Today at their New York City event, Microsoft unveiled the future of Windows 10. Similar to this year’s Anniversary Update, the next major update to the OS is called the Creators Update and it should be available some time in early 2017.
Three categories of features were discussed on stage today, so let’s dive into each one and dissect everything you need to know.
The first category was all about 3D. Microsoft says they want to see the world of 2D eventually evolve into 3D since the latter is so much more wide-spread across multiple platforms, specifically VR and HoloLens.
For starters, you can now scan objects via your camera on your Windows Phone and create a digital 3D representation. The company demoed this feature with an HP Elite x3 and the updated software called Paint 3D. This update to the age-old doodling software allows users to interact with 3D objects and edit them to their heart’s content. Custom emojis, 3D family portraits, and pre-scanned object editing are all possible thanks to this fresh app. Plenty of tools are included for editing 3D objects as this isn’t the same as editing a 2D object, so this means everyone will have the same access to everything everyone else has.
In addition, 3D objects can also be added to apps like PowerPoint (oddly the only other app shown off with 3D object capabilities). There’s also an entire community called Remix 3D that lets creators share their latest work with the world. The website is currently live at Remix3D.com.
The next category Microsoft discussed today was VR. Not much we didn’t already know existed was announced today, however interaction with custom 3D objects was demoed as a part of HoloLens (see first category for more). You’re now also able to take a 3D “holo-tour” which gives the user an impression that he or her is actually at a location in the world. The company used Rome as an example.
Along with the new VR features, Microsoft mentioned that new headsets built by OEMs are on their way and will start at just $299. Manufacturers including HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer will all build these headsets, while exact release dates and more specific pricing isn’t known. We’ll no doubt hear more about them in the coming weeks or months, so stay tuned.
The last main category discussed by Microsoft about the Creators Update is one focused on communication and sharing (in MS’ words, people). For one, users now gain access to a contacts list right in the task bar with a list of your most important colleagues. Rather having to find a share link or something on a website or document, users can now simply drag and drop a doc or site onto a contact’s picture and the data is instantly shared with them. You’ll then get to choose which service to share with, whether it be the Mail app or something like Skype or Slack.
Above your contacts list on the task bar, you’ll find a pop-up panel that integrates a bunch of different communication services like Skype and Mail to connect with colleagues faster than ever in a single place. This is similar to how All-in-One Messenger works by creating a single interface for all your chats to appear in.
In addition, users can now send something called “shoulder taps” which, according to Ars Technica, “cause small animated emojis to appear above their icon in the task bar.” Whatever this feature comes down to I’m sure will be useful in the end.
Rounding off the Creators Update is a few tweaks to gaming on Windows 10, mainly the addition of Beam, a live streaming service for gaming that comes pre-installed on the Creators Update. According to Microsoft, there’s virtually no lag between the gamer and the viewer, so almost real-time conversations can be made over the air. You can now also create your own tournaments with your friends and online buddies with Arena on Xbox Live, while score tracking and other administrative tasks will be done for you in the background.
Of course, the usual UI tweak here and there are present in this update, so don’t expect everything discussed here to be the only new stuff in the Creators Update. Windows Insiders will receive the first initial build of the latest major update for Windows 10 this week, while as aforementioned, the public will have to wait until next year to get their hands on this new upgrade.