A combination of recent announcements by, and news reports about, Microsoft’s upcoming new offerings prompts us to write today about products you can expect to see – and may find yourself working with before long – for our business users.
It’s long been noted that Microsoft missed the smartphone revolution that today is dominated largely by Apple, Samsung and Google via its Android operating system. At the same time, Google (and others) have released cheap versions of web-based productivity software to compete with the likes of Excel and Word, the mainstays of Microsoft Office — and also, by the way, its largest revenue source by product category.
Microsoft is attempting to correct these miscues with a slew of new products.
For starters, Hotmail recently became Outlook.com, immediately playing off the branding associated with Microsoft’s best-selling email offering. Facebook, in which Microsoft owns a stake, will be integrated with Outlook.com, thus giving Microsoft a social boost. As well, Microsoft acquired messaging service Skype awhile back, and promises to integrate that too. Outlook.com promises not so much revenue, but to be a ‘sticky’ sort of ap that attracts users to other Microsoft products, and keeps users ‘in the family.’ It signed up a million users on its first day, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Meanwhile, Microsoft will soon unveil an updated version of Office that is more web-enabled, hoping to steal some of the competing Google office aps’ momentum.
And of course, its new operating system, Windows 8, is bound to cause a splash. It was specifically written to offer a touch interface that would be attractive to (and combine usage by) both mobile phone and PC users. Naturally, though in a bit of a surprise move, it released its new tablet-style PC, the Surface, which will feature Windows 8 and give Microsoft a chance to show off its new operating system’s utility.
Surface merges a laptop with a tablet, featuring a slick cover that doubles as a keyboard, provides Office productivity aps, and promises to be a more functional tool for business users than the more “passive” tablets from Apple and others. Those devices, while optimized for receiving and streaming (think movies and pictures) are less than robust when it comes to actually working, a gap Microsoft hopes to fill with its new offering.
And then there’s Phone 8, the next mobile operating system from Microsoft, built on Windows 8 technology, which may please developers and corporate IT staffs, who can built aps that run on both office/PC and mobile/phone devices somewhat seamlessly. Oh, and Windows Server 2012 is due this Fall, too.
And if all that’s not enough, Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 (our flagship ERP product) is due for release in October. It promises three user experiences: the standard client, the web-browser client and a new Sharepoint client too.
Tech changes: they’re like our Midwestern weather. Don’t like it? Relax, it will all change quickly enough.