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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

January 20, 2015 at 4:21 PM

Microsoft previews Windows 10 in Redmond

Microsoft's Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Operating Systems Group, demonstrates new features of Windows 10. (Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press)

Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Operating Systems Group, demonstrates new features of Windows 10. (Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press)

Update: 11:39 a.m.: A quick Q&A with chief executive Satya Nadella and Myerson later, and that wraps up the program.

Some highlights: Asked by colleague Brier Dudley if the talk of subscription services meant that users would have to pay an annual fee for Windows, Nadella said “There is no fundamental shift to our business model.”

Another questioner asked Nadella if he could share the financial impact likely from the free upgrade offer. Nadella pointed to Microsoft’s quarterly earnings report, slated for release on Monday, and declined to share more details.

Update: 10:55 a.m.: Meet Microsoft HoloLens, the device said to bring holographic interactions to Windows 10. Microsoft introduces the headset — a wireless, see-through display that projects holograms into the world around its user.

“I know this sounds perhaps crazy, maybe even a little impossible,” said Alex Kipman, a technical fellow at Microsoft. We’ll see. He hinted that the assembled journalists and analysts in the audience will get a chance to try one out later today.

Update: 10:39 a.m.: We have our first gadget of the day: The gigantic, 84″ touchscreen “Surface Hub.” Microsoft folks demonstrated how it can help facilitate meetings. It’s yet another nod to the workplace at a consumer-focused Windows event.

Update: 10:09 a.m.: Windows 10 will indeed come loaded with a new web browser, codenamed, for now, “Spartan.”

Among its features: the ability to freeze web pages, annotate them with a stylus on a touchscreen device (or keyboard on a regular laptop), and share those pages with friends. The software will come with a reading mode that strips out extraneous web content to display text and save for offline viewing. Our new friend Cortana will also live in Spartan.

Update: 9:42 a.m.: Cortana, the search assistant released for Windows Phone last year, is coming to the PC.

The software — akin to Apple’s Siri, for the bulk of the world that doesn’t own a Windows Phone — will be integrated into Windows 10. Microsoft user experience executive Joe Belfiore demonstrated a few of the things Cortana can help with, from looking up files and applications (both on a user’s PC and their data stored on the web), to dictating a short email and turning on music with voice or typed commands.

Update: 9:24 a.m.: Operating systems chief Terry Myerson gives us our first glimpse of the Windows 10 business model.

In short: expect free upgrades.

For the first year after the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft will offer users of Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.1, and Windows 7 free upgrades to the new operating system.

The offer for Windows 8.1 users was expected. Few thought Microsoft would charge customers for the privilege of updating from the widely panned operating system. But in offering a free upgrade to Windows 7 users — who account for roughly 60% of the Windows customer base — Microsoft is indicating it’s going all in on Windows 10.

Follow along via tweets from the event by me and tech columnist Brier Dudley:

Earlier:

Microsoft is ready to give consumers a peek at the progress it’s making on its most famous product.

A daylong Windows 10 preview event in Redmond is set to begin at 9 a.m. Pacific Wednesday and will be webcast live. Expect to hear from Chief Executive Satya Nadella, operating systems head Terry Myerson, user experience designer Joe Belfiore, and Xbox leader Phil Spencer.

In Windows 10, Microsoft has at least three major goals:

  • Overcome the stumbles of Windows 8. That operating system, released in 2012, was a bold leap forward, an effort to woo the emerging tablet market with a touchscreen-optimized interface. But it went too far for many consumers (and had little appeal to businesses), creating a jarring transition between tablet-optimized mode and the old, familiar Windows desktop. Windows 10 is Microsoft’s bid to create a user experience that makes sense on the entire spectrum of devices, from smartphones to wall-sized displays.
  • Lay the groundwork for a resurgence outside of the PC. Microsoft is trailing badly in the smartphone and tablet markets. Part of the reason why: developers don’t see much of a need to spend the hours developing applications for Windows Phone or the Windows store after already releasing versions for Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS. Microsoft brass hope Windows 10 will make it easier for developers to write applications that can be relatively painlessly re-purposed for the operating system’s smartphone, laptop, and tablet variants.
  • Persuade businesses to jump from Windows 7. Microsoft made its initial pitch to enterprises during the unveiling of Windows 10 back in September. And though Microsoft has telegraphed that Wednesday’s event will target individual consumers, the line between business and home computing is blurry in a bring-the-iPad-to-work world. Don’t be surprised if Microsoft execs also highlight their plans for software that helps people get things done, particularly under the catchall “productivity” mantra.

The tech blogosphere has been atwitter with rumored details of the operating system:

How tightly will Cortana, Windows Phone’s voice-activated search assistant, be integrated into Windows? Does a rumored streamlined Web browser signal the end of Internet Explorer? And what is Xbox’s Spencer doing at a Windows gig?

We’ll have some answers (and potentially a new consumer-preview version of the software to try out) soon. Stick around Wednesday for updates through the event and afterward.

Comments | More in Windows | Topics: microsoft, windows 10

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