Windows Phone tries to become the smaller side of Windows 10

23 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

After The Show & Tell: Testing Microsoft Windows 10.

The Windows Phone platform commands no more than 4 percent of the world’s smartphone market, and the opportunity for developers to attract that group of users has never been a great one.There had been some suggestion after the Wednesday launch, in which the tablet range was only given a limited exposure, that Windows 10 would not be rolling out on the Surface.After tickling pint-sized sheep across a coffee table, blowing a holographic hole through a wall and touring the surface of Mars, it seems safe to say that Microsoft’s newly unveiled headset, the HoloLens, marks a major leap forward in the field of virtual reality. On Wednesday, Microsoft began a new strategy for mitigating that problem, by characterizing future smartphones with Windows 10 for phones not as competitive devices against iOS and Android, but rather as a kind of far-flung peninsula of a vast, long-standing, and ever expanding platform.

Microsoft’s revelations about its Windows 10 operating system show that it is investing heavily in games on Windows, even as it forges ahead on the Xbox One game console. So taking stock, all credit to Microsoft; the firm has embraced open source, confirmed free upgrades to Windows 10 (for users of Windows 7 and 8, for a year) and produced the previously unthinkable Microsoft Office of Apple iPad.

The issue was brought to the forefront during Microsoft’s Windows 10 preview event Wednesday by Current Analysis Research Director Avi Greengart, during a Q&A session that was not broadcast live. Rather than immerse the user in a digital fantasy world, like the Oculus Rift, the HoloLens overlays 3-D images on top of real-world surroundings, blurring the line between fantasy and reality. There’s a chance I come to regret all the words I’m about to write—that in twenty or thirty years some poor child with HoloLens eyes looks up at me from the ashes of the apocalypse and says, “Old man, what’s the dumbest article you ever wrote?” And I’ll say, “The time I wrote that HoloLens (and augmented reality in general) is not great for gaming.” Regardless, I feel very comfortable saying that augmented reality is not great for gaming. Predicating his question by acknowledging Microsoft had hundreds of thousands of apps available for Windows Phone, Greengart told Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Executive Vice President Terry Myerson that their company was behind the times on functionality for those apps. Redmond showed a video that demonstrated how holograms will be incorporated into our everyday lives, which looked a lot like the augmented-reality demos we have seen for years.

More information to come.” Windows RT is in the awkward position of being ‘Windows 8 without the Windows 7 bits’ and therefore devices that run on it would be subject to the biggest changes of all, with their whole purpose being fundamentally altered. These include the game DVR, or the capability built into the operating system to be able to record a game session and share it with friends via an activity feed.

No recording devices were allowed into the demonstration rooms, which were hidden beneath the ground floor of Microsoft’s Visitor Center and secured behind locked doors. Aside from the (arguably) candyfloss padding distractions of the holographic user interface known as Windows Holographic, what software developers will really want to know is: Will Microsoft’s approach to user interoperability through the so-called ‘Universal Apps’ approach be enough to successfully ‘handoff’ from one device to another? They were either out of date, or not tailored or polished to the same extent as for Android and iOS apps. “How do you solve that going forward for Windows 10?” he asked.

Unlike the sleek, donut-shaped headset unveiled on stage, the prototypes in the demonstration were skeletal contraptions that wrapped around the cranium and included a small computer slung around the neck. In fact, I was one of the few people who really wanted to see Google keep working on Glass, not because I thought the original hardware was great but because I wanted to see what twenty years of iteration could accomplish. Microsoft won’t be stupid and will conduct thorough testing from front to back, but we all need to ‘share with the group’ and talk about this stuff.

The weight was easy to ignore once the technicians fired up a game of Minecraft and the game’s fantasy world sprawled out over real world living room furniture. Microsoft tells us that with the new Universal App approach, “Windows 10 will offer ‘new experience’ applications [that are] consistent across the device continuum, for photos, videos, music, maps, messaging and mail & calendar. As if to tell its own story, the Surface 2, an RT stalwart, was out of stock at Microsoft at the time of writing with no indication whether it would ever return. The fact that on desktop, where we have a lot of [market] share today and a lot of usage—you can find these applications, because we’ve basically integrated the discovery and usage of these apps—means that developers can write universal applications, and get to more people across the entire Windows family, from the phone to the desktop.

