Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has always maintained that his ambition for his company’s operating system, Windows, has been to make it something more than an essential requirement in the world of computing. As he reiterated at a recent launch event, the idea is to “move people from needing Windows, to choosing Windows, to loving Windows”. On 29 July 2015, Microsoft took their first big step towards Nadella’s vision with the release of Windows 10 — a product that combines the best of Windows 7 and 8, and is backed by the Windows Insider programme. To add to this, Microsoft unveiled some of their latest products last week that weren’t, surprisingly part of their software line: laptops, tablets, hybrids, phones, activity trackers and HoloLens. These devices were built to demonstrate the capabilities of Windows 10 without compromising on the hardware front.
The devices that Microsoft introduced this year makes it seem like the software company is trying to make inroads into the world of hardware manufacturing as well. Microsoft’s tablet Surface, for instance, has earned the company around $3.5 billion over a span of some three years.
Windows 10 has been available to users for over two months now, but only on PCs. While it was in testing phase, we only got a glimpse of all the interesting things it can do on the phone. While the manufacturing partners of Microsoft were still wrapping their heads around the new OS, which aims for a unified user experience across all form factors, Microsoft decided to lead the way by demonstrating the software’s capabilities when used with the right hardware. This strategy isn’t completely new. Experimenting with lighter version of the OS for smaller devices, as Apple did with the iOS and Google with Nexus, is common enough in the industry. You then follow up this step by building devices that utilise the software to its full potential.
Microsoft’s Windows 10 works equally well on phones, laptops, tablets and desktops with the “Continuum” feature that allows for an adaptable user interface. But that’s not all. When you connect your Windows 10 phone, with Microsoft’s Display Dock, to a monitor, mouse and keyboard, you get an experience that is not unlike using a PC. The home screen of your phone becomes the Start Menu. You also get access to a task bar that displays all folders, the Start button, and Microsoft’s intelligent personal assistant Cortana. With a Windows 10 phone, you can also use productivity apps like the MS Office family of software. It seems like we’re now reaching the point where your phone replaces and takes over all the crucial tasks performed by the desktop computer. The increase in the number of “universal apps” only helps in achieving this end. What’s more, while acting as a PC, your phone retains all its basic functionality. The only drawback here is that you need keep your phone plugged in to the Display Dock using a USB-C connector. Making the option of wireless connectivity available would surely make the feature much more appealing.
Microsoft’s HoloLens is a headset that projects holograms and makes mixed-reality gaming possible. The developer kit will be available in the first quarter of 2016. Which means more holographic games, holographic content designing apps and a more immersive user experience. Unlike Google Glass, HoloLens’ application is yet to reach the consumer and so the jury is still out on this. Besides this, Xbox One is also to get Windows 10 soon.
The devices that Microsoft introduced this year makes it seem like the software company is trying to make inroads into the hardware manufacturing field as well. Microsoft’s tablet Surface, over a span of three years, has earned the company around $3.5 billion. This shows that they were on the right track with their push to develop and distribute Windows 10 for high-performance hardware.
To showcase the capabilities of Windows 10 on phones, Microsoft has also built the Lumia 950 series. With technology from their Surface division, the phones can hit configurations of up to an octa-core processor, OLED display that shows notifications without draining the battery, a 20 MP camera, 32 GB storage space expandable to up to 2 TB, and a liquidcooling system.
The Surface line also has a new sibling: the device is now available in a slimmed-down version that accommodates a USB 3.0 port. The Type Cover for the device has now been made better than the previous variants, and the screen bigger. But the width and height of the new Surface are the same as the old model. The Surface Pro 4 is available in a configuration of up to 16 gigs of RAM and is equipped with sixth generation Intel processors. The most exciting news from the Surface division, though, is the Surface Book. This beast claims to be 50% faster than the MacBook Pro. The Surface Book comes with an NVIDIA GeForce graphics card, a “dynamic fulcrum hinge” and “muscle wire locks” that let you detach the 13.5” screen to turn the laptop into a tablet. And as they mentioned at the launch, the Surface Book is the most powerful laptop in the world — this doesn’t stand for much, though, unless the device makes its way toyour country.