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All posts tagged Surface

MicrosoftEdu 2017 Is On May 2nd

MicrosoftEdu will kick-off tomorrow in New York and whilst the hashtag and event name indicate an education-centric theme many are predicting a big hardware announcement.

MicrosoftEdu - Event

For those who want to follow the Livestream, the begins at May 2nd, 6:30 a.m. Pacific Time / 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

The technology announced will focus on the education market which is a highly competitive market. Microsoft and Google (and to some extent Apple) are fighting over school districts, teachers and students. Until now, the focus was on learning platforms and productivity suites / apps with Google holding the upper hand in the device market.

Google Chromebooks make a great hardware solution for schools who buy into the Google ecosystem. Until now, Microsoft could only counter this with OEM budget laptops but these came with full Windows 10. An Intel Atom device with an SSD certainly gave more bang for buck but was it the economical choice?

What Can We Expect Then?

Microsoft are expected to announce new hardware and going out on a limb, I predict the following at MicrosoftEdu:

  • Microsoft Surface Cloudbook:
    • A Chromebook killer / competitor.
    • Highly portable but probably classic clamshell laptop style.
  • Windows 10 Cloud:

Windows 10 Paint 3D - MicrosoftEdu

The Warptest POV

If MicrosoftEdu delivers a hardware – software ecosystem designed for educators and students in Surface design then this will light a fire under the existing fight for this market.

A Surface Cloudbook for education must be aggressively priced to compete and win over schools on old-style LMS looking to upgrade. Things Microsoft should be delivering at MicrosoftEdu to seal the deal:

  • Cortana for kids and or integrated into Microsoft Classroom. Especially with app integrations like homework reminders from Cortana & child filtered research for projects.
  • A strategic partnership with a multimedia content platform that can compete with YouTube.
  • Early adopters deal bundling Surface Dial with the Surface Cloudbook and added cloud storage.
  • Mixed Reality for education: if you jump to the HoloLens page, directly below the intro video is a link to the MicrosoftEdu event. Why? What could be more natural than to leverage HoloLens and the OEM Windows 10 headsets for the education market?

MicrosoftEdu - Hololens

I’m ready to be wowed, how about you?

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.

Microsoft Surface Event

Throw in the latest tweet from Microsoft’s VP of Devices, Panos Panay:

… 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.

It doesn’t take much research to find patents describing a modular, hinged computing device or a newer version of Continuum technology.

Microsoft Surface - All in one

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.

Microsoft Surface - Hololens

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?

Windows 10 Is Celebrating…

On August 2nd Windows 10 will roll out its anniversary upgrade. It’s big.

First, for all of you who fear the Windows Update, don’t. Do be prepared. From August 2nd until you get the Anniversary Upgrade check Windows Update to ensure it runs when it’s convenient for you.

Otherwise you can expect to see the “Don’t turn off your computer” screen as updates are applied, just when you are getting ready to leave work.

Windows 10 - Ned Stark

What Is This Anniversary Update Of Which You Speak?

Many of us remember Service Packs. Today Microsoft is deploying the major update to Windows 10 thru an Anniversary Update. This is 1 year from the official launch of Windows 10. The success of the Operating System is largely due to Microsoft building an incredible crowdsourced solution of invested consumers who chose to install Fast Ring or Slow Ring updates. (Fast having been through low level testing and Slow having been exposed to more in-depth testing before release to these Insiders.)

Those who chose Fast Ring were opting for early adoption of new features but possible instability with it. This is the next step after the end of the free upgrade to Windows 10 that Microsoft offered all year.

The Windows Insider program was for Windows 10 for Desktop / Tablets and Windows 10 Mobile. For those of you wary of installing the update here are three facts courtesy of Microsoft: –

  • Insiders have submitted over 8.6 million pieces of feedback.
  • Insiders spent over 443 million hours on Windows 10.
  • The Insider Program is now available in 30 languages.

The Warptest POV

I’m not going to get into all the details of what new features and fixes we are going to get. Reviewing an Operating System is lengthy, thirsty work. Once we all get the Windows 10 Anniversary Update I’ll deep dive the changes. Some of these changes were alluded to at BUILD2016.

