Cortana and holographic headset come to Windows 10

Rebecca Lambert
Rebecca Lambert
By Rebecca Lambert on 22 January 2015
Cortana and holographic headset come to Windows 10

Microsoft has unveiled more details about its latest operating system Windows 10, including the fact that it will be bringing its personal digital assistant Cortana to PCs and tablets.

The company also revealed a new augmented reality headset called Microsoft HoloLens, which will allow users to interact with a 3D projection of Windows 10 within their surrounding environment.

Speaking at the media briefing, Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Operating Systems group, explained that Windows 10 will support the broadest device family ever. As such, it will not just be available for tablets and PCs, but smartphones too.

For the first time, Windows will also be delivered to users as a service. So once they upgrade to Windows 10 – which will be free for Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows Phone in the first year – they can always expect to be running the latest version of the operating system throughout the lifetime of the device for no extra cost.

Cortana comes to desktops
Those who already own a Windows Phone will be familiar with Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-controlled personal digital assistant. Now, though, via Windows 10, it’s coming to PCs and tablets too.

Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of the Operating Systems group, demonstrated a number of ways in which Cortana can be used to interact with your PC, including dictating and sending e-mails, scheduling meetings, and playing music in the home.

“We are showing how having a speech interaction model changes your ability to get things done,” he said. “Cortana will provide a new natural way to interact with your PC.”

Augmented reality with HoloLens
Supported by Windows 10 – the world’s first holographic computing platform – Microsoft HoloLens is a wireless augmented reality headset that allows users to view holograms in high definition and hear them in surround sound. With its advanced sensors, the headset intelligently maps the area around it, can detect what the user is looking at and understands voice commands and hand gestures.

Microsoft demonstrated its capabilities in a video, showing a man wearing the HoloLens and playing with a 3D version of Minecraft, and a woman talking to a three-dimensional hologram of her colleague as she walks through the office.

Microsoft will soon be making available a set of APIs for developers to create their own holographic apps. It also revealed that scientists at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have already started using the technology and will soon be exploring Mars using holograms of Mars Rover images.

A new web browser: Project Spartan
Along with its new operating system comes Project Spartan, a new web browser that will replace Internet Explorer.

Integrated with Cortana, this new web browser built for Windows 10 supports voice commands, handwritten annotations and provides personalised recommendations.

In the next week, Microsoft will release the latest build for Windows Insiders running the Windows 10 Technical Preview on PCs and expand availability to 25 more languages. The first technical preview for phones will be available in February.

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