A Normal Person’s Review of the Microsoft’s October 26 Event

Treats

Introduction

Microsoft had a massive event on October 26, 2016 at the beautiful Spring Street Studios here in NYC. Somehow, I ended up with an invitation to the Microsoft Event. At first, I was hella confused as I am not really a hardcore techie, but do love my gadgets. I don’t work in IT, but I do live online. I’m not really an early-adopter, but tend to be right behind those people after the kinks have been worked out.

I am a big fan of Windows, and this Microsoft Event solidified my status as a true believer. The team who invited me had no idea that I was a blogger, and there are many many articles by real journalists out there about the event and the announcements. This post is from my point of view with the caveats listed above. Basically, I wanted to show what a normal person could have thought about what was presented and demoed.

Before we get started, I should disclose that I own an infinitesimally small amount of Microsoft. I have owned these shares for over a decade, and honestly, I couldn’t even buy the majority of the devices showcased with the shares, so yeahhhh. Also, the Microsoft team provided a little swag, lunch, and an open bar (staffed by some of the most beautiful people in NYC). My mama always said I was hard headed, so if you think I was swayed by a couple small freebies and a pretty face, then don’t read forward. For everyone else, let’ss jump in!

Overview of Microsoft Event

Felt like a VIP entering through a secret entrance to the Microsoft Event
Felt like a VIP entering through a secret entrance

Not going to lie, the team has us feeling like Microsoft Event VIPs. We had cool metal badges and entered the briefing room via a quasi-hidden back entrance. There were many many members of staff from Microsoft to make sure that us fans didn’t get lost in the shuffle. I should note that the wifi was comically slow, but I wonder if anything could have been done about it by Microsoft. Another cool thing was that I read a lot of tech blogs, and you could see where the journalists were sitting based on the angle of their shots of the stage. Not sure why, but all the blogs seemed to have tweeted their shot of the empty stage before the event began, so here is mine…

Empty Stage Before Presentation Started
Empty Stage Before Presentation Started

Creator’s Update for Windows 10

“Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more” – New Microsoft Mission

Without much fanfare, the event begins and Terry Myerson, head of Windows and Devices, starts bringing people out to showcase the major improvements coming to Windows. Again, there are many many articles out there about the minute details about the event, but I will hit the highlights/things that really wowed me. I should also note that Terry and his team shared a lot of personal stories about how different people around the world use Windows and Devices to work and play. They really took a page from a competitor’s book and play at our heart strings and it worked!

What Wowed Me

Windows is going all in on 3-D

 

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Not to be shady, but I was first amazed that over 100 Million people use Microsoft Paint. I had completely forgotten that this program existed! I know that I’m going to using it after this update this spring. Imagine this if you will: Megan Saunders, General Manager at Microsoft Studios, takes her phone and walks around a real life sand castle (pictured to the right). Her phone does a 3-D rendering of the castle. Using Paint, Megan is able to add the 3-D image and actually mix in some new elements like a 2-D picture of her daughters. The resulting mixed-media image is on the screen to the left. 

Mixed Reality

Megan and Colleague Showcase VR Device
Megan and Colleague Showcase VR Device

I should note that I’m not really a gamer. Other than mindlessly playing some games on my phone while on the train. But the Virtual Reality stuff that they showed looked amazing. I’m sure others have covered the details of all that the devices can do, but I’ll note that one cool application was with Houzz.

You will be able to choose from items in the Houzz catalog and drag those items into your house and see how they look. I already spend too much time on Houzz, so I can definitely see myself using this application in the very near future. Unlike their HoloLens (which costs 3k), Microsoft announced that they have teamed up with six companies that are releasing VR devices starting at $299. 

X-Box Updates

X-Box S (Courtesy of http://www.xbox.com/en-US/xbox-one-s?xr=shellnav)
X-Box S (Courtesy of http://www.xbox.com/en-US/xbox-one-s?xr=shellnav)

As I mentioned, I am not a gamer, but I do have a lot of them in my circle and family. So, I was excited for them with some of the updates. It was mentioned that 50 BILLION views of Minecraft videos have been racked up this year alone. The presenter noted that half of the views came from his son. I think the other half came from my nephew Kai.

With this in mind, there will be updates to the X-Box platform, Beam, that will allow you to broadcast your gameplay with just a couple clicks. There are chat boxes to allow you to communicate with your friends and fans and even let them suggest what you do next in the game. 

As the X-Box One S starts at $299 and has a 4k Blu-Ray Player in it, I definitely can see one of them in my near future (order on Amazon here). I should also note that there will be Dolby Atmos sound. I have no idea what that means but there was a collective gasp from the audience, so I guess it is a good thing!