The metrics above tell you one thing, this has been vigorously tested, reported on and had changes recommended not just by Microsoft employees but people just like you who work with Windows 10 every day in a variety of locales, jobs and languages.

We can expect big things from Cortana, the already awesome Edge browser is getting superpowers and if you have a Surface, from the pen and inking. Microsoft are not going to stop with this update though. Expect more greatness.

Windows 10 - Anniversary Ninja Catnniversary Update – Ninja Cat – courtesy of Windows Insider Program

If you take one thing away from this post, this is a big update in terms of size, install duration and impact. Don’t try to run this during prime work time or just before you leave the office.

You’ve been cautioned now get ready to be wowed.

Windows Phone. Reports of its demise …

… regardless of “Windows Phone is Dead” trollgasms, the only thing that seems to be dead is the concept of solid journalism.

The Road So Far…

A couple of weeks ago rumors of Microsoft rebranding Lumia came out. Long overdue but still just a rumor. The association between the Lumia brand, the Nokia acquisition and its negative consequences for Microsoft should have made this a top priority months ago.

The origin for all this seems to have been the rumored launch of the Lumia 650 and it allegedly being the last Lumia phone. It seems the sloth-like, the indolent and those who simply didn’t care read the headline and couldn’t be arsed to look any further.

Last week Windows Central reported the revenue numbers for Windows Phone as part of a post on Viewing Windows Phone in its Proper Context again we saw a slew of posts proclaiming the death of Windows Phone.

Windows Phone - Dead Not

One of the “favorites” doing the rounds is Forbes post on Ruthless Microsoft’s Smart Decision To Kill Windows Phone. If you can find a link to any announcement from Microsoft in this post, if you can find one verifiable fact then I’d love to see it. This is a speculation post based on unconfirmed rumors spun out of more rumors. Not even a “We reached out to Microsoft for a comment…”

Other rumors being ignored by many of these gleeful posts (but not all) are that this is not just rebranding but that Redmond’s Windows Phone will be rebuilt as a Surface Phone. During this interview the hints were there to be heard from Chris Capossela, Microsoft CMO.

Akin to Mark Twain, Kenny from South Park or Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, Windows Phone is frequently reported dead when it simply isn’t so. Why is that?

The Warptest POV

Windows Phone has died more deaths than even Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow and yet each time it bounces back from its reported demise.

 

Windows Phone - Awesome 950XL

Nutshell, these are incredibly well made phones, with a kick-ass OS and as I’ve stated repeatedly, with Universal Apps the world is their oyster. Microsoft clearly has a mobile strategy and it being multi-pronged doesn’t exclude Windows Phone. The first steps to the next evolution of Windows Phone are already there in Windows 10 Phones like the 950 or 950XL with Continuum, Hello and other features, if you actually look.

Imagine a market where these phones and features were never designed less realized, because the market listened to the trolls. This is a market that lost stimulus to innovate and compete. Why would you encourage that?

Be assured, Windows Phone may not be a Lumia, it may be a hybrid device made to be a phone but also to run 32 Bit apps (unconfirmed rumor) and it may be designed to emulate the Surface design but there will be a reimagined Windows Phone later this year.

If Microsoft designs, builds and markets this device right, it will be a device that does things no other device can do.

So my advice is don’t dismiss Windows Phone, it’s a name for a class of devices. Dismiss the trolls and go see for yourself. Most people who go hands on for the first time are simply impressed.

Microsoft, time to bring you’re A game.

The Windows 10 Devices Presentation From New York…

… delivered on so many levels but ultimately Microsoft showed a unified direction, a collective energy unmatched by any other event so far this year and incredible devices running Windows 10.

Many people were concerned that without Joe Belfiore onstage we couldn’t expect the best, however what we got was clearly the best and brightest that Redmond has to offer, their A-Team; Terry Myerson bounded on stage to introduce the event and talk about Hololens followed by Lindsey Maltese of the Microsoft Band team, talking about the Band 2, then we got to see the incredible Panos Panay bring his incredible energy to the stage about Surface and Lumia devices with Bryan Roper dazzling us with Lumia and Continuum.

