Microsoft is putting an emphasis on the fact that Windows 10 can power all the devices in your life, hoping to have the operating system on 1 billion machines by 2018. Photo: MicrosoftDuring the first day of the Microsoft Build Developer Conference — the tech giant’s biggest event of the year when it comes to all things software — Windows chief Terry Myerson said Microsoft was aiming to have Windows 10 on 1 billion devices by 2018, a bold goal given the less-than-stellar uptake of Windows 8.

The fact that the new operating system is a step away from the “metro” interface that turned so many users off last time will certainly help but Microsoft still faces a circular problem when it comes to keeping its new operating systems relevant (users won’t convert or upgrade because they don’t think the software’s there; developers won’t make software because there are no users).

Making Windows 10 free for all current Windows users as well as forcing it onto devices such as the Surface tablet, Xbox One and Windows phones will make up some of the numbers but on Wednesday Microsoft showed it was also keen to sell its vision of a universal operating system to both users and developers who have moved to competing products. All-new browser gets an official name

After revealing in January that a brand new browser was in the works, and confirming later that it would effectively replace the increasingly shunned Internet Explorer, we finally have a new name for Windows 10’s default gateway to the web: Microsoft Edge.

A launch video showed off new features of the browser — previously referred to as Project Spartan — including digital ink for annotating and marking up web pages, deep integration with the Cortana digital assistant and a built-in reading list to keep track of interesting articles.

Keen-eyed observers of the event will have noticed the “Edge” name allows Microsoft to keep the infamous lower-case ‘e’ for its browser’s icon.

Microsoft also announced that developers would be able to repurpose their Chrome extensions to work with Microsoft Edge, which could possibly help the new browser hit the ground running when Windows 10 launches this year. Universal apps puts mobile on PC, PC on a phone

Software ubiquity is a big deal for Windows 10, with Microsoft claiming apps downloaded from its store will work across all your Windows devices seamlessly, be they PC, smartphone or tablet. This is a very powerful feature in theory but useless unless developers have a good reason to make apps for Windows.

To address this, Microsoft announced two new software development kits that allow apps designed for Android or iOS devices to be easily converted into a Windows 10 universal app. Essentially, if an app exists on iPhone, iPad or an Android device, the developer should be able to bring it to Windows PCs, tablets and smartphones without much hassle.

Microsoft also showed off how Continuum — the feature that ensures apps will adapt regardless of your screen size and whether you’re using a touch screen or more traditional hardware — will let you use a Windows 10 phone as a desktop machine. Connecting your smartphone to a monitor or TV will scale the apps out to appear closer to how they would be on a PC. The screen of the smartphone can be used as a proxy mouse and keyboard while docked in this way, or you could opt to connect physical input devices by Bluetooth. You could even watch a video or take a call on the phone while working on the connected screen. Hololens will allow you to stick Windows 10 apps on your wall

Earlier this year Microsoft introduced Hololens, an augmented reality headset that allowed data and computer graphics to appear and be manipulated by a user in the real world. At the time it appeared as though the headset would only run software designed specifically for it (which might have limited it to Microsoft-owned software like the demonstrated Minecraft and Skype), but now we know it will also be able to run any Windows universal app.

The apps will appear in a window just like they would on a PC, but they’ll float around like other virtual objects.You’ll will be able to interact with the windows using gestures and voice, move them around and pin them to walls or set them to follow you around. Such a system could give you easy access to your regular Windows apps and files in the literal background while you inspect 3D objects or appear virtually in a meeting at work.

In addition, Microsoft pointed out there was Hololens-specific software coming from partners including Disney, NASA and Autodesk, and showed off educational-style software that could be used to share and manipulate 3D graphics, like human anatomy for medical students.

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