Unpacking This Week’s News: Friday March 31st 2017

on April 6, 2017

Microsoft Announces Windows 10 Creators Update Release Date – by Bob O’Donnell

The latest version of Windows 10—the Creators Update—will be officially released on April 11, according to a Microsoft announcement this week. Apparently, Windows Insiders can start to get early builds now and you’ll be able to manually download the update as of April 5. The new update is meant to be more of an incremental one, though it offers several new features and capabilities Windows users will appreciate.

From a fun, creative perspective, Windows 10 Creators Update includes a new 3D version of Paint which allows you to easily create 3D objects that, eventually, will be usable in augmented reality-type environments. Unfortunately, some of the promised new 3D, VR, and AR capabilities originally touted for this new version won’t be appearing for a while, including 3D support in Office and the low-cost (starting at $299) VR-capable headsets due from major PC players including Lenovo, HP, Dell, Acer, and Asus. Those headsets are now expected in the second half of the year. I’m guessing we’ll see some additional 3D, VR, and AR-focused software updates happening then as well.

For gamers, there are a number of new enhancements, including a built-in game broadcasting feature called Beam that will tap into the increasingly popular interest in live game streaming and chat functions. In addition, there’s a new Game Mode designed to optimize PC game performance.

On the browser front, Microsoft is including an updated version of their Edge browser that incorporates numerous security and anti-phishing features. In addition, with a newer generation PC, Edge will support 4K streaming from content sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime (with a 4K monitor, of course).

The new version of Windows 10 also has enhancements to privacy and security settings, an improved setup process, and more parental controls. One interesting new addition to multi-device security models is the ability to tie any smartphone—Android-based, iOS-based or Windows-based—to your PC and, when you walk away, it will automatically lock the PC. I expect to see more multi-device, multi-OS functionality coming in later versions of Windows (and, frankly, all major operating systems), but this is an important step in the right direction.

Overall, the Creators Update won’t dramatically drive new upgrades to Windows 10 from existing Windows 7 or 8 users, nor will it likely drive cross-platform switchers. It will, however, reassure Windows 10 users Microsoft is looking out for their interests and continuing to make updates that will keep their OS of choice fresh and new.

Apple Hires Boost Services Effort – by Ben Bajarin

The Information broke a story about a new hire at Apple, a former YouTube exec, who is coming in to lead their services efforts under Eddie Cue. A short snippet from the post:

Apple has hired Shiva Rajaraman, a veteran product manager from YouTube and Spotify, to help shape the company’s video strategy, according to three people briefed on the hiring. Mr. Rajaraman is the latest in a string of outsiders Apple has hired in recent months to strengthen its position in video, where it lags rivals like Amazon.com and Netflix.

Mr. Rajaraman will also be working on the look and feel of Apple Music, Spotify’s top rival, as well as on Apple’s other media products, including news and books. He’ll report to Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services.

While this sounds like it has a video angle, it looks more like a larger services push across the diverse set of Apple offerings. That being said, Apple’s video efforts are still the most unsettled and in need of some form of strategy going forward. This move is encouraging as the services equation become more important to Apple’s overall business. There can only be upside to adding a seasoned person with expertise in cloud services to the Apple team.

Microsoft Stores Selling Customized Editions of Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ – By Carolina Milanesi

A day after the launch of the Galaxy S8/S8+, veteran ZDnet reporter Mary Jo Foley reported Microsoft had confirmed to her their stores will be selling customized versions of the new Samsung’s flagship phones. Mary Jo was told directly by Microsoft the phones sold in the stores will be activated right at the time of purchase, connected to wifi and automatically populated with Microsoft apps, including Office, OneDrive, Cortana, Outlook, and other Microsoft apps.

Considering the Microsoft Edition devices will retail for $749.99 and $849.99 for the Galaxy S8 and S8+, respectively, I very much doubt they will generate many extra sales for Samsung. Yet, the announcement is significant because it provides a platform for Samsung to show its newly launched DeX solution that allows Galaxy S8/S8+ to be docked and run Office as well as Android apps on a larger screen.

For enterprise, the partnership gives weight to the solution which might be interesting for organizations who have a highly mobile workforce and who are looking at lowering management costs of multiple devices while not compromising productivity on the go.

For Microsoft, DeX offers a good solution for users to be engaged with Office and other apps on the go for those enterprises who are not looking at addressing mobility needs by issuing tablets or 2-in-1s to their workforce.

DeX is not a desktop or even a laptop replacement, so there is only a limited impact on other Microsoft hardware partners. This is really a solution for those users that currently would not take a laptop with them but would instead struggle working from their phones or postpone their work till they got to their PC.

All in all, this seems like a win-win for everyone involved.