It’s a big day for Microsoft and its flagship Windows 10 software. After years of ridicule for a botched Windows 8 launch, this is Microsoft’s opportunity to show the consumer that it, er, means business. Much has been written about what we want and what we can expect from Microsoft’s big event. Some new rumors have come to light which have compelled me to build a more up-to-date list of anticipation. With no further ado, here are things I expect/want to see at Microsoft’s Windows 10 event, in order of likelihood.
- A sleek new Windows 10 build – This is an easy bet. With all of the leaks since Build 9879 was launched, it is fairly obvious that Microsoft is going to be taking a big step with its next Windows 10 build. Cortana integration, the new Spartan web browser, a revamped UX, and Continuum for switching between touch-first and traditional modes on hybrid devices should be the focal point of the event.
- Windows 10 for Xbox details – We’ve heard about Microsoft’s plans to unify the OS on all devices and form factors, including Xbox and Internet of Things. The announcement of developer sessions for Xbox means that we’ll be seeing how Windows 10 affects app development on that platform.
- Windows 10 mobile Preview – I wasn’t so convinced about this until a few weeks ago, but even Microsoft is giving us the old nod and wink nowadays with regards to its mobile platform. The appearance of a Preview app, similar to that for PC users, means that a mobile Windows 10 test is not far away.
- Office for Windows 10 mobile – It’s been a long time coming, but it looks like we’ll be seeing touch-first versions of Office for Windows, focused on the smartphone and tablet form factors. Everything we’ve heard indicates that these’ll be the “flagship” touch versions of Office, with more features than their iOS and Android counterparts. With Microsoft’s newfound propensity to give fans an early look at its software, I would also expect news about a Preview initiative.
- Substantial Xbox Announcements for PC Gamers – So this is a little unlikely, given Microsoft’s past transgressions with Games for Windows Live and underbaked Xbox apps on Windows 8. However, with Satya Nadella now pushing the multiplatform angle, would we see more of that with Microsoft’s games? Are we going to be able to watch our friends play on their Xbox from our Surface? What about getting complimentary versions of the same games on your PC if they’re registered to your Xbox Live account? Halo: Master Chief Collection for the long-suffering Halo: Combat Evolved fans? Microsoft knows that a huge factor for Windows’ popularity is its ubiquity with PC gamers, so watch this space as they try to tighten that grip.
- Complimentary Windows 10 final gold version for testers – Just a rumor that I’ve seen repeated several times recently. It would be a nice gesture for those who risked messing around with a potentially unstable early product, but it would raise questions about final pricing. Is Windows 10 going to have a price tag and what would that mean for its adoption curve?
- Lumia 1330 – Although this is billed as a “Windows” event, there are chances of hardware showing up, too. Third party OEMs would surely have some presence. The most likely announcement that Microsoft would make is a Lumia 1330 phablet. Its predecessor, the 1320, was fairly popular in some Asian territories due to its large screen and low price. If Microsoft is going to be demonstrating Windows 10 mobile, having a new device to demonstrate it on would make sense.
- Lumia 1030/940/1530 – Windows Phone fans have been begging for a new flagship to rally around for nearly a year now and Microsoft would be wise to heed their wishes. I’m not too optimistic that we’ll be seeing a new hero device at this event, but any rumblings would go far in assuaging the hardcore’s concerns.
- Surface Pro 4 – CES played host to some impressive design advancements in the PC hardware space. When Microsoft first launched Surface Pro 3 just under a year ago, it was cutting edge. Now, it’s losing a little of its luster with new edge to edge displays and sleeker form factors coming from other OEMs. Launching a thinner Surface with an even larger screen (due to narrower bezels) before Apple does the same with its MacBook Air could be a powerful psychological victory for the premium side of the PC market. It would also be the ideal platform to showcase the Continuum feature onstage.
- Some sort of smartphone/laptop hybrid – A very late rumor that has little going for it. Something targeted at business users, this smartphone/laptop hybrid is apparently early in development at Microsoft’s hardware labs. Is this a continuation of the Surface line or even the successor to Microsoft’s Lumia flagship devices? Would probably be the biggest talking point if this rumor does come to fruition.
We’re incredibly excited for tomorrow’s event. Follow us on Twitter on @clashtechblog for further details on a liveblog that we’ll be doing as the event happens, complete with instant reaction from us.