Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Microsoft 3D revolution may change how millions do things

First, a poetic 2.5-hour-long audio by Brian Greene, Paul Rudd, and a few others explaining why "Light Falls" according to general relativity and what was the romantic relationship between Einstein and Greene's mother, among other things. On the Amazon page, you may register at Audible for free and get 2 audiobooks. After 1 month, if you want to continue, the membership is $15/month.

Apple, Google, and Microsoft are three global companies with the highest capitalization today, sitting at $0.63, $0.57, and $0.46 trillion, respectively. Because I watched an Apple event a month ago, I decided it would be unfair to skip the Microsoft event today (the recorded video is already there, along with pages dedicated to the products).

It was mostly about 3D (and gamers' interactions) and I was impressed. Lots of very cool 3D procedures and tools will become highly accessible very soon.

The Spring 2017 update of Windows 10 will be the "Creators Edition". And they want the people to create in 3D. So lots of old programs – such as Paint and PowerPoint – will encourage you to create 3D models all the time.

So the old "Paint" program will be superseded with "Paint 3D". You may combine 3D models, turn them, paint ink on the surface of all the models, stick 2D textures on them. Resulting 3D objects may be added to PowerPoint presentations, along with the right orientations and cool animations/transitions.

Devices which allow you to deal with holograms (?) will start at $299 which is extremely cheap.

You will be able to scan 3D objects. For some reasons, they picked a sand castle. HP Elite x3 (the top Windows 10 mobile phone at this moment) was able to use the camera to "scan" the sand castle in 3D. The result was a model that can be seen from all directions.

Instead of a 3D castle, you could probably scan an attractive woman you see somewhere (or a Ferrari car if the user is gay). And print it or her on your 3D printer at home. Share it or her (this "it or her" is meant to be politically correct, just like "he or she"). The 3D images and animations that will become rather possible may be used to make many presentations etc. much more professional.

The Microsoft folks noticed that lots of kids are playing Minecraft. So Minecraft is one of the "big templates" for the 3D revolution they want to make, along with SketchUp, a traditional program to create full-fledged continuous 3D models. Microsoft has teamed up with both.

In a segment of the Microsoft event, we were shown virtual holotours in Rome etc. A guy also had a 3D desktop near a virtual beach. A wall with a big soccer TV is standing on the left side of the beach. If he wants to run Skype, he just climbs the stairs to the 64th floor of his virtual skyscraper near the beach, and hits the Skype 3D icon with his hand. You may imagine that it becomes much easier to run applications. ;-)

Direct sharing of documents and gaming

When you play games (I think that the label Xbox is now supposed to cover all Microsoft-sponsored gaming), you may easily broadcast your game to the Internet. They may give you hints what to do – interact with you – especially if they want to recommend you to take an expensive car off the road and damage it. You won't need any special software to air the gameplay in Windows 10 Creators Edition.

Also, in this update of Windows 10, it becomes simpler to send objects of any type to other people. One "drag and drop" is enough to send anything.

Given the fact that 400 million Windows 10 devices are around and they will be able to use all these things, we may start to see the new 3D tools and other things frequently.

Starting from Spring 2017, if you're a professor giving a lecture, you should figure out which of your students is able to create cool presentations with 3D objects and transitions, among other things. In this way, you will surely be able to increase the Wow effect dramatically. I hope that some people will still care about the new beef, too. ;-)

New devices

Panos Panay came 65 minutes after the event began – to present new Microsoft devices. Microsoft's top laptop, the Surface Book presented during the last event, is the highest-rated tablet or notebook by its users in the world. Panos made it clear that he understands what people want. They still want higher frame rates, lower lag, and longer battery life.

The 2nd generation of Surface Book was revealed, expected to cost $1,499. (Surface Pro 4 costs $899.) It doubles many parameters relatively to the first Surface Book. Fans were rearranged. Much more battery mass was added. The new Surface Book promises 16 hours of work which starts to be acceptable.

Panos was talking dramatically before he introduced a qualitatively new product. People were surely waiting impatiently and so was I. It could have been e.g. the Surface Phone. Instead, it was the $2,999 Surface Studio, a nice new "big yet thin TV only" PC. (The LCD inside is 1.3 mm thin, the new world record, and the total width is some 12 mm.) I suppose that you should control it with gestures etc., not a keyboard. 28-inch touchscreen has 13.5 megapixels, 3:2 aspect ratio. Panos boasts that it has the purest colors.

Print preview is "perfect", including the size: the paper size on the screen perfectly matches the real paper. Microsoft has been finally able to measure both the length of papers and screens. ;-) The legs on which the product stands are either reflective or invisible or silent or they don't distract you and I didn't really understand this hype. (Later, I at least understood that the 13 pounds screen is being moved by some "weightless" mechanics.) Panos asked Cortana to add a gift to his wife; I didn't understand what it had to do with the product. Can't Cortana always do it? Studio has a good mic and webcam...

The symphony created by a Surface sounds cool.

Surface Studio wants to devour you. You may sleep on it. You won't distinguish it from a real pillow or another object. The Surface Pen knows that when you scribble, you want to highlight or erase a paragraph. The pen can even write handwritten letters. They also revealed Surface Dial, a cylindrical paperweight that is meant to revolutionize creation as much as the mouse did. I didn't understand how to use it much – it was zooming areas underneath, I think. A visual artist promoted black-and-white scribbles to an animated 3D-style colorful movie rather easily.

Satya Nadella summarized the event by saying that in the recent decade, the progress in information technologies was serving the stupid losers who consume and devour things but the next decade will belong to the ingenious creators such as the players of Minecraft. (The quote isn't precise but it's close enough LOL.) I totally agree that the focus on the "mostly passive" users of the technology has been too strong and it's time to reverse the trend.

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