In case you haven't heard, a major aesthetic and functional update is right around the corner for Windows users. The PC operating system is well-known for making dramatic changes to its user-experience, unlike OSX, which has remained mostly unchanged in style for the last decade. Microsoft has kept the major changes coming in Windows 10 mostly under wraps for now, but a leaked consumer build hit the web this morning and reveals some features that should catch the attention of gamers...
With Microsoft's push to integrate computer, mobile device, and gaming features lately it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the Halo-inspired Cortana AI will be a part of the new operation system update. The AI was confirmed as a feature earlier this month, but the leaked demo actually shows where Cortana will live on our home PCs. The AI will sit at the top of the search interface in Windows 10, where she will respond to text or voice commands. Aside from the addition of semi-reliable voice searches, the feature isn't all that different than OSX's Spotlight searches.
The searches function very similar to the way they do on Windows' phones, so if you already own one of those, you are likely familiar with Microsoft's spin on Siri. Like on mobile devices, Cortana is able to access a user's notebook or reminders app to help keep their lives in order. The preview build is clearly still not finished, so we expect to see some more desktop specific features available by the time the consumer product launches. Thanks to The Verge for the images.
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No matter how well Cortana ends up working, the feature will inevitably be brushed off as a gimmick by some portion of Windows users. In terms of potentially more practical features, the leak also gives us a sneak peek at the Xbox Live app in Windows 10. The app looks like it will offer users a way to access all of their Xbox Live information without actually turning on a console. Features include friends list, activity feeds, achievements, and the store.
The app may not sound too exciting at first, but it will likely offer some very practical features. The opportunity to login to Xbox Live and claim a limited deal or check on your digital collection is something that many Steam and Battle.net users already use all the time. Checking on your activity feed while you're stuck at work and your friends are at home gaming may be a little bit masochistic, but there's no doubt that some gamers won't be able to help themselves.
With a this talk and little to show so far about Microsoft's PC gaming efforts on Windows and Xbox boss Phil Spencer teasing something cool for PC gamers at the Windows 10 preview event in January, maybe Windows 10 will integrate with the Xbox gaming platform in a big way. It's crazy to think that the latest Halo titles can't be played on Microsoft's own PC OS and this lead to doors opening for PC-Xbox cross-platform play and beyond. Maybe that's all wishful thinking at this point.
In non-gaming related news, the leak also offered a first glimpse at some of the new operating system's other changes. Tweaks have been made to the onboard calculator, the TaskView, and the Control Panel. The changes are mostly aesthetic and don't look like they will cause too much confusion for users who are hesitant about change after some of Microsoft's ill-received updates in recent years.
With a visual overhaul arriving on PCs, it's only a matter of time before something similar is patched in on the Xbox One. One of the biggest complaints about the console since its launch has been the clunky user interface and considering how quickly Microsoft has fixed other complaints about the console, we're surprised the company hasn't tackled this one yet. The tiled layout seems much more logical on touch-based mobile devices and the Kinect motion controls just aren't reliable enough to make them a natural way to get around the dashboard. For now, the voice commands work fine, but with many consumers buying Kinect-less Xbox Ones this holiday season, that's not an option for everyone...
What do you think of the Xbox App and Cortana feature in Windows 10? Do you think the Xbox One dashboard needs an overhaul? Let us know in the comments.
Follow Denny on Twitter @The_DFC.
Source: The Verge