Microsoft Confirms Plans to Take 3D Printing to the Masses at Inside 3D Printing Chicago

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Windows 8.1 3D Printing

Software giant seeks to make 3D printing seamless for home use

In late June, during their annual Build Conference, Microsoft announced that Windows 8.1 would support 3D printing. This sparked many questions among people as to why Microsoft would get involved and how would they get involved. Jesse McGatha, a 14-year veteran at Microsoft, is one of the key people in charge of leading 3D printing innovation within the software giant.

Today, at the Inside 3D Printing Conference in Chicago, Mr. McGatha began his talk by addressing the question: Why would Microsoft be involved in 3D printing? He explained, “when you have over 70% of 3D printing already happening on a Windows operating system, it makes sense that Windows actually supports that.”

McGatha expressed that one of his main goals is to have an application that can talk to a server and can talk to a device in a clean and consistent way. Moreover, Microsoft will focus on the individual home consumer and on how to can make that user experience as simple and as seamless as possible. Microsoft wants to create a “consumer operating system that is available to everybody” that works fluidly with 3D printing.

Essentially, Microsoft is looking to make 3D printing a plug-and-play process. Now that the cost of 3D printers is becoming accessible for individuals to have at their home thanks to innovations from MakerBot, among others, it is important to have a PC operating system that makes it very simple for people to 3D print things.

Jesse McGatha showed the audience a sample user interface for how Windows 8.1 would interact with 3D printers (see gallery below). While the actual product might look different when it comes to market, the idea is to make the printing process very similar to how a user would go about printing a regular Word doc or PowerPoint presentation today. Some things as simple as having print queues and a print spooler are features Microsoft is tackling to make the user experience straightforward.

At the moment, 3D printing can be a tedious process that requires multiple different software packages and several programs to connect the computer to the 3D printers. The complex process can be a deterrent for the mass adoption of 3D printing technology in the household.

After listening to Mr. McGatha, it is obvious why Microsoft would jump into the industry to make it user friendly and help catalyze bringing 3D printers into people’s homes.


Authored by On 3D Printing contributor Rodrigo Garza Zorrilla, technology entrepreneur and advisor.


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