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.

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Prediction: New Devices will Surface from Microsoft for Windows 8 Blue summer 2013

 

This is entirely based on thought, guesswork, what’s really needed, what’s possible, and wishful thinking at worst.  It is not based on any communication or disclosure from Microsoft (directly or indirectly). 

Microsoft – note the short branding style.

Update: The Build 2013 conference has been announced for June 26th, 27th & 28th.  This is around the time that the Surface devices were announced last year.  A big negative comment around Build 2011 was that there wasn’t a lot of developer information prior to Build 2011.  Leaked builds aside, an early conference this year could help appease developers ahead of the Windows Blue release.  However, a criticism for the Surface announcement in 2012 was that there were no pre-order date given.  A much earlier conference this year may not provide for any new device pre-order announcements if we are looking at an autumn timeframe for new device availability, unless Microsoft has been very busy at work and such devices are coming sooner that we think – an end-of-August date (6 months after the Surface Pro) would tick all the right boxes for back-to-school and stay out of the way of the next Xbox release.

Update:  Speculation is moving towards reality – Paul Thurrott of Winsupersite claims that Microsoft will ship an 8" device in 2013.  So read 8" instead of 7" below, providing almost 200DPI if the resolution is 1366×768. 

Update June 3 2013: Microsoft is having a crazy sell-off of Surface RT and Surface Pro at the Microsoft TechEd North America conference.  This signals new devices around the corner!

Queue wavy dream sequence to summer announcements…

Surface Mini – $299

Windows 8 is now available on the the 7” Surface Mini (for $300), which includes Office 2014 RT store apps for Word, Excel, PowerPoint & OneNote (with no business license), limited or NO desktop, and is compatible with the new Surface Dock (Pro) (see below).  It features a low-power I3 equivalent, 2GB RAM and 32GB SSD.  Battery time is 8+ hours.

Update June 3 2013: Dell is selling Windows RT devices for $299.  An Intel Baytrail-based Surface Mini later this year, seems very likely now.

Surface Mini Pro – $399

Also in the mini series is the 7” Surface Mini Pro (for $400), which includes Windows Pro, Office 2014 RT Pro (which add a store version of Outlook with an Office business license), a desktop with app compat, domain join, management group policy with system center/InTune, and docks fantastically using the Surface Dock (Pro) with no DPI issues.  It features a low-power I5 equivalent, not ARM, 4GB RAM and 64GB SSD.  Battery time is 6+ hours. There are WAN model options for $50 more.

Mini users can upgrade their OS to Windows Pro for $150 (but of course don’t get the physical RAM or SSD upgrade).

Both devices come with 2xUSB 3.0, 1xDP (plus DP-HDMI adapter), pen digitizer, WiFi, Bluetooth 4, GPS, Compass, Accelerometer, Gyro, NFC.  They are compatible with existing Surface power supplies and DisplayPort accessories, but not keyboards.  Buyers are encouraged to buy other Microsoft Bluetooth keyboards. 

Surface Dock – $49

There’s also the Surface Stand Charger for $50 which is a wireless charger for the Mini Series, with magnetic power-in connector and a bluetooth receiver with 1 DisplayPort out connector.

Surface Dock Pro – $99

The Surface Dock Pro ($100) features a 3-port USB 3.0 hub, the previously mythical DisplayPort MST hub with 3 ports and 1 DP-HDMI adapter, 1000-baseT Ethernet, and magnetic power-in connector.  The Mini series connects to the dock in portrait or landscape using one of the two strategically placed USB 3.0 ports also providing wireless charging. 

Surface Xbox Mini – $299

The Surface Xbox Mini is a 7” game/companion device at $300 – essentially a Surface Mini with no Office (though available as apps to buy in the store for $100) but increased GPU power. The battery lasts for 4+ hours of game play.

Windows RT –> Windows Phone

The Surface with Windows RT (aka Surface RT) is discontinued. Windows on ARM is now solely the foundation for new WP8 Blue devices which are becoming more like Windows RT, and are compatible with the Surface Dock (Pro) for desktop docking, video display and charging!!! Your desktop is now in your pocket allowing you to dock and use Windows RT on external monitors.

Windows now successfully covers tablets that become your desktop with Surface Mini Pro and phones that become your desktop with Windows Phone.

Surface Screen Adapter – $49

Turn any HDMI or VGA display into a single wireless screen for your Windows 8 tablet or phone (!) device with Bluetooth 3.0+HS or higher.

Update June 3 2013: Microsoft has announced Miracast support in Windows 8.1.  This means future Windows 8.1 devices will make use of these kind of screen adapters, which are in fact already available!

Surface Pro 2 – $799

Windows 8 is also available on the Surface Pro 2 (which now starts $799 with 8GB RAM), featuring the lower power Intel chipset with battery life lasting 6+ hours, and is compatible with the Surface Dock Pro, but not for wireless charging.  It adds in all missing sensors.

Update June 3 2013: Intel Haswell chips are out of the gate.  I expect we’ll see the announcement of a Surface device using Haswell at Build on June 26th – perhaps even an available device.

