In case you haven’t heard, Microsoft has joined the pre-holiday season release roster with a few announcements penned for today’s New York City event.
While an event that revolves entirely around devices might be commonplace for the Microsoft of 2015, a few years ago this wasn’t the case. But, now that the company owns Nokia‘s devices and services division and is practically pioneering the tablet convertible space, this particular event has more important than what is obvious at first glance.
So, with that said, we have a look at five key things you should watch out for from the Microsoft of new.
1. Microsoft’s new smartphone play-by-play
Smartphones are the cornerstone of the technology revolution, and Google owns around 82% of the market with Android-based devices. Apple is an even more remarkable case. With one single range of wares, it owns about 14% of the world’s mobile market share. Microsoft? Well, less than 3%.
In 2013, Microsoft suggested that thanks to the Nokia buy, it would occupy 15% of the market within a few years. Since then, its ego has been smacked in with a snow shovel. Ultimately, the entire mobile philosophy had undergo a rework to adapt to fill niches.
It’s latest niche? Continuum.
Thanks to Windows 10, Microsoft’s new smartphones will be able to double up as pocket computers as well, driving monitors, keyboards, mice and other peripherals without sweat.
Microsoft Lumia 950 XL rumoured specs:
Display: 5.7-inch, 2560×1440, 515ppi | Gorilla Glass 4
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 octa-core | quad-core Cortex A53 1.5GHz & quad-core Cortex A57 2.0GHz | Adreno 430 GPU | 3GB RAM
Storage: 32GB, microSD card expansion up to 2TB
Imaging: Rear: 20MP with OIS and autofocus | Front: 5MP
Video: 2160p at 30fps; 1080p at 60fps
Battery: 3340mAh removable
OS: Windows 10
Kickass features: USB Type-C, Qi wireless charging supported, Windows 10 Continuum
We’ve seen Acer debut its Jade Primo at IFA 2015 this year, but weren’t too sure if it used Microsoft’s Continuum dock, or its own piece of equipment. Tomorrow, we’ll understand a little bit more.
2. Xbox One as the centre of the home
It’s safe to say that the Xbox One, at least in terms of challenging the PlayStation 4 for sales, is a dead concept. Taking that to heart, Microsoft is turning the console into a jack of all multimedia trades, slapping Windows 10 on it and optimising it to play nice with other Windows-based machinery in the home.
We wouldn’t be too surpised to see Microsoft use it as a smart home hub in the future, with Windows 10 as the cornerstone of that notion. It’s one area that Microsoft could easily slay the competition.
Of course, while it still very much is a carrier for the Halo series and other gaming products, we’ll probably hear more about how the Xbox One can live up to the latter portion of its name, and become the de facto piece of hardware for the home of Microsoft nuts.
3. The Surface aiming for loftier heights
The Surface was largely a failed attempt at a good idea when it debuted back in October 2012. Since then, the tablet-cup-ultraportable has transformed into a massive money maker for Microsoft, and single-handedly forced Apple and Google to launch similar products to keep up.
We definitely still believe that the Surface Pro is the ultraportable to beat, and displays the usefulness of Windows on a single screen, there are advancements to be made. It seems this is where the rumoured Microsoft Surface Pro 4 comes in, after bashing down the door.
No more is it simply a “tablet that can replace your laptop” but a 14-inch screened, Skylake-sporting all purpose tablet. Other numbers point to a 1TB SSD for high speed and low-heat storage and Windows Hello support thanks to a more detailed front camera.
In essence, it sounds like a MacBook Air competitor, which is rather interesting. Apple launched the iPad Pro to compete against the Surface, while Microsoft could very well aim the next Surface at the device the iPad Pro is supposed to be replacing almost entirely.
4. Some concrete, consumer-orientated HoloLens news
If previous events are to go by, we’ll almost definitely see the HoloLens make another appearance. We last saw Microsoft virtual-cum-augmented reality device at its Windows 10 launch earlier this year, and while that might suffice for some, virtual reality devices made by other companies are hurtling towards consumer hands. Take Samsung’s Oculus-made Gear VR for US$99.
The HoloLens, of course, isn’t just a virtual reality device as the promo videos and demos make us believe.
Nevertheless, even though its first view was an impressive one, Microsoft will need to keep that marketing buzz alive, hopefully with an announcement or another, more concrete demo tomorrow. Or even better, so availability news.
5. Microsoft’s reaffirmation to wearable technology
Microsoft has embraced the maker movement with Windows 10 IoT for Raspberry Pi boards and the like, but wearables seems to be a market that the company isn’t making large strides in.
The Microsoft Band launched much earlier this year, and had one of the most timid device receptions we’ve seen in the wearable space, which is puzzling considering this is Redmond making wearable devices.
Rumoured to follow its unimpressive brother, the Microsoft Band 2 will likely play alongside Android and iOS devices from the get go, which makes it a great choice for those who use multiple platforms on a daily basis. More interestingly, it seems that Microsoft really is taking the Windows 10-on-everything mantra to heart, with a stripped version of the OS running on the band.
It should make use of an OLED screen and boast the mandatory biometric monitoring gizmos we come to expect from smart bands.