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Everything Microsoft announced at WinHEC 2016 — Windows 10 on ARM, mixed reality PCs, and more!

Microsoft has revealed to the world tonight its plans for making mixed reality mainstream in 2017 and how it managed to get Windows 10 – the full OS – to run phone hardware (Windows 10 on ARM). That's a lot of info to digest with a ton of implications for where technology is going in next year.

Luckily for you, the Windows Central staff has been thinking about these topics and putting them into perspective. If you missed all the news coming out of WinHEC, don't worry as we have all the news and analysis you need right here in this roundup!

Mixed Reality

Mixed Reality is Microsoft's big theme for 2017. Being enabled through the Creator's Update early next year mixed reality (e.g. virtual reality, augmented reality, holographic computing) will soon be at everyone's fingertips.

Project Evo

Far-field communication, AI, Cortana, and more are all part of Microsoft and Intel's latest joint effort: Project Evo. The goal is to define the minimum standards for next-generation computing in 2017 and beyond.

Windows 10 on ARM

Did Microsoft jus announce that the full Windows 10 desktop OS can run on a Snapdragon ARM processor? You bet they did. Get ready for cellular PCs.

This news has huge implications across the computing industry. While the first Windows 10 ARM devices will be tablets, ultrabooks, and the like, it also lays the groundwork for a tremendous shift in what it means to be a smartphone — and the possibility of a do-it-all Surface phone from Microsoft.

Head-mounted display speccing

Microsoft is working closely with OEM partners to bring mixed reality to the consumer market. Your PC will need to handle the workload, so check out these requirements for head-mounted displays (HMDs).

Stay tuned for more as we do a deeper dive into all the WinHEC news over the coming days!

