Microsoft was in the news for all the right affidavit throughout 2016. It beat expectations and made a ton of money in FY16, racked up more than 400 actor Windows 10 installs by the end of September, launched a rival to Slack and even a affairs to create bargain VR headsets.

Its achievements for the year don’t end there: Under the able administration of CEO Satya Nadella, who’s been at the helm since early 2014, the aggregation has come to embrace the cloud, warm up to the open source association and create aberrant accouterments and software products.


Let’s take a closer look at the year that was for the Redmond giant:

Windows 10

Let’s be real for a second: Microsoft did a poor job of onboarding people on to Windows 10, blame the new OS to some machines that weren’t ready for it and banishment updates when they weren’t acceptable for users.

Other than that, however, Windows 10 is pretty great. It’s quick, able and is a contentment to use, abnormally as it had its teething troubles ironed out steadily after it first launched.


It also accustomed a bunch of useful enhancements with the Anniversary Update, including Windows Ink to let touchscreen users author on sticky notes and screenshots, a more able Cortana that can be invoked even from the lock screen, the adeptness to view notifications from your phone on your desktop, deep-linking Live Tiles in the Start menu and bigger array life with Edge.

Microsoft has huge plans for its OS in 2017. The accessible Creators Update, showcased at an event in October, will bring 3D agreeable conception appearance to abundant Office apps, as well as an all-new Paint; gamers will be able to advertisement gameplay live from their desktop; MyPeople will let you view texts, Skype chats, and emails from your contacts all in one place.

It’s absorbing to see Microsoft architecture out its desktop ecosystem steadily as a place for people to work, be artistic and play – antecedent iterations of the OS only felt like a belvedere where you had to bring third-party applications to do whatever you needed to. Hopefully, the Creators Update is just the start of such appearance and functionality for Windows users.

Open source

Microsoft has steadily taken to open sourcing several of its major projects in the recent past, and 2016 saw more of the same. At the start of the year, it open sourced its able Chakra JavaScript engine, as well as its Computational Networks Toolkit for architecture deep acquirements tools for things like speech recognition.

Later, it open sourced Xamarin – a tool for architecture cross-platform mobile apps -and PowerShell, its task-based command-line shell and scripting accent for managing system tasks.


By September, the aggregation had garnered more open source contributors on GitHub than Facebook, Docker, Google and Angular. That accomplishment may not be the arch indicator of how actively open source the aggregation is, but analyze this to the book a decade ago, when Microsoft wouldn’t even have ample on that list at all.

And last month, Microsoft joined the Linux Foundation as a platinum member, which means that the aggregation is committed to allowance beforehand the development of abundant open source projects. That’s a far cry from when former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer labeled Linux “a cancer” 15 years ago (he’s over it now).

Virtual absoluteness and mixed reality

I got a chance to try the HoloLens mixed absoluteness angle at the Junction Hackathon in Helsinki last month and I’m happy to report that the hype is real. It’s indeed a acute product, albeit very much in the works both in terms of the hardware’s capabilities (the arresting area is rather small at present) and applications that abutment it.

That being said, it’s admirable that Microsoft not only managed to make the development kit accessible to tinkerers as scheduled, but was also able to begin affairs it to the public and put it to work in space.


It’s absorbing to see the aggregation take this access to immersive experiences, and differentiate itself acerb from current-gen VR offerings. We’ll have to wait and see if that pays off in allowance Microsoft lead the charge with such accessories in the future.

It’s also worth noting that Microsoft isn’t blank VR. Instead, it’s taking the fight to heavy hitters like Oculus and HTC by teaming up with gadget makers to advance PC-tethered VR headsets that can run on lower-end accouterments and come in at less than half the price of current-gen offerings.

While it charcoal to be seen just how able and immersive these will be when they launch next year, but it’s good to know that VR fans won’t have to pay through their noses and empty an entire room to enjoy basic absoluteness adventures in the near future.

Surface Studio

Microsoft blew people’s minds with its new and first-ever desktop computer, the Surface Studio. Packed to the gills with power and plenty of avant-garde appearance that truly are game changers for creators, it stands head and amateur above annihilation else out there at the moment.

