Microsoft Readying for Launch of Windows 10, Edge Browser
The Microsoft juggernaut that kicked off last week at its Build developers' conference in San Francisco continued on Monday as the company takes its message of more personal and productive computing to the Ignite gathering in Chicago. All that Microsoft momentum is building toward the scheduled release later this year of the new Windows 10 operating system and the Edge browser, which will replace Internet Explorer.
Speaking during today's opening keynote at Ignite, CEO Satya Nadella said Microsoft is reinventing both itself and computing for a "mobile-first, cloud-first world." A large part of that transformation rests on enabling computing that is more natural and delivers the same experience no matter what type of device is being used, he said.
"The core vision . . . is that what matters most is the mobility of the human experience across the devices," Nadella said. By enabling more productivity and business insights, Microsoft is "reinventing the very nature of work," he said.
Cortana Getting 'Smarter and Smarter'
Among some of the new, wow-generating offerings Microsoft plans to launch this year are a smarter Cortana digital personal assistant, along with a HoloLens headset for holographic computing. Both will be enabled by the new capabilities built into Windows 10, according to company executives.
Following Nadella's opening remarks, Joe Belfiore, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft's Operating Systems Group, took the stage to give a demonstration of some of Cortana's new abilities. He said the assistant will be able to answer questions based on Web searches or data stored on a PC, and can also find answers to more complex questions by accessing business data stored in the cloud.
For example, Belfiore asked Cortana how many PCs were used by the companies of Ignite attendees by industry. Within seconds, using information that Microsoft had previously collected from conference-goers, Cortana was able to generate a bar graph showing that the average number of computers by industry was highest in the defense sector. As Microsoft continues fine-tuning Windows 10, "Cortana will keep getting smarter and smarter," Belfiore said.
'A Lot of User Testing'
Ahead of its release date, Windows 10 is being continuously tweaked to deliver a computing experience that is familiar while also adding many new capabilities, Belfiore said, noting that the company has done a lot of user testing.
"The key idea we're aiming for here is a balance of familiarity with new features," he said. "We're going to really tune this to get that right balance between familiarity and productivity."
For instance, while Windows 10 will bring back the familiar Start Menu many users of Windows 8 found lacking, its menu will feature links to live tiles as well as most-used and recently-added apps.
Belfiore also demonstrated some of the capabilities of the new Edge browser. Designed as a universal Windows app, the browser will ensure users have the same computing experience across devices, he said.
"This is a platform we're investing heavily in," Belfiore said. "Users can smoothly move from one to another because it's literally the same code across devices."