Microsoft, riding a global wave of 500 million active users of Windows 10 devices, provided attendees at the company’s CES Asia keynote a sweeping view of the market impact of Windows 10 and what devices and applications the technology touches and will touch in future.
Peter Han, Microsoft’s vice president, Partner Devices & Solutions, provided a context for the discussion, saying that 245 million Windows 10 devices had shipped over the past year and that the company had clocked a 19 percent growth in premium Windows 10 PC sales and 145 million Cortana active users each month. There’s a strong pull among serious gamers for Windows 10 devices as well, he added, citing a 500 percent year-over-year increase in gaming devices running on Windows 10.
Han cited six product categories impacted by Windows 10: premium PCs; mainstream PCs ranging in price from $300 to $800; entry-level devices under $300; the Windows Pro collection for small-to-medium business use; gaming PCs combining Xbox functionality; and Windows mixed-reality headsets.
Applications range widely, and include use in PCs like the Panasonic Toughbook CF-33 2-in-1, part of a line that’s been in the market for over 20 years. It’s ultra-ruggedized (Han dropped it onstage from a height of about four feet to prove the point) and built to handle hot-swappable batteries. They also include several gaming-optimized PCs from suppliers that, due to Windows 10, are compatible with software titles that adhere to the company’s “Xbox Play Anywhere” protocol, which permits uninterrupted device-hopping play from an Xbox game console to a Windows 10 PC. “We predict that over 40 percent of Xbox growth will come from beyond the console,” Han stated.
Han also said that a grouping of products from Microsoft hardware partners will take advantage of Windows Mixed Reality, which blends real-world and virtual content for its interactive experience. He said that six OEMs – Asus, Dell, Acer, HP, 3Glasses and Lenovo – are prepping models scheduled to be available in time for the holidays. He alluded to practical applications of the technology, “It’s consumer first,” Han said, “but also fit for commercial use.” Han cited Japan Airlines, which is using the technology to teach mechanics how to work on jet engine repair before they ever get hands-on with an actual engine.
Han also pointed to products to come that incorporate Cortana voice-activation compatibility, including Harman Kardon’s Invoke premium omnidirectional speaker, and HP’s Digital Assistant, which was unveiled at the recent Computex 2017 show.