In his WinHEC keynote (at 07:00), Craig Mundie (Microsoft’s Cheif Research and Strategy Officer) talked about the fact that in ‘ermerging market’ countries, the main computer that millions do have, is a mobile phone.
He showed a video of a Windows Mobile phone playing audio and allowing illiterate individuals to seek services through icon choices, e.g. getting help dealing with a child’s medical symptoms.
Note that he talked about ’emerging market’ countries, rather than ‘developing’ countries, but I still don’t think it’s realistic to think that hoardes of people can afford a Windows Mobile phone but are still illiterate, so goverment or remote funding would likely be required. In fact, he illustrated (with a pyramid) a view of the richest 1 billion people (that have computers), the 2 billion that has limited disposable incoming, and the 3 billion that do need government or agency sponsored programs, all under the umbrella of something called “Microsoft Unlimited Potential” (complete with local and slogan).
Craig’s keynote was quite dry and there wasn’t really anything too novel or far future-looking from Microsoft Research; in fact the first half of his speech was mostly about application and strategy.
While there was talk about medical assistance for other markets, this keynote really seemed like Microsoft airing it’s idea for how it can get to the 2 billion (who largely have mobile phones that are not Windows-based, but were having an interoperable Windows-based device could bring new activities) and the 3 billion where perhaps medical needs could justify getting a Windows-based phone in were there is still the opportunity to compete from a fresh start.
Remember, while this may sound like a cynical view, Microsoft is a publically traded company looking to increase stock price which often means growing its market reach, and Craig is the Strategy guy. While it would have made for a cooler keynote, we aren’t ready for Windows SpaceCraft edition yet, especially when it’s proving so hard for Microsoft to penetrate into the automobile market (but I wish they would).