Putting “People at the Center of Windows”

Allison O’Mahoney, a Program Manager at Microsoft, spoke about the complexities of communicating with our social and professional circles via a myriad of different channels. Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of the part that connected with me most – we will be able to add our real life VIPs to the task bar. This cuts down significantly on the amount of time that it takes to share. And, if you know me, you know that I share things that I find all day every day. Also, there seems to be a connection with Andriod and Windows phones that will allow texts to show up on your computer screen. Pretty dope.

Wrapping up the Windows Section of the Microsoft Event

Terry Myerson ended this part of the briefing but noting, “Our goal for Windows 10 is to have the effect of the Guttenberg press on the next generation of computing.” Jigga what?! I mean, “aim for the moon and land amongst the stars” and all that. Then they noted that preview versions of the Creator Update are now available for Windows Insiders. You can sign up here. I’ll probably update this weekend on my secondary device. 

Surface Studio

Elegantly Designed Surface Studio
Elegantly Designed Surface Studio (Courtesy of the Windows Blog)

So, Panos Panay, Corporate VP of Devices, bounds on the stage to a rockstar’s entrance. He rattles off stats about how great the Surface is and shares stories about how people use the devices to streamline their life. I was very interested in this section as I have plans to get myself a Surface for Christmas, but then Panos introduces the game changer pictured above – The Surface Studio. I generally hate when people say this, but this thing is beautiful. I’m generally more into function than form, but this device would make a great addition to a modern home. Sadly, at $3k, I cannot justify it, but I can lust after it, right?

I could go on and on about how great this device is. 2T Storage! Super Thin! 60% more pixels thank 4K! TrueColor (didn’t REALLY understand what he was talking about, but others were excited, so yay!). Mic array – so you can yell commands from across the room! Also, as you can see in the gif above, the device can be pushed down to be laid almost flat. I could tell that I was sucked into the presentation because I gasped along with everyone else as Panos showed this. 

Sadly, at this price point, it is for true creative professionals like the team with Madefire. 

Madefire 

There was a really cool demo of one of the team members from Madefire where he showed how easy it is to draw and create on the Surface Studio. Just made me drool even more. I had never heard of his company, but apparently, they sell animated comic books. I ordered a couple on my phone to see if they are appropriate for a 10-year-old.

Surface Dial

Panos Introducing the Surface Dial
Panos Introducing the Surface Dial

Here, my notes actually say, “What kind of black magic is this?!” and “Lord, I need to read a review to figure out how to write this up.” I actively avoided other reviews of the event to make sure that my opinions were pure, so I still don’t really know how to explain this.

Basically, with surface devices, this little knob can perform many functions that keep you focused on what you are doing. If you are writing while listening to music, you can stay right in your app and change the volume or skip a track. If you are editing photos you can turn the knob to change the contrast or zoom in or out. I’m not doing it justice, but trust me, this device is cool. 

Microsoft Event Showcase

Mass of people at the Microsoft Showcase
Mass of people at the Microsoft Showcase

After a delicious lunch, where I was able to interact with other fans, we were led to the Microsoft Showcase. Here, we played with the various devices and services introduced earlier in the day. 

A new friend engaging with the Surface Studio
A new friend engaging with the Surface Studio
Me Mixed with Minecraft
Me Mixed with Minecraft

I ended my day by networking, playing with different devices, and even getting a demo of the HoloLens. I also met someone who introduced me to my new favorite drink a “Manhattan on the Rocks.” The hilarious bartender called this an “Upper East Side Manhattan” with the shade fully implied. I’ll take it, though and another “Upper East Side Manhattan” while you are at it.

WHOO! That’s All For Now

In conclusion, Microsoft far exceeded my expectations. I am really excited both for the Creator’s Update for Windows and for several new devices. I’m really happy to have been invited and hope that I am invited back in the future. 

Keeping it Pretty & Simple,
Monti

PS – Please do let me know what you thought of the post. It is a little outside of the kind of content that we have planned. But, if you enjoyed it, I will be happy to provide more in the future. Any constructive feedback will be appreciated – too long, too few details, etc. Thanks!

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By Monti Lawson

Hello, I am Monti and half of the team for www.itsaprettysimplelife.com. Currently living in New York City, but raised pretty much in Virginia Beach, VA. By day, I am a freelance consultant for nonprofits. At night, you can find me trying to infuse vodka, playing with cocktails, gardening, or trying as many new cuisines as I can find. Longing to spend a year traveling through Asia.

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