Microsoft has had one busy morning in New York, announcing a whole host of new hardware and software products. Working their way up from software all the way to hardware, it seems like Microsoft is leaving no stone unturned to establish itself as a company that thinks future-first. There were many announcements, focusing on every aspect of our digital lives and while we could all but debate their usefulness and effectiveness, what is clear is that Microsoft is still coming up with ways to impress its audience.
Betting big on creation
Going through all that was announced by Microsoft today, it is very clear that the company is putting a lot of emphasis on creativity and art. It seems like the company has recognised the fact that children are now more tuned into the digital medium and have built strongly on that. With their aptly titled Windows 10 Creators Update, the company hopes to catch the next generation of artists as young as possible. Paint was a great “gateway” software to Photoshop and Corel and while the new Paint 3D may not be the stuff in which the next animation film is made (who knows?!), but it could help them aspire to a higher standard.
The merging of Augmented and Virtual Realities is another big leap for Microsoft, something that’s not been seen before. The on-stage demo of the Microsoft rep relaxing in his virtual room might seem like a fun activity, but make this a multi-user experience, kind of like online multiplayer, and we might be looking at a new paradigm of social interaction. It could also have significant medical benefits, helping children with autism and other social anxiety disorders cope with the world.
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Augmenting great software with amazing hardware
The two pieces of hardware announced tonight, the Surface Book i7 and the Surface Studio are clearly devices that digital artists and multimedia professionals would love to own. Both the devices are built on hardware that facilitate the best performance on varied creation suites. While the Surface Book i7 is a beefed-up version of the first-generation device, the Surface Studio is a whole new beast altogether. While the screen itself is a gorgeous piece of innovation, the real star of the show isn’t just any one thing, but how the whole “ecosystem” of the software, the Studio and the Surface Dial work together.
As a photographer, I couldn’t help but thing “THAT IS EXACTLY THE FUNCTIONALITY I NEED!” and I am sure I am not alone (given the barrage of positive messages from my other artist friends). The Dial, Surface Pen and the touch capabilities are supposed to work in conjunction seamlessly, allowing both hands to be used simultaneously. The fact that Microsoft didn’t cheap out on the configuration is a great relief. Unfortunately, those who like to tinker and upgrade their machines by themselves would have some beef with this gorgeous machine.
Beyond art and into imagination
Between the Creators Update, the merging of AR & VR with Holographic and a commitment to hardware that can accomplish it all, Microsoft is opening a huge door of possibilities. They may be focused on the next generation of artists, but this collection of new technologies could propel our ways of discovery, innovation and education into a whole new level. Cost of attending foreign universities could come significantly down by logging into a VR-AR hybrid classroom. People who have significant social anxiety could find significant help via the means of virtual interactions. Surgeons could practice complex, never attempted procedures safely with the combination of AV/VR and hardware that works seamlessly.
Today’s announcements from Microsoft are exciting in terms of what kind of software and hardware we can expect in the coming months. What is truly marvelous, however, is the impact it could have on more than just the consumer arm of computing. When Kinect was originally introduced, a team of medical professionals at University of Washington could use the device to aid in robotic surgery. There’s no reason to believe that innovative minds won’t be able to do something equally, of not more brilliant with today’s announcements.