The 10 Most Righteous New Features Coming to Windows 10
Your Face Is Your Password
As long as you have a face, Windows Hello wants to make sure you don’t need a password. Microsoft is making its fingerprint- and face-unlock features available to apps across the platform, and is even going to allow websites to authenticate you using Hello, as long as you’re in the Edge browser. Hello is an awesomely fast way to unlock your computer, and should work just as well everywhere. Just, you know, don't get decapitated—then you won't be able to log in with this cool feature.
Genius-Level Sticky Notes
Microsoft’s Bryan Roper said during the Build keynote that 8 million people use Windows 10’s built-in sticky notes app every month, and 3 million use it every day. So Microsoft has made the notes a little smarter. They do a good job of reading your handwriting, and Cortana can recognize dates and turn notes into reminders. It’s particularly useful if you’re writing with a Surface Pen. Speaking of which...
The Pen Is Mightier
Pen input is really, really important to Microsoft. And the Windows 10 Anniversary update has a lot of pen involved. You can use an on-screen ruler to draw perfectly straight lines, draw a line between two dots in Maps to calculate the distance, highlight and delete text in Word, and much more. Pen’s only one of many input mechanisms in Windows 10, but it’s clearly one of the most important.
Facebook Goes Windows-Native
The Windows Store, and the universal apps within, are critical to the long-term success of Microsoft’s one-platform-everywhere strategy. Facebook’s been a big missing piece for a long time, but now it’s bringing The Big Blue App, plus Instagram and Facebook Messenger, to the store.
Your Xbox Is a PC Now
At long last, Microsoft has turned its game console into the full-fledged PC it’s always been meant to be. (The reverse is also true, as more and more games come to PC and Xbox.) The Xbox and Windows stores are now one thing, available everywhere, which means you’ll soon be able to run games, apps, and Cortana everywhere. Say hello to your new living room computer.
HoloLens Is Coming. Someday. Really.
Alex Kipman, one of the co-inventors of Microsoft’s futuristic HoloLens augmented-reality tool, got very excited when he announced that the first developer kits are shipping. To get people building, Microsoft has made a new app called Galaxy Explorer, and put all the code on GitHub for developers to peruse. NASA showed off some apps it’s already using, too. HoloLens is still a long way away for most people, but it’s getting a little closer all the time.
Cortana Is Everywhere You Are
Even if you’re not into the voice-assistant thing, you’re not going to be able to avoid Cortana for long. Now it works on the lockscreen, meaning you can yell “Hey Cortana” from across the room to get stuff done. It’s integrated into apps, looking for calendar appointments and reminders and helpfully suggesting apps you might want to use. It’s always watching, always running, always trying to help no matter what you’re doing.
Hello, Clippy 2.0
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella basically came out at Build and said the future of Microsoft is bots. “Chat as an interface,” he called it. Microsoft is hoping developers will build simple bots that let people order pizza, buy plane tickets, do absolutely anything you can think of. They want to make sure everything works through simple chat interfaces, in a way that normal (non-programmer) users can figure out. They’ll work with almost any app or platform, all hosted in Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform. Watch your back, Alexa.
Skype Is Getting Love Again
If conversational interfaces are the future, then Skype just got a promotion. The app is going to be deeply integrated with Cortana, and you’ll be able to chat with bots to do almost anything, a la Facebook’s artificial assistant M. Skype’s in HoloLens, on Windows, on your phone, it’s everywhere. And it’s about to become even more important to the next phase of computing at Microsoft.
Developers, Developers, Developers
Never forget that Build is mostly a developer's conference. That may help explain the actual gasps that arose from the audience when Microsoft showed the Bash shell running natively in Windows, bringing Linux developer tools to the platform in a new and better way. Or the long-winded explanation of the impressive new CRIS (Custom Recognition Intelligent Service) platform. Windows is making real moves to be more developer-friendly all the time, and the audience reacted. The bash shell, you guys!
Posted: Friday, April 1, 2016