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What we expect to see from Windows 10 in 2017

2017 is finally here, and we think it's going to be a big year for Windows 10. Microsoft made several announcements last year about Windows 10 that should begin showing up in 2017. There were also several things not officially announced, such as Project NEON, that will also begin showing up in 2017. Here's are the biggest things we expect to see from Windows 10 this year.

Before we begin, keep in mind this isn't an all-inclusive list of everything that should show up in 2017. We're sure there will be a lot more things showing up in Windows 10 throughout 2017, things that have been announced and things that haven't. 2017 will be an exciting year for Windows 10 users, and we can't wait to see everything that's coming!

Project NEON

As we exclusively revealed late last year, Microsoft is working on an improved design language for Windows 10 that aims to add some flair to the currently static design that we know in Windows 10 today. Although not an incredibly major design overhaul, it's still enough to get excited about, as Microsoft is planning to streamline their design across all their apps and software, and provide better UX guidelines to developers.

One goal for the new design language is for it to work universally across all Windows devices and platforms. Right now, there's somewhat of an inconsistency between the designs used on Xbox, HoloLens and Windows 10. The apps, for the most part are the same, but the Shell and other OS elements aren't. Microsoft wants to combat this with Project NEON, which is great for keeping consistency across devices.

We're expecting the bulk of this design refresh to show up with Redstone 3 in 2017, with some apps such as Groove Music already featuring early Project NEON elements. We think Project NEON will be a big deal for Windows 10 later in 2017, and we can't wait to see it in action.

Big Cortana Push

We're expecting to see Cortana find its way into more products and devices this year, with Microsoft eager to get the virtual assistant into cars, smart-connected devices, VR/AR devices, and more. We already know Microsoft is planning to build Cortana into the set-up experience on Windows 10, and it's unlikely they're going to stop there.

Cortana will find its way into more apps and services, and will be a star-feature when Home Hub eventually shows up. Because of this, it's likely we'll see Cortana roll out to more markets throughout 2017, something I see Insiders constantly asking for in the Feedback Hub.

Microsoft is enabling Cortana on IoT devices with the Creators Update, which is the first major stepping stone in getting the feature out on all kinds of interesting and unique devices. Harman-Kardon has already teased a Cortana-enabled speaker, similar to the Amazon Echo, and Nissan/Renault just last week announced their Cortana in the car initiative.

We'll also see Microsoft continue to update and improve Cortana on iOS and Android, two major platforms that will play a big role in getting users into the Cortana/Microsoft ecosystem. Windows 10 Mobile users won't be left in the cold, as 95% of the Cortana features that show up on Windows 10 desktops also come to phone.

Windows 10 on ARM

We already know that Microsoft will be pushing Windows 10 on ARM in 2017, which means we should expect to see new, unique and innovative devices from hardware makers running full Windows 10, with incredible battery life and Win32 emulation. We're not expecting Microsoft to show off a Surface phone in 2017, but never-say never. When a Surface phone does eventually show up, we wouldn't be surprised if it was running full Windows 10 for ARM.

Home Hub will likely benefit from Windows 10 ARM, as well as Intel chips of course. Home Hub devices will come in all shapes and sizes, and will be great for controlling your smart-home and using voice-assistance around the house.

Widnows 10 Mobile Continuum

Widnows 10 Mobile Continuum (Image credit: Windows Central)

We definitely won't see Microsoft quit the mobile industry in 2017, something many have been expecting the company to do. Windows 10 Mobile will continue receiving updates, which should come as no surprise if you're familiar with the "One Windows" prospect Microsoft has going right now. Continuum is in-line to receive some much needed improvements, bringing windowed apps and an a more familiar desktop experience to phones.

We should also see Project NEON show up on phones as well, which is to be expected as apps that are updated with NEON designs will likely be universal and run on phones. We do think that over time, Windows 10 Mobile will turn into the "low-end" option for hardware makers, as high-end smartphones will likely want to run full Windows 10 on ARM. Regardless, the experiences will be the same, with Windows 10 Mobile being an excellent, light-weight option for devices.

Holographic Shell

Microsoft will be introducing the Holographic Shell for Virtual-Reality headsets in 2017, opening the door to a whole new market of devices powered by Windows 10. The Holographic Shell looks and behaves similarly to the shell found on HoloLens, and that's because for the most part, it is the same.

