Microsoft Windows and Devices Chief, Terry Myerson

by Dina Bass via Bloomberg

Microsoft Corp. unveiled an update to Windows 10, adding key features that are likely to benefit users of gadgets that run rival mobile operating systems iOS and Android.

The features, which will be part of an upgrade for the computer operating system this fall, will let people sync different devices, Microsoft officials said in a briefing before they introduced the software. For example, users will be able to share information saved on a clipboard, or pick up tasks on one machine that were left off on another. ITunes, Apple Inc.’s music app, also is going to be available in the Windows App Store, Microsoft said.

The software maker is embracing more fully the notion that customers use multiple devices and that many, particularly the mobile gadgets, don’t run Windows. While Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella pushed the Office and applications business to focus on versions for rival mobile operating systems three years ago, the role of Windows in that new world has been an open question. Now, Windows will engage with its competitors and look for ways to make customers’ experience with those devices better, the Redmond, Washington-based company said.

“In our fall update, for the first time Windows 10 will love all of your devices,” said Joe Belfiore, a Microsoft vice president for Windows software.

To access the new features in Windows 10, shown Thursday at Microsoft’s Build conference for developers in Seattle, users will need a Microsoft account to sign in on those devices and share information.

The company showed an app called Story Remix that lets multiple users share video and photos taken on phones and combines that with special effects and music. Microsoft showed how AI technology picks the best clips and photos and puts them together, and how the user can tweak that to focus on one person or ink text on a person that stays with them as the video continues.

Microsoft also introduced a mixed-reality controller that will work with virtual-reality goggles being developed by hardware makers using the company’s software. Virtual reality immerses users in an artificial world and is being pushed most actively for gaming, while augmented reality overlays images on the real world. Mixed reality blends aspects of both.

Microsoft’s new controller will work without requiring the placement of motion sensors in a room to trace a user’s movements. Acer Inc. will bundle the controller and the goggles for $399 for the holiday shopping season, with pre-orders starting Thursday.

The company is also introducing OneDrive files on demand, which lets users quickly see items stored in the cloud on local machines without having to download files. That attempts to restore a popular Windows 8.1 feature called Placeholders that was pulled because of problems and that rival Dropbox Inc. has since begun to offer.

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