The biggest announcements from Microsoft’s Build event

Microsoft just wrapped up its day-two Build 2017 keynote, and this is the one that was filled with news that’s more important to consumers and the company’s loyal fans. Terry Myerson, Joe Belfiore, and other executives shared the stage to reveal details about the upcoming year for Windows 10, a new design philosophy for all Microsoft apps, the company’s mixed reality efforts, and much more. The presentation covered a lot and wasted little time, but here’s the biggest news that came from today:

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

The name might be familiar, but Microsoft’s next big Windows update has a different focus than 3D productivity. The Fall Creators Update, likely to arrive in September, aims to bring aspects of the Windows experience everywhere you go. There’s a big focus on cross-device experiences: you start something on your Surface and finish it on your iPhone, or vice versa. “Windows PCs will love all of your devices,” Joe Belfiore said on stage.

Your files, activities, and other content will seamlessly travel across devices and just be there — if the system works as Microsoft promises. Cortana will ask if you want to resume where you left off when you switch between products, and a new Timeline feature provides an encompassing view of what you’ve been working on and the apps you’ve been using.

A new visual identity

Microsoft is moving on from Metro. At Build, Joe Belfiore introduced what it calls Fluent Design, an evolution from the current Windows interface that focuses on “light, depth, motion, material, and scale.” Consumers can expect to start seeing aspects of Fluent Design — such as blur effects and flourishes of light meant to draw your focus to the right place — in the Fall Creators Update Microsoft’s mobile apps. You can get a feel for how it all comes together in the tweet below. Pretty nice.

Story Remix

Windows has a great app for creating videos again. Story Remix takes your media — photos and video from your smartphone, for example — and turns them into “instant video stories.” Microsoft says Story Remix can produce a video that feels professional with just minutes of work. You can be as hands-on as you want (advanced 3D features are supported), or let the app do almost everything to make memorable content out of the memories that you feed into it.

Use the Surface Pen everywhere

Microsoft’s stylus is beloved by Surface owners. It’s core to what makes the Surface... Surface. And with the Fall Creators Update, Microsoft is working to eliminate any remaining friction for using it across the entire system at all times. You’ll be able to use the pen to scroll and interact throughout Windows, and the company has built PDF annotation right into its Edge browser. If you love the Pen, Microsoft wants to make it so that you’ll never have to put it down.

VR motion controllers

Microsoft announced a new set of motion controllers that pair with its Windows Mixed Reality VR headsets. The controllers, which have numerous LEDs running around them, will be fully tracked by sensors in the headset itself rather than relying on external cameras or other equipment. They’ll ship this holiday season, with Acer packaging them into a $399 bundle that includes its own mixed reality headset.

A clipboard that follows you everywhere

Microsoft is building its own take on Apple’s universal clipboard, but this one works across more platforms. The new cloud-powered clipboard will let Windows 10 users copy content from an app on their PC and paste it on mobile devices like iPhones or Android handsets. The clipboard will also be directly integrated into Microsoft’s suite of Office apps, making it easier to quickly grab content from your phone and drop it into a document you might be working on from your desktop.

iTunes is coming to the Windows Store

Speaking of Apple, while Microsoft’s Windows 10 S operating system might have to go it without Google Chrome for awhile, the company is bringing a massive media app to the Windows Store: iTunes. Apple will release a version of iTunes in Microsoft’s digital store by the end of 2017, so it might not be there in time for next month’s launch of the Surface Laptop.

Comments

Microsoft continues to impress. It will be interesting to see what Apple answers with.

iTunes comes stock on OS X.

iTunes is terrible regardless of platform, so who cares?

Someone always cares.

Maybe, but Apple’s media content is pretty extensive and if you’ve invested in 10+ years of movies and TV shows via Apple TV (like me) having iTunes on my computer is pretty essential.

So you can’t use the movies and TV shows you purchased with another media center app? I don’t know because I refused to purchase my media through iTunes despite using it for many years, but a few years ago I "moved" all my media to Plex and I can watch and listen to all the content I’ve invested in on pretty much any device I want to, including AppleTV.

CBS cares.

I use an iPhone so I’m forced to use the horrid thing, but I refuse to let it near my media after several disasters.

I like this Windows era.

Seriously. The new Fluent design looks fantastic. Really glad to see Task View getting more prominence as I think it’s far superior to Alt+Tab. The fall update is shaping up to be pretty huge.

I use both task view and alt tab. I find alt tab better for quick back and forth switching with keyboard. I use task view with a mouse button press for other times. Maybe it’s just habit.

I’m glad Microsoft finally realized they cannot get people to move to their platform by only offering their services/products on their services/products. This new cross platform compatibility is great!

Hmmm…that sounds like a (not so) veiled jab at Apple. MS has offered and supported Office on OS X for many years and on iOS and Android for at least a few. They have also supported OneDrive across devices for a while now.

Not saying this improvement in cross-compatibility isn’t welcome, but IMO, MS has never been a company I primarily associate with locking things down.

Somebody said something nice about Microsoft! Bet they’re subtly making fun of Apple somehow!

All I use my windows PC for is gaming. Sucks for everything else I do on a computer. But thats just my experience.

The AR/MR guy looks like Joe Belfiore’s edgier, bad boy cousin from the old country.

The answer is Blockchain

For me the automatic titling and translation in Powerpoint was huge. As a lecturer who often has hearing impaired students, and students with diverse language skills, this could be amazing if it is reliable. From automatic titling for online presentations to giving students autonomy in class (no need for a signer or transcriber), this would be wonderful.

Can you imagine a new Surface Phone running the new Fluent Design?

Tineline is the kind of feature that Apple used to release. The past several iterations of OS have been ‘under the hood’ fixes/performance enhancements and maybe some tabs on Finder as the Wow factor. While it’s not life-changing, that Timeline is the kind of thing that reflects consideration for the User: I know I have recents in my menu but this is a more sophisticated and intelligible way of moving back through files and workflow. Well done to MS.

I’m not sure I like your guys’ 8 minute cut :(. It’s not as dynamic as usual, and the lack of music really throws me off (and makes the whole thing more sterile and cold).

So how does iTunes work in the Windows store? Does MS take 30% off every song sold via the itunes store?

What?. Does apple take 30% of every uber you order?

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