The only difference between the HoloLens shell and the Holographic Shell for VR is that the shell in the VR world will be displayed in a virtual environment, rather obviously. You should still be able to interact with the familiar Holo UI, run apps and experience 3D created objects with 3D paint.

What's more, unlike HoloLens, VR devices powered by Windows 10 will be much more affordable, even more so than the currently available HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. This should make it far more approachable from a consumer perspective, as up until now the only people interested in AR/VR are developers and dedicated gamers.

Microsoft is confident that the 2017 is hear of Mixed Reality headsets, and if that turns out to be true, Windows 10 will be right up there as one of the biggest VR/AR platforms available.

So there you have it, that's our list of some of the biggest things we expect to see from Windows 10 in 2017. As mentioned above, there's plenty more to expect this year, some of which we already know about, and others we don't. It's going to be an exciting year if you're a Windows 10 fan, an exciting year indeed.

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.

  • I can't wait
  • I can't wait to see what they have in store for mobile... The other day I pulled out my old 1520, and it was huge. It was nice.. Really a much more presentable device than my 950. I hope MS has at least a 6" version of whatever they are cooking up..
  • I'm really sharing your same optimism. I've find myself all-in...and loving it. I can't relate to others in other OSes though, when they say things like, "I'm out of memory", or "My phone is getting old" after a year, or hearing people tell others they should get a new phone. My 950XL is beaut, but the massive 1520 i have runs very well too :)
  • And, it's red... SMDH.. I miss that.
  • Yea the red one is striking.
  • Love the colors... I think MS should keep that up even for the Surface brand of "phones"... But, just for phones.
  • My red 1520 is still my main phone and is still awesome. My bros iPhone 7 plus has just about caught up!😂
  • Lol damn right. It's such a neat phone to have.
  • Glad I still have mine, even though it's jacked.
  • Let's be fair... The 1520 was AWESOME!,,, BUT, THE iP7 kills it in terms of performance, and imaging.. This is from personal experience.
  • To be fair, the iPhone 5S kills it in terms of performance. For comparison, even a 6 was faster than my 950 XL
  • W10M runs really nice on SD800/2 GB ram. It's SD400/1 GB devices which struggle. Which fair enough, Marshmallow /Nougat devices struggle as well.
  • I hope so too. 1520 is still a god at taking pictures
  • Nooo That title has to go to my trusty old (Red) Lumia 720 !! ( Precisely the same shooter as on my DD, the Lumia 735! ) 😁
  • 🤔🤔🤔🤔
  • I share the same sentiments.  My 1020 is a much more durable and beautiful device than my 950.  I wish SOME manufacturer would pick up where Nokia left off.  After getting burned by the 950 (and going back to the 1020 as my daily driver), I don't know if I can stomach another also-ran from Microsoft.  I LOVE the Surface Pro 3 (and my wife loves her SP4). I do NOT want a PHONE that looks like that.  Right now, NOBODY makes a phone I find attractive in the least, much less worth the inflated prices. Neon does nothing for me.  I love Windows 8.1, which is why we still have devices running it.  If future UI changes continue down the path of difficult-to-see wireframe icons and a CLEARLY touch-spiteful design, then I have no confidence in Microsoft.  I want Microsoft to make their UI so that those of us who love Metro can TRULY configure it to look and function--regardless of your hardware--like 8.1.  Right now, the simplest thing like staying in Tablet Mode is impossible if you have a second monitor.  I want my live tiles up on a monitor ALL THE TIME.  Whether it's about Continuum or full Windows on ARM, I don't really care. What I don't want is mixing desktop and modern.  I want to be able to have ONLY desktop programs on a monitor and ONLY modern or UWP on another. 
  • So, maybe with WOA themes will be possible, giving enthusiasts the option to go full on Metro... This level of customization has done wonders for Android.
  • Agreed!  Metro for Life!  It's the best!  What I love about 8.1 is the Modern IE.  Touch friendly and just plain beautiful.  That's one of the main reasons I won't ever upgrade my SP3 to W10.  My current laptop is on it's last leg and even though I loaded W10 on it, it doesn't handle it well.  My desktop computer is running 8.1 and I didn't and won't upgrade it either.  I realize any new computers purchase in the future will have W10 and I can live with that, but for now 8.1 is the right choice for me.  I'll hold on to my Lumia 830 running 8.1 as long as I can too.  I really like the Alcatel IDOL 4S.  It's a damn beautiful phone.  I'm just not convinced with WP10 yet.  Purchased the 950.  Didn't like it.  Gave it to my son.  I'll wait until Microsoft releases their "Surface" phone and see if the software has improved and the phone has any design beauty.  But can you imagine had MS released a 950 that looked and felt and worked perfectly in the Alcatel IDOL 4S form factor?!  That would have been sweet.  :)
