The Killer Threshold Devices/Experiences of Build 2015

aka what MS must do to stay and go beyond relevant in the gadgets, devices and platform space for consumers, enterprise and developers.

Note – there is no insider or NDA information in this post.

Build 2014 was devoid of devices for which one could build.  Next year should be entirely different…  All of this is possible.  However, cue dreamy wibble effect…

The tablet that is a desktop…

Announcing Surface One running Windows 9 Touch.  Surface One is a device with an 8.9" 1620×1080 display with active digitizer and pen for experiences like the Surface Pro 3.  It’s the ultimate mobile device featuring Wifi, Wifi Direct, BT 4 LE, LTE & Wireless charging, but of course also a USB 3.0 port.  Battery life is 12 hours.  It runs WinRT apps including WinRT Office (aka Gemini).  It also runs Office RT.  But you don’t have to compromise.  Place the device on a previously unregistered NFC charging pad and it provides the opportunity to connect to and remember a bluetooth keyboard, bluetooth mouse and HD wireless display.  On that display you get the full Windows desktop running full Win32 apps powered by Azure with RemoteApp.  It’s available starting at $249.

Announcing the Surface Wireless Charger, a wireless charger and stand with an NFC tag to wake up your desktop experience.  It’s available for $49.

Announcing the Surface Wireless Battery, a wireless charger and battery (that is wirelessly/USB-charged) and stand with an NFC tag to wake up your desktop experience.  It’s available for $99.

Announcing the Surface 3 Dock, with physical docking which adds 2 USB 3.0 ports, gigabit ethernet, power and displayport for connecting to up to 2 external HD monitors with DisplayPort.  Available soon for $149.

The phone that is a desktop… The PocketPC (to risk ressurection of another Microsoft brand)…
I can’t stress how huge I think this would be.  It could spark the beginning of an era of ubiquitous public docking stations including cameras for walk-up video conference calling.

Announcing Lumia One (also) running Windows 9 Touch.  Lumia One is a phone device with a 5" HD display. Just like the Surface One, you can place the Lumia 9000 on a wireless charging pad and get the full desktop experience courtesty of Microsoft Azure!!!  It’s available starting at $199 on 2-year plans or $399 unlocked.

Announcing the Lumia One Wireless Charger, a wireless charger with an NFC tag to wake up your desktop experience.  It’s available for $49.

Announcing the Lumia One Shell, a device with a 13.3" 2160×1440 touch display, keyboard, trackpad, Wifi, Wifi Direct and bluetooth.  It’s a mere 0.4"/100mm thick with 20 hours of battery life.  It’s the laptop experience for your Lumia One.  Available later in 2015 for $249.

Announcing Windows 9 Standard and Enterprise – for desktop Windows on tablets, laptops and desktops.  Enterprise is a whole other story, but there needs to be consistent friction-free enterprise WinRT apps stores and deployment.

Gadgets… Yes I’m going there because Microsoft must seed the Internet of Things and capture the next generation of developers…

Announcing Xbox Gadgets – a series of sensors, devices, services and kits designed to bring your home and imagination alive:
Xbox Gadgets Relay – devices that connect low power bluetooth devices to your network
Xbox Gadgets Sensor Pack – ambient multi-sensor array in a single package
Xbox Gadgets Contact – physical contact sensors
Xbox Gadgets Camera
Xbox Gadgets I/O – analog/digital signal I/O
Xbox Gadgets Power – power control
Xbox Life Service – logs, automates, reports on and provides remote access/control of, your network in real-time from Windows devices and browsers on other devices.
Xbox Gadgets Lab – two boards (NETMF and Intel) and modular components that you can program via a WinRT app running on your Windows device or Xbox, or more fully using Visual Studio
Xbox Gadgets Factory – turn your lab experiments into prototypes with optimised boards with 3D-printed cases

And yes, this is not a money-maker.  It’s a relevancy-defender.  Microsoft can’t afford to let its consumer and youth developer mindshare slip further.

Announcing XWatch [example brand] – the watch with the unique 3" landscape and thin form-factor that runs specially targeted C#/XAML WinRT apps.  Announcement only.  Ties into the Xbox Life Service.

Announcing Microsoft (or some partner OEM potentially with existing products) Health Pack – glucose, pulse, blood pressure and other bio-measurement devices.  Ties into the Xbox Life Service.

