Windows 10, HoloLens, Microsoft Edge and more
Microsoft's Satya Nadella, Alex Kipman and more (including a cute robot) took the stage at the keynote event to kick off the Build 2015 developer conference.
This is, indeed, a developer's conference, so the amount of announcements and sizzle reels isn't quite up to CES levels of craziness. Yet, Microsoft revealed a ton of new information on Windows 10, HoloLens, Project Spartan (now called Microsoft Edge) and everything in between.
It's time to catch up on what you might have missed at today's Build keynote.
Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser has been the butt of every joke one can possible make about internet browsers. But with Microsoft Edge, you meanies can't make fun any longer.
The new browser, which was previously titled Project Spartan, aims to do everything the big boys like Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari can do, plus some.
What makes the Edge look to be a unique experience is that the Windows ecosystem is baked right into the browser for the convenience of the user. That means Cortana, links to relevant apps in the Microsoft Store and an attractive design that echoes the live tiles from the Start menu will ride along with you while you browse the information highway.
Windows 10 apps retooled from iOS and Android
Microsoft announced a four-part plan to get everyone onboard with Windows 10. The first two parts of said plan did very little to create a ripple, but the last two worked up some "ooh's" and "aah's". There was even an "auuughh?" somewhere in there.
In an effort to beef up the app offering in the Windows Store, Microsoft announced that universal Windows 10 apps can be easily created with only a few tweaks to already-existing Android and iOS code. That means it takes much less work for developers of hot apps like Snapchat, Periscope and Candy Crush Saga to port their work over to Windows.
With that simple retooling, these apps, which were previously locked to either Android or iOS, can operate on any device running Windows 10, be it a laptop, desktop or mobile phone.
Visual Studio Code
Windows owners have long-enjoyed using Visual Studio to code their applications and/or web projects. But today, Microsoft announced that it is spreading this love to Mac OS and Linux owners too.
This opens up the coding editor and debug tool up to a whole new community of established developers and budding students looking to get into the field. Better yet, it's totally free to download. What's not to like?
Microsoft wants 1 billion Windows 10 devices
Whoa, that's a lot. But let's put it into context. A Microsoft exec claimed that there are about 500 million adopters of Android 4.4 KitKat and even less who updated to Apple's latest mobile OS, iOS 8. So with 1 billion total users, Microsoft would crush all, right? Not exactly.
Windows 10 is a consistent experience across mobile phone and personal computer, which means that the metric being aimed for combines the sales of PCs and mobile devices. Thus, this goal will be much more easily reached than if the software giant were to instead fight for dominance in only one product category.
Regardless, Microsoft has a few plans to win you over as a Windows 10 user. First, the Windows Store has received a facelift to improve the user experience. Secondly, the apps available are universal no matter which device you use.
Lastly, Windows 10 is a free, no-strings-attached, upgrade for current Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 users. This cheaper than cheap deal won't last forever, but it should give the install base a huge push upon release.
HoloLens is looking incredible
We were all impressed and admittedly, completely surprised, when Microsoft announced its plans to step into augmented reality with HoloLens. A head-mounted display that's completely wire-free? Tech demos that don't seem too good to be true? What is this sorcery?
Microsoft took to the stage to prove us yet again that HoloLens is shaping up to be something unique. Though no details about its release were even vaguely hinted at, we got a peek at some really cool use cases for the AR headset.
The team showed us how HoloLens can adapt to your environment, intelligently plastering app windows against walls and onto tables. One moment even saw the demonstrator gesturing to grab an app window and expand it to cover the entire wall.
Some experts from Case Western Reserve University demonstrated how HoloLens can be used for study, in this case with human anatomy. Our demo showed a meticulously detailed 3D model of the human heart, which the HoloLens user can spin around and zoom in on to get a closer look.
The last demonstration showcased how HoloLens can inject life into inanimate objects, like robots. Not only could the HoloLens control the movement of the robot by plotting AR waypoints for it to travel on, it could reroute its path should something, like Alex Kipman, get in its way.
You can tell that this gallery is listed in no particular order because I've saved what's possibly today's biggest announcement for last. Microsoft detailed Continuum, a plan to turn any phone into a personal computer.
The biggest perk of Windows 10, so far, isn't that it can scale down for a mobile-friendly experience. It's that from a mobile device, still being the universal Windows 10 OS that it is, can also upscale to bring the same capabilities of your personal computer –without compromise– to the big screen.
With Continuum, a secondary Windows 10 device can act to emulate a mouse and keyboard, should you not have one handy. Lastly, as the name hints at, Continuum aims to provide a continuous experience. That means that any maps you're gazing at and articles you're reading on one device are shared automatically with your other Windows 10 devices.
Windows 10 release date
Just kidding. Well, the joke is on us too. We, just like everyone else, were on the edge of our seats to hear if Microsoft would loosen its lips and just give us what we want, a release date for Windows 10. Today, unfortunately, wasn't the day.
However, what they ended up giving us was a lot of what we wanted and even some stuff that we didn't know that we wanted. Hopefully, tomorrow's continuation of Build 2015 will provide some clarification as to when people can hope to get their hands on the final product.