Microsoft will need new hardware to reach its 1 billion Windows 10 devices goal

Without new devices Windows 10 is only nice to look at

Build is Microsoft's biggest event, so it comes as a bit of a surprise that there were no new hardware announcements at Build 2015. Sure, the event is meant primarily to show off new software features. However, when Microsoft makes the bold claim there will be one billion Windows 10 devices in the world by 2018, that's difficult to square with the total lack of new devices on Microsoft's most important stage.

Instead of showing new devices, Microsoft beat its chest about building out Windows 10 as a platform for all devices from phones to tablets, laptops, plus Microsoft's new Surface Hub and HoloLens. What's more, users can have all these devices work in tandem with Continuum, allowing you to move across devices using the same application.

Unfortunately, Microsoft spent more time talking about the features rather than showing it off in real life. There were only a few instances where Microsoft showed Windows running on a Lenovo ThinkPad tablet and a Lumia device to a PC. However, there weren't enough devices that spanned the entire platform Microsoft boasted about and certainly no new electronics.

The lack of a new Surface Pro tablet or any new Lumia handsets are a curious omission that leaves us questioning what the holdup is, and what Microsoft might have up its sleeve.

Surface Pro 4

Stephen Elop was on tap for Build 2015 but didn't make any annoucements

Missed it by that much

Currently Microsoft only has four Lumia devices the OS maker can call its own since the company absorbed a portion of its old hardware partner, Nokia.

Build would have been the perfect moment to introduce a new flagship smartphone. Microsoft has paved the way for many more apps by adopting the code bases of its rivals. Android apps programed in Java and C++ will not have any problems running on a Windows 10 handset. This also goes for any iOS apps programmed in Objective C code.

This is a huge tidal shift for Microsoft's mobile ambitions. Developers can easily port their apps rather than having to develop under yet another codebase exclusively for Windows phones, a problem that has left most Windows Phone 8.1 users starving for software. It also makes Windows 10 an uniquely flexible platform that can pull apps from both Android and iOS - typically two platforms that mix like oil and water.

But before you start singing the praises of Windows 10 for phones, it will still be up to developers to decide whether they bring their apps to Microsoft's ecosystem. Given the paltry consumer adoption and the even fewer recently announced Windows handsets, most developers will probably see porting their apps as a waste of time.

Surface Pro 4

We're still waiting for Microsoft's next flagship tablet

Long overdue

Another curious omission was a new Surface tablet. The Internet has been bubbling with rumors about Microsoft's next 2-in-1 laptop for months now and yet again it was a no show.

Although the Surface Pro 3 is an amazing device, it's getting longer in the tooth every day. For one thing, it comes running an Intel processor from the latter part of 2013. It's more than overdue for at least an internal refresh with the latest Broadwell chips, especially in light of the recently introduced Surface 3.

The laptop-tablet hybrid space is only getting more competitive with thinner, more powerful devices like the Intel Core M-powered Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi and the new HP Spectre x360. A new Surface Pro 4 would have been the perfect unit to show how much further laptop designs have come in the last year, assuming the laptop was as thin and powerful as rumored.

\What's more, the new hybrid PC could have shown off the easy switching between tablet and desktop modes, a feature Microsoft has been boasting with Windows 10.

Surface Pro 4

Windows 10's final release can't get here soon enough

Window shopping

Even on the software front, the Redmond company held back, deciding not to announce a final release date for Windows 10 yet again despite holding a two and half hour presentation dedicated solely to the perks of its new operating system. As far as we know, according to an unconfirmed rumor, Windows 10 will be released by the end of July, and so that may finally be the time we see a new Surface tablet

There's no doubt Microsoft came out swinging with impressive new features for Windows 10 on everything between phones and HoloLens, but ultimately hardware is the gateway with which users actually get to play with Microsoft's new OS. It was a misstep not to show off anything at all even if Microsoft were to announce release dates months from now. For now, Windows 10 on many devices is tantalizing to see but not to touch.

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