Microsoft has taught itself new tricks and as such managed to come out as one of the top companies of 2015. Its mobile strategy is still struggling, but everything else appears to be on the right track.
Some would say this is Microsoft's best year yet in a long while, and who can say they are not correct? In this year alone, it arguably showcased plans for several innovative technologies to be made available in the future. The company has done so well that the unthinkable has happened – people began to like Microsoft again.
As the company's most important product for the year, Windows 10 has garnered tremendous early success. The adoption rate has risen quite fast, thanks to the software giant offering a free upgrade for those running Windows 7 or Windows 8.
Bear in mind, though, the free upgrade is only valid for a year, so by December 2016, the free upgrade ends.
One of the great things Windows 10 brought to the table, outside of the new design, is the Windows Universal App Platform. This is Microsoft's grand plan to fix the app problem that is facing its platform, and although it hasn't garnered many followers, we're still excited about the prospects.
Microsoft also delivered Cortana to the desktop in a grand way. The assistant in its current state can compete directly with Google Now and Siri, and in some ways, could even be better. For example, Cortana can learn from the user by storing information in a Notebook. This makes it possible for the voice assistant to better serve its purpose.
The software giant did not stop there as it moved to secure a foothold in the Windows hardware market. This year, Microsoft highlighted the Surface Book, a new kind of Windows computer that is both tablet and laptop. Unlike the Surface Pro line of devices, the Surface Book does not sacrifice much to become the ultimate two-in-one.
When it comes down to Xbox, the company released a new user interface for its Xbox One. It is practically Windows 10 but designed for full use with a controller. It makes for navigation, but don't expect an increase in video game load times.
Microsoft showed off the most important piece of technology for the year, and that is HoloLens. It is a holographic Augmented Reality headset that is similar yet very different from Virtual Reality. The headset is expected to allow users to overlay digital objects around their own space, but while it looks cool on paper, the extent of its scope is minuscule. The amount of backlash HoloLens is getting for this will hopefully push the company to increase the field of view before the release, whenever that is.
Finally, Microsoft went on a shopping spree in 2015. It acquired several smaller companies, many of which are app developers. We're not certain of what the company's strategy is in buying Android and iOS app developers, still, it seems the world of apps has finally caught up with Microsoft.
Overall, a great year for Microsoft, and if things continue down this path, 2016 could be even better.
Photo: Mike Mozart | Flickr