Microsoft has taken the wraps off a new version of Windows--and a new wearable 3D gadget it calls the HoloLens.

The HoloLens is worn over the eyes like virtual reality headsets. While it's unclear when it might be available for sale, a Microsoft engineer showed how it could be used to view and edit three-dimensional renderings of people, machines or other objects.

The new gadget runs on the newest version of Microsoft's flagship operating system, Windows 10, which the company says is designed to provide a more familiar experience as users shift back and forth between personal computers to tablets, smartphones and other devices, including gaming consoles.

Microsoft says Windows 10 will come with a new web browser and bring its voice-activated digital assistant, Cortana, to personal computers.

Microsoft gave only a limited preview of Windows 10 last fall. More features will be announced as Microsoft gets closer to releasing it later this year.

The stakes are high for Microsoft. Its last Windows release alienated users with a new interface that many found difficult to navigate. Microsoft is hoping to win them back with an interface that is more familiar. Microsoft has said Windows 10 will resemble earlier versions of Windows for personal computers, while additional features will emerge automatically on touch-controlled tablets or other gadgets

"It can't be overstated how important this is for Microsoft," Gartner tech analyst Brian Blau said. "They've positioned Windows 10 as the solution to all the problems they created with Windows 8."

There won't be a Windows 9. Microsoft has skipped ahead in naming, from Windows 8 to Windows 10, as though to put more distance between them.

--Associated Press

Published on: Jan 21, 2015