A two-day blitzkrieg sees Redmond’s tanks parked on the lawns of Mountain View and Cupertino.
On Thursday and Friday two weeks ago, Microsoft delivered a substantial part of its vision of the future of computing, devices and services. A blistering assault on two fronts dealt a heavy blow to Google and Apple, leaving them reeling and thoroughly shattering the old technological world order. I must admit that this came as a bit of a surprise to me, and I presume to Microsoft’s rivals as well. Their Windows 10 event the week before, although visionary, even bizarre in parts, seemed oddly insular. They also devoted too much time, which is to say any time at all, to the thoroughly obsolete Xbox platform. It is 2015, not 2004. Until Microsoft offer to rent me an Xbox One² Virtual Machine on Azure for an hour, I will continue to ignore the rapidly rotting carcass that is console and PC gaming.
It is all about devices and services
We totally agree with Microsoft’s strategy which they used to articulate as devices and services. The world of today may be awash with them already, but they will keep on multiplying. Any semi-literate fool can come up with a reasonably convincing sounding corporate strategy in five minutes, but it is considerably harder to deliver on one. Until now the view from Redmond seemed hazy and out of focus, but in a number of announcements in two days Microsoft not only made their strategy crystal clear, but also delivered a Katyusha multiple rocket launcher battery of it. Microsoft’s battle tanks are now parked firmly on the front lawns of Apple and Google. They are there to stay. Microsoft are spanking Google and Apple very hard, punishing them for their passé view of the developing world of technology, and it is a lesson they will never forget!
Like Microsoft, we love devices, a lot. They allow us to work and play wherever and whenever we want. We need our data to come with us, so that we can access it any time and any place. Microsoft are building one Windows across all devices, even perhaps holographic Skype on Mars, but as should be clear from the name of this site, we are well and truly beyond the era of the PC. As of last Friday, so are Microsoft.
Microsoft also think that the future of technology will largely consist of services. As it happens, so do we! With Azure, Microsoft have built an astonishing, full-featured, powerful, open and flexible cloud platform for companies and software developers. It is also extremely attractively priced. Similarly, Office 365 for Business is a highly compelling service offering for businesses of any size, even if some parts of it are incongruous, outdated or frankly unnecessary. But, if you are a company of any size and you still think that running your own mail servers is a good idea in 2015, you are either deluded or in the defence industry.
However, their menu of services for consumers and end-users – most of us – has looked a lot more Spartan. Some services have been great for a while now, such as OneDrive, Outlook.com, Skype and of course Office 365. Outside these their service provision have been confined to Microsoft’s safe zones of Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox – often they have seemed surprisingly reluctant to cooperate even within their own ecosystem.
This may well be changing with the enormous effort Microsoft are putting in on making Windows 10 a success. We think Windows deserves and needs that effort. Windows 10, as we now know, will be a service, not just an operating system and will run on every kind of device including the Internet of Things. It is a staggering undertaking on an epic scale, and will naturally take some time to deliver. Yet it was wonderful to me to see that Microsoft’s services people have realised that they cannot wait for Windows 10 to be delivered, and that time waits for no man or operating system.
See below for our expanding series of posts explaining what Microsoft have delivered, and our first impressions of them.