Micrososft's Roadmap: Return of the Start Menu, Windows apps on Xbox and more

During the BUILD 2014 conference, Microsoft offered a sneak peak into some of its upcoming apps and services, including the reintroduction of the classic start menu, Windows apps on an Xbox One game console, and Windows software designed for low-power “Internet of Things” devices.

Start Menu

While it won't make its way to Windows 8.1 Update 1, the classic Start menu will be reintroduced to Windows in an upcoming update. Microsoft showed some screens during the keynote which showed how the Live Tiles can be pinned to the new Start menu. The new Start menu will include the classic search box and the shutdown button, so desktop users will not have to go to the Start Screen unless they want to.

Classic Start menu and Modern apps in Windows

Also Microsoft demonstrated that Modern apps will eventually run within normal windows in future versions of Windows. This will allow desktop users to resize the Modern apps and move them anywhere on their desktops without any limitations.

Windows app on Xbox

Microsoft is providing developers with tools to create Universal Windows Apps that can run on phones, tablet, notebooks, and desktops. The company says eventually it will expand the meaning of “universal” to include support for the Xbox One game console, allowing developers to create apps that can run on a phone, notebook… or a TV.

Not only will you be able to run select Windows app on a TV this way, but you’ll also be able to use Xbox features such as a Kinect motion controller to interact with them.

Kinect version 2 for Windows

Microsoft is also updating its platform for using the Kinect motion controller with a Windows computer to enable new features.

Kinect v2 for Windows will come with a 1080p wide angle lense, offer better performance in low-light settings, improved gesture recognition, and more.

At Microsoft Build 2014, Microsoft showed off demos of Kinect for Windows powering games, animation software, and medical software which doctors can use to manipulate a digital human body, for instance.

DirectX 12

Microsoft is bringing support for its graphics technology to Windows, Windows Phone, and video game consoles, allowing it to run on everything from a Nokia phone with a single-core processor to the Xbox One.

The driver is designed to use however much GPU power is available, depending on the system.

Internet of Things

You might think of Windows as the operating system that powers your desktop, laptop, or even tablet computer. But versions of Windows run on everything from ATMs to smartphones and Microsoft wants to bring Windows to an even wider range of devices.

Intel’s Galileo developer board with a Quark processor

Windows on Devices is a new platform designed to run on low-power devices as part of the “internet of things.” For instance, the company showed off Intel’s Galileo developer board with a Quark processor… and an internet-connected ”piano” you can step on to make music… which is powered by a low-power Intel processor and Windows software.

Are you excited about the upcoming features on Windows? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think

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