While whatever happened to Windows 9 will remain shrouded in official mystery (there are plenty of theories out there!), Microsoft is gearing up to release Windows 10 very soon and it could have a dramatic effect on how you get work done on your computer, your tablet and your smartphone. We had previously highlighted some Windows 10 features that should help you work smarter and that was based on information from an early test build of the new operating system.
More recently, Microsoft hosted a special event where it showcased more developments on the platform, preparing to usher in the next generation of Windows with Windows 10. If you want to improve your productivity and effectiveness at work, Microsoft has several key innovations that could provide some much-needed assistance. Better still, existing Windows 7 and Windows 8 users will be provided with a free upgrade to Windows 10 for about the first year.
Skype Integration in Messaging
Not unlike what Google has done on Android smartphones and with its Hangouts chat protocol, Microsoft is now going to integrate Skype with the core Messaging app on Windows 10 smartphones. They are getting users to associate their mobile phone numbers with their Skype accounts. Once that happens, your device will be able to dynamically switch between SMS and Skype as appropriate to continue the conversation, presumably through to your tablets, laptops and desktops too. This is also similar to how iMessage works for Apple users. We’ve already seen the first inklings of integration when Microsoft dropped MSN Messenger and rolled it in with Skype. This is the next logical step.
The Continuum Movement
In our earlier feature, we had discussed how Windows 10 was going to provide a more unified experience across devices and how the “universal” applications would be designed in such a way that they are consistent across mobile and desktop. The content is also synced through OneDrive. Continuing with that philosophy is Continuum mode on 2-in-1 devices. Windows 10 will automatically and conveniently switch between keyboard/mouse and touch/tablet mode when it detects you flipping your convertible PC one way or the other. This way, you don’t have to tap and swipe your finger through an interface designed for a mouse, just as you don’t have to use a mouse for an interface optimized for touch.
Universal Cortana Digital Assistant
Google users have Google Now. Apple users have Siri. And Windows Phone users have Cortana. These have all been for the mobile experience where a voice-based assistant has been increasingly useful for the busy professional on the go. With Windows 10, Microsoft will be introducing the Cortana digital assistant to full-fledged PCs too. In the desktop context of Windows 10, Cortana appears like a search box next to the Start button. You can use this to search the web, search your PC, search your cloud storage, and presumably perform more advanced functions as Microsoft introduces them. They’re saying this is a “whole new natural way of interacting with your PC.”
Surface Hub for Conference Rooms
Speaking of whole new ways of interacting with your computer, tangential to the Windows 10 announcements was the unveiling of the Surface Hub. This is not at all like the Surface and Surface Pro tablets. Instead, it’s a massive 84-inch slate with a 4K touch-enabled display, optimized for presentations and conference rooms. It can accept multiple pen inputs at the same time, which is great for collaboration, and it has big speakers and dual cameras to further bolster the biggest Windows 10 experience revealed to date. Watch the demo video above for a better idea of what to expect from the Surface Hub.
Spartan Web Browser
Many people have a love-hate relationship with Internet Explorer with more of an inclination to lean toward the latter than the former. To encourage people back into the fold and away from alternatives like Firefox and Chrome, Microsoft has been working on a “new web experience for Windows 10″ that it has codenamed Project Spartan. This is a new browser with new features, like keyboard and pen-based annotation, direct sharing, distraction-free reading view, and Cortana integration.
Image credit: Windows.com