Commentary

Microsoft Gets Creative With Innovative PC, OS Update & More

Microsoft put on a display in Manhattan yesterday — to be precise, its new Surface Studio desktop PC sports a thin, 28-inch, high-resolution touchscreen with a zero-gravity hinge that allows the machine to lay out at a 20-degree angle. Bottom line: The enabler of Excel spreadsheets and Word memos is going after creative types. Indeed, Uncle Satya wants you.

“We want the artists, the musicians, the architects, the students, the gamers, the builders, the makers — everyone who creates, all of us — to help bring this mixed-reality medium to life,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said at the two-hour event, CNET’s Joan E. Solsman reports.

“The company unveiled multiple creative-minded products at its keynote today, including a major Windows 10 upgrade called the ‘Creators Update,” Ashley Carman and Chaim Gartenberg write for The Verge

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The upgrade “is aimed at responding to the interest in 3D imagery inspired by new technologies like virtual reality. The company demonstrated how a 3D image of a sand castle can easily be captured on a smartphone and then edited into a greeting card on Windows 10 with a new application that comes with the software,” Nick Wingfield reports for the New York Times.

Most of the reveals “were about advancing into the future, but Microsoft also stayed true to its roots with an update to Paint,” write Carman and Gartenberg before offering a quick take on other highlights from the event, including VR headsets for Windows 10, the Surface Book i7 with 16 hours of battery life, Xbox live streaming and Surface Dial, a hockey-puck-like device that “provides haptic feedback and users twist it to select items from an on-screen menu — for example, a color picker.”

Microsoft’s Nadella is “aiming for a paradigm shift in the very purpose of technology. Time to stop gobbling it down and to start cranking it out,” writes Marco della Cava for USA Today.

“The last 10 years have seen a lot of innovation indexed largely toward content consumption,” Nadella tells della Cava in an interview. “But the next 10 will be indexed toward content generation. It’ll be about what we can create.”

Getting back to the Surface Studio, a Slate headline on Will Oremus’ story goes so far as to call and respond: “Remember When the PC Was Dying? It's Making a Comeback.” 

“At first blush, the design brings to mind Apple’s iMac, though the differences are apparent soon enough, and not just because Surface runs Windows 10 and Macs run macOS Sierra,” writes Edward C. Baig for USA Today. “For starters, you can push down on the Surface Studio and, via its zero-gravity hinge, angle it at 20-degrees and effectively turn it into a drafting surface.”

At that point, you can start using the Surface Pen to also draw or write directly on the screen, as Mike Krahulik, the artist behind the Penny Arcade webcomic, has been doing for a week, writes Peter Bright For Ars Technica, “and for him it is a tremendously valuable, versatile device. The ability to transform from a regular computer to a drafting table is not merely some gimmick … Krahulik described the Studio as his dream computer.”

You can, of course, use the screen in its normal position for more conventional pursuits such as perusing Google News for the latest WikiLeak or checking how many likes that picture of your Halloween decorations is getting in realtime. 

“The new Microsoft PC will not be for everyone, though, if only because of its $2,999 price tag. It will go on sale in limited quantities this holiday season,” the NYT’s Wingfield writes. And fully loaded, it will cost $4,199.

Slate’s Oremus goes on the say that “whether the Surface Studio sells in large numbers remains to be seen, but it feels like a coup for Microsoft regardless. It was just the type of delightful surprise that the technology industry used to expect from Apple, and it shows Microsoft competing on innovation and quality rather than price and compatibility.”

“Microsoft has needed a rallying point for a set of efforts around consumer use cases, and it appears to have decided on creativity as the catchphrase for this push,” said Jan Dawson, an analyst at Jackdaw Research, tell CNET’s Solsman.

So silence those inner critics, y’all, and get those creative juices flowing.

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