Happy Microsoft Day!
Microsoft is starting off 2015 right. After you see the contents of their keynote from earlier today, you’ll understand why. Needless to say, if you’re a Microsoft/Windows/Windows Phone/Xbox fan, there’s a lot to be excited about. Shall we…?
Ah, yes. Windows 10. If you haven’t been using the Windows 10 developer preview (that Microsoft released a few months back), most of today’s visual gloriousness is new to you.
For starters, anyone from Windows 7 onward can get Windows 10 for free — for the first year. After the first year of availability, well, we’ll have to wait and see. Microsoft wasn’t very forthcoming about what happens after this point. The developer preview expires on April 15th and a new build is scheduled for release next week (not exactly “developer” preview). Overall release for consumers is still only listed as “later this year”.
Visually, you’ll see that Windows 10 is pretty similar to Windows 8 with the exception of how the Start menu is arranged and where it’s located. Now, in your traditional desktop, clicking on the Start/Windows button on the bottom left of the display will bring up a more traditional looking start menu with the tiled interface we’ve come to know (and love?) from Windows 8/8.1 alongside on the right. Other than that, it’s all small tweaks here and there with under-the-hood improvements too.
In Windows 10, Microsoft is debuting their own Apple iMessage/Google Hangouts competitor with Windows Messaging. Basically it’s a desktop chat app that will tie into various chat services and allow a more seamless experience. We’re all for integrated messaging and are glad Microsoft is attempting to bring all of these services together, natively. (Image Credit: Engadget)
Rumors of a rebranded/new browser were in fact true. For Windows 10, Microsoft is taking a big new step in regards to web browsing with Spartan. For starters, it’s based off of a new rendering engine and has Cortana voice assistant built in. No word yet on more specifics for Spartan. But just know that it’s a pretty big leap forward on multiple fronts.
Universal Apps: Yes, yes, yes. We know we’ve heard this a time or two before. But this time Microsoft is for real bringing it to market…over the course of the year that is. On stage at the keynote, Microsoft’s Terry Myerson and Joe Belfiore talked a little bit about how universal apps will work across Microsoft’s ecosystems and how, for example, Windows desktop apps will start showing up on Xbox consoles. Scaling from Windows Phone 10 sized displays all the way up to giant PC monitors is something that, given Microsoft’s Tile design, should indeed scale relatively well.
On the subject of apps, there’s a new Xbox app that seems pretty useful as far as Xbox apps go: interact with your Xbox profile, chat with Xbox Live friends, list Steam games alongside non-steam games (on your PC) and record/edit game footage amongst other things.
Game Streaming and Cross-platform support:
One of the most exciting announcements that perked our interest and that should make gamers happy is Windows 10 game streaming. Quite simply, Windows 10 users and Xbox owners will be able to stream games from Xbox One consoles to Windows 10 devices (desktop PCs and phones). One scenario detailed at the keynote was one person sitting in front of the TV with an Xbox One playing a multiplayer game with someone streaming the same game to a Windows 10 PC. In addition to streaming there is going to be cross platform support between PC and Xbox One as well. Finally!
It’s important to note two things:
- One, game streaming is limited to local networks for now.
- Two, support for the Xbox One controller still seems to be wired only. (WTF).
All in all there’s a lot of awesome stuff coming to Windows 10 and it’s many platforms that it’ll run on. Desktop users and console gamers alike will want to keep their eyes peeled for more as it becomes available.