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Microsoft Describes Its 'Modern OS' Vision for Emerging PC Hardware

Modern PCs need a "modern operating system," Microsoft said in an announcement at this week's Computex hardware event in Taipei.

After describing newly unveiled PCs from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo, Microsoft indicated that it was making some investments toward its modern OS vision. A modern OS, in Microsoft's estimation, should include both "enablers" and "delighters." Enablers were defined as foundational experiences for end users. Delighters were described as human-centered innovative experiences.

On the enablers' side, here's what Microsoft's modern OS would need to have:

  • "Seamless updates" that happen "invisibly" in the background, with no user interruptions.
  • A "secure by default" situation in which "the state is separated from the operating system."
  • An "always connected" condition for various wireless networks (Wi-Fi, LTE and 5G).
  • A "sustained performance" state in which the system is ready to use and the battery's charge isn't a concern.

On the delighters' side, Microsoft listed these requirements for its modern OS:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) awareness of what a user is doing to help them with tasks.
  • Multisense capability (pen, voice, touch and gaze).
  • Device form-factor agility.

Likely, the modern OS description by Microsoft is just marketing language, rather than an actual operating system under development. The modern OS is just a list of things that Microsoft has been hoping to implement with Windows Core OS and Windows Lite, concluded veteran Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley in a ZDNet article.

"Windows Core OS" and "Windows Lite" are vague tipster terms for purported Microsoft OS development projects.

Cortana is Microsoft's search-based AI that's already available in Windows 10. Other AI improvements more routinely get described on the Office applications side, rather than for the OS. For instance, this week Microsoft highlighted the ability to take photos of tables and have them turn into Excel charts, which is now supported on 21 languages on Android and iOS mobile devices, per an announcement.

"At Microsoft, we're dedicated to finding ways to build artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms and machine learning models into user apps to help you be more productive and stay focused on critical deliverables instead of mundane tasks," the announcement concluded.

The "people-centered experiences" descriptor is also more marketing language. It's routinely applied to Microsoft 365 improvements, such as the ones announced for May.

The "modern" term is liberally used these days by Microsoft to describe its products. Sometimes its meaning gets defined. For instance, last year Microsoft explained that its "modern desktop" term just means using a combination of Windows 10 and Office 365 software, plus staying current on patches.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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