Microsoft On September 4, Microsoft’s Nick Parker, VP of the OEM Division, will take the stage at IFA in Berlin to show off a myriad of new products, from Lumia handsets, to a new Surface Pro, to an updated Microsoft Band, to more details about HoloLens.
Up until now, the company has been focused on having a successful launch of Windows 10 — and it appears to have worked, with over 75 million users in a little under a month — but the focus is shifting to the devices that run the new operating system.
As part of Microsoft’s new strategy under Satya Nadella, all devices run a version of Windows 10, from the new Lumia smartphones, to HoloLens, to the Microsoft Band, and the Surface series. The implementation of these devices is very important because without them, there is nothing to make Windows 10 shine.
Here’s a run-down of what to expect on Friday:
New Lumia smartphones
@evleaks The big news at IFA is most likely going to be the new Lumia devices that Microsoft has been working on. Windows 10 Mobile is sorely lacking a flagship device to show off exactly how good the new operating system can be, and the last high-end Windows phone was the Lumia 930, released in July 2014.
The new phones, dubbed 950 and 950XL, have been the subject of multiple leaks over the past months, giving us a clear picture of exactly what Microsoft is planning.
As the name suggests, the 950XL is the larger of the two phones, with a 5.7-inch display, placing it slightly above the iPhone 6 Plus but below many high-end Android phones. The 950 isn’t small, however, with a 5.2-inch display that is half-an-inch bigger than the iPhone 6.
In keeping with the Lumia heritage, both devices feature big cameras — so big, in fact, that they require a slight bulge on the back of the device to accommodate them. While no test shots have been shown, it’s safe to assume that Microsoft has spent time considering how to make the best camera phone on the market and this will be a major selling point of the 950 series.
Matt Weinberger As the most prominent device in the Windows Holographic initiative, HoloLens is a trail-blazer for the kind of projects Microsoft wishes to explore under the leadership of Satya Nadella. By combining what the company knows — in this case Windows 10 — with experimental technologies like holograms, Redmond has the potential to create a device that is unmatched by its rivals at Apple, Google, Amazon, or Samsung.
In a recent interview, Nadella described HoloLens as a “five year journey” for Microsoft that would start out as a commercial project and, gradually, expand to become something that consumers can use. The demos have, thus far, focused predominantly on enterprise uses, such as building firms that can “create” buildings with Windows Holographic.
The IFA keynote could see some new details of HoloLens shown, as the company is keen to keep people interested in the more “moonshot” aspects of the business. It’s highly unlikely we will see a price, release date or anything pertaining to real-world information from Microsoft, however.
AFP PHOTO/Jeff Christensen Microsoft’s Xbox One Insiders received an advanced copy of the Windows 10 update in early September that introduced Cortana, the virtual assistant, and TV DVR functionality to the console.
Nadella’s strategy of putting Windows 10 on every device extends to Xbox, meaning that the console may get some time on stage at IFA. Coincidentally, Apple is also holding an event on September 9 that, if the rumours prove correct, could see an updated Apple TV with a focus on gaming.
The war for the living room — a place that millions of people spend hours of their day — is hotting up among tech giants, with a myriad of different efforts to win the most attention from users, whether that is via TV, a “second screen,” or gaming.
Pushing Xbox as an all-inclusive option for the living room could bolster Microsoft’s efforts to regain some name recognition with consumers and would get the company’s new services, such as Cortana, into the hands of millions more people.
Microsoft One of the more seemingly insignificant hardware introductions during Nadella’s tenure as CEO is the Microsoft Band, a device that measured various fitness-related vitals. The Band runs Windows 10, however, which makes it strategically interesting.
The first Band was universally shunned by critics for being too bulky and lacking in features. The Band 2 will almost certainly improve upon these key areas while also furthering Microsoft’s mission to spread Windows 10 to as many devices as possible.
The Band is currently priced at £170 ($199) while the equivalent Fitbit costs just £80 ($120), so expect to see a price drop, added features, and a less bulky design.
Surface Pro 4
Microsoft The Surface Pro 4 has been in the works for a while now and IFA may be the first time we get to see the new device. However, rumours are also pointing to a dedicated October event so it may not make it onto the list of things to show off.
If the device is shown off, it’s unlikely that any specific details — release date and price — will be announced, as the hardware may not be in production yet due to the potential inclusion of Intel’s new Skylake processor.
The Surface Pro has long been the hallmark of Windows-based computer design — so much so that Lenovo has produced an identical clone — and, with the release of Windows 10, Microsoft may be wanting to inspire manufacturers to compete with the likes of Apple on design, and unveiling a new Surface could be the perfect way to do that.