People Seem Surprised

Now it’s no surprise to anyone that knows me, I’m a Microsoft fan-boy, have been for a very long time. Their software has enabled me to be creative using computers in ways that I always dreamt of as a kid. When I first started dabbling in computers as a child I daydreamt about making games, as I got older, daydreaming about making games turned into day dreaming about making applications. I’m quite confident in saying that I can develop pretty much any application (within reason) I put my time into now, time being the most important resource, although it has taken a long time to get to this stage, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Microsoft’s development network, MSDN, the old newsgroups, Visual Studio and the .NET Framework.

With this background in mind, I tend to second guess what Microsoft are up to and where they plan on taking us. Many people have jumped ship over the past few years for shinier, greener pastures, but as they say, ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’. I’ve developed for a whole host of platforms, and Windows remains my favorite and most productive. I knew Microsoft were onto something special when I got Beta 1 of the .NET Framework development CDs delivered. I’m almost positive that if it wasn’t for that move, Microsoft releasing such a foundation for developers, they wouldn’t be where they are now with the Universal Windows 10 platform.

Windows 8 - A Paradigm Shift

It’s fair to say that the release of Windows 8 pissed off a hell of a lot of people, they just couldn’t understand why Microsoft changed their recipe for success, so dramatically. Simple, they had to, if they hadn’t they wouldn’t have the massively popular Windows 10 being adopted by millions world wide, every week; now. It required a paradigm shift to get people into a new way of thinking. We didn’t have touch centric laptops until Microsoft done this, now almost every laptop has a touch screen (except Apple laptops), phones had a part to play in this too of course, they were overtaking the market place (and pretty much still are), and that’s why the two needed to come together.

So many people mocked the Microsoft Surface when it came out, mainly due to them getting confused with the RT version and the Pro version. Even that had to happen, as much of a fail as Windows RT was, they needed an entry level platform that could fill the void between desktop and phone. The mistakes they made from RT, and lessons they learnt, all went into Windows 10. Now thanks to the fast thinking of Microsoft, in the face of so much hating, we have Windows 10 and people are starting to understand the bigger picture.

Windows 10 - Pivot complete

Microsoft’s intention all along, was to have a universal, single, dynamic, operating system. It takes a long time to create something so dynamic as Windows 10, hence why no one else has done it (yet), Microsoft have the muscle where no other companies do, and that includes Apple. I will be harsh here, I don’t like iOS and I don’t like OSX. Apple have said repeatedly that they won’t combine iOS with OSX, that is a mistake in the making and will have repercussions yet, years down the line from now. How do I know this? 2 products, the Microsoft Surface, and the iPad Pro. Apple realise they need a device like the surface, but iOS is not a full desktop operating system with touch support like Windows 8 Pro / 10 is. They even invited Microsoft on stage at the launch event of the iPad Pro, which was unheard of before, and to do what? To demonstrate Microsoft Office running on the iPad Pro, albeit not the full Windows desktop version of Office, but still a much superior office product than the suite of Apple office products that people have been using on IOS devices.

Apple have realised that Microsoft know productivity in a way that they don’t. Apple fan-boys will bang on about Photoshop and Pro-Tools on OSX, Windows can do that and more, they need to change their tune, stop trying to win by domination and flooding the market with devices that consume content like no other but fall at the wayside when it comes to creating content. Microsoft are now a truly cross platform company, developing their services and applications in a way that you can use them pretty much anywhere, on any device, even ones that don’t run Windows. Why won’t Apple do this? I have no idea, maybe they think it will spoil their reputation? They should embrace Microsoft more, as it will help their product line in the long run.

Next Generation Products For A Next Generation Operating system

So if you missed it, earlier this week, Microsoft released a whole host of new devices, designed to get the best out of Windows 10. Here’s a short summary of what they have released,

Surface Pro 4

The tablet that can replace your laptop, version 4.0. It’s lighter, thinner, with a larger screen, improved touch cover (complete with in-built biometrics), better cameras, more memory, more storage capacity. It’s an iteration on an already awesome product, and I want one, I’m using the Pro 3 now to type this and it’s the best portable device I have ever used.

What’s even cooler is Microsoft have kept compatibility with the previous generation. That means I can buy the new touch cover and use it on my Pro 3, giving me biometric support with ‘Windows Hello’. Meanwhile, Apple are breaking compatibility with every generation, making it a very expensive hobby to keep up with, carry on, don’t panic, just keep on consuming.

Windows 10 Mobile Devices - 950 / 950 XL

So bear in mind here that Windows 10 Mobile, is yet to be released, it’s still in the making. Microsoft are preparing for its release by readying these devices. Ignoring all of the standard smartphone features aside, they also boast

These 3 features alone are ground breaking, and innovating in ways that are needed. A cooler phone means better performance and battery life, Biometric Iris detection means more security, Windows Continuum means this device is great for small companies where staff that only require Office and Email can use their smartphone, thus saving money and increasing productivity. BOOM!

You might qwoff and mention Apple’s Touch Force feature… honestly, this isn’t all that useful. It doesn’t provide anything that couldn’t be done by holding your finger on the screen, in fact, why do you think this generation of iPhone has a stronger screen (noted as a feature of the device). Because if you push phone screens too hard in certain areas, they break, they aren’t meant to be pushed. So Apple had to make the screen stronger to stop it from breaking due to a new feature they introduced. Yeah the Touch ID feature is great, I like that, but that was introduced 2 generations of product ago, are they out of ideas?

Surface Book

This device actually surprised me, I was not expecting Microsoft to release a laptop. Not only a laptop, but a laptop where the screen pops off. I first thought it would cannibalise the Surface Pro 4, but it won’t, and here’s why. The Surface Book has additional hardware in the keyboard area, it contains a dedicated NVidia GPU. This makes the device extremely powerful for gaming when the screen is attached, and a lower power device when the screen is detached. It’s a Mac Book Pro killer in my eyes, although I doubt that Apple users will be flocking in their droves to buy it, they will continue flogging OSX hoping to get more out of it than it is capable of, whilst simultaneously saying how great and perfect it is.

I sit next to a designer at work who uses an iMac, massive beautiful screen, great hardware (although it has been fixed twice), but like fuck does it crash less than Windows, and unlike Windows users, Mac users aren’t conditioned into regular OS maintenance, so it just becomes more and more broken as time goes by, until they are forced to reinstall.

What’s Next?

Well that remains the burning question, with Windows 10 now as a fluid product that Microsoft can update and introduce new features to without requiring an upgrade, slackened OEM licensing costs on Windows (now free for devices below a certain screen size), the X-Box One being updated to Windows 10, the Raspberry PI 2 running Windows 10 IoT, vNEXT (Microsofts next generation development framework), and even Cortana heading to in-car systems, there are certainly exciting times ahead.

I believe times are changing, Microsoft are going to get Windows 10 running on a billion devices, and it’s going to re-invigerate them as a company. I believe OEM manufactures are going to come back to Windows 10 Mobile, although how much will remain to be seen. I do believe Apple will eventually combine iOS and OSX in some way, but that won’t be for years yet, and by then who knows what will be the state of the playing field.

Of course, all of the opinions expressed here are my own, I’m sure many will disagree with me, but let’s talk again in 3 years time shall we?