Microsoft knocked it out of the park at today’s Windows 10 hardware event.
Microsoft took its big chance to show off a lot of the cool stuff it’s been working on, including a new Surface Pro 4 tablet/laptop hybrid, the Surface Book laptop, a pair of powerful new Lumia smartphones, and an updated Microsoft Band fitness tracker.
The tech giant even shared some updates on stuff we already knew about, including a brand-new HoloLens demo (and word that the development kit will cost $US3,000) and Windows Continuum, which lets you use your phone as a PC, by way of an external adaptor.
All of that stuff runs on Windows 10, or integrates deeply with it. Everything announced today was to promote Windows 10 in one way or another. Which is fine, because after years of pushing the much-maligned Windows 8 and looking like dorks, Microsoft made Windows 10 look really good.
All in one
Microsoft is pitching a vision for an easier life, technologically speaking.
Take a look at the new Windows Phones. Yeah, nobody’s really going to buy them, and they’re probably not going to move Microsoft much past its current 3 per cent market share on mobile.
But the demo of using your phone as a PC was really cool. The thought of not having to carry a laptop anymore, in favour of the phone I already have, is really appealing — especially since most of what I do happens in apps anyway.
And then, when I do need to get more serious work done, the Surface Pro 4 or, better yet, the Surface Book both appear to be heavy-duty computers in a teeny-tiny form factor. Thanks to the Office 365 cloud, all of the work apps I use (for me, mostly note-taking app OneNote) sync across devices.
Factor that in with the fact that I can use the Xbox One video game console to stream to any Windows 10 devices, including the Surface (and hopefully, one day, the Windows Phone), and it means I can have my work life and my gaming life anywhere, no matter what device I’m using.
Windows 10 is aggressively pleasant
Microsoft is investing heavily in connecting everything, one piece of hardware at a time. You don’t need to be locked into the Microsoft ecosystem to take advantage. It just makes Windows an aggressively pleasant place to be.
Once you realise how well Windows works with Windows, it makes it a lot more tempting to stay with it across all devices. Which is why it’s so important that all of these devices are cool, and that they offer features and functionality that very few others can, across every single device you own. If Windows devices work great together but aren’t as good as competing hardware, nobody’s going to buy them.
There’s just one problem.
The app selection on Windows 10 right now is a huge bummer. There just aren’t enough apps specifically designed to take advantage of Windows 10. That’s going to present a challenge for Microsoft as Apple and Google push their own tablet/laptop hybrids later this year.
But Facebook, at least, also announced today that they’re bringing Facebook Messenger to Windows 10. And maybe, just maybe, if Microsoft’s newfound coolness can draw people in, the developers will follow suit with a wave of new apps, just like it’s hoping.