Windows 10 aims to be core of connected devices

Windows 10 aims to be core of connected devices
Screenshots of the Start menu (above) and multiple virtual desktops using the Task view feature.

REDMOND, United States - Microsoft pulled back the curtain Wednesday on the upcoming Windows 10 operating system focused on bringing harmony to the diverse array of Internet gadgets in people's lives.

As it previewed the new operating system, Microsoft also unexpectedly added to the roster of modern gadgets with the unveiling of headgear that overlays holograms on the real world and lets wearers use their hands to interact with virtual objects.

Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella touted HoloLens capabilities that will debut with Windows 10 later this year as the next generation of computing.

The US technology titan is also trying to make it more natural to interact with devices, such as conversational-style speaking with the company's virtual assistant Cortana.

"The number of devices is just exploding around us," Microsoft's Terry Myerson said during a presentation to press and analysts at the company's headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

"It should be easy to put one device down and pick up another where you left off; technology needs to get out of the way." HoloLens was touted as an entry to "the world's first holographic computing platform" which enables users to place three-dimensional holograms in the physical world.

"Until now, we've immersed ourselves in the world of technology," Microsoft's Alex Kipman said while introducing HoloLens.

"But, what if we could take technology and immerse it in our world?"

Walking on Mars

Windows Holographic creates three-dimensional images in the real world, then lets people wearing the headgear reach out and manipulate virtual objects.

Examples shown during the event ranged from someone getting visual prompts during a routine home plumbing repair to being able to virtually walk on Mars and control a rover lander actually on that planet's surface.

Kipman said he invited virtual reality innovators, including Facebook-owned Oculus VR, to explore adapting different applications for the goggles.

"Holograms can become part of our everyday life," he said.

Nadella called HoloLens and Windows 10 a "mind-blowing" experience that will open a new type of computing.

"Today is a big day for Windows," Nadella said as Microsoft provided a look at its latest operating system at its headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

"We want to move from people needing Windows, to choosing Windows, to loving Windows; that is our bold goal for Windows." Approximately 1.5 billion people around the world use Windows-powered computers, and Microsoft is intent on renewing its relevance in a age of mobile computing dominated by Apple and Google-backed Android software.

Windows 10 is being designed with feedback from millions of "insiders" testing early versions of the operating system, Myerson said.

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