Thursday was a bit of a day for Microsoft. They’ve had an OS update drop, the launch of an experimental new piece of hardware and the announcement of some updated kit. Check it all out after the jump.
Windows 10 Fall Creator’s Update
Accessibility is the watchword on Windows 10’s latest Creator Update with the introduction of Eye Control. The purpose of this new tech is to allow people with disabilities that prevent them from using a mouse or pointing device to control their computer using only their eyes. In concert with programs like Tobii Eye Tracker, users can manipulate an on-screen mouse, keyboard and text-to-speech tools. While this mode is still in beta, it’s already one of the update’s more interesting features.
Those living with dyslexia and other learning difficulties will find the Learning Tools. Text can now be highlighted and converted to text to speech in web browsers and PDFs to allow greater comprehension. A new Narrator can now describe images on screen for vision impaired users, Colour Filters can help colour blind users to better tweak the OS to taste and that’s still not all of it.
Top stuff, Microsoft.
Microsoft’s attempt at bringing game streaming in-house, Mixer, has recently launched on the Xbox One but now has a home on Windows 10 as well. The one drawback of Mixer is that it’s entirely insular — it doesn’t connect to external streaming services like Twitch or YouTube Gaming, which may limit its popularity somewhat. Whether it will have the uptake that Microsoft is hoping for remains to be seen. You can grab the app on iOS and Android to watch along with your fave Xbox or Windows Gaming streamers.
This is a bit of an interesting one, connected to Microsoft’s Hololens tech. Mixed Reality headsets, specialising in AR overlays for home and business have arrived in Australia. Most major brands have one of their own, including Acer, HP, Lenovo and Dell, all of which are available now. Samsung have got one on the way too but you’ll have to wait a little longer for that one.
Surface Book 2
Microsoft has a pretty clear vision for what they think the laptop will look like moving into the future, and the Surface Book 2 is it. A now-familiar foldable 2-in-1 laptop/tablet hybrid, the Surface Book 2 packs quite a bit of power into a unit that weights only 1.9kg in the 15″ model.
While Microsoft is happy to talk on their blog about how powerful these new machines are and offer some general ideas of the specs involved, they’re not really going into much detail. There’s 8th Gen Intel Core processors which is a given, and the store page reveals Intel Core i5 and i7 processors in dual- and quad-core variants, but curiously no clock speeds. Further, there are listings for built-in “Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 and 1060 discrete graphics options” though no indicator if these are the mobile cards or not, and no indicator of available VRAM. We’re sure it’s fine, but when your marketing copy is going on about how powerful your machine is, it’s a bit odd not to put that information on front-street.
There’s also a bold claim of 17 hours of battery life running video playback and we’ll be very keen to put that one to the test. If true, that’s quite a bit more than the current range of MacBook Pros. So far, the Surface Book 2 hasn’t been made available for pre-order — that starts November 9 in the US and select markets with deliveries expected to begin on November 16.