Microsoft had a busy week of announcements thanks to its Build 2017 conference, where a bevy of updates were given to customers about where the company is headed. While many of the new features and plans announced were applicable mostly to developers, consumers weren’t left out in the cold.
In fact, the company had some exciting news on their next Windows 10 update, their Mixed Reality headsets and the progression of AI at the company. We’ve made a summary of some of the interesting consumer announcements from the event.
The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update
Microsoft announced the plans for its next major Windows 10 update, which is due later this year, at the conference on Thursday. According to the company, a slew of features will be included in the update – including iOS and Android apps like iTunes.
“We’re excited for our customers to take advantage of the new features in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update that will empower innovative experiences; a modern, unified design for cross-device experiences; and an easier path for developers to create for the future of computing,” Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s executive VP of Windows and Devices Group, said at the conference.
One of the features, Microsoft Graph, will help facilitate flow between Windows, iOS and Android devices for users. Cortana will even have a ‘Pick Up Where You Left Off’ feature that will allow you to continue work across your different devices.
“Imagine logging off your PC and having the doc you were editing pop up on your phone. Cortana asks if you want to pick up where you left in your app, doc, or website. It’s like having your PC and your phone finish each other’s sentences,” Myerson said in a statement.
OneDrive will also be getting an update which will allow you to access cloud files without having to download them onto your drive.
Integration between devices will also be exemplified with the updated Clipboard, which will allow users to copy and paste between any connected devices. The Windows Store will also add supported apps from non-Windows mobile operating systems. Even Ubuntu will be coming to the virtual storefront to make it easier for users to install alongside Windows.
Mixed Reality bundles showcased at Build 2017
One announcement that is sure to pique tech geeks’ interest is Microsoft’s update on their latest VR tools.
A few years ago Microsoft debuted its augmented reality headset, the HoloLens. This was later followed by the announcement of Mixed Reality headsets. This year, they’ve taken it a step further with the introduction of their Windows Mixed Reality motion controllers.
“The motion controllers offer precise and responsive tracking of movement in your field of view using the sensors in your headset. There is no need to install hardware on the walls around you. We created the controllers as a high-quality and comfortable input device with the same ease of setup and portability as our headsets,” Myserson said at the Build 2017 conference.
The lack of setup requirements for a VR area is an interesting twist for Microsoft’s headsets. The best news, however, is that this technology will be in consumers’ hands by the end of the year. Microsoft is hoping that the devices will be launched in time for the holiday season.
And consumers will be happy to hear that the price of the devices isn’t all that exorbitant. Myserson said that Acer will be offering a headset and controller bundle for as little as $399 (the same launch price as the PlayStation VR) when the devices go on sale. There are also Intel versions of the devices.
In the meantime, development kits have been made available for purchase.
Microsoft’s AI is getting smarter
Many companies have jumped on the AI bandwagon in recent years – and Microsoft obviously hasn’t missed out on the trend. Microsoft launched Cortana a few years back, but the AI assistant’s rollout to various regions around the world was delayed – hampering its growth.
This, along with Microsoft’s very limited segment of the smartphone market, has put Cortana a bit behind its competitors in some respects. Cortana has been most prominent on Windows 10 – and Microsoft will doubling down on AI in their operating system.
“We are infusing AI into every product and service we offer, from Xbox to Windows, from Bing to Office,” Harry Shum, Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of AI and Research said on Day 1 of the conference.
Microsoft is beefing up Cortana along with other AI tools which will help with research, translation and even designing PowerPoint presentations.
The company is seeking to expand the AI assistant’s availability – to more locations and more devices. Microsoft will also be incorporating more AI into its Azure platform, which is surely good news for developers.
That was some of the major news from Microsoft Build 2017. Which announcement are you most excited for? Let us know in the comments below…