As expected, Microsoft will over the course of this year expand the capabilities of Windows 10 for PCs, tablets and phones, and the firm detailed some of these coming changes at today’s Windows 10. Some changes will come immediately, in a new technical preview build that is expected within the week, and some will arrive later in the year.
Pre-release versions of Windows 10 are made available to users through the Windows Insider Program, which now boasts 1.7 million members, making it “the largest-ever open collaborative development effort” that Microsoft has ever participated in. And Insiders have now provided Microsoft will over 800,000 pieces of feedback since the September 2014 launch of the program.
They’re about to have a lot more to test. Microsoft today detailed the following new experiences for Windows 10:
Cortana. Available previously on Windows Phone 8.1, the Cortana personal digital assistant is coming to Windows 10, opening up this technology to PCs, tablets and Xbox One.
Windows 10 for phones and small tablets. As expected, Microsoft is dropping the Windows Phone branding and will instead provide a version of Windows 10 that works on phones and tablets with screens smaller than 8-inches. We won’t see this one until February, however.
Spartan. As previously reported, Windows 10 will ship with a new web browser currently codenamed Spartan. It will include keyboard or pen annotation, simple sharing and clipping, and Word-like commenting features.
Office universal apps. Windows 10 for phones and small tablets will include free Office universal apps—Word, Excel and PowerPoint, plus Outlook Mail and Outlook Calendar—in-box. These will be available “in the coming months,” but my brief experience with them so far suggests they are much more powerful than, say, the Office for iPhone apps.
News and improved in-box universal apps. Microsoft is updating its in-box apps with a Spartan new user experience that looks more at home on a traditional PC. These include Photos, Videos, Music, Maps, People & Messaging, and Outlook Mail and Calendar.
New Xbox app. A pretty comprehensive looking Xbox app will provide gamers with access to all of their Xbox activities and, best of all, will let you stream games from your Xbox One to any Windows 10 tablet or PC.
Continuum. I just got finished going hands-on with this new feature, which will let Windows 10 adapt to tablet mode when you detach from a keyboard/mouse and then back to the normal display mode as needed. Looks great.