High Points From Microsoft's Windows 10 Event

In what has become standard operating procedure for major technology vendors, Microsoft held an event yesterday to announce its next generation of products. Leading the pack, of course, was Windows 10, the new operating system that will be released later this year. But there were other intriguing announcements as well. You can view a webcast of all 2 hours and 15 minutes of the keynote here. Or, if brevity is more your thing, read on below for a brief overview of what to look for from Microsoft this year.

Windows 10

Again, this is the main event. In classic Microsoft style, this new OS seems to be the software giant's attempt to right the wrongs of Windows 8 (and 8.1), its immediate predecessor (think back to the less-than-stellar Vista, followed up by Windows 7). And it seems that many are optimistic that Windows 10 will be successful in doing just that, which is good news.

More than that, though, the new OS, Like Apple's recent OS X upgrades, will be free to users running versions all the way back to Windows 7 on PCs, and all the way back to Windows Phone 8.1 on mobile devices. The idea, it seems, is to get all Windows users on the same platform. And hey, who can argue with a free upgrade -- especially when it smooths out some of the usability wrinkles of Windows 8, and includes new features, like the Cortana voice-activated "assistant" available across all platforms, including PCs.

So when will it be available? "Later this year" -- in other words, stay tuned.

Windows VP Joe Belfiore discusses new experiences unveiled for Windows 10 on January 21, 2015.

Project Spartan

It bears mentioning that Windows 10 will include a brand new web browser designed to (finally) replace the much maligned Internet Explorer. Project Spartan (as it's currently being called) will be streamlined to run more efficiently and more securely. Plus, it will include a number of features to help users interact with content.

Surface Hub

Interestingly, Microsoft introduced a new hardware platform for Windows 10, and instead of following the trend of releasing smaller devices, this one quite the opposite. Surface Hub, an all-in-one computer with an 84-inch touch display, is designed for the conference room, where Microsoft hopes it will help people collaborate at work with features like a pen and a whiteboard app, as well as built-in Skype for Business.

HoloLens

This may be the most intriguing of the offerings Microsoft announced. Apparently, Windows 10 will support what Microsoft calls holographic displays. What this means is that with HoloLens, a virtual reality goggles-type device, users can create, view, and manipulate digital content overlaid as holograms on their field of vision. Sounds like science fiction. When will HoloLens become technology fact? Microsoft is still mum on that, but apparently they hope its release will be relatively close to Windows 10's. Check out Microsoft's concept video for the device.