The 7 Most-Exciting Announcements From Microsoft’s Windows 10 Event

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
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Microsoft gave users their first full look at Windows 10 Wednesday during a launch event packed with incredible features stretching across devices into bold new territory — these are some of our favorites.

1. New interface revives the “Start” menu and adds touchscreen/mobile integration

After dropping the navigational staple from Windows 8, Microsoft is bringing back the “Start” menu in Windows 10 along with a host of improvements combining the best of old and new. Start will now expand to a full-screen view similar to Windows 8’s desktop, including tile integration. An “Action Center” will give users fast control over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other connectivity settings, and a new adaptability option called Continuum will let users switch between keyboard and mouse or touchscreen on dual-enabled devices. (RELATED: Windows 10 Will Be A Free Upgrade For Windows 7 And 8 Users)

2. Windows 10 will operate on smartphones and sync across multiple devices

A customized version of Windows 10 formatted specifically for handhelds will take advantage of the operating system’s touchscreen tile interface, sync notifications and activity with users’ PCs via the Action Center and include Skype messaging. Windows 10-equipped smartphones will integrate with a mobile version of the company’s famed Office suite, and use its new Project Spartan web browser.

3. Cortana is coming to the desktop and web browser

Cortana, the Microsoft digital assistant-equivalent of Apple’s Siri, now has a home in the desktop Start menu and will support full voice command integration. Cortana will be able to answer questions, execute local, OneDrive and Internet searches and provide helpful tips based on searches in Microsoft’s new Project Spartan web browser. Cortana will also learn based on past activity and chime in with notifications users may want to know about sports, stocks and travel updates. Cortana can learn and suggest notifications on her own of be programmed with them manually.

4. Internet Explorer gets an upgrade with Project Spartan

Windows 10 is bringing an all-new browser along with it — Project Spartan — which includes a new rendering engine and a bunch of new features, including an inking interface that lets users write notes right on webpages, a reading feature that strips away page clutter for a cleaner appearance, a reading list and full Cortana integration. The latest version of the digital assistant will provide helpful tips amid user browsing on everything from making restaurant reservations to booking flights. Spartan’s clean-cut design includes previews of the sites your connected to in tabs at the top of the browser. (RELATED: Microsoft Announces Project Spartan, A New Web Browser For Windows 10)

5. Windows 10 brings Xbox control onto the PC

In a major boon to Microsoft users doubling as Xbox gamers, Windows 10 will include an Xbox app allowing users to access messages, chat on Xbox Live, connect with friends, record/play gameplay videos from their PCs, and most importantly, stream Xbox games to other Windows 10 devices like PCs and tablets.

6. Microsoft steps into virtual/augmented reality with Windows 10

No longer content to stay behind the curve, Microsoft unveiled its first foray into virtual/augmented reality with the Microsoft HoloLens — a transparent visor Windows 10 users will don to see augmented reality displayed over the real world. The device is powered by a holographic processing unit that will be built into Windows 10 devices, and uses sensors to recognize motion and the surrounding world. The device is wireless, and a video produced by Microsoft shows it being used by architects and designers to bring their creations to life in fully rendered 3D displays, right in front of them. The company did not give a release date, but indicated HoloLens would be available sometime during the lifespan of Windows 10.

7. Giant Surface, OneDrive expansion, mobile Office and free Windows

Other noteworthy items include: the expansion of Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud service, which syncs Windows 10 devices and now shares users’ music across devices; a mobile version of Office, which syncs documents across devices and allows programs like Powerpoint to be run from a smartphone; the Surface Hub, an 84-inch 4K touchscreen wall tablet with speakers, a microphone, Bluetooth connectivity and more designed to facilitate Skype meetings, where users can draw and share information right on the screen; and finally, a free download of Windows 10 for existing Windows 7 and 8 users.

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