Microsoft Surface Has Meant One Thing Until Now.
When you heard Microsoft Surface, you thought of the killer Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book hybrid laptops, right?
Ever sat in a meeting with someone using one, walked past a store selling them? Likely they caught your eye because of the materials and design. The sleek lines, kickstand, detachable tablet – keyboard combo, spun magnesium body and the pen. It’s hard not to lust after the Surface laptops.
Whilst the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book were turning the world of laptop design on its head, Windows Phone and the Microsoft Band were making less of an impact.
Much has been written on the failure to seize market share by both these devices. Some written on this blog.
Windows Phone has evolved into Windows 10 Mobile and the Band 2 is no longer for sale by Microsoft. Both have been surrounded by rumors of successive devices: the Microsoft Surface (Panay) Phone and the Band 3. What is going on?
Microsoft Event 26th October
Wednesday in New York (tomorrow), Microsoft have invited us to see what’s next for Windows 10.
Throw in the latest tweet from Microsoft’s VP of Devices, Panos Panay:
— Panos Panay (@panos_panay) October 25, 2016
… and you can reasonably assume that in addition to what’s next for Windows 10 the Operating (eco)System, we are going to see new devices. Several weeks ago Winbuzzer reported that the FCC had approved a new Surface keyboard (and more) and most of the big tech blogs have been reporting that they expect to see an All-in-one desktop revealed tomorrow; probably called the Surface Studio.
The expectation is the Surface Studio will be built along the Surface design ethos in terms of materials, form and features. Full pen support, an adjustable desktop kickstand, the (previously mentioned) keyboard and almost certainly a matching mouse. Microsoft historically announces partnerships with software vendors to support new hardware so one can expect Adobe, AutoDesk or perhaps Unity3D to have something special for the Surface Studio. Microsoft themselves are expected to launch an improved Paint app.
Courtesy of US Patent & Trademark Office: Microsoft filings.
The Surface Studio aside, everyone has high hopes of hearing that Windows 10 Redstone 2 and 3 will incorporate features for connected IOT technology. The hot rumor is a Microsoft homehub feature in Windows 10 means a Cortana enabled home control device akin to Amazon’s Alexa.
Since no tech event would be complete without AR or VR, Hololens will be center stage with more apps and stronger Hologram integration with Windows 10.
The big question though is will the event address the future of wearable & mobile devices?
The Warptest POV
Most if not everyone believes that when Microsoft pulled the Band 2 from their stores that there will be no Band 3, even with rumors prior to this of a streamlined, waterproof sport wearable incorporating RFID and an EKG. The Band 2 was noted for its ability to measure VO2 without any unwieldy mask, but a sports wearable with an electrocardiogram seems something not to be given up on easily. I am not so easily convinced.
As for mobile, whilst Windows 10 Mobile continues to release improved Insider updates and several new OEMs have launched Windows Phones, there will be no new Lumia phones. That said, no-one is under the illusion that the Panay / Surface Phone will arrive. The rumors surrounding the Surface Phone are many, including the expected 32 / 64 bit app support. Doing so means desktop apps will run on this phone.
Microsoft are the only company to have a Universal App Platform, a bridge to port IOS apps and Project Centennial for turning desktop apps into Universal Apps. This means that a Surface Phone (assuming the necessary spec and size) is a serious laptop alternative.
If Microsoft has managed to minimize the Continuum Dock and incorporate it into this phone, then connecting it to any screen will make it full blown Windows 10.
Are Microsoft prepared to cede the mobile and wearable markets to the competition without a fight? No but they need a killer strategy, winning devices and hardware to support this. Why won’t we hear about a Microsoft Surface Phone or Band 3 tomorrow? Simply because the chipsets necessary for these devices are not ready now but also because ultimately Microsoft are somewhat loyal to their dedicated Band 2 & Lumia consumers. There is a transition period which will allow for a better launch for these new devices, both running Windows 10.
The most important announcement that should be made tomorrow is that Microsoft Surface is the brand name for all Windows 10 hardware made by Microsoft.
It should all be designed and made to the same standards, with the same materials and with similar ethos and feature sets. So yes, a Microsoft Surface Phone should have a kickstand and a magnetized keyboard like the Surface Pro. A Band replacement should be spun magnesium cased too.
The creation of a Universal Hardware Platform to match the UWP will make for a stronger, more marketable brand. A brand that is part and parcel of the Windows 10 Operating (eco)System that consumers and enterprise can get behind. A brand that will allow Microsoft to deliver a mature, competitive product in the mobile arena.
Want my annual bit of advice Satya? This is what I want to see from the Microsoft Event tomorrow. How about you?