Announcing Xbox Vision [example brand aka fortaleza] – Smartglass app and augmented gaming experiences on glasses with Xbox.  $299, holiday 2015.

In its second 2016 iteration – it becomes a second display for your Lumia One and for public augmented reality.

Announcing the new unified Windows Store.

And finally, announcing building and open publishing of XAML/C# + WinJS apps for Xbox One to the unified store.  Demos only.  Developer-enable your Xbox One and create apps by summer 2015.  Store opens holiday 2015.

Now that’s a platform story on a huge array of devices that are all cloud-connected.

Mix08 Major Silverlight 2.0 Announcements

Silverlight 2.0 Beta 1 (formerly known as 1.1) is now available.

http://silverlight.net/GetStarted/ (bottom of the page).

See the features matrix for overview of new features.

You can also get there:

  • Silverlight Tools Beta 1 for Visual Studio 2008
  • Silverlight 2 Beta 1 SDK
  • Expression Blend 2.5 Preview

There is a Go-Live license for Silverlight 2 Beta 1

Sillvelight will be available on Windows Mobile and Nokia devices (S60/S40/Mobile Internet Tablet) – no availability given.

Silverlight uses a sub-set of WPF/XAML so you can easily create a full WPF desktop app from the same assets/code.

Mix 08 Keynote with Scott Gurthrie – Part 9

Silverlight going mobile

Going to support Windows Mobile and non-Windows Mobile.

Demo of Mixer social app:

  • Mobile 6 device
  • App allowing you to find friends for a party
  • Aggregates twitter, photos and status
  • User ratings for venues over the night

Announcement of partnership with Nokia to put Silverlight on S60/S40 and mobile internet tablet product lines!!!

Finally something cool!

Shame about the boring SVP at Nokia reading his pre-recorded announcement.

Seems like Symbian 60 is the priority. 

Demo of WeatherBug app:

  • Nokia Symbian 60 and Windows Mobile device – same app
  • Weather icons and data
  • App done in 3 weeks
  • Animated snowy weather skin – a bit slow (‘tried to do it with Flash-Lite’ and didn’t work)

Nothing about availability for any mobile platform 😦

Mix 08 Keynote With Scott Guthrie – Part 4

Silverlight 2 Details and Demo

Adds to Silverlight 1.0:

  • .NET language programming in Javascript, VB.Net, C#, IronPython, Ruby.
  • More to WPF UI Framework with animations, standard controls, layout, styling/skinning (visual tree templates) and data binding.
  • More network support including sockets.
  • Local storage.
  • High performance.
  • Small Download (4.3MB), Fast Install (6 to 10 seconds) – doesn’t need full .NET framework beforehand.

Open source license for included controls.

Shipping testing framework with 2000 open source unit tests.

Shipping today:

  • Visual Studio 2008 tools for Silverlight 2.0 preview – support for Silverlight 2.0 with intellisense (XAML and code) and debugging (on Windows or to Mac)
  • Expression Blend 2.5 preview – support for Silverlight 2.0

See Scott’s blog for more info.

Demo of building new AOL mail client in Silverlight:

Shows lots of control templating to show Halo skin – not much audience reaction, but good data performance (retrieval and sorting) – uses isolated storage for performance (e.g. contacts list).

Anyone else tired of seeing demos by huge corporations that build products with advertising revenue deals that only they can get?

Blinded by Silverlight – the real technology/strategy reveal at Mix07

The about page on the mix website stated:

Exciting new Web experiences with the still-secret “Technology X”

WPF/E and its new branding of Silverlight were announced before the conference, so this secret had to be something else. Silverlight 1.0 is what we already knew. Let’s not underestimate it though – it brings all the XAML/WPF whizzy stuff that is the Flash competitor in 1.0 – it allows a lot of Flash ActionScript type developers and other javascript fans to do cool stuff and consider Microsoft.

The technology in Silverlight 1.1 was in fact the secret (as Microsoft has confirmed) – a full .NET engine (with a subset of the 3.5 .NET framework) embedded allowing all the .NET languages (and dev tools) to run cross-platform in a browser. The dynamic language runtime part also enables 4 scriptable languages to work in there along with C# and VB.NET.

But this, I believe, is just the start of a potentially brilliant strategy for Microsoft, as I’ll now explain.

