In-Depth

Windows 10 Fall Release Promises More Intelligence and Creative Hooks

Microsoft looks to bring its intelligent Graph to Windows 10 in next update.

At first glance, the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update looks like a modest upgrade of the most recent Windows 10 Creators Update released this month. The upcoming fall update of the OS, revealed at last week's annual Build conference in Seattle, Wash., is expected to add a nifty, consumer-focused video and photo editing app called Story Remix, boast improved ink support for pen-based input and begin to integrate the first elements of a new design language from Microsoft called Fluent Design System.

On second look, the Fall Creators Update is an early salvo in what promises to be a years-long effort by Microsoft to extend the Windows experience across platforms. The update will enable PCs to act as the hub in each user's personal collection of phones, devices, and computers, leveraging Azure cloud services to share data and context across devices. In effect, it promises to upgrade not just Windows 10, but also the experiences on Android, iOS and other devices that are connected to Windows 10.

For example, Microsoft has touted a feature it calls Pick Up Where You Left Off, which knows where you left your apps or documents on each device and PC, and then automatically restores you to those known points when you open them on another device or system. So, if you were reviewing page 47 of a contract on your work PC, when you open that file on your Android phone, Cortana will ask if you want to open to page 47.

There's also the Clipboard feature that lets you copy and paste content between connected devices. Hit copy on something like an image or Web URL on your iPhone, and that item gets stored in the cloud, where it can be pasted to any other registered device, be it a Windows PC, Android device or another iOS client. The new OneDrive on Demand feature, meanwhile, upends file storage by hosting all files in the cloud without needing to sync them to a local device. Users can choose to pin files to a local machine or device for assured offline access, or host them exclusively in the cloud.

"There are compelling scenarios that this will be great for," said Julian Bucknall, chief technology officer of component maker Developer Express. "We've all had cases where we had something on our phone and wanted to get it to our computer. Every single one of us has had to e-mail stuff [to ourselves]."

Behind this vision is Microsoft Graph, the growing family of REST APIs that Microsoft describes as "an intelligent fabric that helps connect the dots between people, conversations, projects and content within the Microsoft Cloud." Graph got its start as a cloud-linked data conduit for Office, but has grown into a foundational element of Microsoft's cross-platform strategy. By enabling rich data sharing among diverse devices and applying intelligence against that data in the cloud, Graph enables Windows 10 to drive shared experiences across devices.

"It's the continuous experience of Windows that they are after," says Sam Basu, developer advocate at Progress Software Corp. "When you use Microsoft apps and services [on an iPhone], you shouldn't feel like you are using an iOS device. It should be the Windows experience that you're getting."

That cross-platform vision extends to bundled Windows 10 applications like the new Story Remix app, which lets users create compelling cinema-quality video by leveraging Azure Machine Learning and Microsoft Cognitive Services to find, edit and present the most compelling videos and images for a project. Media collections -- including those shared from others' smartphones -- can be searched by properties such as location, activity or person, making it easy to find relevant source content. Users can select music by theme, then allow Story Remix to adjust the video to match the beats of the song. A host of special effects, including the ability to anchor images or text to objects in video clips, add impact to video creations.

About the Author

Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.

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