My Grandfather Rockhill once reminisced over his life in one elegant sentence (this was a rare occurrence for him, like me he tended to talk constantly, mostly to hear his own voice, but occasionally he had elegant sentences), he said, ‘When I was born , man was taking his first flight, by the time I reached my midlife, we were on the moon, and now everyone has computers in their house’. He died in the 1990’s (for sake of keeping my personal life personal, I’ll keep the exact date from the web). But were he still alive, I often ponder what the old bugger (said in a loving way) would think of the smartphone that sits in my pocket. Knowing that he was a gadget lover (a trait he instilled in my Father and me) he’d probably complain about it first (If you’re genetically British in any large amount, you’re required to complain about how unimpressed you are by everything when you first meet it, either claiming the old ways are better, or you could design better if you wanted to) and then he’d play with it constantly, and eventually love it like me. (This was also my reaction to the Windows Phone).
Granddad Rockhill was, of course, commenting on the massive technological developments made during his lifetime, a time period he felt very grateful to be alive during. I’m becoming increasingly grateful to be alive during this time period, even though it’s still my second favourite over-all. (Victorian Era has so much more… class, aside from all the racism, of course, racism is bad). Think of all the rapidly developing technologies during our time!
Windows Phone 8
In my last post, I already mentioned the piece o’ tech that I’m in the most anticipation for: The Microsoft Surface. What I didn’t mention, and what I should’ve mentioned is the lovely side-project that’ll launch with Windows 8 and the Surface Tablet: Windows Phone 8.
Aside from the introduction of a ‘Google Wallet’ like system, (that will probably be more useful than Google Wallet), aside from an updated Microsoft Office mobile suite, aside from Internet Explorer 10 mobile, aside from the improved ‘Music’ and ‘Video’ hubs, and the improved Xbox live hub, and the Direct X and Havok cores that’ll bring more advanced games to the phone, and aside from the support for even higher screen resolutions, and aside from the ‘Xbox Glass’ that will allow you to stream music, videos, and even games from your phone to your Xbox or Windows 8 PC or Tablet, and vice versa, what’ll the Windows Phone 8 offer? Well, I would hope all of that would be enough, but the most important thing that Windows Phone 8, the updated Xbox interface, and Windows Phone 8 all bring to the table is Microsoft’s new message, and it’s strangely Jobsian.
For the record, I am still a critic of Steve Jobs’ business practices, his ego, his dictatorship, his ego again, his fanboys and girls, but you have to give the man credit for improving the way we look at technology.
And whether or not you like the Metro UI that is now found on Xbox and Windows Phone 7, and will soon be found in Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8, it all hints in a change in Microsoft’s focus and overall business strategy.
The key word to achieve all of this is connectivity. You want your Phone, your Xbox, and your computer (and mayhaps your tablet) to all talk to each other, do it all automatically, and to share all the info quickly and without you asking, so that it’s all available. Thanks to Microsoft’s SkyDrive, I can already do this, I can edit a Word doc on my computer, save it, and the computer automatically sends it to my Windows Phone where I can also edit it and save the updated version to my SkyDrive, which’ll update the version on my PC automatically. The problem here is that SkyDrive wasn’t built into Windows 7, you had to set up Windows 7 to do that. With Windows 8, the theory is you’ll introduce your Mobile and your Xbox to your PC and they’ll all be BFFs that’ll share data, settings, colour choices, Internet Explorer bookmarks, games, and Apps with each other seamlessly. You buy an App on your Windows 8 PC, and since it’s written using the same AP and UI as your Windows Phone 8, you’ll get the mobile version automatically, and both versions will communicate.
‘Wait, that means I have to buy at least two Windows 8 products for this scenario to come true’, you say, (I’m assuming you’ve already got an Xbox 360 since those things have been around for a while). And you’re right, and Microsoft will make big £££, $$$, and €€€ for that fact. (Indian Rupees and Japanese Yen as well, I know, I know). But guess what: they’re a business, that’s their role in the whole thing. What you should be grateful for is that in an era where Android and Apple no longer feel the need to innovate to compete, just sue each other to bits in order to hurt the other’s bottom line, is that someone is still innovating and they are still releasing quality products for you, the consumer to buy. That’s how capitalism is meant to work (in a world without lawyers).
Besides, when Apple pulls this kind of stunt, no one complains, aside from the Oatmeal. But that’s because the Oatmeal is pretty funny.