Microsoft Can’t Wait For The Future To Get Here Already

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Microsoft has a rich history of innovating and driving change in the technology world, however, its track record of getting consumer facing decisions right is not quite stellar. In fact, its failure to track the changes in mobile and respond with speed has seen it resigned to an also-ran in the mobile operating system space.

All of these factors make this era of Microsoft probably its most challenging yet and from an observer’s point of view, incredibly intriguing. No other company the size of Microsoft is innovating as freely as the people at Redmond. Part of the reason for this is because they cannot afford to sit back and wait for someone else to shift computing paradigms.

At Build, a couple of weeks back we got a pretty clear idea as to where Microsoft is placing its bets for the near future. It is continuing to put Windows 10 in devices of every size and recently bought Xamarin, a mobile development suite used extensively for the development of iOS and Android applications.

These tools will also be made free to all the developers using Visual Studio at no extra cost.

Microsoft also placed a huge bet on ‘bots’ being the next big thing. They are essentially creating artificial intelligence in the cloud that developers can tap into and create bots for themselves. Microsoft is hoping that these ‘bots’ will be the new apps that people will use through their digital assistants (the new browsers) eventually making natural language the only interface needed to be learned.

This is a very big deal and could put Microsoft right at the centre of things once again. They plan to build this functionality into ubiquitous apps like Skype where users can just type in instructions and get things done. A demo showing how users could book hotels straight from the messaging service through communication between relevant bots was extremely impressive.

Cortana, the digital assistant from Microsoft is going to be able to access all of these advancements and may well be the Trojan horse that the company needs to get a foot in on other more popular platforms.

Microsoft also started shipping the developer version of HoloLens and talked about its potential uses in education and the enterprise space. We believe Microsoft is taking a big risk going the mixed reality route especially since almost everyone else believes that VR offers a superior experience. The one advantage that HoloLens has is that its running Windows 10 and so theoretically offers all apps built for the platform.

The real challenge is to build compelling software for hardware which is extremely impressive.   There were other advancements shown to the Office suite, including a very impressive demo for Windows Ink, and the ability to run Linux on Windows, however, it was clear that the focus was on things to come down the line rather than things that will be available right now.

If Satya Nadella can pull this Microsoft pivot off successfully then it may well be one of the great comebacks in corporate history.

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