The last two years have had a profound and durable impact on how we live our lives, with the PC playing a more meaningful role than ever. Recently a friend reflected that he never would have expected that his eight-year-old son would become proficient in Teams and OneNote or that his seventy-two-year-old mother would become an Instacart convert. New behaviors that were born out of necessity have evolved into habits as people and organizations reevaluate their priorities through a new lens.
A new hybrid infrastructure now exists – across work, school and life – enabling more flexibility in where and how people spend their time. And the PC is the hub. This is driving a new era of PC use, with a durable increase in the number of minutes spent and an increase in the number of PCs per household.
As we reflect on what’s driving this structural shift in PC demand and usage, we see three enduring trends: the rise in hybrid work and learning, shifts in entertainment habits and distribution models, and changing consumer habits for everyday tasks.
The rise of hybrid working and learning. The pandemic was a forcing function to accelerate the technology and organizational infrastructure to allow people to work and learn remotely. Looking ahead, many people who have had the option of working remotely want to continue and most educators believe remote learning will continue to play a role. We see these same trends reflected in how people are using Windows. In the last two years Windows has seen a 6x increase in people using communication and collaboration apps like Cisco WebEx, Slack, Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
Shifts in entertainment habits and distribution models. The way content is produced, distributed and consumed has changed dramatically – consider the fact that many blockbuster movies are being released in theaters and via streaming on the same day. Since the start of the pandemic 70% more people streamed content across Hulu, Netflix and YouTube on Windows and monthly gaming minutes grew over 35%. There are now as many gamers as people who watch TV. More than ever people expect to be in control of what, when and where they watch, play, stream and post – and increasingly it’s all happening on the PC.
Changing consumer habits for everyday tasks. Everyday tasks like grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, going to the gym and even eating out have evolved with the rise of online ordering and delivery and virtual appointments and workouts. Telemedicine grew 3x and there was 500%+ growth in people seeking to Buy-Online-Pick-Up-In-Store vs. two years ago. In Windows, 2x as many people are using their PC to shop, spending 40% more time shopping. Even as we resume some daily errands in person, people show no signs of giving up the convenience of online tasks entirely.
The PC market saw its biggest growth in a decade with Windows outpacing the market
The PC market saw the biggest growth in a decade. Global PC shipments surpassed 340 million in 2021, and according to Canalys that growth is 27% more than 2019. Windows now powers over 1.4 billion monthly active devices with overall time spent on Windows up 10% over pre pandemic levels. This quarter, Windows took share as through our customer insights research, we saw nearly 50% growth in people who plan to use their PC for creativity, gaming or for work. We continue to see people across organizations, schools and homes recognize the benefits of a PC for every person.
To address ongoing supply challenges, for the launch of Windows 11 we mobilized an entire industry across silicon, OEMs, retailers and other partners to ensure that as many people as possible who wanted a new PC at holiday could purchase one, including inventory for commercial and education customers to order.
Windows 11 is a catalyst for engagement and growth
Since the launch of Windows 11 in October, we have seen strong demand and preference for Windows 11 with people accepting the upgrade offer to Windows 11 at twice the rate we saw for Windows 10. Windows 11 also has the highest quality scores and product satisfaction of any version of Windows we’ve ever shipped. Product quality was a huge focus for the team, and we took a deliberate and phased approach to how we rolled out the upgrade. Today, we’re excited to share that the upgrade offer to Windows 11 is beginning to enter its final phase of availability putting us ahead of our initial plan of mid-20221. Windows 11 is driving increased engagement with people spending 40% more time on their Windows 11 PC vs Windows 10. The multitasking and productivity advantages of the Windows PC are being used more than ever with nearly half of Windows 11 users using the new Snap Layouts.
Windows 11 is also helping drive 3X more traffic to the newly redesigned Microsoft Store. Building on our open platform, we announced new Store policies last year to create greater economic opportunity for creators and developers, paving the way for not only new apps but new storefronts like Amazon and Epic Games. We’re energized by the feedback from both our customers and partners about the new Microsoft Store.
The Windows ecosystem is more vibrant than ever
One of the incredible benefits of the Windows platform is that it provides a broad and open ecosystem that offers people choice. Today, the ecosystem is stronger than it’s ever been across hardware, software, apps, peripherals and more.
Since launch, our OEM and silicon partners have introduced a vibrant offering of new Windows 11 PCs and Surface launched the largest update to their portfolio ever. Most recently at CES, our partners Acer, AMD, ASUS, Dell, HP, Intel, Lenovo, Qualcomm and Razer showcased incredible PC and silicon innovations, and AMD and Lenovo announced the first available Microsoft Pluton device – enabling even more security and choice for our customers.
