In a word, Microsoft’s vision unveiled today at the Windows 10 event was ambitious. The obvious highlights are the new Windows 10 Creators Update, the new Surface Book with a 16-hour battery life and the stunning all-in-one Surface Studio, which sports a gigantic 4.5K touchscreen and a new input device that Microsoft just invented: the Surface Dial. Combined, these releases encapsulate Microsoft’s reimagination of what Windows hardware and software do for you, but also what you do with Windows. Here’s what they said on the Windows Experience Blog:
With Windows 10, our goal is to have the effect of the Gutenberg Press on this next generation of computing, enabling 3D creativity, mixed reality, and eSports & game broadcasting for everyone.
Microsoft is now building Windows for us “creators.” That’s the theme of their vision, and mark my words, you’ll be hearing the term “creators” a lot in the coming months. On its face, it feels like marketing. But once you start to learn about the products, it really truly is inspiring.
Let’s go over the highlights.
Surface Studio: “It’s going to change the way people do work at their desk.” – Preorder Now
To call the Surface Studio an all-in-one desktop PC or cite the specs doesn’t really do it justice. It’s more than that. As Microsoft puts it, it’s a new category of devices. In desktop mode, it’s a PC. In studio mode, it’s a digital canvas. The innovation revolves around the zero gravity hinge, the new Surface Dial, and the massive 28-inch PixelSense Display. The first 10 seconds of this video will explain what digital canvas concept better than anything you will read:
The Surface Dial is again, ambitious. Just like you can’t invent a better mouse trap, no one’s invented a better mouse in decades. At the end of the day, we still find ourselves in front of a mouse and a keyboard when we sit down to do work. If the Surface Dial catches on, that could all change.
You can preorder the Surface Studio right now at the retail price of $2,999. It ships December 15, 2016. Specs below:
- 28-inch PixelSense Display with pen and touch
- Screen adjusts weightlessly on its Zero Gravity Hinge between Desktop Mode and Studio Mode.
- 6th Generation Quad Core Intel Core i5/i7
- NVIDIA Geforce GTX 965M/980M with 2GB/4GB GDDR5 memory
- 4 Full-size USB 3.0 ports, full-size SD card reader, Mini DisplayPort.
- Compatibility with Surface Dial
- Windows 10 Pro
Oh and one more video. This is a highly artsy one, featuring a much-praised cover of “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka by an unknown artist.
Note that this isn’t the same version that Fiona Apple did for The Scarecrow video for Chipotle. People are speculating that it’s Flannel Graph covering the tune, but the version on YouTube and Spotify isn’t quite the same. It’s clear this is an original jam, or at least an original remix.
Windows 10 Creators Update Version 1703
Microsoft unveiled the next major update to Windows 10, dubbed the Creators Update. The new version focuses on creativity, virtual reality, mixed reality, gaming, and collaboration. It’s the operating system embodiment of the spirit of the Surface Studio, but it’s rolling out to all Windows 10 devices.
The big thing: 3D for Everyone. This is a major push to get 3D printing, 3D design, immersive 3D content and virtual reality and mixed reality to reach critical mass. Again, a video is worth a million words:
Notablly, we covered the rumored new Paint version waiting in the wings. This, apparently, is an even bigger evolution than we imagined.
Paint 3D makes it easy to convert a 2D image into 3D memories using a feature called Magic Select. Microsoft is also rolling out its new 3D content community called Remix3D.com for publishing and sharing 3D creations with the masses.
Microsoft Office will be adding native support for 3D content soon. But the Microsoft HoloLens is the big hardware release that supports 3D content. Microsoft is also touting Microsoft Edge as the first browser to support 3D content, which hints at a major push into 3D web content. For the demo, Microsoft showed a prototype Houzz site with a user picking furniture and visualizing it in the space. The Microsoft HoloLens accessories start at $299. Microsoft is working with HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus and Acer to create the hardware.
Microsoft HoloLens isn’t really new to us—we saw the videos for it back in January 2015. But what’s new is the oncoming wave of 3D content you’ll be able to interact with soon. The big thing is going to be “mixed reality.” The Microsoft HoloLens lenses are transparent. It’s not just a TV screen stuck to your face. The 3D images you see end up in the real world. It’s pretty dang futuristic:
Gaming is also a major part of the Windows 10 Creators Update, with an emphasis on broadcasting and eSports. Jen McCoy from the XBOX team demoed the game broadcasting features. Users will be able to broadcast games from within Windows 10. Just hit Windows key + G, which will bring up a gaming bar, then click a button to start broadcasting. You can have real-time conversations with fellow players in real-time too. Clubs lets users gather around similar interest and tune in from anywhere when you start a broadcast. You can set up custom tournaments using XBOX Live to make the competition even more engaging.
Windows MyPeople is seemingly less revolutionary and excitng than the other features, but it may actually be the one that is most widely adopted. The concept is that your contacts are seamlessly integrated into Windows, allowing you to pin your favorite contacts and interact with them without going to another messaging or social media application. You can send and view emails, drag and drop photos to share, get notifications and send “Shoulder Taps” to your contacts. This sort of unified communications platform could, possibly, just maybe give Slack a run for its money.
Microsoft will be releasing early builds of the Windows 10 Creators Update this week. The final version will be available spring 2017.
Surface Book Update – Available now for Pre-Order
Panos Panay, leader of Devices at Microsoft, introduced a new Surface Book with even better performance, battery life, and redesigned thermal system. The Surface Book i7 now offers up to 16 hours of battery life. The new Surface Book starts at $2,400 and will become start shipping November 10, 2016. It’s almost a shame that the new Surface Book was so overshadowed by the other big announcements. It looks to be quite a formidable device by its own right:
The new hardware and software advances are exciting, and I look forward to playing with some of them soon. The focus on 3D, mixed reality and reality proves that Microsoft is moving into the next generation of computing. The price of entry to realize the full benefits of these new technologies, is quite high, though. It remains to be seen how many users are enticed enough to jump in at those price points. Microsoft is encouraging users who can’t afford the latest to consider existing products such as the Surface Pro 4, which will support many of upcoming changes in the Windows 10 Creators Update.