DESPITE LOTS of clandestine talk of surprises, yesterday's Microsoft event entitled "Imagine What You Can Do" and unofficially subtitled "Imagine what I could have done With 150 minutes of my life back" went pretty much as expected. Pretty being the operative word.
The reveal of the new Creators’ Edition of Windows 10, which is the official moniker of the Greystoke.... sorry, Redstone 2 update showed a company who has a new market in its sights. Luring the Mac User.
Anyone who has seen an advert for Surface products in recent months will have heard real people talk about their experience with the Surface, usually with the coda of "I couldn’t do that with my Mac".
What's more, 3D rendering at the heart of the new update, impressive though it was, not least in demonstrating someone using a Windows Mobile device, is basically a huge "I iz gon eachoo" to Apple, the day before it releases its own new products.
There wasn’t a lot here for the everyday user, but what was definitely there is accessible to everyone. Which is a bit worrying, as that was exactly the same problem that the Wii U had. For most, it’s style over content.
3D is such a tricky area and although there’s every chance that as 3D printers become something more every day, making them accessible is important, we’re not there yet.
Of course, the truth is that the Creator’s Update is about helping create content for HoloLens, the company's Judge Dredd "mixed reality" or "we're worried if we call it augmented people won’t understand" helmet. Which is again, exciting, but not a mass market product for the foreseeable.
Even with Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo all committed to lower price VR headsets that will be compatible with Microsoft’s 3D gubbins, starting at under $300, that’s still a lot more than a Google Cardboard.
A thread which ran through yesterday was family. It’s not a new thing, but everyone presenting had to give us the 420 on their family, and how the new updates would help them. Yes, there’s the Android to Desktop SMS facility that we’ve known about for ages, and yes there’s the “Friends and Family” toolbar with drag and drop. But I don’t actually need to see Microsoft Executive’s daughters. It’s incredibly false.
In reality, though, and we’re talking real reality now, in a world where large swathes of the population aren’t online at all, the Creator’s Edition, Window Holographic and too much. All we need really is something simple like... Paint 2?
By a staggering coincidence, Paint 2, aka Paint 3D was on show and will form part of the new update to Windows 10. It’s a shrewd move by Microsoft, taking one of their oldest and simplest pieces of bundleware and giving it a makeover to reflect the new AR direction that the company is moving in.
Though, the most exciting bit is the magic cutout tool to create objects on transparent backgrounds (part of the 3D rendering). That’s not about better 3D, that’s about making better-doctored pictures for memes. Sweet.
Blah blah X-Box blah blah 3D blah blah Hololens blah blah.
Fortunately, we still haven’t gotten to the good bit yet. Though I imagine at least 60 percent of the Mac users in the front row (it’s true - check the footage) were dying for a wee at this stage as we’re well into the second hour.
A new version of the Surface Book, which in any other reveal would be the star attraction was almost forgotten in the sheer amount of info being thrown at us, to the point where it might have been better left for another day.
That said, it’s very lovely. It has more battery aside from anything else, up to 16 hours on a charge despite having a top of the line i7 processor. Apparently, that’s because they’ve put more batteries in it. Touche Microsoft. Touche. It’s also got more fans, more processing power, and of course it's designed to be ready for this 3D/VR/AR nonsense.
But the big reveal was the not-so-secret and totally new concept - the Surface Studio. Albeit slightly grudgingly, we can’t deny it’s beautiful.
An entire draftsman's table with precision pen-touch screen, that folds to the exact angle “weightlessly” up to perpendicular, where it becomes a full All-in-One computer. Face it. That’s just a bit cool.
We’re not here to dissect the hardware, that’s for another day. What we’re interested in is Microsoft’s direction and it does seem very clear - having failed to capture the mobile market, it’s time to try and wipe the Mac off the face of the earth. And that’s a brave fight to pick.
Especially when you’ve had your legs crossed for two hours and then they bring on Satya to add very little to the proceedings apart from delaying your pee by another half hour. µ
Under pressure, pushing down on me, pushing down on my screen
Keep an eye on that neighbour who's been talking about making a killer drone...
WiFi, why Delilah
We've only been waiting two years