” with Apple and Google in the smartphone universe. An example of this is Microsoft’s Cortana, their competitor to Apple’s Siri voice-recognition software included on every iPhone since the 4S. Currently, Cortana utilizes Microsoft’s cloud-based Bing engine to find and answer useful information scattered throughout the web. Now, she’s going to be integrated on your PC and can scour your local machine, OneDrive account & business network to find files based on natural language queries. For example, you can say “Cortana, show me my pictures from last December”, and Cortana will retrieve the information and pull it up on your desktop within seconds.

3) Codename: Project Spartan

“Project Spartan” is Microsoft’s new web-browser and the successor to Internet Explorer. “Spartan” will reportedly resemble the look of modern browsers like Google’s Chrome & Mozilla’s FireFox, as well as work seamlessly across multiple devices. “Spartan” also includes a note-taking feature for annotating web-pages, a full-screen reading mode and built-in support for PDF files.

4) The Surface Hub

A.K.A: The Whiteboard Killer. Microsoft unveiled a couple new device categories at their conference last Wednesday, one of which is an 84-inch 4K display with support for multi-touch and pen input dubbed: The Surface Hub. Running a modified version of Windows 10, the Surface Hub aims to replace your conference room’s whiteboard with a digital and interactive hub designed for the modern businesses with collaboration at the forefront. It also allows for connection to other Windows 10 devices to offer greater continuity and collaboration among colleagues. Although there is no word on price as-of-yet, Microsoft has stated they will offer both a 55-inch and 84-inch version of the hardware.

5) Holographic Computing (HoloLens)

Arguably the most interesting (and possibly disturbing) piece of hardware shown at the conference was Microsoft’s HoloLens headset. The Microsoft HoloLens is a see-through visor that overlays holographic imagery over the real-world. Powered by a new processor, it’s equipped with sensors to detect the real-world and gestures of the user, as well as providing holographic sound. Imagine if your customer service representative could actually see what a client saw in regards to a specific problem, and “draw” in mid-air the precise steps to be taken to resolve that problem? The possibilities are endless and this product aims to cement Microsoft as a leader in Augmented Reality.