Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has been teasing a creative slant to its October event. Industry watchers expect the company to take the wraps off its iMac-killer Surface desktop PC.
The event just wrapped up in New York, and, as expected, a sleek new Surface Studio took center stage as part of Microsoft’s push into content creation, with an emphasis on 3D and augmented reality.
First up, 400 million people are now using Windows 10, and this spring, a free Windows 10 upgrade arrives. It’s called the Creators Update.
Windows 10 Creators Update
The Creators Update focuses on 3D and mixed reality, along with 4K gaming, as MSFT pushes its vision for three dimensions being the choice for the next generation of computer and device users. It’s calling for a new era of creativity, innovation and computing by making 3D content creation accessible for everyone.
That’s a lofty goal. Windows 10 is doing its part with software like its Paint 3D app. It’s also working on a smartphone app that lets users scan a physical object and use as the basis for a 3D model — and it’s not expected to be a Windows exclusive.
Windows 10 users will also be able to export a 3D creation (including Minecraft models) to the web, where they can be shared and 3D printed. It’s even stuffed 3D into PowerPoint!
Gaming is also a focus of this Windows 10 update, which includes one-button livestreaming. The company is leveraging the growing popularity of eSports, including the ability to create tournaments using Xbox Live.
Finally, Windows 10 Creators Update puts your favorite people on the taskbar for easier sharing. It’s promising a faster and less confusing way to communicate with other Windows 10 users than navigating all your social media apps and e-mail — you can even drop an emoji on their desktop.
Windows Insiders get access to a Windows 10 Creators Update this week, for everyone else it arrives in spring 2017.
New Surface Studio and Updated Surface Book
After drumming up the positive feedback on the Surface Pro and Surface Book (higher customer satisfaction than MacBooks), Microsoft pointed out a customer request: more power.
So it is releasing a new Surface Book with double the performance, claiming three times the speed of Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) 13-inch MacBook Pro. MSFT also boosted battery life to 16 hours. It ships in November and can be pre-ordered now starting at $2,399.
Then it was time for the big new product reveal, the rumored iMac killer: the new Surface Studio. After admitting the new product would “look familiar,” the Surface Studio was unveiled. The iMac influence is undeniable, down to the aluminum all-in-one enclosure.
But the Surface Studio is like a supercharged iMac, with a thinner display, touchscreen support, a 28-inch screen (which is larger than the biggest iMac) and 13.5 million pixels. An integrated microphone array lets users speak to Cortana from across the room. And the whole display can be tilted to a near horizontal position like a huge Surface tablet in a drafting desk position, using a zero gravity hinge. The position is ideal for content creators using a Surface Stylus.
Also introduced is the Surface Dial, a new input tool (it looks like a silver puck) that works with Surface products to capture changes on a project, then let the user dial back in time to review those modifications. Place it on a flat display, like the Surface Studio’s and it creates a radial menu on screen.
The time was right to launch the Surface PC. Apple’s iMac is an iconic computer. The original iMac marked the beginning of the company’s resurgence and the sexy new iMac is a high profile fixture on professional desks. Apple also hasn’t updated it in a year or so.
Surface Studio starts at $2,999 and will be available for pre-order starting today. For comparison, the 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display starts at $1799.
HoloLens + New VR Headsets
Of course Microsoft’s HoloLens made an appearance. It was used to showcase the ability to take an object viewed on Microsoft’s Edge web browser, then stitched into VR using HoloLens.
Microsoft is pushing VR and augmented reality for everyone, however, and OEM partners like Dell and HP Inc (NYSE:HPQ) will ship Windows 10 VR headsets starting at $299.
For decades, Apple has been seen as the platform of choice for content creation. With its forthcoming Creators Update and 3D emphasis, Microsoft is trying to position Windows 10 as the creativity platform of the future.
It’s solidifying its position as a PC and console gaming juggernaut. And it’s even going after Apple’s position as the go-to PC for creative professionals with the Surface Studio.
Microsoft has had its turn. Stay tuned for Apple’s big event tomorrow, where new MacBook Pros are expected to be in the spotlight, with new iMacs a distinct possibility — although MSFT is going to be a tough act to follow.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.