Microsoft kicked off this week's National Retail Federation (NRF) Annual Convention and Expo, with a demo showing how Windows 10 might influence the consumer shopping experience with more interactive multi-channel transactions.
Microsoft also shared its idea of the future of point-of-sale (POS) technology, which will include devices and IoT running on Windows 10. Retailers will, for example, eventually be able to log into mobile workstations using Windows Hello and transition from tablet to desktop using Continuum.
In Windows 10 news, data released this week from StatCounter indicates Windows 10 has surpassed Windows 8.1 in desktop marketshare. The new OS holds 12.22% of desktops worldwide; Windows 8.1 accounts for 10.7%.
[13 hot IoT trends coming to businesses in 2016.]
While this demonstrates the progress Windows 10 has made, it has a long way to go before it beats Windows 7. Microsoft's most popular OS is still running on 42.77% of desktops, but that number is sure to dwindle as businesses buy new PCs.
In an update issued to its support policy this week, Microsoft announced it will only support new processors and chipsets running Windows 10 on the computer systems. This news is likely to accelerate Windows 10 adoption, but have a greater effect on businesses with plans to buy new devices running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.
Windows Insiders in the Fast ring received preview build 11102 for Windows 10 on PCs. This build delivers a new history menu in Microsoft Edge, but comes with a few bugs: Some PC games may crash when switching to full screen; third-party assistants may crash; and you may see errors when updating and logging in.
Office updates announced this week primarily affect Apple users, who have access to new digital inking tools on Office for iPad. These include a Draw tab to find inking tools, Instant Inking to detect active pens, and Ink to Shape for transforming hand-drawn shapes into perfect-looking squares and circles.
Microsoft released Morph and PowerPoint Designer on iPhone and iPad, follow-ups to the release of both tools on Windows in November. It also opened its Office Insider program to Mac users so they can test new features before they are released.
A OneNote update, which brought improved search, iPad multitasking, and notifications also includes a new batch of features called Learning Tools. These tools are intended to help students with dyslexia by highlighting text and by reading selected text out loud, both of which can help improve focus and reading speed.
Microsoft also announced its acquisition of MinecraftEdu, a game created by Teacher Gaming, which will be renamed Minecraft Education Edition. Microsoft plans to expand the game with features to build student engagement and collaboration, on top of the educational features already built into MinecraftEdu.
CEO Satya Nadella shared Microsoft's plans to donate $1 billion of Microsoft Cloud Services to benefit nonprofit organizations and university researchers over the next three years. The donation falls under the responsibility of Microsoft Philanthropies, a new division under Microsoft.
The program, intended to make the cloud universally accessible, has three primary goals: to provide nonprofits with additional cloud resources, to help solve last-mile challenges to Internet access, and to improve access for university researchers.
Microsoft Cloud Services included in the donation program include Microsoft Azure, CRM Online, Power BI, and its Enterprise Mobility Suite. Donations will begin rolling out this spring to help 70,000 nonprofits.