The all-in-in-on PC appearance a 28-inch 4500 x 3000 pixel touch-sensitive affectation that can rest at a 20-degree angle to allow you to work on it anon with your fingers, the automatic Dial ascendancy or a Surface Pen.

At its exceptional price point (it starts at $3,000), it may not see a large audience, but Microsoft has set the accepted for the next bearing of computers at a time when it was accepted that Apple would do so. It’s going much further much faster with touchscreen tech than we’d have expected. The Surface Dial presents a clever new alternation method that we haven’t seen before too, and I expect that we’ll see more such ambassador interfaces in the future.

On its own, Microsoft isn’t yet a huge accouterments rival to Apple; conceivably its better fight with the Cupertino brand is in the tablet space with the Surface Pro. But unlike Apple, it has tons of OEMs ready to follow its lead and push the boundaries of accouterments on its platform, so the goal might only be to draw people to the capabilities and accomplishment of Windows, for which the Surface Studio seems to be a applicable showcase.


Microsoft made a few notable leaps advanced in the gaming administration as well. While its Xbox One animate is still going strong, the aggregation launched the upgraded version, the Xbox One S in June. It brings HDR support, 4K playback adequacy for alive video, a 40 percent abate chassis, an bigger ambassador and now, Dolby Atmos sound.

Far more notable, however, was the company’s advertisement of Project Scorpio, the next-gen animate that’s slated to launch during next year’s anniversary season. It promises true 4K output for games, thanks to eight CPU cores and 6 teraflops of cartoon processing power. It’ll also abutment Xbox One titles and accessories.

Another accomplishment in this domain is the launch of Xbox Play Anywhere, which lets you buy select games on your desktop or Xbox One animate and play them on either system, acrimonious up right where you left off and after having to acquirement a second copy.

Productivity apps

Microsoft’s Office suite has long been one of its big earners, so it’s not hasty that the aggregation angled down on its abundance tools through the year.

For starters, it launched Teams, its rival to Slack’s messaging app for groups. Unlike its competition, it’s deeply chip into Office 365, as well as Power BI and Skype with plenty of appearance for easy advice and accord in the workplace.

It also acquired LinkedIn for a whopping $26 billion. Following the deal in June, the social arrangement for professionals has taken on a number of initiatives to advance its offering, including a redesign and check of its messaging system, the launch of a adjustment account and a lite mobile site for users in India, and a tool to help you accept salary trends in your geographic area and domain.

Microsoft bigger its Office and Office 365 apps a bunch by adding things like abutment for extensions in Office for Mac, enabling real-time accord in Office 365, and bundling Sunrise Calendar’s scheduling appearance into Outlook.


It also launched Flow, a rival to IFTTT with a focus on abutting abundance tools for automating tasks like sending out a customized email when a new SharePoint list item is added.


Microsoft has yet to figure out the mobile and wearables space. It’s struggled for years to grow its market share with Windows Phone (which has sunk from 1.2 percent globally in q$ 2015 to 0.3 percent in Q3 2016, according to IDC), and it’s become clear that shiny accouterments isn’t the answer.

Changing the acumen of its belvedere among absolute and new mobile users will pose a awe-inspiring challenge, and it isn’t yet clear whether that’s big on the company’s agenda for 2017 and beyond. Nadella said in October, “We acutely missed the mobile phone, there’s no question. Our goal now is to make sure we grow new categories.”

Microsoft also failed to make a mark in the wearables space. It only really got into fettle with its Band tracker and killed it this year, and hasn’t agitated to take on watchOS or Android Wear. That may not be a massive missed befalling at this point, given the slow acceptance of wearables even in 2016, but there’s always the danger of being left behind as it did with mobile, should this class take off soon.

Not bad for an contrarily crummy 2016, eh? Microsoft has absolutely been fun to watch all through this year, and it’ll be absorbing to see if it can top this in 2017. There’s lots to be done, including addition out its action for mobile hardware, architecture on its programs for VR and MR, and assault the likes of Slack and Facebook Abode at their own game.