Microsoft unveiled a near complete Windows 10 platform at an event they hosted this past week (Jan 21, 2015.) During the keynotes, several key features were shown off, which are sure to make just about everyone happy about the new addition to the Windows family. Among the features highlighted were:
Continuum, the ability to rather seamlessly transition from desktop mode to tablet and back again, depending on whether or not you have your tablet docked or not.
Cortana, the Windows Phone assistant now comes to the desktop and tablet experiences as well.
Universal apps, which have been talked about for a long time, are a reality. These apps will work on phone, tablet or PC and the experience will be very similar across devices.
Clean and consistent user interface spans all types of devices, from phone to XBOX One.
Windows 10 not only gives desktop features to mobile devices, but some of those features are headed to PC land (and some to XBOX as well) including the notification area. On phone, you swipe down from the top edge of the screen. On PC, it will be near the tray. Either way, you will see the same things. And, perhaps the biggest feature of all, Cortana, the Siri like assistant, comes to the desktop.
There were also two huge announcements made, that really kind of overshadow all of the other stuff: Windows as a service and Windows 10 upgrades will be free to Windows 7, 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 users, for the first year the product is available. Yes, that gives you a year to get off your seat and upgrade those Windows 7 computers. For free.
Windows as a service is currently aimed at the business area, but it could to consumer land at some point. The Windows as a service plan is very much like Office 365 and, in fact, includes Office 365 for business. Pricing was not announced, but it is speculated to be around $12 per user per month.
Perhaps an overlooked aspect of the announcements was the XBOX One. Windows 10 will be coming to that platform as well. And it will require a new interface…the XBOX controller. Game streaming from XBOX One to any Windows 10 device will be baked in. You will be able to start a game on your console, continue on your tablet or desktop and finish back on your console. The XBOX app for Windows will also be included and will be very similar to the Xbox 360 and Xbox One apps that are out today.
Microsoft will be releasing two huge Windows 10 computers, a 55 inch and an 84 inch device that is ‘tuned’ for conferencing and aimed at business (which means they will be expensive.) They will be from the Perceptive Pixel company that Microsoft purchased a while back. Called Surface Hub, you can see them in action here.
Oh, and there was one more thing…
HOLOLENS. HoloLens is an augmented reality headset in the form of glasses. Among the things it can do…use your eye as a mouse. This device is very intriguing and nothing I write here will convey that, so…I will point you to Youtube and to Engadget, where they had some hands on with the device and a nice write up too boot.
A new version of Office was briefly shown. Office for Windows 10 is a touch enabled version of the productivity suite. It will be available for all Windows devices (not sure about XBOX) and will be consistent across them. Outlook on Mobile will use the Word engine so you will be able to, finally, create really nice email messages on your phone. The suite will be available for free on all device that are under 8 inches. Pricing for the other devices was not revealed.
If you want to play around with the new bits, you can enter the preview program and download Windows 10 for your computer today. The mobile version is coming out in February of 2015.