The livestream event ran for a whopping 95 minutes and every bit of this time was maximized to deliver the new Windows 10 Devices across the spectrum. Devices that across the board are best of breed.

If you find the last statement hard to believe then I suggest you watch the presentation for yourself right here.

The Unified Message

It became rapidly apparent that besides the very genuine enthusiasm and passion the presenters brought onstage, the central theme or message behind the livestream event was that all the Windows 10 Devices were designed without compromise to ensure maximum productivity.

Whatever you want to do with the device in front of you Microsoft intends to ensure you can be your most productive whilst using that device; with Windows 10 as the enabler. In addition, each presenter made strong mention of the ever increasing number of partners working with Microsoft on Windows 10, Universal Apps and new Windows 10 Devices.

Terry Myerson kicked of the event by letting us have some adoption stats for Windows 10: –

Windows 10 Devices - stats

Devices, Devices, Devices…

HOLOLENS.. a glimpse of the future of mixed reality, immersive gaming. If you’re not excited by this you must be catatonic

BAND 2

LUMIA 950 & 950 XL and the LUMIA 550

SURFACE PRO4.. with a new pen with built-in eraser and interchangeable tips and tight app integration.

SURFACE BOOK.. Microsoft’s first laptop, designed to be the ultimate lightweight, super-powered productivity device.

Amazing accessories which are backwards compatible with the SURFACE PRO3

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Screencaps of Windows 10 Devices Livestream courtesy of my Lumia 810

The way we work and interact with our personal computers is evolving. The first phase was touch, then we moved to personal assistants aboard like Cortana & Siri, form factors have changes with hybrid devices, tablets and others but the Windows 10 Devices Event showed an ecosystem of devices with a shared platform, portability based on the user and incredibly engineered and designed user experiences from mixed reality gaming on Hololens, a wearable that guides and interacts with our exercise, environment and other devices in the Band 2, incredible new phones in the Lumia 950 and 950XL which have achieved the Holy Grail of a true pocket PC thru Windows 10 and Continuum, biometric recognition for login and purchase in Windows Hello and to quote Panos Panay true “lapability” with the next evolutions of the laptop in the Surface Pro4 and the stunning new Surface Book.

Each of these are best of breed devices whose impact will undoubtedly change the way we work and play, change ease of use and our productivity.

All of this made possible by Windows 10 but the secret sauce Microsoft displayed at this event isn’t just winning hardware and incredible designs that beat the pants off the competition, it’s the passion and enthusiasm, the unified vision displayed by the Windows 10 Devices team. If Panos Panay is the King of Presentations, then Bryan Roper is the Crown Prince.

The Warptest POV

As we’ve mentioned in the past, the secret sauce that pulls Windows 10 Devices and OS integration tightly together are Universal Apps but the combination of amazing devices that combine the last word in productivity, portability and some very clever accessories with the presenters had seasoned tech reporters and bloggers giving standing ovations. When was the last time Microsoft got a standing ovation?

It should be clear that the direction and vision that Satya Nadella chose is coming to fruition and after seeing the Lumia 950 and 950XL in action I feel sorry for the trolls and naysayers. This is a winning vision.

The level of confidence was clearly indicated in the way that almost every benchmark comparison of Windows 10 Devices was to an equivalent Apple device. This was done without snark or hostility, simply a comparison of performance, ours versus theirs. Well except for one comment about Apple’s pencil not having an eraser but hey, it was funny.

I decided that the POV section is best served by embedding some of my real time comments from Twitter / Facebook as I watched the event.

