Microsoft revealed information about the company’s upcoming operating system, Windows 10, today during a live event.
While some questions remain unanswered, the company managed to provide information on several topics of interest, including free Windows 10 upgrades, whether Cortana will appear, what the new browser code name Spartan does, information on DirectX 12, and whether Windows 10 for mobile phones will be announced during the event.
Microsoft announced during the event that upgrades to Windows 10 are free for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users. Offer is limited to the first year after the release of Windows 10.
Considering that most Windows users are currently working on systems running Windows 7, it’s fair to say that the offer is available to most Windows users.
The company did not disclose information about the update procedure, whether it will be automatic using Windows Update, or whether users need to register with a website before they can run updates on their devices.
A couple of new and improved desktop features were also on display during the event. Probably the most interesting thing from a desktop user’s point of view is the new Settings menu that seems to unify the classic Control Panel and PC Settings on the start screen.
The classic charms bar became a notification and action bar that combines notifications and options to turn device-specific features on or off, like Wi-Fi or airplane mode.
Cortana, a Siri-like personal assistant, was also confirmed. According to Microsoft, it will be a big part of the operating system, even on the desktop.
Cortana can search and display documents and files, for example, based on user requests (Cortana shows me photos from December), and may become the primary search tool for many users. In addition to search, Cortana can be used for other tasks, such as finding apps, controlling media, getting predictions, adding information to your calendar, and more.
What’s definitely impressive is Cortana’s natural conversational flow, especially when compared to Siri or Google Now.
New Spartan web browser
Microsoft today also revealed the new web browser, Project Spartan. It has a new look and uses a new rendering engine according to the company.
In addition to the new clean look of the browser, Microsoft demonstrated three new features that the company added to it during the presentation:
- Note taking to take notes directly on the page. It supports touch and stylus, but can also be used with mouse and keyboard. Notes can be shared and saved to OneNote.
- Reading mode that offers a clean and simple way to read articles on the Internet in a minimalist environment.
- Cortana integration directly in the browser.
Microsoft revealed the new Xbox app that is included on all Windows 10 systems. It offers familiar Xbox Live features for all games running on the Windows 10 desktop.
The company added an option to all systems running Windows 10 to automatically create snapshots and record gameplay videos. An interesting feature in this regard is the ability to record the last 30 seconds of gameplay on PC using the Windows-G shortcut to open the menu.
DirectX12 is another big part of Windows 10. According to Microsoft, it improves gaming performance by up to 50% and cuts power consumption on mobile devices in half.
Players can play multiplayer games on Windows 10 and Xbox One devices.
Windows 10 on mobile devices
On the mobile side of things, Microsoft revealed Windows 10 for phones and small tablets, announcing that Office is coming to those operating systems as well.
The company plans to release a bunch of new and improved apps for all compatible Windows 10 devices, including a new Photos, People, and Music app.
Windows 10 users will be able to put music collections on Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage service.
Microsoft will release a new version of Windows 10 next week. Language support will increase from four to 25.
Two new interesting hardware devices were also revealed during the event. Microsoft Surface Hub is an 84-inch 4K display that supports pen and multi-touch input and ships with an advanced array of sensors, cameras, and microphones.
Designed for the business world, it enhances meetings in several ways while running on Windows 10. The feature demonstrated was whiteboard functionality and options to run other applications, such as Skype group calls, in parallel.
The second device is more ambitious than that. Windows Holographic is an augmented virtual reality device that brings holograms into the environment you are in. It is powered by HoloLens, a virtual reality headset
Additional information is available on the Blogging for Windows site.