The Windows 10 press conference took place yesterday and we were all anticipating what Microsoft had to reveal but we all knew it could only be getting better. It ended up being quite surprising and there was a lot more to the event than what we expected, but I’ll get to that.
There was the usual sales spiel about how it was the latest and greatest Windows and that it’s going to change the landscape. The most interesting point during this was that it will be a free upgrade for Windows 8/8.1 users (including Windows Phone 8.1) but best of all, a free upgrade for the first year for Windows 7 users which means it’s free for the vast majority of Windows users. Even more of a step change for them is that they’ll keep it up to date for the lifetime of support which will likely be many years.
A significant upgrade
There are a lot of useful and interesting features coming in Windows 10 that all add up to quite a significant upgrade to Windows 7/8/8.1. This was the first demonstration of Windows 10 on a phone or small tablet and it looks to work similarly to the existing Windows Phone 8.1 but with the experience unified across all the platforms with the UI and especially OneDrive. All the apps demonstrated were Universal apps, meaning the same code works on phone, tablet, desktop, Xbox and even the new Surface Hub which is an 84 inch 4k all in one PC / smart TV. I'm eager for us to get stuck into this and look forward to finding more developer focused information at the annual Microsoft Developer Conference, Build, which happens in April.
Microsoft’s smart assistant, Cortana, on the desktop will be interesting. It was a very badly kept secret so this was widely rumoured. Being British talking to your phone or computer seems alien to me and using Siri on iPhone hasn't taken off so I’m not sure if I'll use voice control much but being able to type to it and the deep integration it seems to have through out the Windows 10 environment is interesting. I hope they’ve exposed API’s so developers can get their hands on it. It took a while for Apple to allow this for Siri and Google haven’t allowed it yet for Google Now.
Coming from a web development background, Project Spartan, Microsoft’s new web browser, was quite interesting as it's their attempt to leave the negative feeling of Internet Explorer behind and start fresh. They've gone for a Chrome style lightweight approach, with Cortana integration and have ultimately created a much faster, reliable and discoverable browsing experience. Other interesting and useful features include, reading lists (think Pocket in your browser), a distraction-free reading mode and a built-in PDF viewer, additional information about the sites you’re browsing as well as, the ability to annotate on web pages, to name a few. Hopefully they've got an easy extension mechanism which worked extremely well for Firefox and Chrome. My biggest wish though is that it's standards compliant. Microsoft haven't been great at this in the past (though better in recent years) so I'm hoping they've learnt their lesson.
Universal apps are the big thing for me. Joe B demoed a number of the core Microsoft built ones, Office, Outlook, Calendar, Photos etc. He stipulated several times they were built on the Universal apps platform and it was exactly the same code that was being run.
So the biggest unveiling was left for the later part of the event, Windows Holographic. You read that right, Windows Holographic. And a device supporting it, the HoloLens.
Watch the video:
The Microsoft Hands On article from Wired journalist Jessi Hempel who got to spend time trying the device for a few months, is definitely worth a read. It sounds absolutely stunning! Microsoft were vague on when it will be available (Windows 10 lifetime whatever that means) but the possibilities for this technology are endless.
One thing I noticed as I was watching the livestream was that all the laptops I could see in the audience had a familiar glowing apple. Wonder how they felt about that ;) Maybe they were running Windows like me!
Found this post interesting? Why not take a look at My First Thoughts on Windows 10 After Downloading the Technical Preview