Microsoft Offers Windows 10 for Free, Teases Virtual Reality Platform

Today during a corporate event at Microsoft’s Seattle office, the company made several announcements for its upcoming revamp of its popular operating system. The first of which, was that upgrading to Windows 10 would come free of charge to users. The move follows similar decisions made by Apple for newer iterations of OSX and iOS, which were also made available for free.

The giveaway is not without its caveats, however, as the upgrade will only be made free for the duration of one year, a decision which the company hopes will speed up adoption. It will also only be free for users of more recent Windows operating systems: 7 and 8.1. And being a platform not exclusive to specific types of devices, the upgrade will also come to more recent versions of Windows Phone and Surface.

Going along with that universal OS approach, Microsoft applications running on 10 will be based off a highly adaptable single version, built to reformat itself depending on the device. Microsoft used its Office suite as an example of this, but also announced a new web browser with the codename “Spartan”, which aims to create a universal, pick-up-and-go browsing experience across devices.

Source: The Verge

The main features touted by “Project Spartan” Source: The Verge

Another feature of the operating system to be showcased by the company was built in machine learning in the form of the voice controlled Cortana application. Thus far, Cortana integration had only been available for mobile devices, while the company has made pushes to roll out machine learning into its other platforms, the most notable being Delve for Office 365.

These capabilities will help the operating system “think” and better understand the needs of its user based on past behaviors. As a result, 10 and any other Cortana enable devices will be able to bring content important to the user to the forefront, before they even need to look for it.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the presentation was the announcement of a wearable virtual reality visor, the HoloLens. The device can be seen as comparable to Google’s Glass wearable tech. Whereas Glass projects a user interface into the wearers periphery, the HoloLens, however, allows its user to perceive 3D objects in their environment which can be interacted with.

The HoloLens' running the wildly popular game Minecraft

A rendering of the HoloLens running the wildly popular game Minecraft

While the lenses are expected to be a standalone product like Glass or the Oculus Rift, the product will also have integration with other Microsoft platforms and devices. Though a release date has not been made public, it is expected to be available for purchase sometime within Windows 10’s lifecycle. Presently, Windows life cycles last for about 10 years.

So, we can’t expect true virtual reality to become a reality in time for Back to the Future 2’s setting, but it’s crested the horizon now and is within our reach. And while that may be a few more years down the line, the advances made within tech today should be able to hold us over.

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