The company is taking some bold risks with Windows 8 and Windows Phone. It will take some time but I hope the risk pays off. For the good of the consumers and the company.
With Surface (and potential Surface Phone), SmartGlass, Kinect and the upcoming Xbox, they are building some really exciting products. What Apple does best is marrying great hardware with great software. Microsoft has been known mostly as a software company until now. But like Google — a shift is coming.
Apparently we are heading to a place where giving people option is a bad thing.
Take the upcoming Windows 8 for example. This is one the first times someone will offer a single OS that has dual interfaces. You have Metro, which is Microsoft’s attempt to primarily attract tablet and touch users — the future. It’s simple, slick and sexy. Then you have the traditional Windows interface we have been accustomed to — now its much refined and cleaner. The goal is to give both casual and power users everything they need in a single OS. Want to play Fruit Ninja one minute and then work in Excel (full-featured) the next? Done. You can easily switch back and forth between interfaces or use just the one you want. You get what is known as… option.
But that’s crazy — says a lot of people (won’t name who). They don’t like this option — not when it comes to Windows 8 anyway. They want Microsoft to do just one. They want Microsoft to force people to use Metro and abandon the traditional interface. Likely resulting in 90% of worlds PC users going through a drastic change (assuming they upgrade to or buy Windows 8).
I think Microsoft does want singularity but they want to be smart about it. They want to have a transition phase. They don’t want to confuse or abandon its users and Windows 8 is the first step. Metro is the future and when people try it that’s the interface they will prefer. Maybe by Windows 9 or 10 there will be just one.
Also the same people who don’t like this option in Windows 8 also hate Microsoft Surface. What a tablet that comes with a keyboard? That’s crazy. Correction — it will likely come or you can buy a smart cover that is also a keyboard. Like the dual interfaces on Windows 8, you don’t need the cover to use Surface — it’s an option. I’m sure Apple and a lot of Apple fanboys are really just upset that they didn’t think of it before. Everyone I know who has an iPad with a smart cover that heard about the Surface smart covers now wishes their smart covers were also a keyboard.
I’m mostly an Apple user. Have a Macbook, have an iPhone. But will I be completely helpless if I suddenly switch to Windows for a computer and Windows Phone or Android for a phone? Answer is no.
At the end of the day Windows is not much different than OS X and Windows Phone or Android is not much different than iOS. Same goes for Apple, Microsoft and Google hardware. They may look different but ultimately they do the same things. I doubt most people know this — or maybe they are just too stubborn to accept it.
There is no need to continuously bash each other and argue about which is better when the differences between the best products from competing companies are really slight.
The idea of using your smarthphone and tablet as an extension of your console is simply genius. That’s what SmartGlass is. It’s an app that lets Xbox owners control their system with a smartphone or tablet and extract infortmation like maps, character info, movie/episode notes and other cool details from what they are playing or watching.
These are only some of the mentioned features. The potential to what it can do is amazing — like Kinect.
By announcing SmartGlass Microsoft took away a big chunk of Nintendo Wii U’s and its GamePad’s (controller-tablet hybrid) appeal. Note that currently you can’t use SmartGlass as a controller (it’s more like a remote) but I think it’s just a matter of time. Imagine playing touch-based games like Angry Birds on the big screen but from your tablet. The beauty is that people can use their existing smartphones and tablets with an Xbox. Almost everyone I know have one or both of those devices. So it makes perfect sense to let people use a device they already own than asking them to buy a new one. Yes, the GamePad has more features (especially for gaming) but not that much really than a great tablet.
Sony is much more of a hardware-focused company than Microsoft — so chances are they won’t allow people who don’t have Sony products to control Playstations. They want them to use Sony.
Now to Apple. iPad is the most popular tablet and iPhones are everywhere. Rather than fighting it Microsoft is using it to their advantage. And as of now it seems like Apple will get absolutely nothing from SmartGlass.