Microsoft Build 2017: The company’s “Fall Creators Update” is aimed at extending the utility of Windows to Google and Apple smartphones.
With a coming update to Windows, Microsoft is trying to make its personal computer-bound operating system useful on the smartphone.
The Redmond company announced Thursday at its Build developer conference a set of coming updates to its Windows 10 operating system, packaged in the “Fall Creators Update.” The update is expected to roll out later this year.
Windows executive Joe Belfiore demonstrated a tool, enabled by Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant software, that lets a user editing a PowerPoint on a computer pick up where they left off on an iPhone or other device.
Another feature expands the realm of the virtual clipboard, enabling a copy and paste function from Windows to a smartphone and back again. Similarly, a feature called Timeline is designed to let you jump back into files you were using a few hours or days ago as if you’d never left, regardless of the device.
“Windows PCs will love all your devices,” Belfiore said.
A phone icon in the Windows settings menu will prompt users to connect the software to their other devices.
The tools are the latest sign of Microsoft’s aim to try to reach consumers regardless of what other operating systems they use, a far cry from a few years ago when the company at this same conference was advertising Windows 10 as the operating system that unified the smartphone and laptop and made other operating systems unnecessary.
That strategy never got off the ground, as few smartphone users comfortable with Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS considered Windows Phone.
Microsoft subsequently shuttered much of its money losing smartphone unit and redefined itself as a builder of its core Windows computer franchise as well as applications for smartphone platforms built by others.
Terry Myerson, who leads Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group, said platform wars between big technology customers “have made it harder for our customers.”
The upcoming Windows update — which bears a similar marketing moniker to a spring edition released in April — will also come with Story Remix, a software tool designed to make it easy to stich together and enhance videos, storyboards and other visuals.
Microsoft has said it will add new tools to Windows 10 in major updates about twice a year. About 500 million devices are running the software, which was released in summer 2015.