Bringing .NET (and scriptable .NET) to multiple browsers and multiple operating systems is a huge deal. It really does mean that all the investments that people have made in .NET, can be leveraged in many many ways. There’s a reason that 1.1 is 4.24MB compared to the 1.34MB for 1.0. That’s an army many times bigger than ActionScripters with Expression tools providing a way to use existing Designer talents with WPF/Silverlight. Finding ActionScripters for projects is VERY hard – you can more easily find people that can do VB.NET, C#, JavaScript, not to mention being able to use people that can do IronPython or IronRuby – that’s 6 times more languages that can be used!

Silverlight 1.1 is really the hosting of this stuff in a browser with the VC1/media decoding. So if Silverlight is thought of as a subset of .NET 3.5 in a browser that brings Microsoft technology and tools to many browser and platforms (that’s going from windows apps into cross-everything in a browser) – a bridge to other platforms if you will, what happens if you reverse that once you’ve bridged the platform/browser gap, i.e. just have a plain executable application host on a Mac, Linux, etc, even without re-inflating the framework? Now you can potentially develop on Windows in .NET to create full (rich and connected enough) applications on the Mac and Linux (once this runtime is ported to that). You can even do the development on a Mac in a text editor (including in a browser as demo’d).

Microsoft is all about selling copies of Windows (and Office). If you can’t keep Mac and Linux away, then the next best thing is to bring Windows onto Mac and Linux. However, you can’t sell a Windows licenses that way, but you can get people to use technology that easily hooks up to Windows Live or MSN services that you do get revenue from!!!

So the real technology/strategy that I see Microsoft following:

  • Phase 1 – win over Adobe/Flash developers with SilverLight 1.0, bring Microsoft technology to the Mac and make Microsoft look cool. Provide Expression tools to bring the designers across since often there’s a lot of graphics with a small amount of scripting, vs. the other way around.
  • Phase 2 – bridge the divide by bringing .NET development onto Mac and Linux platforms with an army of existing developers that smothers ActionScripters, enabling users to become Windows Live services users – you did notice that Microsoft is ‘opening up’ their Live service APIs right?
  • Phase 2.5 – All those people that like non-Microsoft languages that were stuck on the server (and often, not a Microsoft server) – get them to love Microsoft now that their favourite dynamic scriptable language can now be used to build _client_ applications on multiple platforms…
  • Phase 3 – once across the bridge (cross-browser leads to true cross-platform), expand the hosting to enable rich .NET installed application development on other platforms making Microsoft technology and Windows Live services an indispensible part of the Mac and Linux experience too!

It’s bold, trojan-esque and both developers and users will lap it up.

If this isn’t the strategy, then it should be!

Silverlight WAS the whole keynote practically, and there’s been coverage of very little else (except about DLR) out of Mix. Nothing about Xbox-Windows links for Xbox Live from Robbie Bach (just a snooze-athon discussion and some iffy demos). Nothing about Live ID CardSpace cards or opening up Live ID to web site publishers like Passport.

This technology is the sleeper slow-release hit of Mix07. They didn’t even officially say this was the secret Technology X listed on the about page.

If what I’ve said is Ray Ozzie’s undeclared strategy, then he is indeed doing a fantastic job (despite his apparent lack of blogging and public comments). If it wasn’t his strategy then either he should make it the strategy or let it just fall into place as I believe it will – either way he’ll look like a genius…

We are living in a Microsoft world again…

Be sure to check out my other mix07 coverage.

New Microsoft CLR/DLR celebrities are born in Jim Hugunin & John Lam

For those watching Channel 9 in the last year you’ll likely be familiar with Anders Hejlsberg, the C# language guru (as well as being the nicer than pie and clever as hell Danish import) who has been seen explaining LINQ and related language technologies.

At Mix07, Jim Hugunin will most likely be receiving lots of hugs from developers for his work on, and demonstration of, the Dynamic Language Runtime – extension to the core DLR to allow for C#, VB.NET, IronPython, IronRuby, JavaScript and VBx to all work as scripting languages calling each other and running on .NET. Keep up to date with the latest DLR announcement on his blog. I’ll just forget that he’s a Python guy ;).

His collague, John Lam (Ruby guy) has a Channel 9 video about this stuff.

The two of them did a great session a Mix07 which was recorded.