Microsoft teases Windows 10 updates

Ahead of Windows 10's one-year anniversary, Microsoft took to the stage at its Build Developers Conference today to tease several new features coming to the OS, as well as UI updates for Xbox.

One of the Windows 10 updates most likely to interest consumers is Windows Ink and the Ink Workspace, which offers a one-stop shop for pen-enabled features that is available even when your Windows phone or computer is locked.

You can already do things like write sticky notes with Windows Ink, but now Windows will recognize important bits of your handwriting. Need to call your mother tomorrow? Jot that down and Cortana will automatically recognize the word "tomorrow" and add a reminder for you.

There's also support for Ink in Bing Maps, which allows you to draw a route from point A to point B and add stopovers. Windows will automatically calculate the line's distance, and if you enter the map's 3D mode, your line will automatically contour to the topography.

Another cool Ink feature is the ability to snap your drawings to guides. You can hold a virtual ruler with one hand on the touch screen of your device, and the pen will automatically draw a line that snaps to the ruler.

Authentication is getting an update, too. Developers will be able to integrate biometric identification into their websites (via the Microsoft Edge browser) and apps. Marketing manager Bryan Roper demoed the feature with the USAA website, which will allow bank customers to log in to their accounts via face recognition.

Xbox, meanwhile, is getting a closer integration with Windows 10, but many of the features that Xbox head Phil Spencer discussed at the keynote are already public knowledge. They include voice recognition, Cortana, and background music.

Spencer did unveil a new developer mode, though, which will allow game writers to convert their retail Xbox One consoles into a developer platform. They'll be able to easily switch back and forth, and pick up their tests on a PC where they left off on the Xbox.

On the developer side of Windows, one of Microsoft's biggest goals for Windows 10 apps is to get them all running on what it calls the "modern app platform." So it announced a new Desktop App Converter that will translate older programs to allow them to take advantage of the more than 1,000 APIs and app store support for updates in Windows 10.

Finally, there's new support for developers who need to write Linux code for their Windows apps. They'll be able to access Bash Ubuntu command prompts without leaving Windows.

One thing that wasn't announced at the Build keynote was a major new product, or any new features for Windows Phone.

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