Windows 7 Tablet + Xbox: Why Microsoft Needs An “XPad”

In the two weeks since I guest posted on Ars Technica about the iPad and its role in a phenomenon I’m calling “Curated Computing,” comments have been heated and very interesting. Eliot VanBuskirk frames the debate this way on the Wired Epicenter blog:

“Curation is the positive flip side of Apple’s locked-down approach, decried as a major, negative development in computing by many observers, present company included. Who would have thought that in 2010, so many people would pay good money for a computer that only runs approved software?

It runs counter to the idea, prized by geeks, that computing equals freedom. If it were Microsoft doing this, we’d all be storming the Gates with torches and pitchforks.”

I don’t think that you have to exercise Apple’s level of control (e.g., not letting developers use third-party tools like Flash, not approving apps that threaten your business model, etc.) to create a compelling, curated experience — an experience in which content and functionality are deliberately restricted to serve a new form factor like a touchscreen tablet or a wearable device.

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Google And VMware Advance PaaS For Enterprise - Who Will VMware Partner With Next?

Today, Google announced Google App Engine for Business, and integration with VMware’s SpringSource offerings. On Monday, we got a preview of the news from David Glazer, Engineering Director at Google, and Jerry Chen, Senior Director Cloud Services at VMware.

For tech industry strategists, this is another step in the development of cloud platform-as-a-service (PaaS). Java Spring developers now have a full platform-as-a-service host offering in Google App Engine for Business, the previously announced VMforce offering from salesforce.com, plus the options of running their own platform and OS stacks on premise or in virtual machines at service providers supporting vCloud Express, such as Terremark.

What’s next? IBM and Oracle have yet to put up full Java PaaS offerings, so I expect that to show up sometime soon – feels late already for them to put up some kind of early developer version. And SAP is also likely to create their own PaaS offering. But it’s not clear if any of them will put the same emphasis on portability and flexible, rich Web-facing apps that Google and VMware are.

So Google aims to expand into enterprise support – but will need more than the planned SQL support, SSL, and SLAs they are adding this year. They'll also need to figure out how to fully integrate into corporate networks, the way that CloudSwitch aims to do.

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Curated Computing: Designing For The Post-iPad Era

iPad mania has reached full tilt: Apple announced that it has sold more than 1 million units, and Apple’s competitors (like RIM and potentially Google) are rushing to get their own products out (or not, as the case may be for HP). But there’s something very significant about the device that has nothing to do with how many units it will sell. What’s revolutionary about the iPad is the experience that it delivers: The iPad is a new kind of PC that ushers in an era of Curated Computing.

Forrester defines “Curated Computing” as:

A mode of computing where choice is constrained to deliver less complex, more relevant experiences.

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Who's Ready For Office 2010?

This week Microsoft officially launches Office 2010. While the final release version has been available for download  by customers with software assurance for a few weeks, the “official” launch means the marketing machine will really crank up as Microsoft tries to create excitement for the 14th version of the world’s most popular productivity tools suite. Given there were more than 7 million downloads of the beta version, it’s evident there is interest in the latest version, and early user feedback has been positive.

But are businesses ready to upgrade to Office 2010? What about at home? A lot of firms recently went through an upgrade to Office 2007 – 80% of firms surveyed by Forrester last month say they support Office 2007. For many information workers the pain of adjusting to the Office 2007 Fluent UI is still fresh. And a lot has changed in the market since 2007 when Google was just launching Docs & Spreadsheets. So what do you need to know about Office 2010 to inform your upgrade decision? To start:

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The Lion Roars. 2010 Ships. Productivity Cheers.

Okay, so I'm a sucker for nostalgia. But being on the same stage as Gilda Radner and John Belushi and John Candy and Tina Fey was a thrill. And being in the same studio where Elvis Costello and the Attractions stopped "Less Than Zero" after a few bars and jumped into "Radio Radio" in defiance of NBC's wishes brought a rebellious, empowered smile to my face.

NBC's Studio 8H, home of Saturday Night Live, is where Microsoft launched SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010 yesterday. It was a short, punchy, customer-filled event. These products are the latest in the "Wave 14" product set, a ginormous (as my 9-year old says) overhaul of the Office product line. And they're beauts. Here's my (admittedly enthusiastic) analysis of what Microsoft has accomplished with this product.

  • The lion awakens and roars.

    Microsoft's Office business has taken a battering in the press as journalists chase stories about the important innovations from nimble startup competitors, open source alternatives, and Web-based productivity tools. But let's face it. Microsoft doesn't have 500,000,000 people using its tools for no reason. And while three years is a long time to wait for a product release (especially in this era of instant innovation via the Internet), Microsoft has re-confirmed its position as the most important driver of business productivity on the planet. This launch will crush the dreams of a 100 entrepreneurs and force another 1,000 to rethink their companies. That's okay. It's what happens when Microsoft turns a niche product for a geeky few into a global feature that anybody can use. As an economy, we need it.

  • The empowerment is real.

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Microsoft's KIN -- Adding Fun To My Microsoft Phone

I've just had the chance in the past few hours to really play with the device. I find myself smiling each time a new SMS bubble pops up. I love it. I also like seeing my friends' faces on my phone. I love being able to navigate my content and messages via my friends. Loved how easy it was to set up my email, Facebook, and Twitter. Packaging rocks ... and is recyclable. What is subtle in this device, in my opinion, is how intuitive the UI is. The UI looks and feels similar to others I have seen, but I was able to pick up this phone and use it without reading the instructions.

My colleague Charles Golvin will provide a more in-depth analysis of the device itself.

From a social networking/media perspective, the KIN is a good start, but I hope to see more with upcoming releases, especially around helping people build their social graph. I don't put this burden on Microsoft alone, but on the industry and all handset manufacturers. The content we create needs more meta data or labels. We need logic to mesh this content together and navigate through it. It's great that I can navigate to my friends' status and messages through my contacts (and KIN's UI is a lot of fun). I also want to navigate through my photos and location. Location should be table stakes for photo/status/review (restaurant/bar) content and the logic shouldn't flow in just one direction. Based on my location (simple location or map), I want to see who is nearby or what restaurants my friends liked. Navigating through my friends, I want to see what restaurants they liked. I want to group photos by location. I want to group photos by friends. These are just a few examples. With every product and service developed, one can't have everything. There are cost, time and design trade-offs. I completely understand that the KIN and DROID and others couldn't get everything done in v1.0. I look forward to the next version.

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