Microsoft smartly waited until the end of its excruciatingly long keynote to give us a second look at the HoloLens, the company’s forward-looking take on virtual reality. Before a packed crowd of developers and press, the device’s architect, Alex Kipman, showed how the HoloLens couldlitter a wall with virtual displays and create detailed objects — like a Tyrannosaurus’ skull — that weren’t really there.
HoloLens is futuristic, potentially game-changing and incredibly cool. It’s also a longterm play from Microsoft, and we won’t know how big a deal it will be for a while. Even if it somehow ships this year, it’ll take a while for developers to build experiences for it, and for users to truly “get” it.
For something shorter term that might move the needle for Microsoft, you’d need to rewind to just five minutes before the HoloLens discussion, when Corporate Vice President of Operating Systems Joe Belfiore demonstrated how Continuum — the ability for Windows 10 to adapt to various form factors — will work on Windows phones.
There weren’t any holograms, but the demo garnered its share of ooh’s and aah’s. Belfiore showed a Windows phone plugged into a larger tablet display via HDMI. Initially the screen just showed the phone’s display in a smaller window on the right side of the display. Nothing new there — Samsung has done something similar for a while.
Things got interesting when Belfiore fired up PowerPoint. Since the app is the same as the one on Windows tablets, the entire user interface changed to fill the screen. This was more than just stretching pixels — entire menus and navigation transformed for the larger canvas. A tablet app appeared before our eyes.
The concept reminded me of what Motorola tried to do with the Atrix a few years back, where the phone powered a laptop-like experience if you had the right accessory. But Android was comparatively primitive, and Motorola didn’t have an ecosystem to speak of. The experience wasn’t great.
With Windows 10 and its “Universal” apps, Microsoft is delivering far more of the promise of that idea: Continuum essentially makes the phone your PC, able to turn a screen — any screen — into a tailored user experience.
Hardware will be a limitation. Continuum will work in this way only on upcoming Windows phones; the ones out now — even the ones that are supposedly Windows 10 upgradeable — won’t be able to do this trick, since it requires new processor tech Microsoft is developing with Qualcomm.
A bigger limitation is that Windows is, to many, a mere afterthought as a mobile platform. Today’s news that Microsoft is opening up its platform for Android and even iOS developers is essentially an admission that it can’t make it in mobile, at least on its own.
The move is also unlikely to make much difference at this point, as developers will still be reluctant to support Windows phone, no matter how easy it is to port apps to the platform. Converting an app for a new OS is more than just adapting code; there are marketing and branding considerations. In a world where users control your storefront, no developer can afford to simply throw together a new version and see what happens.
That’s too bad, because Microsoft finally has one of the most interesting ideas in mobile. Today, if you want to get real work done, you put down your phone and fire up a laptop. With Windows 10, those devices can essentially be one in the same. But it won’t make any difference if all you get out of it is better PowerPoint.
BONUS: The insanely long Microsoft Build 2015 keynote in 2 minutes
Source : mashable.com