Tech Solutions

Microsoft to give away Windows 10

Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Microsoft announced exciting new Windows 10 devices and a boatload of new features. Will it be enough to entice businesses to upgrade after the disjointed mess of Windows 8?

Windows HoloLens

Do-it-all display

The Surface Hub is an 84-inch 4K resolution touchscreen display equipped with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, built in microphones, cameras and sensors that bring Microsoft’s collaborative suite of applications like Skype for Business, Office365 and OneNote to the fore. 

"The best work we do is when we come together," a Microsoft employee said. “And we believe that with the Surface Hub we will be able to unlock the power of the group in a workplace by removing the limitations of traditional conference room scenarios.”

Employees can write on the digital whiteboard using a stylus pen, move around 3D images, run large-screen apps and share and edit content on the screen simultaneously from in the meeting room or remotely from any device, to make every person feel like they’re working in the same physical space. 

Google glass’s new rival

If that’s too tame for your tastes, how about Windows 10 in hologram form? HoloLens is a self-contained pair of virtual reality goggles – no need for wires or a connection to a PC or phone – that adds three dimensional holograms to the real world around you.

The holograms appear in high-definition and can be heard in surround sound. With advanced motion and environmental sensors, the HoloLens can see what you are looking at and understand what you are communicating with your hands and voice.

HoloLens runs Windows 10 and, as such, the operating system and apps can be interacted with as it floats in front of your line of vision. Microsoft demonstrated a number of possible use cases from Skype calls, playing Minecraft atop the landscape of your living room, building your own holographic creation and sending it to a 3D printer to walking clients through your latest architectural masterpiece.

According to Microsoft, all Windows 10 apps can be made to work with HoloLens. NASA has already signed on to develop software that will enable their HoloLens equipped scientists to holographically work on Mars from the relative comforts of earth’s atmosphere.

The HoloLens prototype that was shown looked quite far along in development with Microsoft planning on making it available "in the Windows 10 timeframe" and, according to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, it will be priced "for both enterprise and consumers to use it”.

With Windows 10 scheduled to be released sometime later this year, it won’t be long before we hear more about this Google Glass killer.

Microsoft also revealed new versions of Word, Office, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook that brings the mobile versions in-line with their desktop counterparts along with new touch-first controls.

Your desktop and tablet PA is here

The Cortana personal digital assistant from Windows Phone will now be available on Windows 10 PCs and tablets to help you get things done quicker. Though it’s been no secret that a desktop version of Cortana has been in the works, this is the first time that Microsoft has publicly acknowledged its existence on the desktop and demonstrated how it works. Cortana can be used to perform simple searches, dictate emails, launch apps, notify you of important reminders via talking or typing. Like Google Now, Cortana can also learn your preferences to surface relevant recommendations such as the itinerary of an upcoming flight. 

Goodbye Internet Explorer

Microsoft has also given Internet Explorer the boot and is rolling out a new default web browser for Windows 10 called ‘Project Spartan’. Productivity boosting features include the ability to ‘annotate by keyboard or pen directly on the webpage and easily share with colleagues’.

If all that wasn’t enough to get you excited about Windows 10, then maybe the price will. Microsoft took a leaf out of Apple’s book and announced that a free upgrade for Windows 10 will be made available to Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 users provided they upgrade in the first 12 months after launch.

For a detailed rundown of all the new announcements of Windows 10 check out Windows Blog. 
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