Microsoft has big 3D ambitions and by rolling out the Windows 10 Creators Update in spring 2017 the software giant will build 3D hooks into most of its applications. That move is likely to have an impact on how business is conducted daily.
The company's event in New York on Wednesday was allegedly about hardware, but the biggest bang was really about software, 3D everywhere, and democratizing augmented and virtual reality.
Windows chief Terry Myerson said Windows 10 Creators Update is about "expanding our vision for mixed reality" and "3D for everyone." Yes, Microsoft execs went through a lot of gaming, but demos did indicate that PowerPoint would have 3D hooks. Minecraft may be more of a business collaboration tool. And naturally there were HoloLens demos.
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Microsoft execs made it clear that the target audience was folks aged 12 to 24 that value creativity more than previous generations. This "next generation of creators" will also get a dose of 3D in gaming and that'll carry over into work via Windows 10.
The way the Creators Update will get 3D into work relies on a bit of consumerization. The long-rumored Microsoft Paint overhaul allows you to dabble with 3D in images. From there Heather Alexson, lead program manager at Microsoft, launched a PowerPoint demo with 3D, showing changes in perspective and how to engage with an audience.
Another demo highlighted an e-commerce experience with mixed reality and the ability to place furniture into a room to see how it would fit. There are a bevy of business use cases, but here's what you need to know.
3D tools may be useful in Office (or at least will be used for pizzazz). The PowerPoint demonstration highlighted how Paint 3D, art, and 3D can be used to engage an audience. Initially, get prepared for 3D image sprawl. You just know sales folks are going to be working in 3D hooks. How can they resist?
By integrating 3D throughout Windows 10, enterprises and workers will have the technologies at their disposal to run with whatever they see fit. "We want to free 3D," said Myerson, who added that Windows 10 can be a Guttenberg press for mixed reality. With Windows 10 Creator Update, Microsoft is betting that it can get 3D and mixed reality mojo from the bottom up. Keep in mind that many enterprises remain Windows 7 powered, but Windows 10 will come into play in the years ahead.
The play here for Microsoft is to insert HoloLens and applications into companies. With 3D as a starter set, augmented reality applications won't seem like such a leap. HoloLens has a bevy of business use cases and augmented reality can be used for training and remote work. There are also applications for commerce, healthcare, and other industries. Naturally, HoloLens will tap into Microsoft Dynamics, Azure, and analytics applications at some point.
There's a hardware halo that's designed to keep the PC ecosystem in your company. The 3D effort in Windows 10 Creator Update will include accessories and virtual reality headsets from the likes of Dell, HP, and Lenovo. These headsets starting at $299 could be brought into enterprises by employees. The Surface family -- including the Surface Book i7 and Surface Studio -- and the versatility it provides will also make 3D more commonplace. You don't necessarily need Microsoft hardware for 3D, but you can see the interplay with Windows 10 and the stack the company is going for.