Posts Tagged ‘microsoft’

Behind Closed Windows

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

Windows 8 Start Menu

At AllThingsD’s D9 last week, Microsoft showed off a preview of Windows 8. Wow. It’s obviously a radical departure from previous versions of Windows, and is somewhat similar to what Mac OS X was to Mac OS 9. The UI is moving towards Windows Phone’s Metro UI, although the revealed screenshots of the new Start menu look more like a different implementation of Windows Media Center than an actual operating system.¬†On the whole, I like where Microsoft’s heading. I’ve always been a fan of Metro, and even though it gives off a little bit of a bare, unfinished look, the emotional response of cleanliness is good.

I’m slightly concerned that this might be too big of a change, though.

I don’t want it to be. I really don’t.

But it all comes down to the ability for developers to adapt. And if such a heavy emphasis is being placed on touch, hardware has to be both ready to support Windows 8 and widespread enough to make it worth the investment. That brings us to the classic Apple argument – it may be a bit stale by now, but it’s true: they control their own hardware. If they want to migrate OS X over to a touch interface, it’s much easier than Microsoft having to wait around on manufacturers to catch up. Yes, there’s a legacy mode to run apps Windows 7-style, but the end goal shouldn’t have to be dependably held up by backwards compatibility that’s used more than the new features. However, I suppose the argument could be made that by working closely with OEMs, revealing early (as they did), and forcibly delivering by a certain date, the OEMs will be forced to keep up.

I certainly hope that’s the case.

Microsoft: What’s in Store?

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

I stopped into the brand-new Microsoft Store in Atlanta on opening day last Friday. On the whole, it’s something that needs to be done for the sake of unifying hardware with Windows, but I wasn’t totally sold on the execution.

What could have been better

Remind you of anything?

Boy, were they trying hard. Even down to individual elements, design inspiration from Apple was very obvious. Pricetags next to each machine looked very similar to the inclined plane-esque placards that used to grace the Apple Store (before the iPads), and the screens wrapping around the wall were probably the exact same dimensions as their upstairs counterpart. I could go on about the similarities – everywhere you look, the physical design screams Cupertino.

The music inside was also a little too loud; I couldn’t hear much outside of the blasting of Ke$ha. Hopefully that was just a little first-day overzealousness, but that extended past the decor. The employees were really aggressive in approaching people; walking in felt like being in a gauntlet of being asked how I’m doing, if I needed any help, or if I knew that “this computer is touchscreen!”. At the Apple Store, the employees are bombarded by the customers, but at the Microsoft Store, the customers are bombarded by the employees.

What they got right

Even if the idea was far from original, there’s an interesting twist on the wraparound wall displays: they’re actual screens, not just sheets advertising products. Information about different products is rotating marquee-style, and even cooler, Xboxes are connected in certain areas and can be played on the screens.

Two Microsoft Surfaces were also sitting out - if nothing else, this is the one element that makes the store unique. Most of the people that’ll come in from foot traffic will likely have never seen a Surface before, so at least for a while, it’ll be a good way to generate buzz.

Big picture

Over time, the idea of the store will come to settle with people, and if you’re genuinely looking to buy a PC, it’s one of the better environments for buying a PC that I’ve seen. I doubt it’ll convert many Mac users, but it’s a great option for the existing base of Windows fans who are itching to buy a new machine.

Tech Trends: Week of 4/11/11

Monday, April 18th, 2011

I’m Flipping out!

After a pretty decent run in the portable video space, Cisco‘s finally admitting defeat to smartphones. They’ve just discontinued the Flip line, cutting a good 550 jobs. The entire purpose of the Flip was to be quick and portable, but now that cameras in phones have finally caught up, it’s losing in its own category. Bound to happen at some point.

Re-Kindle your love for cheaper gadgets

Really dying to get your hands on a Kindle, but short $25? Amazon’s running a promotion where Kindles will go on sale for $114 with banner ads and sponsored screensavers. It’s interesting to see the ad-supported model sneak into the hardware space, although it’s not too different with what usually happens with bloatware-loaded PCs. The potential for equivalent jailbreaking might be possible, as well; I’m sure that someone along the way will figure out how to disable the ads. Not that I’m condoning that or anything.

Sony settlement reached in a Hotz minute

As of March 31, Sony’s settled with George Hotz. As part of the terms, Hotz will have to remove all of his PS3-hacking shenanigans from the Internet, although he never claimed to support piracy. The full terms weren’t released, but I’m glad to see this finally come to an end. Let’s just move on and start pumping those dollars back into developing better products, instead of targeting those who could, if correctly channeled, be a huge asset to the community.

Windows on ARM

The idea of Windows running on ARM processors has been floating out there for a good while, but has just now been confirmed. The strategy from Microsoft’s end seems to be an effort to keep up with the onslaught of tablets in the market, but I’m not sold on that alone. Windows isn’t the answer for tablets – they need to find a happy medium between Windows Phone 7 and Windows 7 that works well specifically for a tablet form factor. Perhaps “Windows Tablet 7″?