Microsoft event recap: VR for all, expensive computers for few
Microsoft wants “3D for everyone,” shows off HoloLens
Microsoft set the bar during its Windows 10 “Creators Update” keynote yesterday, just a day before Apple’s highly anticipated Mac event. The company known for its iconic Windows operating system defined its vision going forward, announcing products and services in a few specific areas: 3D, VR, gaming and computing for “creators.” A free update to Windows 10 will be coming in the first half of 2017, bringing 3D augmented reality features to Microsoft’s OS, along with a number of other features like a refreshed Paint with 3D integration.
The first demonstration of the event showcased Microsoft’s dedication to moving mixed reality forward. This time, by making 3D images and objects commonplace for mobile devices and upcoming AR and VR platforms. The demo saw a user walk in a circle around a sandcastle, using her mobile camera to capture the real-life object on all sides. Microsoft’s software took the 360 degree photo, rendered it, and turned it into a virtual object – making something temporary into something permanent.
There was no doubting what would be next on stage: HoloLens. Microsoft’s general manager Megan Saunders showed off what the mixed reality HoloLens was capable of. The company displayed how its own AR headset and other third-party VR headsets interacted with the updated version of Windows 10.
Saunders introduced how the HoloLens’ collaboration with the updated Microsoft Paint will allow for 3D drawing. The demonstration saw the user take the virtual sand castle, throw it into paint, alter it, and view it again in the real world in 3D through Hololens. An industrial IoT use case shown during the event was using HoloLens for online shopping. In the demo, a Microsoft employee was able to use the HoloLens to see how furniture would look in his house through a projected hologram before actually buying it.
Virtual reality and 3D for all
Microsoft primarilyy focused its virtual conversation on mixed reality, only giving brief mention of virtual reality, a technology being pushed heavily by the companies making hardware for Microsoft’s Windows OS.
Microsoft said that companies including Lenovo and Dell would be making 3D accessories, starting at $299 in the US, allowing you to experience and produce 3D content.
Powerful and expensive computing for creators and gamers
Microsoft beat Apple to the punch, announcing new computing products before its rival hosts its own keynote on Thursday. The Seattle-based company surprised a lot of people by announcing a new product line, the Microsoft Surface Studio, an all-in-one and close competitor to the iMac.
The monster computer has a 28 inch LCD touchscreen monitor, the world’s thinnest at 12.5 millimeters, with 13.5 million pixels, or 63% more than a 4K TV. Of course, knowing Microsoft’s dedication to 2-in-1s, the display was always going to move in one way or another. While it doesn’t fold back entirely flat, the flexible hinges rest the computer down to a 20 degree angle, simulating an architect or drawer’s drafting table. Its base has numerous connectivity options: Aux, SD card, Mini DisplayPort, ethernet, and 4 USB 3.0 ports. There’s also a built in microphone array, making it easy to activate Cortana, the built-in Windows 10 assistant, from across the room. It is compatible with 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.
The workstation starts at $3,000 and goes up to $4,200. The highest end model will afford you an Intel i7 processor, 32 GB of RAM, 4GB of Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M GPU and a 2TB hard drive.
Microsoft also refreshed the highest-end variant of its Surface Book, an ultrabook-tablet combo with 16 hours of battery life and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M GPU. The updated Surface Book will be available on November 10th with 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB configurations for $2,399, $2,799, and $3,299, respectively.