Building for what’s next
As a team, we feel an immense amount of gratitude and pride delivering a product that has increasingly become a part of people’s daily lives, and we know we are not done. As we look to the future, this year and beyond we will continue to invest in delivering Windows experiences that enrich and inspire people’s lives.
We continue to adapt Windows to meet the evolving needs of our customers. With Windows 365, we move Windows to the Cloud, where employees can securely stream their Windows experience on any device. With Windows 11 SE, schools have a simple, distraction-free environment catered to the unique needs of K-8 students.
Next month we’re bringing new experiences to Windows that include a public preview of how you can use AndroidTM apps on Windows 11 through the Microsoft Store and our partnerships with Amazon and Intel, taskbar improvements with call mute and unmute, easier window sharing and bringing weather to the taskbar, plus the introduction of two new redesigned apps, Notepad and Media Player.
Windows will continue to be the backbone for innovation, a destination for gaming, creativity and exploration, and a gateway to the Metaverse.
2021 was an incredible year for Windows and in 2022 we will continue our journey to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more.
1 Devices that have a Microsoft Account (an MSA for Home edition) and have eligible releases and compatibility (See Windows Release Health for more information https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/release-health/)
Android is a trademark of Google LLC
Babylon.js 5.0: Key Engine Advancements – Part 3
Our mission is to create it one of the most powerful, beautiful, and simple web rendering engines in the world. The latest Babylon.js 5.0 engine packs a ton of new improvements to help you create stunning experiences. Unlimited Morph Targets No matter what you call them, Blend Shapes, Shape Keys, or Morph Targets, Babylon.js 5.0 adds…
Our mission is to create it one of the most powerful, beautiful, and simple web rendering engines in the world. The latest Babylon.js 5.0 engine packs a ton of new improvements to help you create stunning experiences.
Unlimited Morph Targets
No matter what you call them, Blend Shapes, Shape Keys, or Morph Targets, Babylon.js 5.0 adds rocket fuel to your ability to use influenced vertex positions. This new feature now gives you literally unlimited amounts of Morph Targets. Want to have a complex animated face with thousands of Morph Targets to get that perfect expression? Now you can, all in the web, all for free!
See it in action here: Unlimited Morph Targets Demo
Learn more: Unlimited Morph Targets Documentation
YouTube Series: Tech Artist’s Journey YouTube Playlist
Order Independent Transparency
Rendering transparent objects is complicated! The Babylon.js Platform has always strived to make it as easy as possible to help you inform the system of rendering order, alpha index, run depth-prepasses, and much more, so your scene can look correct. With Babylon.js 5.0 we’ve wrapped a bow on it all. All of the complexity of rendering transparent objects can now disappear with one single, simple line of code:
Try it out: Order Independent Transparency Demo
Learn More: Order Independent Transparency Documentation
WebXR is an incredible web standard allowing web developers to create amazing cross-browser XR experiences. Using WebXR to add a mobile AR component to your web site can be a simple and fun way to engage your readers/users even further. While the technology to render world-locked 3D objects has existed in Babylon.js for some time, Babylon.js 5.0 steps the beauty-factor up several notches with the introduction of Light Estimation. This powerful yet easy-to-use new feature allows your Babylon.js scenes to estimate the light in your real-world location and automatically match the lighting and shadows of your virtual world-locked object. This creates a cutting-edge level of immersion between the physical and digital worlds…and it’s all here in Babylon.js…all for free! Babylon.js 5.0 also adds support for WebXR image tracking and WebXR Layers!!!
Learn More: Light Estimation Documentation
The Babylon.js Platform prioritizes support for the absolute latest and greatest advancements to the glTF file format. This means every new version of Babylon.js unlocks new beautiful advancements in rendering capabilities, and Babylon.js 5.0 turns up the heat! With full support for KHR_materials_volume, KHR_materials_transmission, and KHR_materials_ior, you can now render some absolutely STUNNING visuals!
Check it out: KHR_materials_volume Demo
Mixed Reality Toolkit for Babylon.js
Babylon.js 5.0 also adds updated support for the world’s most advanced 3D interface component library, Mixed Reality Toolkit. This advanced library makes it incredibly easy to add advanced XR UX elements into your Babylon.js scenes such as: holographic slates, 3D Sliders, Touch Holographic Buttons, Touch Mesh Buttons, and much much more!
Check it out: MRTK Demo
Learn More: MRTK Documentation
Material Plugin Manager
When it comes to creating real-time shaders power, performance, and flexibility are critical! Babylon.js 5.0 brings introduces a brand new feature that doubles down on all of three. The Material Plugin Manager gives you the ability to add custom code to any Babylon.js shader. This means that you can fully customize any advanced shader, such as PBR, to go even further. The Material Plugin Manager provides developers with the flexibility to fully customize the power, performance, and look of any shader!
