Skype - the most serious video conferencing app - is getting a complete, fun-filled overhaul. In addition to the all-new design, Skype is getting it’s own version of ‘stories’, called Highlights.
At Microsoft’s education event, the company released a new addition to their Surface lineup. The new device has a straightforward name: it is called the Surface Laptop. And it runs a toned down version of world’s most popular operating system, called Windows 10 S. Microsoft wants to sell the Surface Laptop to university students, who require speed and reliability at all times.
At an event in New York, Microsoft announced a new Surface product that is designed to go head-on against Apple’s iMac computers. The Surface Studio PC is an all-in-one computer with a massive 28” touchscreen. The screen can also be oriented to fit the user’s needs, and Microsoft calls it the thinnest LCD monitor ever built, at just 12.5mm thickness.
Microsoft’s 6th Build developers conference began with a keynote where Nadella and other leaders from the company talked about software, artificial intelligence, gaming and the power of computing. Here are the biggest announcements from this year’s keynote:
1. A unified Windows 10 experience
Windows 10 was always meant to be one OS for all devices- including desktops, mobile phones, Xbox One and HoloLens. Finally, Microsoft is implementing the same by bringing Universal Windows Apps onto the Windows Store. Not only will we see older Windows apps (based on .NET and Win32) converted to native Windows 10 apps with the help of a desktop converter tool, but we will also see all new apps from developers all over the world. This includes an all new Facebook app that’ll include Facebook, Instagram and Messenger services in a single app. Uber, Starbucks, Vine, WWE are also bringing new Universal Windows Apps to the Store.
2. HoloLens Developer Edition
The much anticipated AR headset, Microsoft HoloLens, is finally getting a developers edition that interested developers can purchase today onwards for $3000.
Microsoft gave us an on-stage demo of the HoloLens as a tool to teach biology students at Case Western Reserve University how the body functions using 3D holographic projections. HoloLens’ new app ‘Galaxy Explorer’ is an open source app that allows people to explore other planets though the holographic projection of the galaxy.
3. Bots & intelligence everywhere
A key portion of yesterday’s keynote was Microsoft’s emphasis on improving our lives through the integration of bots and artificial intelligence across all the devices we use. The core of ‘Conversations as a Platform’ is Cortana, with will act as an intelligent cross-platform link between you and server side bots. This is prominently demonstrated in Skype - which gets bots support - where Cortana can create events in your calendar, then can call up a bot, say of Westin hotel, to register a hotel booking. All this is done in a simple, humanly chat conversation with Cortana.
Microsoft announced all new APIs for development of bots. These APIs are available on microsoft.com/cognitive. All sorts of bots - form image recognition to speech translation - can be developed using these APIs.
There you go! These were the biggest announcements from the keynote. The Verge compiled a 15 minute summary of the event which you can watch below.
Considering Microsoft is handicapped in developer community, the Build keynote is pushing hard to promote developer support for Microsoft’s services. Indeed Microsoft is aiming high with the bots platform and HoloLens, and I can only hope they become successful in making these services available for consumers as early as possible. A new era of Microsoft has begun - expanding from desktop computing to unified, intelligent and futuristic experiences.
Take the poll below and voice your opinion.
Images/Video from The Verge
Google, Apple and Microsoft are the three companies that have stood the test of time. They were, and are, still considered to be the biggest tech companies on Earth, with almost every computer user having used one of their products. These companies are old and experienced now, Apple is 39, Google is 17 and Microsoft is 40, but all of them are still trying to innovate to improve - and recreate - their products.
In 2015, all these three companies released products that are successful in different categories. With Google, it was the Nexus 6P that made waves, with Microsoft, it was the Surface Pro 4 and Windows 10 that were hugely successful, and Apple led a smartwatch revolution - by selling the highest adopted smartwatch ever. Which means, these three companies had to be featured on Toppers of 2015, and I asked my audience which products they found most worthy of appreciation from each of the companies.
So here are the results...
