15 Scenes From Microsoft's Action-Packed Windows 10 Consumer Event

Hello From The Mothership

Microsoft unveiled a bunch of new Windows 10 features and functionality to a gathering of tech journalists in an event at its Redmond, Wash., headquarters Wednesday, which ended up being more action-packed than anyone probably anticipated.

Microsoft showed how its Bing-powered Cortana "digital personal assistant" will improve search in Windows 10, and also demoed a version of the OS tailored to smartphones and sub-8-inch tablets.

But the big reveal was HoloLens, a Microsoft Research project that's basically a see-through display that users wear on their face, which uses sensors and other tech to let them view holographic images all around them.

Microsoft has a plan for regaining lost glory -- and customers -- and following are 15 scenes that show how far it's come in this mission.

Waiting For The Action To Begin

A queue of tech journalists and analysts wait patiently for the doors to open in the keynote room in Building 92. Microsoft piped in some fresh, lively beats to keep everyone alert for the 9 a.m. event.

Kicking Things Off

Frank Shaw, Microsoft's corporate vice president of communications, welcomes the gathering of journalists who made the trek to Redmond. He urged them to stretch out their typing fingers, making it clear right away that the news to come would give them plenty of fodder for stories.

Settling In

Reporters and analysts get settled in the very comfortable keynote room, which included white couches and plenty of electrical outlets -- and space -- for everyone's multitude of devices.

And We're Off!

Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft's Operating Systems Group, provided the first big piece of news by revealing Microsoft's intention to offer "Windows as a service."

"We think of Windows as a service," Myerson said at the event. "In the next couple of years, one could reasonably think of Windows as one of the largest Internet services on the planet. What version you're running will cease to make sense."

However, he wasn't talking about a subscription version of Windows. Not yet, anyway.

10 Is Where It's At

Microsoft skipped right from Windows 8 to Windows 10, and a variety of theories have emerged about the basis for its decision. Some people think it's because Windows 8 was such a bomb that Microsoft wanted to put some distance between it and the new OS.

Others think Windows 10 will be the last version that's sold in the traditional way, and that future versions will only be sold as subscriptions. Some Microsoft partners think that would be a good idea. We'll have to wait and see about that.

Can't Help Falling In Love (With Windows)

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella spoke for about 15 minutes, during which time he expressed his desire for customers to truly "love" Windows, instead of using it because of its prevalence in corporate IT.

"We want people to love Windows on a daily basis," Nadella said during the speech.

Nadella said Windows 10 was built for a world in which there are going to be more devices in the world than people. It's also built for people who consume content as well as generate it, he said.

Microsoft HoloLens - The Big Reveal

Microsoft had a big surprise in store for the event: HoloLens, a wearable computer that works with sensors installed in a room to let users view 3-D holographic images. This is no Google Glass clone -- Microsoft demonstrated how HoloLens can be used to build a 3-D model for a quadcopter, and then 3-D-printed.

Microsoft developed HoloLens in conjunction with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is using it to simulate remote work on Mars.

The Brains Behind HoloLens

Alex Kipman, technical fellow for new device categories in Microsoft's Operating System Group, and chief inventor of HoloLens, spoke at length about the possibilities of the new device.

Kipman also created Microsoft's Kinect motion sensor technology. He urged developers working with Oculus Rift and Google Glass to consider building apps for HoloLens.

Cortana Comes To The PC

Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Operating Systems Group, said Cortana is coming to PCs for the first time with Windows 10, and gave a demo of how this will work from a user experience standpoint.

Belfiore also showed off an early build of Windows 10 that's optimized for smartphones and sub-8-inch tablets, something Microsoft has been touting as a must for its plan to make Windows power all kinds of devices.

HoloLens In Action

This video screen shows a HoloLens user's view of an environment that's used to model a 3-D image of a quadcopter.

S urface Hub Makes Its Debut

Microsoft added a new member to its Surface family called Surface Hub. It's basically a giant touch-screen television, in 55-inch and 84-inch models, which users can draw on using a stylus.

Surface Hub comes from Microsoft's Perceptive Pixel acquisition, but also includes some software that Microsoft has built specifically for the devices. Microsoft says it's a great replacement for the traditional whiteboard.

Cortana In Action

Here's the Cortana digital personal assistant in action on a Windows 10 PC. Microsoft has designed Cortana to learn about users' habits and continually channel that to provide a more useful, relevant user experience.

Microsoft-Flavored M&Ms

Microsoft had these jars of Windows-blue M&Ms at various locations in Building 92, and one reporter was seen pondering the question, If Microsoft were edible, what would it taste like?

The Big Event

This banner at the entrance of Building 92 pointed visitors to the event, just in case they thought they'd come to Redmond to hear about the latest developments with SharePoint.

Bigfoot Droppings?

This candy, called Bigfoot Poop, was for sale at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, but was not available at the Microsoft Windows 10 event. It was too bizarre not to include in this slide show.