Get ready for an eventful week, with both Apple and Microsoft vying for your attention with their latest round of splashy product announcements. Microsoft has been particularly cagey about their event, dropping cryptic hints but not much else. We’ll be there reporting live, and you’ll be able to watch the event here. But what should you expect from Microsoft’s October surprise?
Introducing the Surface Studio
Microsoft has a runaway hit with the Surface, particularly the Surface Book, and by all accounts this week’s event will aim to capitalize on that success by unveiling the long-rumored Surface PC. We don’t know very much about the product itself, as Microsoft has kept its supply chain locked down, and we haven’t seen any manufacturer leaks – other than a couple shots of a keyboard and mouse – that might hint at what the PC might look like or what it might do.
Patents, however, are a different story. Microsoft has filed a number of conspicuous patents which appear to show designs for an all-in-one touchscreen PC, one of which boasts an interesting hinge design which would allow users to re-position the screen to essentially become a Wacom-style desktop tablet.
Further documentation on the patent point towards the inclusion of various modules, which might provide additional capability to the device when stacked below the base.
This design, or something like it, would certainly make sense given Microsoft’s recent emphasis on creative professionals and the promise to include its Windows Holographic experience in Windows 10 by next year – the Surface PC might have some interesting ties to the HoloLens, but more on that later.
Microsoft has suggested that the upcoming event will not be hardware-focused, so we’re probably not going to see any new Surface Books or Surface tablets. A full slate of new products would certainly contradict the messaging they’ve maintained to this point.
More evidence suggesting that we’ll see a Surface PC later this week comes from trademark and patent sleuth Brian Conroy, the attorney who first discovered Apple’s AirPods trademark. Conroy reportedly uncovered a number of Microsoft-affiliated patents filed which include the name “Surface Studio.”
As The Verge points out, this branding was hinted at by ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley who reported earlier this year that the Surface Cardinal – the Surface PC’s codename – was going to be positioned as a PC that could “turn your desk into a studio.” So, Surface Studio falls right in line with what we already know about the upcoming all-in-one PC. It’s a good name, and given that Wednesday’s event will take place in a venue typically reserved for runway shows, it’s fitting.
What does it do, besides feature a touch-screen? Well according to the above patent leaks, it’s likely to pull double duty as a desktop computer and a Wacom-style tablet. Featuring robust stylus support for creative professionals, and a hinge to fold down flat, or nearly flat, the Surface Studio could be a good all-around choice for anyone who uses a stylus more than a mouse and keyboard.
So, despite the lack of leaked snapshots, it looks like the Surface Studio could very well be making its debut on the catwalk this Wednesday.
Windows integration for the HoloLens
The HoloLens, that thing everyone wants but nobody can afford, could also make an appearance at Wednesday’s event. Microsoft reportedly has some interesting plans in store which involve the HoloLens, and the Surface Studio, along with a new version of a familiar app.
Microsoft has been mum when it comes to discussing any role that the HoloLens might play in Wednesday’s event, but there are a few signs that we can expect some kind of demonstration of existing HoloLens technology. The emphasis on creativity is a big indication, as Microsoft has positioned the HoloLens as a tool for creative professionals.
Now, there’s no hard evidence that suggests the HoloLens will be compatible, but given the direction we’ve seen Microsoft take with the HoloLens, with Windows 10, and with the potential Surface all-in-one PC, it would certainly make sense for the HoloLens to figure prominently into the event on Wednesday.
Earlier this year, Microsoft promised to roll out support for its Windows Holographic augmented reality interface to Windows 10 by next year, and tomorrow would be a good time to demonstrate just what that might mean for the end user.
Reintroducing an old friend for Windows 10
Remember your old friend MS Paint? Well, it’s due for a major overhaul which will reportedly feature the ability to create 3D objects, and could potentially support 3D holographic drawing with the HoloLens. The new Windows 10-ified version of Paint was featured in two internal videos leaked last week, which show artists working in Paint to create objects in a 3D environment.
— WalkingCat (@h0x0d) October 7, 2016
It’s a far cry from those stick figures we all used to make, and it appears that Microsoft is trying to position Paint as more of a premium product than it has been in the past — similar to how they re-imagined Internet Explorer as Microsoft Edge.
Plans for Windows 10
While it’s not as exciting as a full-on new product launch, Windows 10 is likely to be the centerpiece of the event. So, what’s new and noteworthy in the world of Windows?
Over the past year we’ve seen a number of incremental updates and changes roll out to Windows Insiders, but Microsoft has big plans for 2017, including two major revisions to Windows 10 which should include some of the smaller features introduced to Windows Insiders earlier this year.
We could be in for a sneak peek at the company’s plans for the coming year. Bigger changes to Windows 10 could include support for the company’s new “Home Hub” feature, which will reportedly serve as a, well, home hub for internet-connected smart home devices, and the aforementioned promise to introduce Windows Holographic to Windows 10.
That said, participants in Microsoft’s Insider program have been treated to a number of ease-of-use features for Windows 10 which will likely make their way out to Windows-users later this year or early next year. Taken together, they make for some very welcome updates to the operating system. They include changes like revamped touchpad control options, and across-the-board improvements to default apps like Paint and Edge. Plus, Windows is finally enabling Num Lock by default when you restart your PC!