Microsoft had a busy week. On Tuesday, it announced it had bought Equivio, a text analytics software provider that specializes in machine learning for electronic discovery and information governance. It looks like Equivio's technology will be used to enhance the offerings in Office 365 and help improve the data management capabilities of businesses and government organizations.
Wednesday brought a wave of announcements, as Microsoft debuted a slew of new features in the upcoming Windows 10 at a press conference held at the company's headquarters. The software giant is prioritizing user feedback as it develops the newest version of its operating system, which is intended to address the shortcomings that users found in Windows 8 and 8.1. Those running Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 will receive free upgrades to Windows 10 for the first year that it's available.
Key announcements from the event included a new mobile OS, which has been designed for smartphones and tablets to include a new Action Center, messaging features, customizable background image, and a redesigned Settings menu, among other additions. The technical preview of Windows 10 for mobile will be available in February.
The mobile OS will also have a Windows 10 version of Office suite for smartphones and tablets. Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint have been optimized for Windows 10 as part of Microsoft's new universal apps feature. Apps can now be easily deployed across devices, which is critical for attracting Windows 10 developers.
A primary focus for Microsoft is making Windows easier to use across devices. Microsoft is simplifying processes for hybrid device owners with the Continuum feature, which will allow users to switch from tablet to PC interface by adding a keyboard to their device.
Desktop owners will be pleased to hear that in addition to a modernized Start menu, their Windows 10 machines will now come equipped with Microsoft's digital assistant, Cortana. PCs and smartphones running Windows 10 will also come equipped with a new browser, codenamed Project Spartan, which will have a new look in addition to features designed to boost productivity.
[Want to try out the new operating system? Read Windows 10 January Build Ready for Insiders.]
Microsoft also talked about social gaming at its event and debuted a new Xbox app. Gamers can chat via voice and text on Xbox Live, save game-play clips, and stream games on Windows PCs or other tablets.
Although Microsoft's Wednesday event was mainly for a consumer audience, it gave enterprises something to look forward to. The Microsoft Surface Hub is an 84-inch 4K screen designed to enable collaboration among employees around the world.
The Redmond event closed with the unveiling of Windows Holographic, a personal computer accessible with Microsoft's HoloLens headgear. Users can see and interact with 3D images located in midair or projected on physical objects. Microsoft's foray into virtual reality was, by far, its most exciting surprise.
The week ended with another acquisition: Microsoft making a bigger push into data analysis with its purchase of Revolution Analytics, an R-language-focused advanced analytics company. Its goal is to help more companies use analytics to maximize insights from their data.
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