At Microsoft’s Build 2016 conference in San Francisco Wednesday, company CEO Satya Nadella and Windows and Devices group executive vice president Terry Myerson addressed thousands of developers on the work being done to “embrace the new era of conversational intelligence and create more personal computing,” according to the company.
According to Microsoft, 270 million devices are now running Windows 10 roughly eight months after its launch. That’s the fastest adoption pace for any version of Windows.
According to the company, users have spent over 75 billion hours in the OS, and over 500 new devices have been built for the platform.
Microsoft’s Anniversary Update, which has been internally dubbed under the ‘Redstone’ banner, will launch this summer for free to all Windows 10 users, including Xbox One.
Windows Ink will be “front and center” in the update, to help people “ideate and collaborate better, according to Microsoft’s Bryan Roper. There’s a new Ink workspace that features your most-used Ink apps with tips, tricks, and other suggested apps. Cortana and Bing are integrated with Microsoft’s handwriting recognition, so for example, when you write a note for “tomorrow,” Cortana will identify the date on your calendar. Bing can also look up locations to help automate things. The Ink workspace also includes extra tools, like a digital ruler that can be rotated and resized, and the ability to work above the lock screen so you can sketch and take notes without unlocking your device.
Microsoft also pointed out that apps like Starbucks, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger are coming as part of Microsoft’s Universal Windows platform.
The company will also launch a single unified store between Windows and Xbox One, and bring Cortana and background music support to the game console.
Skype will soon be able to book trips, shop, and plan your schedule by chatting with Cortana.
“Cortana is brokering the conversation with a third-party bot,” Skype program manager Lilian Rincon said.
Basically, Skype will know the company/service you want to talk to, bring a bot into your chat to help you, and then get rid of the bot when you’re done.
“We will also be bringing intelligence into real-time video,” Rincon said.
Bots launch today in the latest update for Skype.
Not to be left out of the mix, Cortana also received some enhancements. The digital assistant is getting broader integration with the Outlook email and calendar apps, along with smarter time and activity request recognition. Other new features include the ability to reply to text messages from an Android phone on a Windows PC and smart tasks, like submitting expenses based on incoming email.
Developers can integrate Cortana into their apps, so you can perform actions with voice commands and other functions.
Some of these features, like support from the lock screen, will be included in the aforementioned Anniversary Update, with other features coming down the line.
Lastly, Microsoft’s Hololens augmented reality headset developer kit is available now for $3,000, with the new Galaxy Explorer example project available to buyers.
The example project visualizes planets and shows off the HoloLens’ features.