Microsoft follows up the Surface sucker punch with a Windows Phone right hook

There is an old saying that Microsoft needs three versions to get it right and ahead. I am not sure if Windows Phone 8 can count as version three, but it should, they have now gotten it right and are ahead.

I am not really sure Apple and Google have recovered from the sucker punch that was Surface before Microsoft landed a right hook revealing the near future of Windows Phone. With Surface they showed their true innovation potential and got to explain the full Windows 8 vision. With what they showed today, they clearly stated that the smartphone fight will last the full 12 rounds.

Windows Phone 8 Hardware support– “So you think you will be ahead in the hardware game? Let me show the full potential of a shared core and driver model between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8”, Microsoft started stepping into the ring dodging left and right.

– “So you want a voice controlled Phone? Cool. But we’ll just make it available to all applications not just one”, that jab they throw out landed hard.

– “So you want to constrain your developers on their business models? We’ll just allow in app purchases for more options”, Microsoft said while throwing a right hook.

Punch after punch, the key note at Windows Phone Developer Summit either put the Windows Phone 8 platform at par with the competitors or ahead. Sometimes far ahead.

Agreeable they should’ve probably had a strategy to upgrade all old phones, sales of Windows Phone 7.5 will probably drop a little bit now. But it is worth it. No doubt.

As an app developer I really like the shared browser experience across devices / form factors. This means that responsive design will be THE skill to pick up for web designers. I like that the features they add are really not apps, or in the case they are they are extensible, like the Wallet where you can add your own payment methods, or the maps API and NOKIA map data that is accessible, that voice commands is an API and not an app (even though I am still skeptical about its viability).

As a consumer I really like the VoIP integration that makes any VoIP call appear and function as any other call, another nail in the current business model of the operators coffin. I like that I get really good NFC support, I am not super psyched about the new home page but getting updates over the air and the background location feature will make me like my phone more.

As an enterprise user and enterprise mobility implementer, I love the fact that the enterprise app store and operations are not an app, but templates and frameworks to customize your experience. I applaud that we, finally, get encryption on the phones. Along with Microsoft Rights Management this will make the phone really secure.

Windows Phone 8 Enterprise Feauters

Overall, this has been a good week for Microsoft. They’ve really shown that they haven’t given up. That they aren’t knocked out. That there is fight left in them and that they can throw a mean right. Google and Apple better look out.

Further reading

Windows Phone 8 Wallet hub beats Apple’s iOS 6 Passbook

Windows Phone 8 Unveiled

Microsoft Windows Phone 8: There is good news and bad news

Microsoft Windows Phone 8 finally get’s a “real” Windows Core

Windows Phone 8 get’s dual core, 720p and microSD

MS teases Windows Phone 8 enterprise features: Company Hub, encryption, secure boot, IT management

Microsoft Outlines Windows Phone 7 To Windows Phone 8 Upgrade Calls It Windows Phone 7.8

Windows 8 just got more context – Surface for Windows the blend between tablet and pc

So, the big mystery announcement event is over. The rumors before the event was really spot on, it was a tablet. But not any tablet. They have really gone all out in trying to re-invent what a tablet is. My first impression, without actually touching a device yet, is that they have succeeded. By bringing in Steven Bathiche from Microsoft research, one of the engineers behind the original Surface table, they put one of their brightest minds to work and re-invented the cover. Blending the tablet with the PC, exactly what they have been aiming for with their software in Windows 8. So the next version of Windows got some more context.

For me this announcement really was about that, taking the tablet one step closer to a full fledge PC. Using the cover as a keyboard is a brilliant idea and the heavy investment in the kickstand to go along with it. Add to that some small design details like making sure it had the feeling of a book and the investment in making digital ink feeling natural. They’ve really tried to push the boundaries a little bit further on the market totally dominated by IPad.

 

I like it. I’m enough of a geek to want one and play around with, just about NOW. I want to feel the keyboard, play around with the accelerometer they built into it (the keyboard knows where it is in relevance to the tablet), want to see if it is as light and thin as it looks.