While I haven’t used HoloLens yet, I have used two other AR headsets—CastAR and The Cortex—which are presumably close in execution, if not actual hardware and performance, to HoloLens. Content is stored and synced through OneDrive, enabling people to start something on one device and continue it on another.” It’s all good on paper… and on HTML for that matter.

It could mean that Microsoft is to turn its back on ARM processors, and as such the lifespan of the Surface and Surface 2 could be finite and at the hands of the Redmond decision makers. µ The graphics chip maker just announced its new GeForce GTX 960 graphics chip, which will take Maxwell-based 3D graphics into $200 videocards, or the sweet spot of the PC market. But then Microsoft went and did it again, releasing Windows 8 which infuriated many users on multiple levels, not least through the removal of the Start button and Start Menu. Since Nvidia launched its high-end $500-plus cards in the fall, the company said it has sold more than 1 million chips to PC enthusiasts, who have spent more than 100 million hours playing games on Maxwell-based computers. To be clear, in the face of the device (and platform) continuum, building developer test cases that are easy to reuse will make a huge difference in the long run.

And now the players who are playing hits like multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBA, think League of Legends or Vainglory) will have a reason to upgrade their systems. DEFINITION: When we say ‘test case’, we mean the process that software application developers will use to establish the parameters of whether an application functions as it should under defined ‘requirements’ conditions. Users can interact with their surroundings by training their eyes on any object of interest, holding out a pointer finger and “air tapping” it with a downward flick.

Technical product manager at quality assurance company SmartBear Nikhil Kaul points out that Microsoft’s new web browser for Windows 10 ‘Project Spartan’ has this aforementioned new rendering engine, which sounds great. My HoloLens tour came with some limitations, the biggest being that no recording equipment was allowed in the lab, not even a cell phone. (You don’t know frustration until you are a journalist touring a research lab with no ability to capture photos or video.) The prototypes we used were also less refined than the slick kit that was demoed on stage, which was completely wireless, self-contained, and pretty elegant. The reading mode in Project Spartan removes the clutter from the page and makes the experience like reading an eBook. “Users can even save the page for reading in offline mode. The demo units I used required a power cable, external Holographic Processor Unit (HPU) that hung around my neck, and a headset that needed to be screwed onto my head to secure it. You’re constructing a virtual world for someone to inhabit, meaning you can—for instance—tell him or her a story by precisely placing various trigger events, controlling lighting, controlling characters, et cetera.

In order to compliment what quite possibly could become a popular browser, websites containing blogs, articles, or newsletters definitely need to support this new feature and ensure they are able to sync the saved reading list across multiple devices (PC and phone) that are using the new browser,” said Kaul. A single operating system that looked and felt familiar across devices, from mouse and keyboard driven desktops, to touch controlled tablets and smartphones. But when told that competitors’ mapping apps collected traffic conditions directly from their users’ phones, the official politely responded that such social features and crowdsourcing were among the features Microsoft loves about its competitors’ apps.

But in reality the execution didn’t live up to the vision, and Windows 8 ended up alienating rather than evangelising potential users, and pushing them towards Apple and Google. You’re a soldier and you have to make it across a paramilitary island base to rescue your daughter from a dude who looks like he’s wearing chainmail. (Yes, this scenario is the Commando video game I’ve always dreamed of.) As a developer, I can not only create this entire island paradise exactly to my specifications but also make sure that, for instance, as you run past this one set of houses it will always explode. Officials and executives Wednesday also demonstrated early glimpses of the design methodology the company calls “Continuum.” Here, an app can adapt its own appearance and functionality to suit the device it’s running on. Or that there will always be a final confrontation with a boss enemy in a steam room I built, and you know this just as surely as you know that Mario will always encounter a mushroom and a Goomba at the start of World 1-1. This means the end user can now more effectively use voice commands to interact with desktop applications out of the box. “With the addition to Cortana, from Windows Phone to Windows PC, desktop applications need to be tested for interactive voice commands.