Check it out: Material Plugin Manager Demo
Learn More: Material Plugin Manager Documentation
Much Much More
Wow that’s a lot, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg! Improved Shadow Performance, Vertex Animation Textures, a brand-new Build System, there’s more to Babylon.js 5.0 than you can imagine! Want a full view of everything that’s new? For a full list of features, enhancements, and fixes you can head on over here.
Babylon.js 5.0 launches the Babylon.js platform to incredible new heights and we cannot wait to see you reach for the stars with it!
In their mission to diversify STEM education, twin brothers use Windows 11
Twins Miles and Malik George are almost always in sync. They graduated at the top of their high school class as co-valedictorians. At MIT, these bioengineering students embraced and expanded upon their love of science. They were also in multiple diverse groups on campus such as Nu Delta Fraternity, The Standard, and Laureates and Leaders.…
Twins Miles and Malik George are almost always in sync.
They graduated at the top of their high school class as co-valedictorians.
At MIT, these bioengineering students embraced and expanded upon their love of science. They were also in multiple diverse groups on campus such as Nu Delta Fraternity, The Standard, and Laureates and Leaders.
This last program is dedicated to helping under-represented students get Ph.D.s or M.D./Ph.D.s and has a selective entry process. The two fondly remembered the program as instrumental in shaping their academic careers.
They worked with MIT Admissions as Admissions Ambassadors to increase the number of underrepresented students that apply to and attend the university. On campus and virtually, they worked in several biological engineering labs. They’re about to graduate and will be pursuing Ph.D.s in Biological Engineering at MIT.
They’re both passionate about bringing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to under-served communities through hundreds of funny and informative lessons posted to TikTok and other social media. Their mix of memes, dances and trivia reach all kinds of audiences. They teach what they find exciting about science.
“The more curious you are about one subject, the more you learn about that subject, the more curious you become about everything else,” Miles says. “Curiosity is the reason why people keep innovating. And so as long as people are curious, people will keep learning.”
“Curiosity leads to solutions, you know?” Malik adds.
The brothers will host a private virtual education event for students May 17 in partnership with Microsoft Stores. This session will reach 10,000 students and will feature an inspirational fireside chat, STEM demonstration and interactive Q&A.
The twins strive to be role models for the next generation, to inspire them to follow their dreams.
“In high school we did a lot of science fairs. Being able to count on your hand how many people look like you in a room of over a hundred people, it’s pretty sad,” Malik says. “As we became involved in science ourselves, we wanted to make sure that people saw there are people that look like us in the field and that they can and should feel welcome to do so as well.”
They’re both PC gamers who enjoy comic book universes and socializing with their many friends.
They are part of a tight-knit family, helping their parents with gardening and jigsaw puzzles, watching movies together and doting on the senior Shih-tzu (who is the fifth member of their household).
But they are also individuals.
Malik is the “explainer.” As his brother shares, “He’s going make sure that if he’s telling you about something, you know everything that there is about the topic and he’s going make sure you understand it at the end of the day.”
“If I’m the explainer, then Miles is the convincer,” says Malik. “You know, he can summarize any topic – no matter how advanced – in a couple sentences to any age group and they’ll understand it.”
This works well when they’re doing presentations, which have reached more than 1,000 students remotely (ranging in age from late elementary school to high school seniors) since January 2021. They’ve been getting more interest about K-12 presentations and plan to continue those.
“I’ll do the intro. He does methods and results. I do the conclusion. He gives you the scientific know-how, how to learn. Then I bring it back at the end,” Miles says.
They also have different work styles – though both are also lifetime PC users. For as long as they can remember, they’ve always been on Windows, starting from their childhood.
“If you were to look at my desktop, you will see at least three applications open at once. If you look at Miles’ desktop, you’ll see one application open, but he’ll have three desktops that he’ll switch between,” Malik says.
Multiple desktops are one of Miles’ favorite Windows 11 features.
“I have one program that I’m focused on. When I’m done focusing on it, I’ll switch to another desktop and that’s what I’m working on then,” he says. “Each assignment gets its own desktop, and I will get to it when I get to it.”
They’ve discovered other Windows 11 features that make them even more efficient.
“As a student, I am constantly searching through emails, especially through keyword search,” Malik says. “I globally search by who sent it or a keyword and it will just show up right there. And I can read it or I can click it and reply from the same place. Windows 11 really takes away flipping back and forth between things. And then anything that you don’t have open, you can also just go through the Start menu.”
They also make great use of Snap Assist.
