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June 2011

Metro “Mario” UI?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 0

Ever think Microsoft’s Metro UI theme looked familiar?

Well, I think I’ve found the earliest example of this ‘computer-theme’ in action:

 

Its Not About The Money

Monday, June 27, 2011 0

Watched quite a bit of Glastonbury on TV this year; U2, Coldplay and Jessie J!

Yes, you read that right. I'm kind of a bit of fan of Ms J; maybe its those catchy songs or maybe its just that cheeky streak she seems to have - regardless, I absolutely loved this moment which stole the show:

Windows 8 Tablet Demo

Wednesday, June 8, 2011 0


Did Microsoft Just Beat Google With Their Own Strategy?

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A few weeks ago, I wrote about how Microsoft Phone 7 wasn’t quite ready for me just yet and that multitasking was the key ingredient that was missing. Well, about a week after I took my HTC Mozart back to the store, Microsoft made the announcement of their ‘Mango’ update which introduces around 500 new features, including – yep, you guessed it – multitasking.

 

Then Redmond got even busier. They showed off Windows 8’s new touch interface that will launch Microsoft into the world of tablets and then they put the new Xbox user interface front and centre at the E3 conference, sporting the same Metro UI and Bing integration. A multi-platform, unified approach or what?

 

Whilst all of this essentially dumbs down their Operating Systems for the benefit of your average user, Apple have proved that simplicity sells (though I’m still holding out hope that Microsoft allows techies to reach into the OS and tinker as they’ve always done), and undoubtedly things have to move with the times.


Looking at where Microsoft’s platform is heading though, I can’t help but think that they’ve not only positioned themselves to strike back at Apple, but also more importantly beaten Google with their own strategy, let me explain;


Apple introduced and dominated the mobile apps market and Google came along with Android to progress their ‘apps’ idea further by revolutionising towards apps which ran exclusively on the web using HTML5 as the platform, removing the need for developers to code for multiple platforms – everyone cheered and hailed it as a break through.

Then Google appeared to completely go back on their strategy and launch an apps store which sold, well apps, in exactly the same way as Apple do.

Then Microsoft went and released Bing – a decision engine, which despite appearances is vastly different to Google’s search engine in that it segments itself to provide detailed information on a variety of topics without ever leaving the site. The mobile version of the site is even better in that it links maps, telephone numbers, key information and search results directly into a single search query and displays it superbly on the smaller mobile screen; truly a mobile application.

On Windows Phone sites can be pinned as ‘live tiles’ directly onto the home screen, making them web applications. Windows 8, also with a ‘live tile’ interface is set to follow the exact same model and Microsoft inviting companies to ‘app their sites’, Microsoft seems to have created a web driven eco-system that works across all platforms (mobile, Xbox, tablets, desktops, another other platform).

This not only puts Microsoft in a good stead to deliver what Google could not with Android (i.e. access to web apps across the board), but it also beats (or at least), matches them on the desktop operating system front too with the launch of Google Chrome OS.

Chrome OS is supposedly a web-enabled OS that utilises and takes advantage of the many web-enabled Google properties (Gmail, Maps, Search, etc). Windows 8 with its HTML5 enabled buttons and live tiles puts them almost on par with Chrome OS, with the added advantage of still being Windows and allowing you the flexibility to choose your applications, services and customisations if Microsoft/Google/Apple/other products are better placed for your tastes.

Microsoft will also undoubtedly integrate (or allow the option), to integrate directly into Windows Live Services and cloud based offerings – which again, puts the Redmond based outfit directly in line with Chrome OS (and Apple’s) offerings.

All in all, I feel a load better about where Microsoft are heading with their various platforms to bring them all together much like those from Apple and Google, whilst retaining their other more unique offerings and strategy (Windows Media Center, Azure cloud technologies, Office, Skype, etc), and it’s all been made possible by the adoption of Google’s strategy and delivering what they could not.