The Nexus 6P took almost 44% of the votes, and it clearly an excellent product. I already talked about the Nexus 6P in the Toppers of 2015: Smartphones, so you can read up about it there. But what I am interested in telling you about is Android M.
Android M won a fair share of votes - 18.2% - and it is the readers choice best product after the Nexus phones. The Marshmallow edition of Android doesn’t bring any big aesthetic changes, but fixes the many things that were wrong with Lollipop. M introduces an all new much awaited app permission system that will let you individually control what you give a particular app access to. Moreover, it beings “Doze”, a battery saving feature that disables a lot of background tasks like syncing with connected services and turns off network access to allow for least possible battery usage. Doze proves to work really well, as pointed out in the Nexus 6P review on the blog. Android M is a great step up from L, reducing the number of bugs while including settle yet important changes to the OS. The only concern: how much time will it take to reach the majority of Android devices?
The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus are clear winners. The improved camera, 3D Touch and a faster processor make the latest iPhones an obvious choice. Again, you can read my iPhone 6S review and the Toppers of 2015 Smartphones post for more information about the phones.
The iMac with the 5K Retina Display comes in third on the chart, and this is the product I voted for. Even today, the adoption of 4K hasn’t been all that outstanding, but Apple is taking it one step further with their 27” iMac all-in-one desktops. The 5K display is a glorious piece of innovation. At 218 PPI, this display is almost as good as that on the MacBook Pro with Retina Display, which means pixels are just not visible to the naked eye. The computer is a beast, with the dedicated 4 GB graphic card pushing the insane 14745600 (yeah, that’s 5120x2880) pixels packed in the display panel. This means editing 4K footage on 100% scale is possible on your desk using this computer. The iMac has no practical competition as yet, so I have to conclude that it is the best all-in-one desktop to own (unless you want to go with a Mac Pro paired with a bunch of 4K displays).
Not so surprisingly, Windows 10 is the winner here. With the free upgrade program, Microsoft really got users interested in this OS. Microsoft put all its efforts to make this OS seamless on the desktop, on the laptop, on your phone, on the Xbox and even on your future VR/AR headset. And seeing Windows 10 success after the criticism they received for the half-baked Windows 8 really gave Microsoft new light. I’ve used Windows 10 a lot myself, and I find it remarkably good. It is an OS that checks the right boxes when it comes to functionality and compatibility - both on the hardware and software sides - and makes for an improved overall computing experience. In fact, with the Lumia 950 series, you can use your phone as a full fledged Windows computer when you hook it up to a monitor, keyboard and a mouse, clearly showing Windows 10's potential of morphing into whatever the hardware supports.
All the other products, like the SurfaceBook and the Surface Pro 4, rely on Windows 10 for their ultimate form and function. The OS does have a lot of expectations to live up to in the coming years.
When it comes to technology companies, everything looks serious. Tech events are for the serious journalists who want to gobble up all the data they can be provided with. Yes, tech events are no more press releases today. But even then, how many even watch them?
This Microsoft event surprised me in many ways.
First off, I received an email from Microsoft about this event. This came to me as a big surprise - very few companies call everyone to watch the event over live stream. It just showed that Microsoft wanted people to know about the event and really wanted to show off their products to the public.
Second, the event was fantastic. Truthfully, I found this event far more entrancing than even an Apple event. The sheer enthusiasm of the speakers was outstanding. The secret? I believe it is success after failure. Windows 10 has given light to the company and their plan of one unified OS for all things digital seems to be working amazing. The 110 million+ users of Windows 10 really seems to have inspired the company to build better and more powerful products.
Microsoft, with its Hololens, Band, Lumia and Surface has really set out to change the world this time. The Hololens is practically the first device of its kind. The Band is one of the most feature (and sensor) rich fitness devices in the market. The Lumia 950 and 950XL are full fledged computers (and feature liquid cooling!). And the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book are the most powerful hybrid computers ever.
This time, Microsoft had some serious stuff to show. No doubt they put up a great event.
You can watch the entire event HERE, or just watch the 10 minute roundup by The Verge.
And here are some of the pictures: