Our predictions for Microsoft in 2018

Windows 10 Cloud Wallpaper
Windows 10 Cloud Wallpaper (Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft logo

Microsoft logo (Image credit: Windows Central)

With just a couple of week to go, 2017 is winding down, and sights are beginning to be set on the new year ahead. 2017 was an exciting year for Microsoft. With creators being at the forefront of Windows updates, Microsoft establishing itself in the laptop category with Surface Laptop, and desktop apps coming to the Microsoft Store on a much larger scale; It's been an incredibly busy year. But now it's time to look to the future and predict what 2018 will bring within the Microsoft realm.

Microsoft software

Let's start with Windows 10. I suspect that in 2018, Microsoft will focus a lot on being productive within Windows. We already know features like Timeline and Cloud Clipboard will help us be more productive across devices, and I suspect that trend will continue with features like Windows Sets. My first bold prediction is that Microsoft will call Redstone 4 the "Windows 10 Productivity Update" given the sudden focus on building features that keep us more productive.

On the surface, I anticipate Microsoft will continue to clean-up the UI in Windows 10 throughout 2018. Fluent Design is already well in-effect with the latest Redstone 4 Insider Preview builds, and that trend will only continue throughout 2018. In fact, with Redstone 5, I predict Microsoft will start taking some bolder risks with design; removing older, legacy features and behaviors in favor of a more minimalist approach to certain things.

For example, I wouldn't be surprised to see Microsoft redesign the System Tray, giving it a more minimal appearance and moving a lot of the excess stuff into a new Control Center area. This Control Center is something we've written about before, and according to our sources is now part of a much bigger effort. It'll include things like quick-actions, possibly tray icons, a volume slider, and even HomeHub functions that can be configured. I also suspect we'll see some big changes to the Start menu, including improved customization options.

I predict that in 2018 we'll finally see Microsoft separate Cortana from the dedicated search function in Windows 10. Many users dislike how Cortana is integrated with search, and in 2018 I suspect Microsoft will finally do something about this. Microsoft will move Cortana into the Action Center, with quick access to a chat-based Cortana UI directly from the newly designed System Tray, leaving the dedicated search bar for search only.

Speaking of Cortana, I suspect Microsoft will finally start focusing on the Windows-based AI assistant in 2018, building new smart-AI features and improvements, and possibly bringing it to new markets. It's been a while since Cortana received any significant updates, so we'll be well-overdue some kind of improvement in 2018.

Of course, an obvious one to expect in 2018 is a brand new version of Office, as Microsoft has already announced that Office 2019 will be available in the second half of next year. I suspect Office 2019 will bring an updated design, likely featuring Fluent Design elements and connected animations for a more beautiful user-experience. That's assuming Microsoft can get Fluent Design working within Win32 programs in time.

Existing Windows 10 Mobile handsets will continue to be left on the backburner, with even less support throughout 2018. We're already getting the cold shoulder from Microsoft officials when asked about future updates, and I don't expect this situation to improve in 2018. The platform will continue to fall further behind the rest of Windows 10, and eventually be left in the cold just like Windows RT.

Regarding Windows Core OS and CShell, I suspect both of these will be ready in some capacity in 2018. I don't expect to see it on Windows desktop, but I'm relatively confident Windows Core OS and CShell will be ready in 2018 for Microsoft's rumored foldable dual-screened device. The foldable device will likely be Microsoft's first product to ship with a version of Windows 10 built with Windows Core OS and rocking CShell.

Microsoft hardware

Concept image via David Breyer.

Concept image via David Breyer.

Speaking of Microsoft's foldable device, I continue to hear that this device is pegged for launch sometime in 2018. If so, I predict it'll be released in the second-half of 2018, likely towards the end of the year to give Microsoft as much time as possible to perfect the product before launch. The device will be portable, with two screens, pen support, and even telephony capabilities.

Also in 2018, I anticipate we'll see a refreshed Surface Studio with updated specifications, and maybe even a SKU that's a little more affordable as to make the product more accessible to a wider audience. To many, the original Surface Studio was just too expensive, so hopefully, Microsoft will create a version that's more affordable in 2018. Also, and this is an obvious one; Microsoft will adopt USB-C in some capacity on all future Surface products. We may also see a new, more powerful Surface Dock in 2018 too.

It's possible that we'll also see a new Surface Hub, running a brand new version of Windows 10, utilizing CShell and built with Windows Core OS. In fact, it may even have tie-ins with Microsoft's foldable device. Similarly, this project, like the foldable device, may find itself slipping in 2019, however. I don't expect we'll see any major updates to the Surface Pro, Surface Laptop or Surface Book in 2018, as those products were only just recently updated or announced. I also don't think we'll see any new non-pro Surface 4 device in 2018 either.

Many suspect we won't hear anything about Microsoft's next head mounted display until 2019, but Alex Kipman said back in October that head mounted displays that can do both virtual and augmented reality aren't too far into the future. Perhaps something along those lines will make an appearance in 2018?

Regarding Xbox, I've not heard of any new products on the horizon for 2018. I do know Microsoft is working on a new Xbox product codenamed Scarlett, but whether Microsoft is planning to release it next year is unknown. We also don't know much about the Scarlett project itself, so we're going to keep digging for information on that.

What do you predict?

That's our predictions for 2018, but we want to know what you're predicting will happen next year in the realm of Microsoft news! Let us know in the comments.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

145 Comments
  • I predict that Microsoft will miss the boat with its foldable device its been slow to react to the market before and its sales team have been pretty slack. With regards to MS mobile fan have its a shame you seem to be dumping us would it not be better to keep us a little happy so any future device with telephone would have a kick start and an additional sales force to help market the new device.
  • What "boat" will MS miss and what market will it be slow to react to?
  • This boat.... https://www.gizmochina.com/2017/11/25/apple-files-patent-foldable-display/
  • Microsoft is well ahead of that boat!
  • Under new leadership that has not failed at anything you've mentioned so far.. So, it's safe to say that it could go any way.
    ......
    Might as well stay positive, and wish for the best, at this point.
  • They're not slow to react to the market and they're also not late to the game. They just had a history of throwing their weight around and finally their actions caught up with them. They had a (substantial) mobile presence before Apple entered the market with iOS. They had a major "generic" mobile presence before Android entered. Both those facts should've been enough to slow down iOS and destroy Android, but, they weren't! But, Microsoft's problem is that it is a rather unappealing company. Their own behavior created a lot of businesses who were well aware of the aphorism "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." For example, they have a long and rich history of holding OEMs hostage with Windows licensing restrictions. For decades now Microsoft forbids differentiating Windows so a Dell is pretty much the same as an HP as a Lenovo. The only thing they can differentiate on is form and customer service. And, for the longest time Microsoft charged substantial sums for Windows licenses. I'm sure Microsoft got a good cut from any Windows Phone sold in the early 2000's. It was only the rise of the Linux-toting 'sub notebook' in the mid to late-2000's that forced Microsoft's hands to reduce licensing fees for Windows XP. iOS and iPhone offered an integrated package and came from a company that did not have Microsoft's reputation. Android offered a licence free OS that allowed OEMs to enter the smart phone market and not pay a massive Microsoft tax on each and every device. On the consumer side Microsoft held back the evolution of the internet by many years by illegally using their monopoly to harm Netscape and privilege Internet Explorer. They paid three quarters of a billion dollar to Netscape for doing that. They also had a habit of gouging Office customers after they'd vanquished the competition. Now Microsoft Windows is playing a rear-guard game because they missed the mobile phone market, in no part due to their own history with consumers and OEMs. Apple offered an integrated solution from a company with a positive profile. Android offered freedom from Microsoft to OEMs. Microsoft no longer is controlled by Gates so perhaps they are no longer into abusing monopolies, but, their stance with Windows 10 S belies that--you may only ever use one search engine provided it's Bing. No other OS, mobile or desktop, has dared that kind of exclusionary behavior... so, if that's the "new" Microsoft Microsoft will continue to have challenges with the consumer market.
  • Wow! This is long. I'm going to have to read this when I get "back to work"😂😂😂
  • He is basically saying what I have been saying for a while now. Microsoft's reputation is starting to catch up to them. Their reputation combined with the challenges of selling a locked down platform have made them fail in mobile. They need some drastic changes if they want to become successful. You seen to want Microsoft to stay the course.
  • You know if I'm not reading his comment I'm not reading your BS.. All I can remember you typed was "he's basically some BS, then I stopped reading... You gotta have brain rot if you haven't learned by now...
  • So said the king of all bullshit.
  • Happy new year rodney...now,  run along...take your ball and go home.   I see you are plugging your ears screaming away again!
  • Reputation?
    I'm a Nexus user, I didn't care about WinPhone cause as a programmer, I don't think it will work. Whatever portable device they push, It has to be part of Win10 (PC, S), code once and run on both, one store, one market, one ecosystem. 2018, 2 devices lying before me.
    1. Android. (gets boring YoY tbh...)
    2. A device that can do XPA, has OneDrive on Demand, has Edge + extension, inking, able to do some photoshop, can do email, messenger, news reading, Youtube... I won't be able to write heavy games on this thing but I can prob do some light UWP programming.
    2nd one will be my pick. These things are not a phone. It's portable Win10PC, I see no competition tbh.
    xboxes, win10pc, win10s, win10arm, IOT, AR, MR are all accompany each other, do you think Apple or Google can enter Gaming market? Do you think Sony can bring their games to PC / portable PC market? 15 years ago my professor specifically told me to never work for MS, 10 years later I'd prefer Google (or Boston Dynamic), another 5 years... I think MS's actually pretty cool (esp after XPA, BC, FC announcement and Surface line products). They are on the right path unifying services and provide nice tools for developers, contribute to community (e.g. biggest contributor of GitHub), they also produce interesting HWs too.
    * Programming is my vocation. I got scouted before graduate from Uni (I was napping in the PC room and someone tapped my shoulder then began our interview), got scouted again before graduate from Master. Now I got scouted working in a major game studio.
  • Ya know, I enjoy reviewing projections related to the Microsoft ecosphere.  What I do not understand is why there are so many haters that have nothing better to do than hang around Microsoft related site and spew vitriol.
  • Trolls
  • WAAAAAHHHHH TRRRRRRROOOOOOOOOLLLLLLL!
  • Most of the "haters" here are former windows phone users who were burnt by MS again and again with their lies and bullcrap.   They are just bitter.   I did love my 1020,  and 950xl at the beginning,  but windows 10 mobile is useless to me now.   I do however,  LOVE MY WINDOWS COMPUTERS!  I have tried macOS 3 times and could not get used to it's backward, messed up logic of control functions.   Windows kills macOS and the market share shows this.  MS-DOS is a better operating system where you had to key in every command.  So,  thats the answer to your question.   I joke and kid.  but in all reality,  if this new foldable device comes to light,  I will more than likely own one.  Just Cause!
  • Do you think writing a big wall of text makes you sound smarter?  First of all, Gates had nothing to do with high license fees. The market just let them do that and now they can't afford that anymore. Android is not a license free OS. At least not the android that's popular. I don't know where you got that from. And Microsoft makes more money from Android devices fees than they ever made from windows phone. That Apple had not the same reputation than Microsoft doesn't even matter, because Microsoft may have had a bad reputation with their OEMs and not with the consumers. Apple does not have anything to do with Microsofts OEMs. They just provided, as you said,  a consumer friendly package. (And Windows Mobile was enterprise oriented, btw.)  What I agree with you is that their own behavior is hitting them back now, but their behavior after around 2010 and not from the time you are talking about. 
  • "Android offered freedom from Microsoft to OEMs".  Utter rubbish.  In 1979-80 Microsoft was the first company ever to port Unix to a microprocessor. As a consequence of this effort they own a number of patent rights that has been breached by Linux.  While Linux was free, Microsoft allowed its distribution without royalty obligations.  when Google hijacked the Linux kernel to build Android, this used Microsoft's IP in a commercial manner.  All Android OEMs must pay a license fee to Microsoft to use Android.  Google "misused" Microsoft's property and their OEMs had to pay.
  • You can't be late to a new market that you'll create
  • They haven't created any market besides the 2.in1s in which, others started to offer better products than their bugged Surface devices.
  • I want a  continue for windows mobile,Cshell ,Andromeda 
  • It has to have phone features or it would fail.
  • I think (mainly hope) there will be a refresh to the Xbox elite controller. I also think there will be some headway with Xbox one x and vr.
  • I just wish they'd bring some more shooters to X One 360 had hundreds and hundreds of quality shooters, X one by comparison is a desert. One of the main reasons this gen is coping a towelling from Sony......and that makes me cringe
  • I'll def want an Elite Bluetooth controller to go in my bag!
  • Whatever the case may be. it will be a long time before I buy any Microsoft devices. It is simply not worth the trouble of spending money and having Microsoft abandon the device without an consideration for their customers!
  • Not many companies have a longer Life Cycle Policy than Microsoft. 16 YEARS after Microsoft released XP, they still issued security f