Last night at 1 AM, Microsoft gave us a deeper look into Windows 10. Windows 10 itself isn’t news, since Microsoft has already released a public preview last October. But as we near the official consumer release date, Microsoft has decided to update us on what’s changed since its initial conception, including a closer look into Windows 10 for phones and tablets. Want to find out more? We’ve summarised the most important news into this article.
First of all, everyone running on Windows 7, 8 and Windows Phone 8.1 are eligible for a FREE upgrade to Windows 10 within 1 year of its initial release. Yeah, whew. That’s really good news.
The whole idea behind Windows 10 is that there should only be one operating system for ALL of your devices. Yes, your PC, your tablet, your phone, your Xbox. They’re all going to be running Windows 10. So that means that developers can create one app for Windows 10, and it’ll be available on the store across all of Microsoft’s devices.
Cortana has made her way into Windows 10 for tablets and PCs, and is able to do PC-specific tasks such as opening up a document for you. Just like on Windows Phone 8.1, she will be able to create reminders, calendar events, and update you on your interests via voice commands or the keyboard.
Charms are now gone. Instead, you have an Action Centre on the left, identical to the one on Windows Phones and similar to the one on the Mac. Yeah, Microsoft is really showing that this is ONE operating system.
Microsoft has also introduced a new browser codenamed Project Spartan, which provides a new web-browsing experience in line with Windows 10’s design language. There’s stuff like reading mode, an offline reading list, the ability to draw and annotate on webpages, which can then be saved in OneNote.
Note that all these new features are “universal”, meaning that they will be available on all devices (phones, tablets, PC, Xbox) as long as it is running on Windows 10. Microsoft has even redesigned a few apps (People, Messaging, Settings, and the much-awaited Office) to allow them to work and sync across all devices. Yes, Office for Windows Phone is finally getting full desktop functionality.
Windows 10 for Phones
This was really the only thing that got me excited all month. When Microsoft quietly released a Phone Insider app in the Windows Phone store, I was looking forward to the launch of the Windows 10 preview for phones last night. Alas, Microsoft has stated that it’ll only be available in February. Guess we’ll still have to wait.
We did see a demo of Windows 10 running on a Lumia 1520 though, and even though it was a short demo, it’s getting me excited for the new OS. The Action Centre has been updated so that you can quickly act on notification banners by a swipe down action, identical to the already existing function on iOS 8. Other than this, notifications can now be dismissed individually, and you can swipe down from the traditional 4 toggles (5 if you’re using the 1520) to reveal even more toggles.
The Start screen now implements a background image similar to the one seen on Windows tablets. So instead of “transparent” tiles as in Windows Phone 8.1, you now have translucent/opaque tiles atop a wallpaper. The app drawer has been redesigned to have recently installed apps appear on the top of the list.
And yes, Windows 10 will be available as a free upgrade to ALL Windows Phone 8 devices. Even low end devices like the Lumia 520. You can breathe now.
And oh yes, Microsoft has confirmed that it is releasing a Windows 10 flagship phone at the end of the summer, whenever that is. Summer never ends here in Singapore.
Other than these, we don’t have much information on other new features, but when the preview releases, I’ll be sure to load it up on my Lumia 925 and I’ll write a detailed article on my experience.
Xbox and Windows 10
Microsoft has announced a new Xbox app for Windows 10, bringing together the most important aspects of your gaming life with the Xbox app on Windows 10: Games, Friends, Messages, Achievements, Activity Feed, Notifications, and more.
- By bringing all of Xbox Live to Windows 10 devices, and providing developers access to the Xbox Live API, multiplayer gaming will be enabled on Windows 10 against players on an Xbox One.
- Windows 10 brings the ability to stream games directly from Xbox One consoles to Windows 10 tablets or PCs within the home.
- Capturing and editing game clips for games with built-in Game DVR on Windows 10.
- Improvements in speed, efficiency, and graphics for new and existing games with DirectX 12.
Phil also announced that Microsoft Studios is bringing “Fable Legends” to Windows 10 PCs, day-and-date with the Xbox One version in 2015. Fans playing “Fable Legends” on Windows 10 will be able to play against their fellow gamers on Xbox One.
This means that if the developer so chooses, PC games made for Windows 10 are now Xbox Live enabled, meaning that you can get achievements and play with your friends online, all from your PC. Yeah, sounds awesome.
Words cannot explain this. It’s just insanely mind-blowing. Watch the video below. Let’s just say this could be the first step towards transforming our digital lives forever. Your kids will soon be playing Minecraft IN REAL LIFE. Well, virtual life. But still. It’s freaking cool.
Excited about Windows 10? I know I am. Joe Belfiore may not have gotten a huge applause, and had to face several moments of awkward silence, but he can rest assured in the fact that journalists like my team and others around the world really appreciate the work that they’re doing. Windows 10, if successful in fulfilling what it promises, will be the first step towards a new era: where phones, tablets, PCs, gaming consoles, and even the Internet of Things, are all connected, seamlessly, in one ecosystem.