Microsoft has just showcased the consumer edition of Windows 10, the latest in the firm’s flagship line of operating systems (OSs).
Amid the standard updates to the interface and visuals are several innovative features which will be key in enticing the company’s existing customers to upgrade. Here’s a roundup of the best of them.
1. Cortana on PC and tablet
Until now Microsoft’s voice-activated personal assistant Cortana, so named after a character from the video game franchise Halo, has been confined to Windows phones.
At the Windows 10 event yesterday, Microsoft announced that she would be moving onto both PC and tablet, albeit only in several as yet undecided territories initially. The tool functions as another way to navigate around a computer using text and voice commands, using machine learning to optimise a system for the user.
2. Project Spartan update for IE
Internet Explorer has long been the runt of the web browsing world, despite commanding a majority share of the market.
With Project Spartan (another Halo reference), Microsoft is hoping to shake off that image, incorporating an annotate feature and a simplified reading layout, presumably for the benefit of tablet owners. The browser will also link in with Cortana.
3. Office for Windows 10
Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook will all be refurbished over the next few months, likely retaining much of their feel with the odd touch-related feature.
Among those mooted by the firm are "real time" annotation of slides during PowerPoint presentations, as well as touch controls for Excel.
4. Holographs for developers
Holographic apps have been a dream for sci-fi fans for years, and Microsoft tentatively unveiled a Minority Report-esque computer at the event on Wednesday.
Microsoft HoloLens projects sound and visuals around the user and takes in their movement to create a computer that can be controlled without keyboard, mouse or even a touchscreen. The firm also announced APIs that will allow developers to make apps that can function with any input, but has not said when it expects these technologies to come into wider use.
5. Xbox and PC integration
Microsoft’s plan to more closely link its entertainment systems with its desktops is another plank in its integration across all devices strategy.
The big draw for gamers will be the ability to play with friends on other devices, as well as record videos of their exploits and edit them on the desktop. Also included is the ability to stream games from the Xbox to the computer.
6. Collaboration with Surface Hub
The rise of bring your own device (BYOD) and remote working patterns has increased business appetite for more collaborative features, a trend Microsoft seeks to exploit with Surface Hub.
Ranging from 4.5ft and 7ft in size, the product is a combination of digital white board, remote conferencing, joint content editing and platform for large-screen apps, created to make the most of Windows 10, Skype for Business and Office 365.