  • Ever? You know we're getting to the 4th version of W10. You may very well like it soon.
  • Is it possible to use start screen instead of start menu with a second monitor?.(I know it's not the same, but if possible, it may hold you over until ms adds more customization.
  • I was done waiting :( my 1520 died last week after boasting it's superiority for 3 years with me. Lumia 950xl is still $600 here in Pakistan. So I forced myself to get an LG V10. With all its high end specs the OS just doesn't move me at all. I wish there were more options to chose from. 950 for me is a tiny fone and 950xl was out of budget. I hope msft or hp bring something similar to lumia 1520.I'm missing the live tiles like anything.
  • I was in the same boat as you, then I picked my 950 off the black friday sale for about 30,000rs. A friend brought it here from US as he was just coming back in late december. Happy AF now :) shall never give up on WP.
  • HP X3 though?
  • It's not really about Windows 10, but I hope we will see a successor to Movie Maker.
  • And Windows Media Center (TV/Media application that can be fully controlled via a remote control.)
  • And Windows phones? Does anyone remember Windows mobile? Surface Phone? I guess mobile is not looking good.
  • No more love for lumia😪
  • No more Lumia. At least not for new devices.
  • Or a 'TV Mode" for Windows 10, with something similar to the XBox One UI. With all those USB PC sticks, I can't help but wonder why MS doesn't see an opportunity in this. And yeah, of course a remote too, just to control it.
  • Lol movie maker was awesome
  • But there is still no info on W10M being able to connect to a car for anything other than basic and broken Bluetooth audio. No details at all from Cortana in car presentation. Really disappointed overall.
  • Lack of voice guidance on Maps over my dad's Bluetooth is the ONE thing I want them to fix.. But oh no. It hasn't worked since 8.1!
  • Car's*
  • "dad's" is funnier, tho
  • My voice nav with MS Maps has been working over bluetooth ever since I check marked Use an alternate Bluetooth audio connection for Speech in Advanced Settings.
  • Tried that every build to date. Nothing. Or just silence, then the last syllable of the instruction before resuming music playback
  • Maybe your dad's Bluetooth is trash 😂
  • Interesting. What phone? I ask because my 1520 works fine except sometime missing the first syllable. Might indicate the phone starts "speaking" before bluetooth has gained control of the car's speakers. So one phone model might clip off more of the beginning of an instruction than another. But the fix would be for the phone to not start speaking until the phone has full access to the car's speakers. May take some learning by the phone so highly time sensitive instructions can be heard with the proper lead time. 
  • Until the most recent build (fast ring) 14977.1000 I had bluetooth problems such as: - When Cortana receives a text, the first few words are cut off from the over head announcement - When doing turn by turn navigation, the first 1 second was cut off on instruction - When an incoming call, or over head announcement was being played pressing the car's END CALL key did not interrupt her, and she would continue repeating the question until the call went to voice mail or i physically used the phone to dismiss the question. Since the new update all these problems have been fixed and only sometimes does the announcement get cut off. The response speed has also improved when giving commands, and HEY CORTANA works great when in the car. I wish they actually allowed HEY CORTANA to automatically be turned on when a specified bluetooth device was connected (such as the car). I don't often use hey cortana, because of battery drain and my need to use her -- but in the car it would always be welcomed since the car does not have a way of waking Cortana unless I physically hold the Search button on the phone.
  • "-- but in the car it would always be welcomed since the car does not have a way of waking Cortana unless I physically hold the Search button on the phone." You should be able to call Cortana as you would call a real person. WM adds a fake phone number for Cortana to the contacts the car sees (and you can manually add the number if needed). When she answers its the same as invoking Hey Cortana outside the car except you are using the car's microphone and speakers instead of the phone's.
  • Oh, I did not know that. Thanks for the tip. Will try it next time!
  • It's a 950 XL (singl SIM)
