Today’s Microsoft’s keynote was packed full of announcements, from previews of Windows 10 and a post-IE browser to Xbox improvements and a virtual reality headset.
Like many who have been in the Apple camp for a long time, my natural tendency to dismiss Microsoft as old and boring, reserved for people stuck in the enterprise, but the truth is that Redmond is more relevant than they have been in years, and today’s event proves it in several ways.
Color me excited about what Microsoft is doing for the first time in a long time.
Starting with Windows 8, Microsoft started on their whole “one OS, everywhere” concept, but the company had to split their OS based on what processor was under it — resulting in the much-despised Windows RT.
All that’s gone now, it would seem. Windows 10 is one OS, spanning from the desktop to the smartphone. The whole OS has an interface that’s smart enough to know what kind — and size — of device it is on.
Hell, even the Xbox is getting Windows 10; whatever that means.
This isn’t the approach Apple’s taken, of course. Apple still ships Mac OS X and iOS as separate operating systems, albeit with special versions for the Apple TV and (soon) the Apple Watch. OS X and iOS share a lot of under-the-hood bits, but they don’t share much in the way of control or UI elements.
While I think Apple’s way still is best, but there’s no denying that Windows 10 is compelling.
Features like Cortana, Microsoft’s powerful digital assistant will be on the desktop, as will smartphone-like access to things like Bluetooth and location settings.
Interestingly, it’ll be free for a year for anyone who owns Windows 7 or 8. Clearly, this is in response to Apple making OS X updates free several years ago, but this is a big move for Redmond. Unlike Apple, Microsoft doesn’t rely on hardware for the majority of its income, so it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out in the company’s earnings.
The upcoming version of Office falls in line with Windows 10, with one version to run on all devices. Both the OS and the office suite will change depending on input type, which seems a little crazy, but these things have to live in a world where a laptop can flip over and become a tablet, and it’s good to see Microsoft realize that.
While it’s here to plague web developers for years to come, the end of Internet Explorer is in sight.
It’s actually unclear if Spartan is just the next IE, or if Microsoft will take this opportunity to put the maligned brand out to pasture.
We know that the new browser will be powered by an all-new rendering engine, but it doesn’t seem like its WebKit. This world it still doomed to having Microsoft build its own engine, but hopefully it will be as modern as the company claimed today.
On the feature side, Spartan boasts deep integration with OneNote, making it easy to mark up webpages and share them. There’s also Reading List which is exactly what it sounds like.
The new Surface Hub — no, not this Surface or that Surface — is a 84-inch 4K display with a built-in computer hooked up to a bunch of sensors, cameras, speakers and more.
In short, the Surface Hub can hold conference calls, serve as a digital whiteboard (powered by OneNote) and more.
Where it got real weird
The Microsoft HoloLens is a visor-based virtual reality headset that overlays holographic images on the real world.
Basically, this plus the Oculus Rift.
I don’t even really know what to say about this, but this article is well-worth the read. I have no idea what this stuff is for beyond gaming, but it sure seems awesome.