At its WinHEC 2016 opening keynote in Shenzhen, China Thursday morning, Microsoft announced a new collaboration with longtime partner Intel aimed at driving the PC forward with new security, artificial intelligence (AI), mixed reality and gaming functionality.
It’s called Project Evo.
“Intel is an amazing partner,” Microsoft executive vice president Terry Myerson told me this week, shortly after arriving in China for WinHEC. “We’ve innovated together on so many things over the years. And now we’re going to deliver all-new ways for PCs to light up exciting new experiences for our customers.”
“Through Project EVO, we are harnessing our collective innovation to showcase what is uniquely possible with the PC and, together, set the course for the future,” said Intel senior vice president Navin Shenoy, who appeared on stage with Mr. Myerson at WinHEC. “We believe that computing must evolve to become capable of even more unbelievable things, including smarter voice interaction, virtual and merged reality experiences for all, more powerful gaming, strengthened security and identity protection, and true always connected computing.”
According to both firms, a new wave of modern PCs is coming in 2017 that will raise the bar for what people expect of these devices. These PCs will leverage the following Microsoft and Intel innovations:
Far-field communication and voice activation. Now, instead of having to walk up to a PC to communicate with Cortana, you can simply speak normally from across a room. This technology requires improvements to both the software itself as well as new microphone hardware, I was told. You’ll also be able to wake up your PC from modern standby with the phrase, “Hey Cortana.”
New security capabilities. As you may recall, Microsoft partnered with Intel two years ago to enable Windows Hello facial recognition on Intel’s RealSense cameras. This coming year, we’ll see the results of improvements to both the software and hardware that makes this possible, as well as new security features for Windows 10 like Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph integration and new security intelligence and analytics from Intel.
Mixed reality. Thanks to the unique nature of the PC ecosystem, Windows 10 will support mixed reality head-mounted displays and immersive experiences across a broad range of peripheral and PC hardware, and at varying price points. Windows Holographic will work on both 6th and 7th generation Intel Core processors and, by the end of 2017, will be supported on Intel HD Graphics as well.
New gaming innovations. New gaming technologies like support for 4K and High Dynamic Range (HDR), Wide Color Gamut (WCG), spatial audio (which debuted on HoloLens), and Xbox controllers that support Bluetooth are transforming the role of Windows 10 in gaming.