Surface Lap Cover – $149

The Lap Cover is also available for both the Surface Pro & the Surface Pro 2 which is similar to the Type Cover, but providing a locking angle for the screen without the stand and includes a battery which (when combined with the system battery) provides 8+ hours of use for the Pro, and 10+ hours with the Pro 2.

 

For $600 CxO and IWs are snapping up Surface Mini Pros with WAN, a Dock and a keyboard.  Some are saving $200 off the device with a new mobile provider 3-year plan. 

The $300 Surface Mini and Surface Xbox Mini become the fastest selling tablets ever during Dec 2013, with families buying multiple units from back to school to xmas. 

Then, there’s the ‘Xbox 720’…

All I want for Mix-mas this March at Microsoft Mix10

So the seasonal gift giving has now passed, but I’m hoping for a few good prezzies for Microsoft’s Mix conference.

  • Windows Mobile 7 rocking a .NET ‘Mobile’ (not compact) Framework programmable Silverlight 3+ interface, Xbox mobile games (like Zune games programmable with the free XNA Game Studio), Zune Interface, Media Center extender abilities, and a marketplace with no publishing gauntlet for music, games and apps, and real devices available by Oct 2010.  A full marketplace in Canada is a must!
  • ‘Visual Mobile 2010 Express Edition’ – I don’t need this since I’ll have VS 2010 Premium/Ultimate, but Microsoft needs to release a free mobile development tool (with Silverlight designer support presumably) that will launch 100,000 apps
  • Decent replacement for the Live Framework (which was withdrawn) including free Bing Maps API usage up to a decent ceiling
  • Consistent mobile and desktop Live Services and Framework experience
  • Live Mesh Release (with better-than-hopeless user documentation)
  • Better free and on-ramp deal pricing for the Windows Azure Platform
  • Microformat & Live Clipboard SDK for IE 9.  Ray Ozzie blogged and tinkered (including a subsequent SDK and runtime) about ‘Wiring the Web’ with a ‘Live Clipboard’ using microformats back in 2006.  Skip to the present day and go to this Microsoft Canada blog post this week promoting my Mix session proposals (thanks Joey) and look at the Mix-powered Microformat tool that appears at the top left ;-)  Accelerators for IE8 just didn’t do it.
  • Oh, and of course for one or more of my Mix sessions (see below) to be selected by the public through the voting that ends tonight! 🙂

Not too much to ask for right?

 

Looking to learn more about the Windows Azure Platform, Silverlight, Windows Touch or Windows Identify Foundation?

If you’d like to see these sessions in person at Microsoft’s Mix 2010 conference or the recordings that will likely be made available for free later on, please vote for the sessions before January 15th 2010, by going to the site, adding the 3 sessions to you ballot and submitting it

Microsoft Announcements at Steve Ballmer’s CES 2010 Keynote

This post was updated live during the keynote on Wed Jan 6th 2010.

All the juicy information on the keynote is below, but first, I’d appreciate 30 seconds of your time to support my session submissions for the Microsoft Mix 2010 conference by voting (follow the link, select a session, add to ballot, back up to repeat for other sessions, then submit the ballot)…

Looking to learn more about the Windows Azure Platform, Silverlight, Windows Touch or Windows Identify Foundation?

If you’d like to see these sessions in person at Microsoft’s Mix 2010 conference or the recordings that will likely be made available for free later on, please vote for the sessions before January 15th 2010, by going to the site, adding the 3 sessions to you ballot and submitting it

Background

Microsoft’s focus for the event

  • Screens woven into the fabric of our lives, specifically the PC and TV experience
  • Cloud – approach that combines power of client and cloud
  • Natural User Interface

Product/Service Announcements

  • Bing will be default search engine and MSN default homepage for HP PCs in 42 countries
  • HTC HD2 with Windows Mobile 6.5 exclusively through T-Mobile in the USA (more to say at phones at Mobile World Congress in Feb 2010)
  • Mediaroom 2.0 – IPTV solution for service providers such as AT&T U-verse (US) – live & on-demand content to the TV, Xbox, PCs (Windows 7 Media Center) & Windows Phones, enabled with Silverlight and IIS Smooth Streaming.
  • New slate form-factor PCs with Windows 7 coming in 2010 – will anyone notice once Apple releases their tablet?
  • Lots of cool games coming to Xbox in 2010 inc. Halo Reach (prequel to Halo 1), Crackdown 2, Fable III, COD MW2 content packs & Alan Wake (… a psychological action thriller delivered in episodes)
  • Xbox Game Room will have 1000+ old-style arcade games (with collaborative showdown) released over next 3 years starting in the spring.
  • Xbox Project Natal scheduled to be available for the 2010 holiday season – no new demos however