But the market is bigger than us geeks. Just last week I was in a meeting with the head of a large Swedish enterprise that said something in the lines of “If I just had a keyboard and access to my windows apps, I wouldn’t need a laptop. Actually most of my employees wouldn’t need one, I could really do with a tablet”. So that’s at least one customer that will be happy to hear about this piece of technology and I’ve already emailed him the link to the official Surface website.

Still no pricing and no availability though, but time frame for windows 8 seems to be Octoberish according to the news blogs so it would be safe to assume that the tablets will arrive at the same time. What markets and what SKU’s are impossible to say. Yes there will be two SKU’s, one based on ARM and one based on Intel iCore 5 Ivy Bridge (the cooling was really cool as well).

The tech will be solid and the innovation is good, but what about the principles? Microsoft building their own tablets while Nokia, their premiere device partner, is rumored to build their own? Acer and Asus is pushing Ultra books really really hard?

They’ve really succeeded with XBOX and Kinect but failed with the Zune player, is it wise to get this big and risky push into hardware as a software company?

I think it is.

 

Surface Commercial on Youtube

Some links:

Richard Hay’s observations

Youtube video of the cover

Official press release

Engadget on the two hardware specs

Offical Surface website

Netflix running on WIndows 8 Surface

Some information about the cameras

Unpacking Logitech G35 Gaming headset

WP_000482_thumb2_thumbA broken tooth, a missed flight to Seattle as a result of it, I decided to treat myself today. As the geek I am that really means buying Tech. Since my headset for the last weeks has been a borrowed Lync headset from Magnus Lindkvist, a new gaming pair was a suitable choice.

My local tech shop at Kungsholmen (within walking distance that is) suggested I’d try out Logitech. In the past I’ve only used Steel Series and Razor but he insisted that it was a good choice.

-"I use it myself", he argued, "and I will never go back".

With a review like that I’d ought to try it at least.

 

Form factor

It’s a classic headset in shape and form with a couple of quirks that I’ll talk a little bit about.

The connection is USB which I like. For me it means I can just plug it in and out conveniently in the front USB ports on my computer. This enables Windows to automatically disable the external speaker system I have plugged in.

Other headsets have had really fragile cables but the Logitech G35 has a strongly enhanced cable that I feel won’t break anytime soon:

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Covered in a strong fabric fishnet “sock” I am certain the cable won’t be what breaks first on this set.

I really like that Logitech has gone for a shedable microphone instead of the clip on they, and Steel Series, usually have. It’s just so much better and I’ll never buy anything else from now on.

The fitting of the headset is highly customizable, the box contains two extra cushions for the head strap. So your strange head shape will get the best support, a nice touch. The headphones are adjustable both in height and in angle as the below pictures show. All in all, they are a very good fit for my head.

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Functionality

The headset was easily installed. Windows found the drivers automatically when plugged in but the CD came with configuration software. The software makes it easy to configure volume, treble, bass and microphone levels and to bind the three functionality buttons. There is predefined mappings to Ventrilo but not Team Speak, which was a bit disappointing. But might only be a web search away to get to it though.

There is also options for morphing the voice, a really unnecessary feature in my opinion. But I guess someone likes it.

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In addition to the three functionality buttons (G1-3) there is also an analogue volume control and a mute button. Not sure I will use the volume control, I have one on my keyboard that my right hand is used to reach for, but the mute button can be really useful when on team speak.

Sound

WP_000491_thumb_thumbThe headphones closes of your ears really well from outside sounds and there is good bass and treble distinctions. I am not really found of the virtual surround, it makes the sound bleak, but it might be something I have to get used to.

Playing Tïesto – “Carpe Noctum” that has a real deep bass gives me the heavy club feeling I like. Loreen’s – “Euphoria” (Sweden just kicked your asses in the Eurovision ;), I can hear her voice as sharp as it should (not in surround mode though). So overall, very happy with the sound.

Summary

First few hours with the headset and I am really happy so far. It was a good recommendation I got. Keep an eye on my twitter for updates after I’ve done some raiding and action packed games.

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Logitech official product page

Logitch G35 @ Pricerunner