This is part 2 of a multi part series that will deal with the big picture on Windows 8.
Part 1 dealt with my experiences behind the scenes at the Build conference.
In this post, I want to talk about Microsoft’s vision and why i think that they are onto something.
A lot has been said about the fact that Microsoft have been late to several parties.
Before embarking on any type of discussion where Microsoft may get even an ounce of credit for strategic vision, it has become customary to list their shortcomings.
I feel obliged to do so here as well.
- Itunes ate their breakfast
- Google Search ate their lunch
- Google Ad revenue ate their snack
- Ipad ate their dinner
- Iphone took their lunch money
- Facebook dated their mom
And on and on it goes.. yup, they missed a lot of opportunities along the way.
Now, let’s talk about today and where I see the company going.
Microsoft seem to have taken a step back and decided to play a long term strategic game as opposed to a reactionary one.
They are trying to play chess while a lot of competitors are playing checkers.
The vision (as I see it) is to have Microsoft products strategically available to you everywhere said products are relevant.
Basically as Steve Ballmer has said “Windows everywhere”
So what does that really mean?
Here’s my take:
- Wake up in the morning and you reach for a
IpadMicrosoft slate to check the news.
- You check your
Iphone/AndroidWindows Phone 8 device to catch up on quick voicemail messages.
- You watch TV on your Xbox 360/720/1440 connected television which will be able to show you your mail and save your TV preferences (MSNBC and email on the same screen?).
- You get in your car and talk to your Microsoft connected in dash Bing connected computer that can assist you along the way.
- You get to work and use your Microsoft Windows laptop or desktop that’s connected to Windows 8/9/10 and is connected to your work network.
- Your office uses Windows Server 8, Office, Exchange and Azure to push and pull services to and from you.
- You use Bing for your internet searches throughout the day and Skype video to chat with colleagues on the other side of the world.
- You use Socialite to share interesting things throughout the day with friends and family.
- You get back home and relax with a video game on the Xbox.
Seems like a lot huh? Almost exhausting to read all that and scary to imagine in many ways.
That vision if successful would make Microsoft the most powerful, profitable and successful company on the planet.
In order to make this vision a reality, a lot of really smart things need to happen and Microsoft started to make them happen with Windows 8.
Most important is the decoupling of the user from their device.
Traditional technology thinking has a user sitting at a desk with a desktop or a laptop.
Microsoft now think about users as portable profiles who want to accomplish tasks in different locations.
A user may want to play call of duty at the mall or check email in the bathroom or attend a video conference on their couch.
There is no “fixed” way of doing anything anymore.
In order for Microsoft to make this unified user autonomy (my phrase) happen, they are doing a few things.
First, they are striving to create a unified user interface that will work in general for phones, pads, xboxes etc. We know this as Metro now but mark my words, it may evolve and morph as the kinks get worked out.
Remember, this interface is about much more than just Windows 8, it has to work for a host of devices.
The next step is to build sexy tools and incentives to get developers excited about developing for this new platform.
The emphasis and push to developers will be that their apps will span multiple platforms.
Build it once and watch a user use it everywhere.
This has a lot of implications for revenue and licensing so it has the potential to get developers very excited. That should take care of supply.
Now for the demand piece.
Then, they are trying to associate users and their identities to Live ID’s. That’s the first true step in profile portability, having one id that can uniquely identify you in a safe and secure manner.
Once that’s done, they are trying to attach user preferences to those Live ID’s. That’s the next logical step. Now they know who you are and what your data and computer preferences are.
It’s a double edged sword. Some people will be freaked out by the lack of privacy and what can be gleamed about you by knowing all this stuff.
That will eventually be outweighed by the ability to get to what you need from wherever you want.
And finally, they want to get you used to this convenience and understand the fact that you live in the cloud. All your data will be “up there” and just like credit cards over the internet, after the inital shock of it wears off, it becomes a non issue.
Every single new Microsoft product related to Windows 8 has those simple goals in mind.
- Empower the users and make their lives easier.
- Empower the developers to empower the users.
When you think about it, it really just makes sense.
It’s a bold strategy and Microsoft are uniquely positioned to pull it off.
Better positioned than Apple, better than Google and better than Amazon.
Why? Well simply because they have pretty much all the pieces of the puzzle and don’t have to go shopping to make their chain complete.
They just have to connect the pieces they already own.
Now this strategy seems pretty simple but it’s (obviously) very complex and there are multiple opportunities to fail along the way.
I can’t predict if they’ll be successful or not but I have to say, it’s pretty audacious and Steve Ballmer has shown mucho testiclos to roll the dice on this bet.
OK, so that’s the vision piece.
My next post will spell out my thoughts about the Metro interface.