  • I have that issue when I try to test maps using a battery bluetooth speaker, it just goes quiet. I am assming its the version of bluetooth used. The one in my car chopped off the first second of the instruction and took acges to connect to the phgone until I updated the car. Now it works like a dream.
  • I get voice guidance over my car's speakers via Bluetooth when using maps on W10M.
  • So do i on a 53 plated rover so it not just new cars that get this
  • Audio streaming works fine for me. Nav works, but just a little bit slower.
  • Works well in my car, nothing broken about it, works well in my car for messaging and calls too.
  • Same here except that the I only hear "we go" part of "here we go". I can here rest of the voice instructions without missing anything.
  • Cortana in BMW!
  • I use the HP Elite X3 with Bluetooth in my car, audio for YouTube, Music, and Pod Casts has been great. Also Cortana reading texts and replying is awesome and works well.
  • What about the creators update? Personally though project neon and full Windows 10 on ARM chips will be a big deal.
  • It's coming in a few months.
  • We need new phones and we need them yesterday.
  • Agree
  • Get the HP Elite X3, I just switched from Android Samsung Note 5 and I'm loving it!
  • The damn phone isn't on major carriers! I just can't walk into my neighborhood retailer and check it out. And, I definitely can't add it too my plan.. Sucks.
  • Yeah I understand that, I had to go to a Microsoft Store first to make sure :)
  • It's worth a try to call customer support. You never know what they might have in stock.. They have stuff that's not listed anywhere... That's how I got my Surface 3... I asked if they had any Windows tablets, took a minute of scrolling, then she was like "we have this Surface 3".... I was like "reeeeeealy. Do you now.??"" lol
  • Apps are more important than phones. Microsoft can release the greatest phone humanity has ever conceived but they will continue to be ignored if apps aren't there.
  • Agree and disagree. The only app I personally miss is google maps lol. All the others are websites so i just pin that to the start screen, after a while I started not missing the apps.
  • Agree on that, w maps works oke, but fails on biking in europe, google maps has a bike button and works great. Its actually the only thing i use outside Bing 😜.
  • Cortana? Cortana can't even tell me the phone number or birthday of someone in my own People list/phonebook.
  • Agreed, that is one of my main gripes with Cortana, it's not fully integrated on mobile to provide what I feel basic information. I have always posted in the feedback hub that Cortana needs to be truly Universal on the platform. I want is so if I press the Search key and type a contact, Cortana brings me all information and interactions with that contact. Hell my palm pre 2/3 could do this...
  • Does Siri or Google Assistant tell you this?
  • Just tried it on my new iPhone 7 Plus and yes, Siri does that. She even spoke it out loud for me, all completely hands free. That's one reason I am slowly leaving W10M, it's now the features gap as much as the app gap. Sad.
  • I'm going to android. The LG V20 looks really nice. I'm still gonna install MS suite of apps, but W10M has just gotten so frustrating to use and I've just run out of patience.
  • The ZTE ZMax Pro is a solid phone. 6" screen, FHD and many premium features at a budget price.
  • I'll check that out, thanks for the tip. The V20 has a really high price tag (like iPhone high), and I really don't want to spend that much money. I just want something reliable that will hold me over until W10M is up to par and OEMs come out with better devices. Until that happens, I'm gonna kick it with Android for awhile.
  • Thats like saying 'I will make do with a mannequin till my gf comes out of the beauty parlour !' 😁
  • Haha.
  • The Zmax Pro is indeed a solid phone. My wife uses one and she's been very happy with it. Happy wife, happy life.
  • Make sure you check out the Windows Phone launchers. They have several available, I recommend trying all of them until you settle on one that works for you. You can get a pretty good Windows Mobile-ish experience without the app gap.
  • A lot of them look really nice. But gosh, Android....
  • "Cortana? Cortana can't even tell me the phone number or birthday of someone in my own People list/phonebook." You think that's bad? She can't even tell you what time it is if there isn't a data or wi-fi signal despite the phone knowing the time!
  • THIS is bothering me soooo much, can't send a sms without 3G even if you have a fully working E .... (happens a lot while driving)
  • Cortana would know, if she would be involved. The whole conception of a always-on cloud based speech recognition is retarded.
  • I understand that point... Cortana should be really smart at this point with all AI stuff that MSFT is doing. About the birthdays - If you have them saved in outlook, hotmail, facebook then calendar reminds you. Temporary workaround only.
