Microsoft Announces Windows 10 and HoloLens

This week, Microsoft officially announced Windows 10 and presented some of the new features you can expect from the operating system. Along with the operating system, the company discussed its new project: HoloLens. Just days later, Microsoft released Windows 10 Preview to all Microsoft Insiders. Here’s a quick recap of the highlights of this week’s announcements and events.


Windows 10 Press Conference


Free Upgrade: One of the biggest announcements surrounding Windows 10 is that Windows 7.1 and 8 users will be able to upgrade to the new operating system for free. Though an official release date hasn’t been established, all users on the last two operating systems will have the opportunity to upgrade and will have access to automatic ongoing operating system updates moving forward. The new operating system promises to significantly improve the user experience of Windows users.


Cortana Comes to Windows: Cortana is an intelligent personal assistant that users of Windows Phone have enjoyed for some time. Cortana is basically a mix of Siri and Google Now and will give users information the program thinks they’ll need, like flight information, based on what it learns about the user. Through voice commands, Cortana will also enable users to play music, quickly search files on their hard drive or in OneDrive, and more.


Continuum: Continuum is a new feature that will allow users to seamlessly transition from the desktop experience to a tablet experience on 2-in-1 devices. As you disconnect the keyboard on your 2-in-1, Windows 10 will allow you to quickly switch to the touch optimized tablet experience.


Start Menu is Back: When the Start screen replaced the Start menu we all knew and loved many Windows users, especially those without a touch screen, found the new experience frustrating. With this iteration of Windows 10, the trusty Start menu is back. If you happen to like the Start screen, you can choose to expand the menu to the full-screen configuration. This will be especially useful for those using a 2-in-1 device—they’ll be able to switch from the mouse and keyboard friendly menu to the touch-friendly start screen.


Xbox App for Windows 10: The new Windows will also feature a dedicated Xbox app and bring a suite of Windows 10 apps to Xbox. The Xbox app on Windows will allow users to record gameplay, share clips on social, and stream Xbox One games directly to Windows 10 PCs and tablets over WiFi.


New Web Browser: Microsoft is working on a new browser to replace Internet Explorer. The new browser has been codenamed Project Spartan and will feature a “reading mode” that formats websites to look like books for easier reading. The note-taking mode will allow users to type notes using a keyboard and draw on webpages using a stylus. Spartan will also have Cortana built in, making searching more efficient.


HoloLens: This is probably the biggest announcement Microsoft made on Wednesday. This device is a self-contained computer that adds detailed holograms to the world around the user. Basically, it’s a virtual/augmented reality headset that will allow a user to do things like take a virtual tour of the surface of Mars, right in their living room. The HoloLens will be available around the same time Windows 10 is released to all users.


Windows 10 Preview


Just days after the announcement of the new operating system, Microsoft released Windows 10 Preview to users who have signed up for the Microsoft Insider program. If you’re interested in participating in the program, you can sign up here. This program allows users to see the operating system in action and provide feedback to Microsoft, helping to shape future iterations. This means that any software that users try out as part of the program will be improved further before it hits the market.


Windows 10 Preview is missing some of the features announced in the press conference this week. Most notably, the Project Spartan browser won’t be available until future iterations of the operating system.


Are you excited to see the new operating system in action? Have you tried out the Preview? Let us know in the comments.


By Mike Agerbo

January 27, 2015