Daniel Rubino
Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

67 Comments
  • Feel the hype!
  • Hopefully Windows 10 on ARM isn't just hype, but a game changer!
  • Exactly! Msft does have the edge over rival platforms to bring about the ultimate mobile device but execution matters. Let's wait it out.
  • When it comes to mobile or ARM Microsoft does not have the edge. That will only come if the apps come with it ( ie mobile apps). Lets hope they will this time round. All my children like my surface but they don't want one not until Clash of Clans or Snapchat and other irrelevant to me apps are available.
  • The problem is, people. People reisist change. Let's face the reality. Windows mobile is beyond Android and Apple in terms of technology, UI, and usability. People wouldn't give it a chance. Granted, MSFT could have marketed it better. As far as the apps are concerned, Business 101. Money follows the consumers. If even 20% of cell phone users moved to Windows mobile, it wouldn't take but a month for apps to show up. People need to get out of their bubbles. Since Microsoft announced that they abandoned Windows mobile, I got an iPhone 7. I feel like I went back in time 10 years. This thing is missing so much tech that my Windows phone has. "But it has apps." Microsoft is their own worst enemy, when it comes to the mobile market. They have a superior product, now convince the people why they should switch. The app developers will follow the people.
  • It won't change the game without some hype. :) Microsoft has been known to put some good stuff out there that lots of people never hear about.
  • I don't think they'll let this fly under the publics radar. They have a completed concept for mobile that will actually work for the Nordics, they'll show that **** off. They may not advertise their next mobile device as a surface phone but maybe a surface mobile/pocket will come up to bat. And this is a big enough deal that the people they target it for will be all in.
  • Did they announce that it actually has access to all Win32 APIs or just that the full desktop shell etc. can run on ARM (Like Surface RT etc)
  • All Win32
  • Probably this version will target low-end/cheap tablets and laptops and high-end smartphones.
  • Low end but capable devices, just awesome what they can make, pocket PC's/ value laptops and tablets and the fact that they won't chug themselves to death trying to use legacy programs is awesome. Companies and schools can get capable devices that people basically know how to use already.
  • I agree, low-end comparing with x86 version, but the devices will be powerful enough for many users. On the other hand, it remains to be seen how Windows 10 ARM will go in parallel with Windows 10 Mobile.
  • A gradual transition to Windows on ARM devices. Those of us that own the 950, Altec, Acer and HP smartphones will likely see some benefits of the transition, but not everything. Out of the phones I've mentioned, HP would be the likely device to be able to take full advantage of this transition. It's still unknown whether or not this list of phones (excluding the HP Elite, which already has some virtualization) will be allowed to have virtualization of x86 Win 32 apps, while using Continuum. I'm not looking forward to buying anything new next year, considering I just bought a 950 XL to replace my 1520. Maybe, sometime in 2018, when direction is clearer and hopefully more OEMs willing to get on board. I would love to see a LG Windows 10 Mobile with Continuum...and maybe Samsung.
  • I thinks we'll have a little bit of something. Like a full windows 10 layout but I doubt we'll see emulation. I'd like it happen and fingers crossed.
  • The demo device shown in the video was an Elite.
  • The return of Pocket PC.
  • This^
  • Ha!👌
  • Seems like we're in for some nice devices
  • damn it, the x86 decoder is real, now onto the bots replacing apps, nadella sure is progressing towards the ultimate phone
  • Too much focus on the virtual reality side of things.
  • I agree.
  • Is this Windows RT part two?
  • Ding ding ding. You got it!
  • Kind of. It's Windows RT that can run Win32 apps. And do it just as good as a moderate laptop.
  • I did like RT, but it was on the wrong form factor device, aka Surface. Should have been on phone instead of that Windows Phone 7 thing we had.
  • I guess yes, but Windows RT was written (re-compiled?) for ARM (without any emulation, which is why we couldn't run ordinary x86 applications), while Windows 10 on ARM is the full x86 version, emulated.
  • I think the OS would be compiled to get the most CPU juice. There will be an emulator layer then to allow any win32 app (virus included..?) to run on that thing. I'd have preferred only Centennial apps being allowed, for security reason, but having Bluestack aka Android apps working and Steam games at your disposal can't hurt. ;)
  • If I can install Bluestacks, then I have all Android apps in my soon-to-be-mine Surface Phone. Heehaw!!!
  • Give AmiDuos a try, I find it much less buggy. Once Windows is running on ARM they will be able to run these android virtualizations natively, it will be a game changer with that as well.
  • A bit like when mac runs Windows with boot camp. Think this will solve the app gap initially, allow people to switch easier.
  • Microsoft drops several bombs today! #excited
  • Dropped on Apple and Google.
  • Lol. Funny
  • This changes EVERYTHING !
  • I wonder if a new Raspberry Pi will run full Windows too
  • I just don't understand why I don't get a fully holographic version of  Cortana on my Hololens already