Demos/Information

  • Video of Seth Meyers from Saturday Night Live ‘thanking technology for everything is does for us’ (with comic sarcasm) – not sure there was a point to that…
  • There are 39 Million Xbox consoles around the world and 500M+ games sold ($20B+)
  • 11 Million users brought to Bing
  • Windows 7 had 3000 engineers, 50,000 partners and 8M beta testers
  • PC sales jumped nearly 50% the week Windows 7 launched
  • In 2009 33% more PCs sold at US ‘Black Friday’ (traditional retail sale day) than in 2008
  • Windows 7 All-in-ones shown: Lenovo A300 (thinnest on market), Medion Touch, Sony Vaio L
  • Windows 7 Laptops shown: Asus, MSI, Dell Adamo XPS (thinnest on market with very fast wake-up), Asus NX90
  • Windows 7 (‘full version’) Netbooks shown:  Lenovo, Acer, etc.
  • Windows 7 Gaming machines shown: HP NV15, Toshiba X505
  • Windows 7 3D Gaming machine shown: ASUS G51
  • Windows 7 on small-form-factor PCs shown: Acer Aspire Revo, Dell Xeno HD
  • Demo of digital reader with interaction and text to voice – Blio (1M+ books)
  • Demo of SkyDrive, Device Stage, Windows Live & Office 2010
  • Demo of Bing Maps zooming in with StreetSide
  • Demo of Ceton CableCard in Windows 7 Media Center – recording 4 HD channels at one time
  • Demo of what else you can do on the PC while watching TV on it (playing in background) – with horrible audio ‘stuck-record’ repeating glitch ;).
  • Demo of Windows 7 Media Center front-end to CBS (US TV Network)
  • Windows 7 slate form-factors coming in 2010 shown: Pegatron, Arcos & HP, with a video of the HP prototype specifically, with Kindle software running
  • Another Seth Meyes video on the ‘history of things that have happened in technology’… yawn…
  • Between Xmas and new year Xbox LIVE had 2.2M concurrent members online – busiest week ever
  • 20M+ Xbox Live users
  • A new member each second last week
  • A 1/3 of Xbox Live time is on non-gaming activities like buying extra songs, avatar clothing, etc.
  • 20M people have logged into Facebook, Twitter & last.fm, via Xbox Live
  • Demo of Xbox doing HD movie rental with instant streaming

Get further basic details from the MS press release, as well as a further press release about Natural User Interfaces (Voice, Touch and Beyond)

Google could win at least the Mobile Consumer Space

If you look at Microsoft’s Project Natal, you know that Microsoft is trying to go after the rest of the family in the gaming space.  Once those people become comfortable playing games like raggedy dolls 😉 they’ll be comfortable using whatever entertainment or service Microsoft provides on the box.

It goes without saying that Microsoft is big in business and will likely continue to be but that focus may continue to be their undoing in other market segments – just look at Windows Mobile.  Take the consumer who is buying their first or next mobile device and just moving into social networking or electronic communications or those that currently have no brand loyalty.  Here, Google could gradually and quietly take over from Symbian, Apple and Microsoft.

Google Wave + Google Search + other Google applications on an Android-based phone, a mini running Android or even on any other low-cost device with a browser, could be a winning formula and all that any social networking consumer needs.

While Microsoft will dominate business, gaming and home entertainment, Google may well end up dominating most of the mobile consumer space (with a little work on the UI – and imagine if Google and Adobe got together…).

Microsoft needs to come out with a Windows Mobile device and fast – like this year.  It needs to be a .NET-based OS and have a flourishing and up-front application/music market place.  That means dismissing their hardware partners and bring out a cheap Zune phone (while extending Game Studio Express to be App Studio Express) – it’s painful to other but it’s the only real way for Microsoft not to lose this space altogether, and not to Apple, but to Google.

Playstation Network vs. Xbox Live – Who Is The Clingy One?

I received an email today about updates to the Playstation Network Terms of Service and User Agreement.

The following appears to be a new clause under “The violations that are prohibited…” section:

“You may not provide anyone with your name or any other personally identifying information other than your own Online ID, or the name, password or personally identifying information of any other person or business through any means, including messaging, chat or any other form of PSN communication”

I’d like to point out that this is a horribly ambiguous sentence following “other than”, but appears to say that you cannot let people know who you really are or how they can contact you by any other means.  I can understand why one should be warned not to do this, but I don’t think it should be prohibited – plus they reserve the right to monitor communications.  If this were a pay-per-view community, I could understand it, but it’s not, and if people form virtual friendships, this would appear to prevent them from taking them into real life.

I did a quick check of the xbox live agreement and couldn’t find anything quite so… possessive.

Windows Live Mesh Gives Legs or Wheels to Microsoft Sync and Auto PC

Microsoft Sync has appeared in some Ford vehicles and is apparently coming to at least two other manufacturers soon.

It amazes me how utterly appalling the uptake is of Windows in the car industry.

Microsoft Sync with a Microsoft’s Live Mesh client opens up the ability to take contacts, music, continuous user experiences (such as phone calls, paused music and podcast bookmarks), to your car.

Combine that with a ‘Windows Live PC’ running on an ‘Xbox portable’ or Zune in the mesh as I’ve mentioned in this series of posts on Live Mesh, and you can really see the magic of software plus services coming together for a seamless user experience.