• Paul Fingleton

8 Things we are expecting from the Windows 10 event.

There is just a little over 24 hours before Microsoft open up the Next Chapter of Windows 10 the rumour mill has already gone into overdrive about what we can expect. Microsoft has managed to keep much of it under wraps, despite the leak of a few intermediate builds of Windows 10 that were not supposed to leave the campus at Redmond.

While Microsoft has been focusing on the Enterprise when talking about Windows 10 to date, it is clear that the consumer will be a large focus for the event tomorrow.

Let's take a quick look as some of the rumoured features that are anticipated tomorrow and we can check back to see how accurate those rumours were, and which were just wishful thinking.

Cortana Integration: Microsoft's digital personal assistant has been a breakout hit for the Windows Phone platform, offering more personalised functionality than Apple's Siri or Google Now. Originally supposed to be only available inside the US, users around the world quickly found out how to enable it in other markets. The feature has become so wildly popular that Microsoft have moved quickly to bring it as an 'Alpha' to other markets.

We have seen in an unofficial build of Windows 10 that Cortana is coming to the product, with limited functionality visible in build 9901. This is almost certain to be fully revealed at the event tomorrow. Likelyhood: 10/10

New Web Broswer: Internet Explorer's days are numbererd, with Microsoft expected to reveal a new lightweight browser with additional functionality, codename Spartan. This is expected to include an updated version of the Trident rendering engine for faster page loading times and rendering performance, Cortana integration and to unify the browser appearance, settings and performance across all Windows 10 devices: PC, Tablet, Phone and XBox.

The browser is definitely coming and Microsoft would love to be able to show this new browser tomorrow and will continue working down to the wire to make it happen. But whether it is ready for prime time is not yet clear, according to sources close to the matter. Likelyhood 6.5/10

Xbox Gaming: Microsoft is comitted to bringing gaming back to the fore of their PC strategy, and Phil Spencer has already confirmed that he will be talking about PC and Xbox One gaming news at the press event tomorrow. Likelyhood 10/10

DirectX 12: Microsoft's latest version of it's gaming and multimedia APIs will give Gaming on Windows PC's a major boost in performance, with Microsoft even showing off a Forza Motorsport 5 "Tech Demo" at it's initial event for DirectX 12. It is expected that DirectX 12 will feature as part of Phil Spencer's segment, but that the majority of the technical details of DirectX 12 will be held back for the Games Developers Conference and \\Build conferences later in the spring. Likelyhood 8/10

Going out on a long shot, although Microsoft protested originally that the Forza 5 appearance at the DirectX 12 announcement event was only a tech demo, we will likely see some Xbox One Launch games appear on the PC at this event. Likelyhood 6/10

Xbox Game Streaming: Microsoft has gathered a team to work on a project called 'Arcadia' which is to play Xbox Games by streaming, rather than downloading to play. Currently it is working on Xbox 360 titles and may become a path for backwards compatibility or to quickly bring a large library of games to the PC.

This project, when combined with project 'Outtatime' is likely to make streaming much better and have almost negligible effects of lag. But both projects are too early for prime time yet, it is more likely to see more information around E3 or after Windows 10 launch. Likelyhood 3/10.

Windows 10 for Phones: The untimely launch of the Phone Insider app has already shown Microsoft's hand on this one, it will replace the Preview for Developers app that has been used as a vehicle for distributing Early Access / Preview builds of Windows 10 to registered Windows Insiders. Likelyhood 10/10

Less certain is the name of Windows Phone, it is likely that this will drop the 'Phone' to reflect that Windows 10 is one product across all devices and also that it will be the same OS on Windows RT devices and Windows Phones.

Touch-enabled Office for Phones and Tablets: Joe Belfiore will be presenting at the show as Vice President of the Operating Systems Group, but is best known as the man in front of Windows Phone for years. He announced to a group of Windows Phone users in China who were lamenting the lack of updates for Office on Windows Phone that they will have good news before Chinese New Year on that front.

We expect that this will be a large part of his presentation tomorrow and also that the updated Office will be included in the Phone update. Likelyhood 8.5/10

Of course we will also expect updates to features that we already know are coming to Windows 10:

  • Windows Store: A unified store across Windows, Phone and XBox, also one that will be easily maintained by Enterprise system administrators.

  • Start Menu: The new hybrid Start Menu that will be familiar to Windows 7 users and also includes access for Universal (Windows 8) Apps will continue to evolve in the new builds.

  • Virtual Desktops: A much requested and very popular feature in Windows 10, users can create multiple, separate desktops to help with their workflow.

All this and more will be available when Microsoft live streams the event tomorrow, and be sure to check back here for in-depth analysis of the announcements and new features.

Windows 10 is expected to be available worldwide later in 2015, possibly September or October. The Windows Phone release expected to be available sooner, according to industry insiders.

Live Stream Link: http://www.microsoft.com/windows10story

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