“I can have an essay snap to the right on Word. I can have some internet research article on the left,” Malik says. “And then if I need to check my email, it would just pop up in the center and I don’t have to cover what I was already working on.”
They like that they can tailor Windows 11 to what works best for each of them.
“It really feels like a personalized experience when I’m online. And it really visually is a much better experience than what I’m used to,” Miles says. “As a researcher, I’m used to a lot of diagrams, a lot of graphs. It really combines multitasking with this beautiful element of note taking and annotating directly on the screen.”
Babylon.js 5.0: News Tools – Part 2
We are artists, developers, creators, and dreamers and we want to make it as simple as possible to enable everyone to bring their ideas to life. With this new version of Babylon.js, we set out to make it even easier to develop thanks to a suite of new and exciting tools. Animation Curve Editor Creating and…
We are artists, developers, creators, and dreamers and we want to make it as simple as possible to enable everyone to bring their ideas to life. With this new version of Babylon.js, we set out to make it even easier to develop thanks to a suite of new and exciting tools.
Animation Curve Editor
Creating and modifying animation data in a rendering engine can be complicated and verbose, but not anymore! Babylon.js 5.0 adds a built-in Animation Curve Editor (ACE), making it incredibly easy to create and modify animation data directly in your Babylon scene. As with all Babylon.js Platform tools, you can also save your animation data to the Babylon.js Snippet Server and load it back into your Babylon.js scene with one single line of code!
See it in action here: Play with the Animation Curve Editor
Learn more: Animation Curve Editor Documentation
Performance is one of the most important things to keep in mind as you create advanced interactive 3D experiences. After all, you don’t want to create an awesome experience that only runs on the most high-end graphics cards, right? You want to create something that EVERYONE can enjoy, and this means keeping track of and optimizing the performance of your scene. Babylon.js 5.0 makes performance debugging and management a breeze with the introduction of the new Performance Profiler. This handy tool allows you to see a real time graph of key performance indicators of your scene, all hooked up live! Make a change, see the impact on perf. It’s really that simple!
See it in action here: Performance Profiler Demo
Learn more: Performance Profiler Documentation
GUI Editor Beta
Babylon.js has a powerful GUI system that offers countless widgets, controls, and properties to help you create rich GUIs. With Babylon.js 5.0 that powerful system becomes far simpler to use with the introduction of the GUI Editor Beta. While still in active development, the GUI Editor Beta is a rich and modern tool, allowing you to create the perfect GUI with a simple and intuitive drag-and-drop interface. Say goodbye to thousands of lines of GUI code and hello to a world of design with the GUI Editor Beta and loading your creations with a single line of code!
See it in action here: GUI Editor Beta Demo
Try it out for yourself: GUI Editor
Learn more: GUI Editor Beta Documentation
New Node Material Nodes
The Node Material Editor is one of the most advanced tools available in the Babylon Platform. One simple UI that helps you generate stunning GLSL shaders with ease. With Babylon.js 5.0 the Node Material gets even better with the introduction of several powerful new nodes!
Check out the new nodes:
Learn More: Node Material Documentation
The Babylon.js Platform offers a large library of free Creative Commons 0 assets available for you to use in your Babylon.js scenes, completely for free. With Babylon.js 5.0, accessing these assets is easier and faster than ever! The new Asset Librarian brings a new Assets namespace that you can use in your projects to easily access the 200+ free assets to make your Babylon.js scenes soar.
Try it out: Asset Librarian Demo
Learn More: Asset Librarian Documentation
Dev Stories Documentation
Babylon.js 5.0 adds a whole new category of documentation called “Dev Stories.” These new tutorials are designed to walk you, step-by-step, through some common scenarios that many Babylon.js developers ask about. From setting up a Babylon.js project quickly, adding interactive 3D elements to your e-commerce site, to deploying your Babylon.js project to a Native Application, “Dev Stories” are rich, deep, detailed tutorials aimed at helping you take your project from idea to reality!
Check It Out: Dev Stories!
“Going The Distance With Babylon.js” A New Book
We are also incredibly excited to share that alongside Babylon.js 5.0, community member and talented author Josh Elster has written an entirely new book about Babylon.js 5.0. Published by Packt Publishing, “Going The Distance With Babylon.js” is written from the mindset of taking you through the entire development process of building a game with Babylon.js from the ground up. We are thrilled to partner with Josh and Packt on this book and think it’ll be a great addition to your library and accelerate your Babylon.js learning journey.
Pick Up Your Copy Here: Babylon.js 5.0: The Book
Beside the tooling, there are also a ton of new features in the engine itself. Check out part three to learn more about the exciting new improvements with Babylon.js 5.0.
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