Microsoft's Windows Live Event went down today, and it was a fun time. 3D took the major focus, and we got some new hardware debuted. First, let's talk about what I liked from the event.
The hardware was awe inspiring, and I won't take anything away from that. Incredibly powerful and incredibly versatile. They pushed the limits on technology with this one. This is the Windows Surface Studio. The only workstation that you'll probably ever need. Everything from the zero-gravity hinge to the 32GB of RAM, to the insane pixel density would in themselves make amazing features on a computer so thin. But put them all together, and well, Windows Surface Studio comes to life.
If you ask any designer, artist, etc what their choice of hardware is, they'll tell you it's a Mac. For various reasons. For one, the style factor. But secondly, it's a clean UI with much higher color quality than your typical PC. Until now that is. Keeping what works best on Windows, and now including what designers have been looking for for years, the Surface Studio is the perfect all in one for almost everyone.
I would argue that too powerful and too versatile perhaps. Like it came from the future, and we're not yet ready. The beauty above comes in at a hefty price tag however at $2,999, before taxes. Is it worth it? I would say yes. But only if you really needed the functionality and the power. I'll be honest though. If my startup just got solid seed capital, Microsoft Surface Studio's all around.
Next up we have the Surface Book i7. The next iteration of, you guessed it, the Surface Book. For the most part it looks almost exactly the same. What it does offer that's new however is twice the graphics power of its predecessor and 16 hours of battery life, which is impressive. That would push it up there as the most powerful laptop on the market in that form factor.
As a developer, this one is more up my alley. I enjoy the portability and the power is high enough to handle pretty much any project that I may be working on. And for sure, the new 16 hour battery life makes it a very appealing purchase. I currently use the Surface 3 as my secondary travel work machine, and while I'm a big big fan, the 6 hours of battery life have me carrying a backpack with charger in tow just in case.
And last on the hardware list is my personal favorite, but not one that will be compatible with my current setup it looks like. The Microsoft Surface Dial is an entirely new form of control for your Windows machine. This is definitely something that's catered currently however to designers, at least that's what the keynote made it seem like.
Currently, it's listed to be compatible with the Surface Studio, Surface Book and Surface Pro 4. Which is a shame, because I can definitely see huge use in this in my day to day web development life.
Whether it be in controlling my music volume, or dimming my screen instantly now when night time comes, or even in my vector drawing time. Definitely hoping that a wired version comes out at a later time for standard Windows 10 PC's.
Which brings me to the, what didn't tickle my fancy part.
What I didn't like
The up and coming Windows 10 Creators Update didn't particularly excite this time around. It wasn't so much the OS, but the 80% push towards 3D content creation. More than likely due to the continuing success of VR this year and it's growing trend and Microsoft trying to get into that market. But the keynote got repetitive and annoying after the 50th mention of 3D content.
3D models aren't particularly a new thing. They've been around for decades. The reason they probably haven't taken off is due to the fact that they're not very useful. For example, the new successor to the beloved Paint is a new Paint 3D app. And while, that kind of sounds and looks cool when watching the keynote, I can't picture myself spending any time at all on this. And if I did, what could I possibly do with a 3D cloud or logo.
However, if I were interested in 3D model creation. Microsoft already offers a pretty good and simple to use 3D design tool. The 3D Builder.
So essentially, we'll be getting more of that with the next build. Gaming also made an appearance at the event, although not in the way that I would have liked, or that I picture. I knew things were going to go downhill when the gaming segment started with clips of 360 no-scopes and matching colored t-shirts. At least the definition of gaming is still alive and well with Nintendo.
The new Windows build, will have built in XBOX Live streaming. More on that push for "creators". It's not in-house built from the ground up however, as it seems that they will be integrating the Beam platform. Again, this probably doesn't apply to 95% of the Windows market. But it's a feature that's built in just in case you need to make a recruitment video for your clan tryouts.
the Windows Live Event was for artists
In the end though, this next push for Windows is for artists. People who require true color screens and high precision pen input. People who are constantly zooming and out and panning all over the place. And that worked remarkably well from what I saw. It almost made me wish that I had some type of artistic skill. But alas, I do not.
While the hardware is something to behold no doubt, pushing boundaries of the human eye, and the human wallet, I'm not going to run out and pre-order one right away. If I had the money lying around I would, for sure. But as something that I need for work, it's not justifiable. Particularly in my type of work.
But a big kudos to Microsoft for taking the game up a notch on this one. Other companies are going to have to dig deep in order to top, let alone even match what they have just created.
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Walter G. is a software engineer, startup co-founder, former CTO of several tech companies and currently teaches programming for a coding bootcamp. He has been blogging for the past 5 years and is an avid BMX rider, bio-hacker
and performance enthusiast.