 

Windows 7, We Hardly Knew Thee

Thursday, June 2, 2011 0

Yesterday, at some conference or another, Microsoft gave the first glimpse look at what the future looked like in the form of Windows 8…..and then the Internet exploded.

 

Exploded in the sense that everyone who was anyone in the technology field had an opinion on what it was, how it looked and what it would mean.  Never one to miss an opportunity, what follows is my opinion, thoughts and feelings…..

 

The first photo I saw, I was unimpressed – a Windows Phone 7 title appearance, very different from the look and feel of Windows “Desktop” 7 that I’ve been using for the past two years.  The UI (user interface), that everyone has raved about since the ‘failure’ of Windows Vista.  Hell, even Mac users install Windows 7 onto their beloved, over priced laptops.

 

Annoyed and upset I was.  But then, but then, I watched the accompanying video and was completely blown away.  Microsoft have built a touch operating system that actually looks brand new, totally usable and amazing – almost like a Windows Phone on steroids.  At this point, if you’ve seen the same video I have; “yeah, but Apple have already done a phone OS that they put on a tablet.  Microsoft are doing the same thing and I’ll never give up traditional Windows in favour of an OS that will only work on tablets”.

 

And then the guy on the demo video launched Excel and it plonked him right onto a traditional “Windows 7” looking desktop, complete with Start button and toolbar, Explorer and all the things we associate with Microsoft operating system GUI’s.  Then you think about it – the question then becomes “so they’ve built a shell or touch enabled layer over the top of Windows?”.

 

Yes!  You’re right, that’s exactly what they’ve done.  But they’ve created a layer that works as a stand-alone OS and then underneath that, you’ve still got all of the traditional, down and dirty, things that real computer geeks and technical people want -– Windows!  Applications can still be installed and OS settings tinkered with and of that good stuff.  Perfect.

 

Then when you’re done tinkering, you fire up the touch layer and bingo – you are back into touchey, flickey, prodding at the screen mode using your HTML5 enabled, online, cloud world which Microsoft have developed in the form of Zune, SkyDrive, LiveMesh, Messenger, Facebook and Twitter integrations and all of that good stuff people current pick up their phone for.

 

Its a master stroke from the ladies and gentlemen at Redmond. 

 

Then there is the bit you can’t see – the OS runs on ARM processors, which means that the OS can be deployed on low powered devices, like tablets and phones as well as high powered PCs.  Bringing the phone OS closer to the desktop OS and the desktop OS closer to the phone OS – which is where the whole industry is moving towards; a unified and connective devices that ‘talk’ to each other and to ‘the cloud’.

 

Making the whole touch OS layer though, I can already see where Microsoft are going; I’m already predicting that they will create ‘Kinect’ type devices that can either be built into devices or bought as add-ons, to gesture and yell commands at your PC just as you do with your XBox.  It’ll be genius. 

 

Add in Skype connectivity and a Media Center, your printers, network shares, VPN connectivity and all of the things Windows and Microsoft already offer and they are onto a winner in my opinion.

 

The only way they can lose, as far as I can see, is if they disable or lock advanced users out of the ‘traditional’, under-the-hood, real Windows experience. 

 

Microsoft strikes back!

HP Sell Up to Polycom - Errr Why?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011 0

I don't understand this.

Today HP, the worlds biggest technology company, announced that they have sold their video conferencing unit to Polycom for a cool $89 million. Whilst I'm sure the mo, ney is nice for HP to have in their back pocket, they weren't exactly short to being with.

But look what has just happened with the Microsoft / Skype buy out and its clear that the indications are that video conferencing is going to be a very big part of the Internet landscape over the next couple of years as Microsoft take advantage of their recent purchase, so I don't really understand why HP are getting out of this technology sector?

Looking at their HP Pre3 and TouchPad demo, the devices screamed video conferencing and mobile video connectivity, very much in the same vein as Apple's Facetime app. Polycom have agreed to create a webOS application as part of the agreement of their purchase from HP, but something still doesn't add up for me here - why did HP sell at all? Or why weren't HP the ones doing the buying of Polycom?

I just don't understand this.

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