Also, instead of encouraging integration with other platforms, the company’s focus seems to be aimed at convincing everyone to ditch their existing mixture of iOS, Android and Windows powered devices and adopt a Microsoft only ecosystem – a risky strategy in a world where loyalty towards technology is driven by just two things, price and quality. She then guided me through a real world installation of a light switch, with her drawing holographic arrows at the tools I needed each step of the way.

The developers of Dreadhalls don’t necessarily know what the layout of each level is, but it’s always going to fit into some set of parameters controlled by the creators. Nevertheless, the details released about the new (still unfinished) OS seem to be promising and suggest the Redwood headquartered company may have got closer to successfully bridging the divide between PC and mobile. Another key reason is that users choose the apps they want to perform those functions, and competitive markets exist for the most common functions. “I had some doubts, to be honest with you, about how seamless they could make the transition,” said TECHnalysis chief analyst Bob O’Donnell. “Why would you really want one OS across all of these devices? A third demonstration projected photographic landscapes of Mars, snapped by NASA’s mars rover, in a surprisingly crisp image of its cracked and rocky surface. The game boots, and you’re suddenly standing on an island paradise. “Amazing!” you shout, pulling the headset off to confirm you’re still standing in your living room.

A real-world monitor showed the two-dimensional landscape on a conventional screen, but pull the mouse cursor beyond the screen’s edge and it floats seamlessly into the 3-dimensional landscape, where a mouse click can plant a holographic flag into the ground. Microsoft has gone to great pains to tell us that “version numbers shouldn’t matter any more” and that “Windows should be regarded as a service with rolling system upgrades” from here on in. A “perfect print preview for 3-D printing,” explained a Microsoft engineer as a coworker put the finishing touches on a koala wearing a space helmet. Importantly, the company’s Microsoft’s corp VP for operating systems Joe Belfiore is on record saying that “most installations of the Windows 10 Technical Preview are on PCs rather than on Virtual Machines” (hands up, mine is full blown on a Microsoft Surface One) — so that should give everybody extra confidence that enough testing is going on. But developers, software producers and service providers may be skeptical about Windows 10 attempting to adhere to a different set of rules, where all Windows users are treated equally.

This has been Microsoft’s ‘show and tell week’ with keynotes and big smiles, now we need to get to grips with the guts of the new system in construction and find out how existing management tools (and techniques) react to this new animal. And, not knowing when to trigger the “climactic boss battle,” it’s all kind of left to chance and you end up fighting the big baddie in your broom closet.

Valve was so concerned that Microsoft would establish its own store as the primary destination on Windows 10 that it came up with a contingency plan, Steam Machines. He walked around the hologram, grabbing tools from a holographic control panel, and then used a combination of voice and gestures to build and shape the koala. The model building was impressive, especially since the room was filled with models that were built with HoloStudio and then sent to a 3D printer for manufacturing.

Still a broom closet where there was a broom closet before, except maybe this time the broom closet just has some ammo in it instead of a boss crammed between two boilers. Facebook’s Oculus VR has reignited interest in virtual reality through its Oculus Rift goggles, which show you amazing virtual worlds while connected to a computer. This week, companies like Microsoft and Nvidia showed they’re putting the gamer at the center of their efforts, and that they’re investing in the PC as a platform. Again, moving beyond the light switch to something more complex like a jet engine, you can see how HoloLens could make technical support a lot more technical.

I mean a lightgun game regulated by the furniture you’re surrounded by, so you always know there are the same 10-15 spots for enemies to emerge from for the entire time you’re playing. It’s like watching the original Kinect demos, and then seeing what we actually got—a product that required a very specific room of a very specific size with specific furniture. Similar games—ones that rely on user creativity more than traditional bastions of story, design, et cetera—may work fine in augmented reality. (PCWorld’s Mark Hachman certainly enjoyed his time with Minecraft when he tested HoloLens.) But the market can’t support too many of those types of games, and HoloLens isn’t really an Oculus Rift competitor under those restrictions (at least as far as gaming is concerned). Get more people building PCs by providing tutorial info about which piece goes into which slot, or teach me to play piano better by projecting how I should perform a song straight onto the keys.

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