Now that Microsoft’s Windows 10 event is wrapped up, we’re left reeling by all the promise their cross-device single platform holds for us. Also impressive is the scope Microsoft imagines the digital world in, and their new technology on deck. While we were happy to find ourselves learning about Windows across platforms, we also get a lot of great new things to look forward to. From today, here are the top ten things you probable need to know about Windows 10.
Desktop, mobile, Windows 10 doesn’t care
Aside form some small usability tweaks, Windows 10 will be usable across all your devices in the same way. though Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore went through how you can take the Surface from Desktop to mobile — and end up using your tablet differently from the desktop — Windows 10 will be the same across your screens.
The coolest thing about Windows 10 is that it’s free. Even reaching as far back as Windows 7, users will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, at least in the first year. That’s a big change from the days of updates setting you back a few bills. Microsoft says they view Windows as a service, now, so we should expect free upgrades form now on, too.
Spartan is real (and cool)
All that talk of Microsoft’s new browser was legitimate — they really do have one! It’s also pretty neat, and pinches things we like on other browsers and wisely cobbles them into one. There’s Reader mode (Safari), and a new sharing mode that reminds us of Chrome for mobile.
Cortana also figures heavily into Spartan, where she’ll anticipate your searches to push info ahead of you migrating to a new page, and even give you info about things you might be looking at already. That massage place you’re looking at has terrible reviews and closes before you can get there — look elsewhere.
Speaking of Cortana, she’s big-time, now. Microsoft is leaning heavily on her, and bringing her up at every turn. Mobile, desktop — it doesn’t matter, she’s there. As we just noted, she’s even made a home in the browser!
Maybe the more interesting portion of today’s events is that Cortana is going to figure prominently into Windows 10 on the desktop, where she’ll be up front and center when you say “Hi Cortana”. Maybe more than anything else, that will help bridge the gap between how you use your mobile devices and the desktop.
One of the neater things about Windows 10 is that you’ll have the same apps on all your devices. No more of the iOS/OS X thing where some apps are on some screens, but you can’t find them elsewhere. Buy once, and it shows up everywhere.
PC gaming is getting a shot in the arm with Xbox on Windows 10. Now you’ll be able to play Xbox Live content on your desktop, and against Xbox Live players online. Even console players!
You can capture gameplay via recording, or snap a screenshot, too.
Cloud storage and viewing across devices isn’t new, but Windows 10 is getting it. With Microsoft considering Windows a service, and deploying it everywhere, the Photos app will take full advantage of their “same app everywhere” concept and bring your photos with you. Of course, it uses OneDrive as a backup.
One of the more forward-thinking ideas presented today was HoloLens. A headset brings in Microsoft’s idea of augmented reality, where things float in front of you and allow you to virtually manipulate your ideas into shape.
Though calling what you see a “hologram” is a bit far-fetched, the cool-factor isn’t. With HoloLens, you’d get the chance to paint digitally, but with a virtual brush. You could sculpt something, them have it 3D printed. You can also work in a 3D environment, and use Windows in a whole new way. The potential is huge, so we’ll be excited to see what Microsoft ends up bringing us via HoloLens.
Another out-there concept was Surface Hub, which is as enterprise a solution as we’ve ever seen. Microsoft’s goal with Surface Hub is to replace your conference room’s whiteboard with a monitor. An 84-inch 4K monitor.
More than a touch-sensitive screen, the Surface Hub also supports sharing and streaming. So, you could be giving a presentation and your teammates could be looking on from their Surface tablets and annotating it, collaboratively. There’s also Skype baked in (along with microphones and cameras), so conference calls are coming to the big screen.
So when can you get Windows 10, or any of the rest of this good stuff? We’re not sure. Windows 10 for desktop is currently in beta, and being seeded to Developers. Windows 10 for mobile will come out for Developers in February.
HoloLens, Surface Hub — we don’t know. We haven’t yet heard much about pricing or availability of either.
For consumers, we’re still looking to later this year, and with everything we saw today — that seems likely. We’ve got no reason to think the Fall won’t bring us Windows 10.