The other day Microsoft made some interesting announcements that have started to whip up a frenzy in the tech community. The main ones that I find interesting are :

  • Windows 10 to be offered Free for a year
  • The new Spartan web browser
  • Hololens holographic glasses

Microsoft announced many other things, of which you can get a summary in the video below, but the above points are the ones that really interested me.

Windows 10 to be Offered Free for a Year

Windows 10 is shaping up to be a great new version of Windows where they are correcting a lot of the things that people hated about Windows 8 to create a more cohesive operating system between the desktop and mobile platforms. Microsoft realises that they did a lot of damage to their reputation with Windows 8 (although I didn’t think it was that bad to be honest) so to get people to adopt the new version they have announce that they will give it away for free for Windows 7 and 8 users for a year after it’s release.

Windows 10 New Start Menu
Windows 10 New Start Menu

This is good news as I think it would be a hard sell to convince people who are non MSDN subscribers to part with their cash to upgrade.

The New Spartan Web Browser

There have been rumours flying around for a while now that Microsoft is going to deprecate their Internet Explorer browser and replace it with a new experience, and it is now official. They have announced a new lightweight, and higher performance browser called Spartan.

Microsoft Spartan
Microsoft Spartan

During yesterday’s Windows 10 demonstration, Microsoft showed off how users will be able to annotate and share Web pages using Spartan, as leaks previously indicated would be the case. They also showed Spartan’s built-in reading experience capabilities and the expected Cortana integration.

Also previously leaked, Spartan will work on Windows Phones, tablets and PCs. This will make Spartan the replacement for Internet Explorer including the version that shipped with Window 8 both on the desktop and tablet devices.

Hololens Holographic Glasses

The real exciting news to me, and something I certainly wasn’t expecting, was Microsoft’s announcement of the Hololens Holographic Glasses. This device is just unbelievably cool. Essentially, when you look through the glasses you see your environment as though you was wearing a normal pair of glasses, but the device will blend 3D graphic into your environment as it you was seeing an actual holographic image.

Windows Hololens
Windows Hololens

This is in contrast to a device like the Oculus Rift where you are immersed into a completely 3D environment. What is interesting is that the Hololens is a completely untethered device as there is no cable to your computer or games console.

Microsoft had some interesting demos for this device, including controlling a Mars rover, augmented instructions for doing DIY, and a game of Minecraft. It’s early days, but the potential for this is huge. I can’t wait to get my hands on one and try some development with it.

One thing I am keen to know is what is the battery life like? This is something that will truly determine its usefulness. If it is low (around an hour) then that will seriously compromise how useful this device will be. If it can keep going for 6+ hours then this will be much more useful, especially for applications outside gaming where staff may have to wear this as part of a shift.

The possibilities are endless for this device and I am truly excited to see where this goes. I just hope Microsoft hurries up and makes it available to us developers as I want one!! I am in full on gear lust mode now!

Microsoft Hololens Minecraft Demo
Microsoft Hololens Minecraft Demo

There are no firm release dates yet, but there is supposed to be more information at Aprils Build conference in San Francisco. The following video talks about some of the possibilities with Hololens.

Microsoft in my opinion is making all the right moves. Windows 10 is shaping up to be a great new version of Windows, and their new Browser will hopefully cure all the ills of Internet Explorer. The future of being a developer in the Microsoft eco-system has never looked so good.

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