I just watched the Microsoft livestream for new #Windows10devices and I have never had delivery so exceed…

Posted by Warptest on Tuesday, 6 October 2015

 

Companies who are not buying into Universal Apps for #Windows10 are clearly lacking vision and are basically missing the…

Posted by Jonathan Ross on Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Many if not all these devices will be available towards the end of October. If you have the chance then go hands on for yourself and I bet you’ll understand why the standing ovation and again as Panos Panay said,

Microsoft brought the Thunder…

The Surface Family Is Expected To Grow Tomorrow…

…with the live Webcast of The Surface Event from New York starting 8am PDT:

Surface Event

Most of the big tech blogs have revealed that we can expect to hear about:

  • A Surface 3 Pro: A Windows 8.1 Professional device with an improved physical design with subtle changes to case, bezel and the snap-on touch cover / keyboard but also expect to see 4G/LTE support.
  • A Surface Mini: Finally we might be getting the smaller form factor. Will it be a phablet? Will it also have the expected 4G/LTE? If we do get this device a smaller keyboard is a certainty. The big question is will the Mini be only a Windows RT device or will Microsoft follow in the footsteps of the Asus Transformer T100 and go for Windows 8 Pro?

In a nutshell this picture is going to have either one or two more models as of tomorrow (each possibly with a couple of variations):

Surface Product Line

The Other Rumors

A couple of other rumors have been floating around:

  1. Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella will be flying in to participate in the webcast.
  2. The BIG rumor is that we are going to see the launch of a Microsoft Smart Watch. This would be incredible as until now none of the major Smart Watches seem to support Windows Phone.

Surface Watch Mockup

The Warptest POV

This is an exciting time for Microsoft and consumers who love the brand. Not just because as the Surface product line grows undoubtedly many of the Windows 8 OEMS will want to follow suit but if a Surface Mini and a Microsoft Surface / Smart Watch are launched then this is proof positive of Microsoft fully embracing a new attitude of rolling out cutting edge products into competitive markets in a reasonable timescale.

No more 5 year lag between iPhone and Windows Phone, Microsoft has realized and evolved into a company that iterates, develops and launches while a market is still open to competition.

Just as important, we can assume that a Smart Watch would only be the start and as part of the Devices Philosophy being embraced by Microsoft that more Wearable tech will be headed our way from Redmond in the near future.

This bodes well for the consumer and the company alike and lays rest to the issues I raise in an earlier post this year about Microsoft Wearables.

I’ll be watching the live webcast excitedly. How about you?

Microsoft You Know I Have Special Place In My Heart For You…

But it’s time for me to tell you something you really need to hear…

Microsoft Motivation

Tough Love

You know what awesomeness is, you know what innovation is and you even know what the consumers want…

But you need to keep up and not just keep up but accelerate and outstrip the competition.

This week is MWC (Mobile World Congress) and let’s be honest, everyone and their cousin are going to be breaking out new tech.

I hope, I really hope that you’ve been attentive and stealthy. That you spent the last year creating killer wearable tech to compete with Google Glass, assorted OEM and the expected Apple Smartwatches.

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The Warptest POV

Steve Ballmer proclaimed in his One Microsoft revamp of the company that,

“Going forward, our strategy will focus on creating a family of devices and services…”

If Microsoft is a real device oriented company (and with Surface, Xbox and Windows Phone have no doubt it is) then I can only assume that a smart market watcher at Microsoft pushed hard for a stealth Surface Wearable’s department to be created to make a product that competes now in this market.

I’ve spoken about Kinect everything integration in the past but a Microsoft wearable with New Windows UI that integrates with and supports Windows Phone or Xbox is something that needs to launch this week at MWC and not like Windows Phone arrive late to market and claw its way into the market after the fact.

Microsoft Surface Watch

So Microsoft like I said, you still have that special place in my heart but don’t disappoint me and show me, show all of us that you get the idea that…

Late innovation is no innovation at all.

Elton John and Kiki Dee via Youtuber GPITRAL0

To clarify, I don’t care if it’s a watch, glasses, a monocle or something else but get stuck in there and invade this market now, NOT in 2 years time.

Do you believe Microsoft will surprise us this week at MWC with Surface wearable tech?

 

microsoft surface

Surface is out there RT and Pro

Microsoft has a beautifully designed product line and right now, after going hands-on at Microsoft’s Build 2012 event, only Asus has tempted me with their Windows 8 touch enabled alternatives. In fact I defy you to go hands-on with the Surface and not be impressed by the look and feel from materials to UX.