  • I was half a sleep this morning after I turn off the alarm, so I ask Cortana to "wake me up in half an hr" then she open up alarm app and ask me what time.  MS if I want to open alarm app to set an alarm I would have done it myself, instead I ask Cortana to remind me to go to washroom in half an hr..... Couple days ago I was driving and ask Cortana to take me to the walmart, she come up with a LIST of walmart and ask me which one I want to go....If I have item to took I won't be asking Cortana.  Back in 8.1 Cortana will just go to the closest one.  
  • Hopefully it'll be attracting more user in 2017.
  • I hope directx 12 is a big hit with game devs....and easy to implement
  • How about brining DX 12 to Windows 7 and 8.1 users ?
  • I don't think MSFT will do that even if it's technically possible.
  • Allegedly can't be done because the multi-threading improvement requires kernel-based GPU tasks scheduling and WDDM 2.0 driver model.
    Bringing these improvements to previous versions of Windows would mean backporting the lower-level pieces of the OS, which means upgrading to Windows 10 while keeping some older higher-level components ... a useless engineering challenge when the obvious solution is simply to upgrade the whole OS to Windows 10 instead. ​This is really the typical case of a developer showing "This is one of the new thing we've introduced with this new version", and then a user asking "Oh, and how can I use it in the old version ?"... simple answer is "You can't, because it's a new thing we've introduced in this new version...."
  • I'm more excited about Project NEON!
  • A new build would be nice. Dec. 7th was the last time a build was released.
  • Remember that really good W10 article Zac and Daniel made? Haven't seen the W10M version of it yet. :/
  • Btw, in the anniversary update try asking Cortana to lock this device or this PC and it will do it. It doesn't shut down or restart but does say that future updates will enable it. Does it work well in the Creator's update?
  • Hmmm... Home Hub... ARM... Maybe I could make a home hub PC out of an old monitor and a Raspberry Pi?
  • I want to get a raspberry pi 3 and try it when it is released :).
  • Let's pray for that 🙏🏿
  • I'm looking forward to a phone with an 835 Snapdragon in. My contract is up in December and I suspect I will end up with an Android, unless there are rumblings of something Windows based early in 2018.
  • Rumors (or should I say leaks) have it that Nokia is coming with 835. Does that work?
  • Not really. Nokia in name only, I fear. I would expect any MS phone to have more Nokia in them than anything with the Nokia name. I might as well write Atari on a biscuit tin and call it a console. May be LG, HTC or even a Samsung (but not the edge, damned awful idea, Imo).
  • But there aren't "any MS phone to have more Nokia in them". Lumias are gone and MS might never make Surface phone
  • So be it, well see how things go. I actually do not expect a surface phone this year, if at all.
  • I'm in the same boat, only my contract ends in November. I worry about the security of android devices, but I can't bring myself to get an iPhone that's design looks so dated.
  • For what feels like almost a decade, I have been knocking back friends when they mention the iPhone. Such weak glass. I know many people with them and all have had cracked screens and all moan at the phone being too fragile, and all keep going back, every upgrade cycle. My daughter has a 6s, clumsy crappy thing, that gets really hot at times and also rinses her battery. The 4s was their best design.
  • People talk about Android security yet forget to understand that most of the high end phones get security updates and patches every month. Android is insecure similar to Windows (desktop). As long as the user doesn't start downloading apps from insecure locations or shady apps, Android is secure.
  • How does an iPhone look dated?... And, there will be an all new design this year.
  • Look past the SD835....Think, if Qualcomm has the 835 practically ready for consumer use, then they are working hard on the next best thing.. MS, is still developing their device(s), so when the "Surface Phone" débuts the 835 will be so common place in high end devices MS might want to be a little further ahead of the game.
    Let's hope whatever MS has to offer has the latest chipset technology at the time.
  • Yeah, 2018 could be better, on the mobile front.
  • Until now HP elite, Acer & Alcatel w10M until not available except in few markets, killing any hope for anyone interested in W10M , by time its available all would have settled with a replacement and few would risk coming back
  • Nobody wanted them in the markets that they were available in. Why bother with more?
  • How about making Cortana goddamn language/location independent first, huh? As a Swiss User with an English OS I'm still locked out of the whole Cortana experience on my Phone where she's matter most to me. C'mon MS... Get this **** done already... She doesn't need a US Location with a US OS just to call my Mom >_>