The teasers for today’s Microsoft event in new York hinted at creativity being the theme. However, the extent to which the company is pushing creativity went far beyond what most people were expecting. From 3D and augmented reality to gaming and eSports, and new hardware—including the incredible Surface Studio—Microsoft is going all in on the creative aspect of computing. Not only that, but the company wants you to share …
New Surface Studio
The star of the Microsoft event was without question, the new Surface Studio computer.
It was pretty clear that Microsoft had Apple’s iMac in mind when it designed its first desktop PC. The Surface Studio shares a comprehensive design and aluminum enclosure with the iMac and Microsoft even led off the reveal with a hint that its new computer would probably “look familiar.”
Yes, the overall form factor and approach does bring the iMac to mind, but Microsoft has taken its computer to a whole new level.
The PixelSense display is larger than the iMac, at 28-inches. It’s also thinner and boasts 4500 x 3000 resolution for 13.5 million pixels. Naturally, it’s multi-touch enabled.
To enable the Surface Studio to be used as a creative studio and not just a computer, Microsoft mounted that display using an innovative new Zero Gravity hinge. That means you can tilt the Surface Studio from the traditional upright position to 20-degrees, making it ideal for use with a Surface Pen. Audio is provided by dual-speakers with Dolby and there are full complement of ports, including four USB 3.0 ports. An array of microphones lets you ask Cortana a question from the other side of the room.
This is meant to be a high powered machine, so it’s equipped with either a Core i5 or Core i7 CPU, up to 32GB of RAM, a hybrid drive starting at 1TB capacity and Nvidia GeForce graphics. There’s even a Windows Hello sign-in camera to eliminate the need for passwords.
The Surface Studio was demonstrated with a new accessory called the Surface Dial. This is a very cool little device. Shaped like a silver puck, you place the Bluetooth-connected Surface Dial on any Surface device and it interacts, displaying a radial menu on the screen. It tracks what you do and you can actually use the Surface Dial to turn back time and view actions you’ve performed while working on a project.
Want to utilize Windows 10’s gaming capabilities? You can pair an Xbox controller.
Microsoft is also releasing new Surface Mouse and Surface Ergonomic Keyboard accessories that will be sold separately.
Upgraded Surface Book
Microsoft already had a hit on its hands with the Surface Book convertible laptop. But it says there was demand from its user base for even more power.
So today’s event also featured an even more powerful option, the Surface Book with Performance Base (available for preorder). This one is equipped with an Intel Core i7 CPU and Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M video card, and Microsoft says it’s twice as fast as before. Not only that, but battery life has been boosted to an incredible 16 hours. That is a pretty impressive trick to pull off, because increased battery life in the same form factor usually means throttling power …
Windows 10 Creators Update
Look for a major new Windows 10 release to arrive this spring, .
Microsoft is betting that we are ready to move beyond consuming content, to creating content. And the new generation of content creators aren’t going to be stuck in two dimensions, they’ll be thinking in 3D and able to share more easily than ever. After all, this is a generation that’s growing up playing Minecraft.
Windows 10 Creators Update is going to introduce new versions of popular Microsoft applications that are updated to support 3D content creation. The biggest change will be its Paint app, which will support 3D modelling and creation. But even PowerPoint will gain new 3D features.
The company envisions users scanning a physical object with their smartphone (apps are coming), then using that scan to create a model they can manipulate in Paint 3D. Slip on your 3D headset and you can view your creation in virtual reality or augmented reality. These creations can be shared online as well.
And speaking of sharing, Microsoft is adding easy-to-use live gaming broadcasts in Windows 10 Creators Update. You can livestream your gaming sessions or even get in on the eSport rush by setting up your own tournaments on Xbox Live.
The new version of Windows 10 will aim to make sharing as easy as possible, everywhere. It will even attempt to tame your jungle of social media contacts, using the Windows task bar as a hub for your most important friends and family. Their faces will show up as an icon and to share something, just drop it on them. If they’re a fellow Windows 10 user, you can even drop files right on their desktop this way.
Besides offering a ton of new features, Windows 10 Creators Update will be a free upgrade when it arrives.
New VR Headsets
While the HoloLens is still a big part of Microsoft’s augmented reality plans, the company emphasized the goal of bring 3D and AR to everyone. To help support that goal, it announced partnerships with a slew of PC partners including ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Acer. They will be offering affordable virtual reality headsets that don’t require external cameras for tracking.
Start thinking about what you might be able to do when the Windows 10 Creators Update arrives this spring. It might be time to think about a new PC to take full advantage of everything the new operating system has to offer. Surface Studio and Surface Dial will be available in Canada in 2017, but pre-orders will begin soon on the upgraded Surface Book.