Even so I haven’t made the leap and bought a Surface yet. If I was going to buy one of the existing alternatives it would have to be the Surface Pro and I’m a sucker for larger hard drives but I’m hesitating and not just because of budgetary concerns.

microsoft surface

What Am I Waiting For?

The truth is my 14″ Dell Laptop is still working and as important as it is to me to actively use new technology like touch enabled Windows tablets or laptops I can get a quick fix for now at the local computer stores.

The real reason though is that I (like many others) am speculating that it’s worth the wait to see newer and smaller Windows 8 Pro Tablets arrive on the scene. Even Acer whose CEO, JT Wang ripped into Microsoft last August over Windows 8 and Surface is fully onboard with smaller Windows Tablets. Earlier this month Amazon accidentally leaked an out of stock Acer Iconia W3 8.1 inch Windows Tablet.

acer iconia w3

The expectation is that a slew of 7 to 10 inch Windows Tablets are coming later this year.

What Is It Good For?

In a nutshell ask anyone with a pocket tablet like the iPad Mini or a Nexus. Which brings us to an important question, which mini Tablet would I choose?

The Warptest POV

I’m expecting (and I have no hard evidence to support this) to see amongst these a mini Surface Tablet and that would be my choice. The question though is will it be a pure Tablet or a Phablet? More important, if there is a mini Surface Phablet which flavor of Windows will it run?

Can we expect a full blown Windows 8 Pro Phab with phone functionality built in? I asked Microsoft if there was phone functionality coded into Windows 8 Pro or RT via Twitter but didn’t get an answer yet.

Perhaps the only conceivable alternative for me would be if Asus made a version of their Padphone with Windows onboard.

Asus padphone

Regardless of which of these we get to see I’m hoping the boffins at Redmond work hard to find competitive prices for these devices.

What do you think?

LOTR Meme

Off to a modest start…

According to many of the market analysts Microsoft’s dip of the toe into the hardware market with the Surface RT is off to a modest start.

I’m prepared to reserve judgment until after the holiday sales and just hope that Redmond have a plan to bring their A-game to Surface hardware sales and marketing.

So far the Metro UI “eye-candy”, click keyboard, see the ad everywhere approach coupled with sales from brick and mortar Microsoft Stores seem to garnering mixed reactions.

In my last post I suggested that Microsoft has to combat “the suspension of imagination”, consumers have become used to spoonfed UX and there is limited desire to explore or imagine other, even better ways of using tablets, laptops etc. The Windows 8 Ecosystem is going to have to combat this mindset not because there is anything wrong with the UX but because it is something radically different.

One simply doesn’t Pivot Into Surface Sales, OK Microsoft?

Applying existing business models and marketing strategies to high-end electronics, hardware and then selling that hardware based on technical aspects is a partial strategy at best.

One simply doesn’t pivot into Surface (hardware) sales without modifying strategy. (It was irresistible, sorry)

LOTR Meme

What we are seeing is classic Microsoft but if they really want the Surface RT and (impending) Pro to sell they need to add to what they are doing.

Reexamine what works…

Microsoft should be taking a cold, hard look at what’s hot and what’s not when it comes to how they and of course, their competitors have sold in the past.

Two of Microsoft’s greatest successes IMHO were: –

  1. The Windows 7 Unbranded Experiment: After the consumers basically took up pitchforks and burning torches due to the usability issues around Windows Vista a lot of hard work went into analyzing the factors that displeased the user and resolving them. In doing so Windows 7, possibly the best Windows experience until now was developed. A version was installed on laptops without any Microsoft or Windows branding and Microsoft took it to the streets and shopping malls to allow consumers to try the Mystery OS without any preconceptions or prejudice based on Vista. Consumers whole-heartedly loved it.
  2. I’m a Mac, I’m a PC: The incredibly amusing series of spoof ads with slim, young, hip Justin Long as the cool Mac and stodgy, unfashionably dressed John Hodgman as the PC were designed to highlight how easy and accessible Mac was whilst taking a light-hearted poke at poor, old PC.