  • I thought I was already running Windows 10 on ARM. What's the difference between 'full' W10 and W10 Mobile? I assume both can run W10 UWP apps and neither can run x86 apps (without emulation), so what else does it give me?
  • Mobile doesn't run x86 apps period so it gives you the opportunity to run x86 apps.
  • OK - now that I've read the OTHER news, I understand that this 'everything you need to know' article forgot to mention the most important news that Windows 10 on ARM will include x86 emulation 'out of the box'. This is exciting news indeed. Surprising it wasn't mentioned in this article!
  • But how will windows 10 look like on phones , I mean I really love w10M UI , what happens to it....?
  • I don't think the UI of Windows 10 mobile will change at all. First of this is not for phone.. at least not for now , second.. it would be more likely that legacy win32 apps  (x86) programs on a phone, if that ever happens, will only run when using Continiuum connected to an external monitor with keyboard and mouse, and nver be allowed to start in "phone mode"
  • Except Bluestacks? Pretty please? ;))
  • But dats means we still have the key apps then on the go,
  • I don't know, but I'm envisoning it being W10m UI until plugged into continuum. Like a Surface runs UWP apps in tablet mode but snap on the keyboard and you can use the win32 apps. You probably wouldn't want to run the win32 applications on a small screen due to it's UI and input methods, but the UWP apps are made for small screens and on the go use. Best of both worlds where the form matches the current function of the device.
  • So, I have an old asus RT device, will they finally allow w10 to be installed on it?
  • No. The snapdragon processor that can run windows 10 doesnt come out until late next year. I really doubt whatever is in your rt device can handle it.
  • I dont think thats correct. They have it running on the SD820. https://youtu.be/A_GlGglbu1U So Acatel and HP phones should be able to run it. But anything older I doubt as well.  
  • Will old processor also run full windows 10 like Lumia 535
  • I don't think so. I too have L535.
  • I guess you need to update Terry's picture with the new skinny version...
  • So they are going to kill windows mobile!?
  • I imagine the mobile will be just a shell in top of windows core.
  • It will take several years before they bring new devices to the market, then will change mind and work on some kind of mobile platform again. I don't believe in Microsoft's furure anymore...  Yes they'll be dominant in PC bussiness, but never  in mobile market... I'll better switch to Nokia/Android  ....
  • And here's the mistake. Your PC will be your mobile device. Ok, maybe Workstation and Gaming PCs will stay big, but for Office, Internet you only have your PC in your pocket, put it to a dock at home and start using it. Same device, from 4" to 65" screen.
  • more like absorb it.
  • Now bring the second chance from the Surface RT original. It could be low priced and it will be a dream of a consumer product, finally.
  • So...
    * Will it be 64 bit Win 10 Pro running on ARM? With emulation of 32 bit x86 apps?
    * Will the emulation support numerical algorithms such as LAPACK, etc., which currently is limited (I guess...) to Intel processors, and which is vital for a number of x86 apps?
    * (... or can OpenCL be extended to include LAPACK-like algorithms...?)
  • By givin windows 10 to ARM also, meaning the Surface Phone will run windows 10 and not 10 mobile, win10mo will be silently killed. Does anyone expect MS to support it after this? :)) They have a proven record of ditching users, it would not be their first time.
  • If Win10 runs fine on the Nokia 1520 ARM phone (since Jan 2016) I dont understand why no one can get Win10 running on the Nokia 2520 ARM tablet, since they are basically same hardware. They are like $45 on ebay, and nice 1080p screen and long battery life.
  • sidenote: You gotta change Terry's photo. He's lost a lot of weight and looks great (no ****) lol
  • I just hope he is fine, because it wan't long ago that he wasn't so skinny. And that much difference in so little time may be a bit too much for natural loss.
  • A week ago I said that Microsoft doesn't have to worry about emulation if they allow developers to compile Win32 apps for ARM on Centennial and I was told (by Windows Central), "that's not how it works." THAT IS HOW IT WORKS.
  • Still not how it works. Centennial doesn't compile anything, it adds a wrapper around the .exe. With this, we can have a Win32 app with Centennial extras running on ARM, virtually indistinguishable from a full-on store app.
  • Folks if Microsoft releases this new X86 emulation software to it's OEM partners fast soon enough We will see prototypes of ARMS CPU Laptops. Ultrabooks and Arms CPU Tablets at CES 2017 january 5 to 8 in las Vegas Navada. I would like to see what Microsoft OEM partners can bring tothe market place perhaps Microsoft will revive the  ARMS CPU Surface Mini 8.9 inch-2 by 3 screen ratio tablet with this software to be an example of how this x86 emulation software should work.
  • When all windows10 devices are cellular devices, the idea of a dedicated device with the word "phone" does not make sense anymore.  Just speculating, but this means you can make a "phone" call from any device, desktop, laptop, tablet, "pocketable tablet", vr, etc. and switch seamlessly between them.  If they are making a new class of device, I don't think they will use the word "phone".  It's basically a kick ass pocketable tablet maybe a 5.5" gaming device that happens to make phone calls.
  • Well put. Microsoft is the ONLY company today talking about the future. Where is Apple? Google? The rest?