Microsoft Build 2017 happened in Seattle this week. The day 2 keynote of Build 2017 just finished, but the company will have some sessions later today as well as tomorrow. However, all of the big announcements are already out, and there are a lot of things to talk about since Microsoft had 2 keynotes for Build as per usual. The software giant announced updates for Azure, Office, AI, Windows 10, and Mixed Reality. There’s been a lot of things announced at the event this week, so here’s a list of the top 5 things — for consumers.
Windows 10 Fall Creators Update
Microsoft announced a brand new update for Windows 10 today. The next major upgrade for Windows 10 is called the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, and it will be available as a free upgrade to all existing Windows 10 users. In terms of features, there are a lot of new things coming with the Fall Creators Update but Microsoft showed off some of the main headline features at Build.
The main new feature coming with the Windows 10 Fall creators Update is the new UI refresh, known as the Microsoft Fluent Design System. The new design language is codenamed Project NEON, and it brings a lot of changes to the user interface in Windows 10. Microsoft says the new design system will offer an intuitive experience to Windows 10 users, but don’t expect the whole redesign to arrive with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update later this year.
There is a couple of other new features in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update — including clipboard syncing which will let you sync content in your clipboard across all of your connected devices. The update also brings Pick Up Where You Left Off in Windows 10 smartphones, including Android phones, iPhones, and Microsoft’s own Windows 10 Mobile devices. More importantly, the update includes an interesting new feature called Timeline which is effectively a visual timeline of all of the tasks you’ve done on your PC. And lastly, OneDrive Placeholders are making a comeback, but they have a new name: OneDrive Files On-Demand.
There’s also a new creative experience called Story Remix that’s coming to Windows 10 with the Fall Creators Update. The new app will let users create memories using their photos and videos, and the app will also be able to automatically create memories using your photos and videos. Plus, the app will let you insert 3D objects into your photos and videos.
The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is going to be a pretty massive update for the operating system, as there’ll be a number of other minor new features in the update as well as some of the headline features that were announced today. As per usual, the update will be free to existing Windows 10 users, and it’ll be rolled out sometime later this year.
Microsoft Fluent Design System
Microsoft has a new design language — and it isn’t only for Windows 10. Of course, Windows 10 is probably one of the first places we’ll start to see the new design language/system but Microsoft says the new Fluent Design System from the company will be utilized by the company for the next wave of creativity across all of its devices and product.
There are 5 different fundamental elements of the Fluent Design System: Light, Depth, Motion, Material, and Scale. The new design system uses these 5 elements to deliver rich and engaging experiences in Windows 10, and across all of the other Microsoft products.
With the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, Microsoft will be bringing elements of the new Fluent Design System to Windows 10. The company will be evolving the design language’s presence in Windows 10 over time, and you can see how Microsoft is imagining the future of Windows 10’s design below:
Windows Mixed Reality
Microsoft’s Alex Kipman also announced some updates to the Windows Mixed Reality platform at Build 2017. Firstly, mixed reality headset dev kits from HP and Acer are now available for pre-order, starting at $329 and $299 respectively.
More importantly, Kipman announced at the event that the mixed reality headsets will come with new motion controllers — giving users a much more intuitive way of navigating around mixed reality. In the past, Microsoft has been using Xbox controllers for navigation in Windows Mixed Reality but the new motion controllers makes the input mechanism a lot more natural. Unlike the HTC Vive, or Oculus Rift’s controllers, you won’t need to setup any extra hardware for the motion controllers in Windows Mixed Reality to work and that’s definitely very impressive.
It isn’t known how much the motion controllers will cost, but Acer’s mixed reality headset will come with the controllers bundled for $399 this summer.
iTunes coming to the Windows Store
The main surprising announcement from Build 2017 was the fact that Apple is bringing iTunes to the Windows Store. Apple didn’t release any apps for the Windows Store in the past, so this is the first app from the hardware giant to be available in the Windows Store.
Of course, this isn’t a native Universal Windows Platform app — instead, Apple is using Microsoft’s Desktop App Bridge to bring the classic iTunes app for Windows to the Windows Store.
While this may not sound like a huge announcement, this is actually going to be quite huge for Microsoft and Windows Store. That’s because the company recently introduced Windows 10 S, a new version of Windows 10 that can only run apps from the Windows Store. With big companies like Apple and Spotify on board, more developers will be intrigued to bring their apps to the Windows Store.
Cortana’s got skills. Yes, really. At Build 2017 yesterday, Microsoft announced the new set of Cortana skills which users can try out right now. The company also released the new Cortana Skills Kit for developers, which they can use to build their own skills for Cortana. At the moment, there are 50+ skills available for Cortana from some of Microsoft’s partner, including Dark Sky, Domino’s Pizza, Open Table, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio.
Cortana Skills are available on Windows 10 devices, Android, and iOS smartphones today. The skills will also be available on Cortana-powered speakers such as the Harman Kardon Invoke.
Along with these top 5 announcements, Microsoft unveiled a lot of other things at Build — both for consumers and developers. Make sure to check out our full Build 2017 coverage here to catch-up with all the announcements.