I’m a Mac Ad via YouTube user pippintk.

The Warptest Perspective…

Seeing ads on billboards, YouTube and TV. Watching your favorite TV show solve a crime or foil international skullduggery with a Surface RT in hand is excellent. Whilst I’m not advocating a repeat of the Unbranded Experiment shouldn’t Redmond be seriously considering having Microsoft Surface Experts in every shopping mall and in the streets? Get the Surface devices into consumers’ hands and let them see for themselves what it’s all about. Have the Experts show them how intuitive Windows 8 / RT is and let the hardware win over consumers’ hearts and minds for itself.

Secondly, bring I’m a Mac, I’m a PC back and turn it on its head (unless there are copyright issues of course) but instead of just contrasting your competition against your product also show the abilities of the Surface Pro vs the RT. However, don’t… DON’T talk about ARM vs Intel processors! To the average consumer this might as well be Martian. Below is Microsoft’s “what to buy” chart but let’s face it if your winning strategy is an infographic then you really need a wake up call.

Chart embedded from Microsoft Surface Site: NB. it looks different when opened in browser. But you get the idea.

The revolution is here and soon the tablet next to you on that bus, train or in that coffee shop is going to be a Surface. Now imagine yourself using it.

The Surface RT

The Surface and many of its OEM competitors have landed…

At least the Windows RT version has.

Putting aside criticisms of price point or App availability for Windows RT (early days, give it a chance) Microsoft missed an enormous opportunity for convergence of two technologies to launch a tablet unlike any other out there in the so-called Tablet Wars.

Microsoft’s Kinect for Windows should be built into laptop, monitor, tablet and yes Smartphone devices as an organic component of the device in much the way the humble webcam has.

Image from the Microsoft Kinect for Windows Page (see link above)

Kinect for PC is launching in several countries around the world with a similar form factor to Xbox Kinect and an SDK just waiting for the bold App Developers out there who see Kinect as the next iteration in MMI.

I can hear someone saying, “Wouldn’t this devalue touch functionality in Windows 8 etc?” and my answer is a definitive No.

Being the only kid on the IT block with built in touch-less touch control as an alternative to mice, keyboards, a stylus or greasy kiddy fingerprints all over your touch screen is the least of it and having these devices come with the SDK pre-installed (hopefully with a user friendly macro recorder) to allow consumers to devise their own touch-less solutions would blow the competition out of the water and force not just Windows OEMs but Android and iOS to play catch-up to compete.

The Microsoft Open Source project site Codeplex references a Coding for Fun Project, the Kinect Service for remote connection to a Kinect. This theoretically would allow remote access from Android or iOS devices even though the project mentions Windows Phone. Still just Bing / Google “Kinect for iOS” or “Kinect for Android” for a peek:

In a nutshell Surface + Kinect / Laptop + Kinect / Windows Phone + Kinect is a gamechanger and if the rumors of Microsoft working on their own phone are correct, here’s hoping they have either thought of this or read my blog.

Would this kind of embedded hardware and feature make you change to a Surface or Windows Phone?

 

What were they thinking?

Earlier today all the big tech blogs reported that Acer CEO JT Wang gave Microsoft a direct warning not to move ahead with the October 26th release of the ARM based Windows Surface RT (Intel Pro version to follow 90 days after).

 The original article was on the Financial Times but to link to it would be to cause undue pain and suffering through excessive FT popup notices so I’m linking to Engadget who reference the original article.

 

Acer CEO

Acer have a history of being the OEM who isn’t afraid to tell Microsoft how to run its business however I find myself asking,

 Why did they wait so long to speak out in this fashion?

More to the point does the CEO actually think that with less than two months to go before launch Microsoft are going to roll over and say,

 “Hey guys, that Surface thing well we decided in the end that Tablets and our own hardware line just isn’t our thing”

 Who the heck is this company anyway?

Acer were back in the day just another white box OEM in the game but progressively from 2000 they have managed to both rebrand themselves and take an increasingly larger bite out of the PC market.

