We all know that Windows 10 is supposedly dropping in late July of this year, but when exactly? And we all know that Microsoft is working on another Surface Pro – well, at least we think we know – but what has Microsoft done to prepare it to compete against the new MacBook and would-be iPad Pro?
Here at the TechRadar offices, we hope this and more will be revealed at Build 2015, Microsoft's fifth annual conference that's all about Windows, from the Moscone Center in San Francisco. In fact, we'd like to make a few more bold predictions, or at least what we'd like to see happen on April 29 through May 1.
Between the first operating system update to excite this editor in years, a super rad-looking head-mounted display tech in HoloLens and a possible update to the first Surface device to at least start to get it right, this is no doubt the most-hyped Build yet. And with good reason. (And that's even without Xbox One, which we don't anticipate hearing too much about.)
With that, of course, comes some serious expectations – or, at the very least, hopes – for what Microsoft has to show us. Without further ado, here are our predictions (and one obvious rumor) for Build 2015.
(We'll also update this space with whatever news and rumors we hear leading up to April 29, not to mention with all the latest from Build as it happens. So, come on back, will ya?)
Prediction: Windows 10 will get a definitive release date
Sure, we're reaching for the low-hanging fruit here, but may as well get this one out of the way. As far as we know officially, Windows 10 will launch "this summer," according to Microsoft EVP of Operating Systems Terry Myerson.
However, AMD CEO Lisa Su recently let slip during an earnings call that the OS is expected to launch at the "end of July." So, between Microsoft recently putting out a narrower launch window and one mighty slip of the tongue, it's extremely likely that the company will issue a date for the big release during the conference.
Rumor: Surface Pro 4 will be shown at Build
Take it with some salt (though appreciate the logic in it), but Digitimes has reported that Microsoft plans to unveil its Surface Pro 4 during Build 2015, citing sources close to the matter. While the publication's track record isn't stellar with these leaks, this move would make complete sense.
Microsoft needs not only to show us what's so great about Windows 10, but how exactly those things are so great. It needs a model for what the new Windows experience looks and feels like.
The timing couldn't be better, being days shy of a year since the Surface Pro 3 release. And there's little doubt that Microsoft Corporate VP of Surface Panos Panay and his team sat on their laurels for long after launching that gem. Not when they were so, so close to the perfect hybrid device.
So, how will Surface Pro 4 combat the MacBook and iPad this time? Based on a report by cnBeta, the 2-in-1 laptop is expected to come in 12- and 14-inch varieties and will likely run on Intel's fanless wonder, the Core M processor. (Meanwhile, International Business Times reports citing anonymous sources that it will still run on Intel's Core i5 or i7 chips.)
We also know that, whatever design evolution the Pro 4 shows off, last year's Pro 3 accessories will be compatible, according to Microsoft. So, at the very least don't be surprised if the dimensions of Redmond's next Pro slate don't differ too terribly.
Rounding out the Pro 4's potential spec sheet, according to the same report, the device will run on a 2,160 x 1,440-pixel display, up to 1TB of storage and as much as 16GB of RAM. Also, remember that Microsoft is thought to be working on purchasing N-trig, the Israeli company that helped develop the Surface Pro 3 pen, so expect even deeper integration there.
Prediction: We'll see a flagship Windows 10 phone
Frankly, Microsoft itself has promised that Windows 10 for phones will, too, have its very own marquee device. What's likely to be the biggest stage of the year for the new OS seems like the most likely place to unveil such a handset.
Plus, now that we've already seen leaks of a flagship phone, from Chinese vendor Elephone, that allegedly can switch between Windows 10 and Android, surely the bigger players are even farther along. Of course, this assumes that Microsoft has attracted major handset makers to its new platform, which is a safe assumption.
However, since we have next to no idea where this first flagship Windows 10 phone will come from, it's tough to say whether a Build 2015 reveal is in the cards for sure. If the first device is to come from anywhere other than Microsoft through its Lumia line, then they might want their own stage to unveil the device.
Prediction: Project Spartan will get a real name, deeper preview
The codename for Microsoft's new web browser is cute, but it needs to go. Even if the company were to name the browser simply "Spartan", which would certainly be fitting given the app's minimalist trappings, that would suffice.
Not to mention a name like that would fit with Microsoft's Halo-inspired name for its Windows 10 voice assistant, Cortana. But anyway, what's more important is that we see more of the Internet Explorer replacement. How do extensions work exactly in Project Spartan, and what about stuff like video, Flash, HTML5 and other features?
Sure, you can see how some of those features look and feel, if you're in the "fast ring" of the Windows 10 Technical Preview. But we need a refined look at how it all comes together now that Microsoft has had another few months to iron out the kinks.
It's safe to expect Microsoft to give us a longer look at Project Spartan during the show – its teams have clearly spent a lot of time and effort on it. Perhaps we'll more closely see how the browser might interact between devices when it comes to sharing and saving content.
Prediction: We'll see HoloLens in even more scenarios
This too might be a safe one, but surely what we saw of HoloLens back at Redmond in January was only the tip of the holographic iceberg. Much of the HoloLens API (or application programming interface) has already been in developers' hands since that fateful event, according to chatter on the company's Channel 9 developer forums.
So, if independent developers have already dug into much of the codebase working behind the device, it's not a leap to think that larger app companies are well in the know if not working with Microsoft directly. Given that it's keen to put its app on every screen it can, one likely company would be Facebook – we spend all day there, so why not just strap it to our faces?
Plus, since Microsoft has previously said that HoloLens will be ready for the launch of Windows 10, we might even get a release date or launch window out of the company. But, judging by the prototype shown to the press during Microsoft's January event – it definitely wasn't what we all gawked at on stage – it'd be a shock to see this device release day and date beside the new OS.
- Everything we know about Windows 10 Mobile