Microsoft recently invited us over for a brief meet and greet to give us a demo illustrating how their current and future products all integrate, revolving around Windows 7. Usually whenever the name Microsoft comes up, arms get crossed and eyeballs glaze over; their products are sometimes referred to as solutions you have to use, for work purposes. But it appears Microsoft has been making some considerable changes in their product development philosophy, revealing the Redmond giant has been quietly perfecting some intriguing reasons to give Windows another look. It might surprise you...
It's funny, some of us have used Microsoft OS all along but never thought much of it. Maybe you needed to use software that Apple didn't support, or didn't want to spend too much money, or maybe you are a DIYer and love the aftermarket support for the hardware. Few really celebrated the platform, they just needed the power or the options.
All of that is about to change. There, it changed. That was the moment.
Did you know:
a. Kinect sold over ten million units in 60 days, which is apparently a Guinness World gadget record?
b. Windows 7 is the fastest selling operating system in history?
Windows Phone 7: MS Office is loaded onto Windows 7 so everything you can do on your desktop, you can now do on your phone…to a limited extent, of course… and it dovetails perfectly with the work you do in the corresponding applications on your desktop/laptop if you autosync.
The start page is extremely useful because you can keep everything on the same page; you don't have to have several pages to swipe through so everything that is important to you can be right there. You can post up your favorite friends' profiles as tiles so that you have instant access to their Facebook for direct communication as well as just their phone numbers - all of their info is in one place and you don't have to go into any particular app/site to get instant access. Pinning your work email onto the page for the week while unpinning it over the weekend during personal time is a great example of how easy it is to evolve your layout on a fluid basis.
There may no longer be Zune hardware anymore, but the user interface has migrated over to the Windows Phone 7 plastform. If you've never tried a Zune you may not know that the UI is one of the best in the biz, arguably maybe more user friendly than Apple's iPhone UI in our opinion.
And for the PC platform, a lot of the products that used to be isolated and sometimes unsung successes are now integrated into the fold.
As an example, Microsoft OneNote can keep all kinds of stuff: websites, parts of websites, personal notes, photos, anything that is digital can now be placed in one location for your reference. It all works like a kind of like a dynamic bookmarking system, notebook or whatever you want to call it. Great for recipes, research or any project with multiple sources; you can literally scrapbook the digital world by just copying and pasting info onto pages that link right back out if needed.
For designers OneNote can be almost like keeping a digitally fortified sketchbook, since you can store bookmarks, actual images of inspiration and jpgs you created in addition to an article about some product that you might be working on. For bloggers like ourselves, the features aids in the writing process, since images and text can be reviewed in One Note before uploading it. A mixed media application, you can put images, videos and text wherever you want and drag them around as you see fit. And you never have to hit "save". You write it, it's there. Amazingly useful but totally missable if someone doesn't point it out to you. There's even a free iPhone app version of OneNote 2011, if you need use the "other guy's" phone.
What we were left with in the end is a feeling that Microsoft is finally bringing all the different categories of products they've developed over the years together into one "ecosystem". Many will say that it is about time or that it was Apple's idea, but the fact is, it works and will aid a great many who depend on Windows as their daily work environment. And it works across a variety of hardware that you could say that they've stepped into the lead in this department. Your phone, your desktop, your laptop, your Xbox 360...they all work as one organism and in an extremely intelligent manner.
The irony is that Microsoft have found themselves in the position of the underdog now. Maybe it's all the hype from the Apple advertising campaign or maybe they really just missed the mark for a long time, but it looks about time for an MS comeback. It may actually be cool to root for Microsoft now.