In fairness, this was done with some smart acquisitions along the way; the Acer Group counts amongst its product line the following PC brands:

Acer group

 

Gartner are quoted on Wikipedia Market Share of PC Vendors as indicating that Acer over the last 5 years alone begun clawing its way to 4th position behind HP, Lenovo and  Dell.

What Have Acer Ever Done For Me?

 

With thanks to Youtube User Klute2006

 

You are probably scratching your head right now and trying to remember those noticeable products in the PC world that they delivered.

In the past few years only two come to mind:

* The Acer Iconia W series – Windows 7 tablets with a dockable keyboard

* The Acer Iconia A series – Android tablets with a lighter, smaller form factor

 The rest of their product line on their site does nothing for me personally the way Asus, Toshiba or Samsung’s product lines do. The words generic or bleh comes to mind.

 

The Warptest Perspective

Besides the obvious linkbait and free PR from poking a stick at the Microsoft Bear prior to the Surface release it is clear that as an OEM Acer have always been less than happy with their relationship with Redmond.

I’m convinced that Acer believe they need to drop Windows as their tablet OS. Currently they are producing and supporting two tablet OS platforms Windows 7 and Android. Along comes Microsoft and springs Surface on them. Now as I mentioned in my post in June: “Does the Surface mean no more OEMs?” The OEMs should be using the Surface as a guiding light for inspiration and new innovation.

I believe they always intended to drop Windows for their tablets and reduce overhead in production and support. The Surface affords them a reason to justify this and lay the blame at Microsoft’s door.

I believe they are missing the point and have chosen to remain generic and mundane.

They are assuming that should only the Acer brand of PCs and tablets leave Windows they will continue to maintain their market share. They are also assuming that what has worked with Windows will work (forgive me, you know who you are) in the very much fragmented Android market.

At this time they do not have a competitive tablet for the Samsung Note, Asus series or Google Nexus 7, all of whom Acer will have to compete with.

The big question is will other OEMs choose to follow Acer’s lead or will they rise to the challenge and design innovative Windows 8 based competitors for the Surface? What’s your point of view?

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Blinkered by a brand-name:

I find myself once again awed at the ability of some people to be blinded by the Microsoft brand. Many people are once again indulging in Redmond bashing over Microsoft’s Surface.

Thanks to YouTube poster Maherbars for the Frankenstein clip.

We are seeing comments and blog posts more focused on who invented tablets Apple or Microsoft and the subsequent “typical Redmond for copying Apple not innovating”.

I have one thing to say on this,

It doesn’t really matter where the concept came from Apple, Microsoft, Gene Roddenberry or Isaac Asimov. This is the milestone we stand at in terms of technological development and should be embraced.

Did Microsoft just burn every OEM bridge they had?

Microsoft went ahead and made the Surface themselves and apparently left their OEMs behind on this. I was watching twit.tv last night commenting about the Windows Phone 8 news. They believed that Microsoft didn’t clue in the OEMs simply because they didn’t want leaks prior to the news. On one level you could say this holds true for the Surface on another this generated a frenzy of predictions online, all that was missing was for Microsoft to open a betting pool or have a competition with the person with best prediction could win a Surface.

I don’t believe Microsoft has trashed their relationship with their OEMs…

The Warptest prediction…

Microsoft knew that the Surface is a radical departure from everything they have done with the PC ecosystem until now and they decided to lead the way rather than pushing the OEMs to shoulder the risk of developing the first of these devices. This is sound leadership and will probably pay off in terms of seeing an inspired bunch of OEMs creating some amazing devices in the vein of Surface.

So if you are looking at the picture of the Surface and grinding your teeth remember this: –

  1. You are going to need those teeth unless you are a huge fan of eating apple sauce so count to ten.
  2. Remember when there is competition like this then the consumer always benefits.
  3. Steve Jobs nor Bill Gates gave us the first tablets …

image

image thanks to IMDB.com

I’m convinced that my next laptop like device will probably be the Windows 8 Surface and I would love it Microsoft if you’re reading this, if I could go hands on before that to blog about the experience.

How about you then?