What’s ahead for Windows and much more
Microsoft just wrapped up its day-two Build 2017 keynote, and this is the one that was filled with news that’s more important to consumers and the company’s loyal fans. Terry Myerson, Joe Belfiore, and other executives shared the stage to reveal details about the upcoming year for Windows 10, a new design philosophy for all Microsoft apps, the company’s mixed reality efforts, and much more. The presentation covered a lot and wasted little time, but here’s the biggest news that came from today:
WINDOWS 10 FALL CREATORS UPDATE
The name might be familiar, but Microsoft’s next big Windows update has a different focus than 3D productivity. The Fall Creators Update, likely to arrive in September, aims to bring aspects of the Windows experience everywhere you go. There’s a big focus on cross-device experiences: you start something on your Surface and finish it on your iPhone, or vice versa. “Windows PCs will love all of your devices,” Joe Belfiore said on stage.
Your files, activities, and other content will seamlessly travel across devices and just be there— if the system works as Microsoft promises. Cortana will ask if you want to resume where you left off when you switch between products, and a new Timeline feature provides an encompassing view of what you’ve been working on and the apps you’ve been using.
A NEW VISUAL IDENTITY
Microsoft is moving on from Metro. At Build, Joe Belfiore introduced what it calls Fluent Design, an evolution from the current Windows interface that focuses on “light, depth, motion, material, and scale.” Consumers can expect to start seeing aspects of Fluent Design — such as blur effects and flourishes of light meant to draw your focus to the right place — in the Fall Creators Update Microsoft’s mobile apps. You can get a feel for how it all comes together in the tweet below. Pretty nice.
Windows has a great app for creating videos again. Story Remix takes your media — photos and video from your smartphone, for example — and turns them into “instant video stories.” Microsoft says Story Remix can produce a video that feels professional with just minutes of work. You can be as hands-on as you want (advanced 3D features are supported), or let the app do almost everything to make memorable content out of the memories that you feed into it.
USE THE SURFACE PEN EVERYWHERE
Microsoft’s stylus is beloved by Surface owners. It’s core to what makes the Surface… Surface. And with the Fall Creators Update, Microsoft is working to eliminate any remaining friction for using it across the entire system at all times. You’ll be able to use the pen to scroll and interact throughout Windows, and the company has built PDF annotation right into its Edge browser. If you love the Pen, Microsoft wants to make it so that you’ll never have to put it down.
VR MOTION CONTROLLERS
Microsoft announced a new set of motion controllers that pair with its Windows Mixed Reality VR headsets. The controllers, which have numerous LEDs running around them, will be fully tracked by sensors in the headset itself rather than relying on external cameras or other equipment. They’ll ship this holiday season, with Acer packaging them into a $399 bundle that includes its own mixed reality headset.
A CLIPBOARD THAT FOLLOWS YOU EVERYWHERE
Microsoft is building its own take on Apple’s universal clipboard, but this one works across more platforms. The new cloud-powered clipboard will let Windows 10 users copy content from an app on their PC and paste it on mobile devices like iPhones or Android handsets. The clipboard will also be directly integrated into Microsoft’s suite of Office apps, making it easier to quickly grab content from your phone and drop it into a document you might be working on from your desktop.
ITUNES IS COMING TO THE WINDOWS STORE
Speaking of Apple, while Microsoft’s Windows 10 S operating system might have to go it without Google Chrome for awhile, the company is bringing a massive media app to the Windows Store: iTunes. Apple will release a version of iTunes in Microsoft’s digital store by the end of 2017, so it might not be there in time for next month’s launch of the Surface Laptop.