Microsoft unveiled its next major Windows 10 update today, including new features designed to unify the experience across Windows 10, Android and iOS — a new strategy that aims to reposition the flagship operating system for an era in which it no longer dominates the larger world of computing.
The new Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is being unveiled right now at Microsoft’s Build developer conference in Seattle. It includes a Clipboard feature that uses cloud technology to let users quickly copy and paste content among different devices. Another feature, called Pick Up Where You Left Off, leverages Microsoft’s Cortana virtual assistant to bridge the experience across Windows, iOS and Android.
“Imagine logging off your PC and having the doc you were editing pop up on your phone,” says Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s Windows and Devices chief, explaining Pick Up Where You Left Off in a post about the Fall Creators Update. “Cortana asks if you want to pick up where you left in your app, doc or website. It’s like having your PC and your phone finish each other’s sentences.”
A feature called Timeline will create a visual representation of users’ activity, making it possible to jump back quickly into files, apps and sites that they were using previously. In addition, Microsoft will add the ability to access OneDrive files on demand from the cloud, without downloading them to the device.
— Windows Developer (@windowsdev) May 11, 2017
The overall strategy is to appeal to users of iOS and Android, the leading mobile operating systems, by making user experiences on those devices better if users are also running a Windows machine. The approach reflects Microsoft’s new reality and in a rapidly changing technology world, but also the company’s new approach under CEO Satya Nadella — increasingly embracing competing platforms that would have been viewed as archrivals in the past.
The company’s “Project Rome” will enable similar cross-platform functionality for third-party apps.
Microsoft will show the update for the first time this morning, along with a new Microsoft app designed to showcase the features of the update.
The app is called “Story Remix.” Myerson’s post says the app “uses the Microsoft Graph to transform your photos and videos.” The post explains that the app “automatically brings your memories, or even your friends’ photos and videos together to create stories with a soundtrack, theme, and cinematic transitions. You can also create mixed reality by adding 3D objects to your photos and videos to tell stories in a whole new way, or turn your photos and videos into your canvas, drawing on them with Windows Ink.”
Here are some of the other announcements expected this morning.
- The company will unveil Windows Mixed Reality motion controllers, initially working in conjunction with virtual reality headsets from Acer and HP. See this story for more information.
- Microsoft will unveil what it describes as “the next step in the evolution” of its overall design approach, called the Microsoft Fluent Design System, with adaptations to work across different devices.
- The company will announce new Windows Store apps from developers including Autodesk and SAP.
- The event will highlight developer technologies including Xamarin Live Player, letting developers build, test and deploy iPhone apps using Visual Studio on a Windows PC, without using a Mac.
This is part of a wave of announcements from the company. Microsoft last week made a new push into the education technology market with the unveiling of the Windows 10 S operating system, designed for schools, and the announcement of the new Surface Laptop. The company is will unveil new Surface hardware at an event May 23, and it’s expected to unveil new details about its next Xbox console in June at the E3 video-game convention.
Special note: All Build conference attendees and followers receive a special 15% discount to the inaugural GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit, taking place in Bellevue, Wash. on June 7, and featuring speakers such as Microsoft Azure chief Scott Guthrie; Docker COO Scott Johnston; Cloud Foundry executive director Abby Kearns; Kubernetes co-creator Joe Beda and many others. Use the code Build15 when registering on the event site.