Not to be outdone by other companies this holiday season, Microsoft held a special event this morning that showed off a number of the company’s newest announcements, including a Surface Pro model that comes with an attached keyboard, as well as more information on its innovative HoloLens technology, which will soon be available to developers.
Microsoft’s major announcements:
- First up, Microsoft discussed its Xbox One console. Microsoft has introduced a number of bundles over the past month set to arrive this holiday season (including those devoted to the Xbox One Elite controller, Halo 5: Guardians and the just-announced Fallout 4 bundle), and several games were featured, including the upcoming Rise of the Tomb Raider, a high-profile sequel that will be an Xbox One exclusive for at least the next year. A new trailer was also released, and is featured below. Expect plenty of hype for both Halo and Tomb Raider leading into the holiday season.
- HoloLens, an impressive virtual technology that was introduced earlier this year during the company’s E3 press conference, is building up steam. A new demonstration showcased just how deep gaming can be with the device, particularly Project Xray, a game where users interact with a “mixed reality robot.” Although a release date and price weren’t given yet, development kits are set to make the rounds in early 2016, going for $3,000. (The consumer price and release date has not been announced, but hopefully the price is going to be less than this.)
- Microsoft then re-introduced the Microsoft Band, a tool that will help those performing athletic feats to keep track of their body through a series of measurements. It looks custom built for those looking to get the most out of their workouts, but also comes with support from other companies like Uber, Twitter and Subway, opening up its capabilities outside of exercising. It will also coordinate with a Health app on Windows 10 that keeps track of progress and other activity. This device will release on October 30th for $249, and should get quite a bit of hype from Microsoft between online advertising and promotion within its Microsoft Stores.
- Two new Lumia smartphones, the 950 and 950 XL, were introduced, with 5.2 and 5.7 inch displays, respectively. Each will have 32GB of storage, with USB Type-C connective technology. The models will sell for $549 and $649 and be available both online and in stores this November. They should get a moderate amount of hype, but not as much as, say, Apple with the iPhone 6S. The Lumia 550 will also see a price drop down to $139, starting this December. The key feature for these smartphones is their ability to connect to an external monitor and keyboard through a small adapter, making them functional as a full Windows 10 device (albeit ARM-processor based, so not compatible will all Intel-based Windows 10 applications).
- The Surface line has produced $3.5 billion in business for Microsoft, so, of course, it wants to keep a good thing going especially since 98 percent of those that use a Surface Pro device recommend it. With that, it introduced the Surface Pro 4, with improved visual technology, faster processing (by 30 percent over the Surface Pro 3) and other features, as well as its own Microsoft Pen, which features “1,024 points of pressure.” The separately sold keyboard will also have improvements, including a bigger trackpad and larger space to type, as well as new colors. Pre-orders for the device will open up October 7th, ahead of its October 26th release, where it’ll sell for $899. Microsoft will hype this one heavily, including potential TV advertisements.
- Finally, another Surface model was introduced, this time a devoted laptop called SurfaceBook, featuring an incredible display (6 million pixels and 267 PPI) at 13.5 inches, along with backlit keys and 12 hours of battery life, as well as a detachable screen. It’s set to release on the same day as the Surface Pro 4, October 26th, starting at $1499. It’ll probably get its fair share of advertising as well, probably coinciding with the Pro 4.
Overall, Microsoft looks like it’s serious about not only its gaming side of things (where it’s attempting to catch up with Sony’s PlayStation 4), but also computer technology, where it’s brushing elbows with the likes of Apple. If it can get the right advertising program in place, and spread word of mouth across social media in terms of how impressive it is, it could have a very good holiday season.