Microsoft puts the user in the center and its great
Microsoft held an event this fall presenting a couple of new products. Amongst others, they showed a more powerful Surface Book, product and software updates on virtual and augmented reality and the probably most talked about device, the Surface Studio. The Surface Studio is an all-in-one PC with a full touch display, running Windows 10 and aims at creators; artist, designers, architects etc.
In addition to the mouse, the keyboard, the display and the pen you can use a new product Microsoft simultaneously launched, the Surface Dial.
The Dial is an ice hockey-size device that is wirelessly connected to the Surface and can perform actions by turning it in circles or pushing it. For instance, you can veer it to scroll through pages or zoom in and out. Pushing it can perform similar activities to right or left click with your mouse.
In addition to that they showed Xbox Beam (a service where you can stream and watch games), Paint 3D (a drawing tool where you can create pictures in 2D/3D) and also how you can use a Windows Phone to capture real-life objects in 3D with your phone and then edit and use that objects in, for example, Paint 3D on in a virtual or augmented setting with HoloLens, Microsoft’s mixed-reality smartglasses.
Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO summarized the event very nicely: They want to empower people by going:
From playing games to broadcasting games, from watching the broadcast to interacting with the broadcast, from capturing 3D to designing in 3D, from creating a 3D object to sharing a 3D object as a hologram, from a siloed digital and analog world to a new immersive mixed reality world. — Satya Nadella
And this is great. Although other companies such as Apple have similar products in their portfolio (Surface Studio vs. iMac, Surface Pro vs. iPad Pro, Surface Book i7 vs. MacBook Pro, Surface Dial vs. Touch Bar / Trackpad) Microsoft utilizes its software in a far more differentiated way. Similar to what characterized the Web 2.0, Microsoft is shifting its focus towards creation and really places the user in the center of the action. Something that Apple’s iPhone, Facebook and other products and services have in common is the attractiveness they gain through the network effect: the more people use it the more interesting it becomes for the individual user: the more of your friends are on Facebook the more interesting it becomes for your. And Microsoft is playing in that field as well: Alongside Paint 3D they introduced remix3d a marketplace where user can share and download 3D objects created in Paint 3D, Minecraft or captured via camera. See it at something similar to iPhone’s app store. The fact that they own Minecraft is just another advantage. They are also biding on the network effect through Xbox Beam; again, the more people use the streaming service the more attractive it will be for others to join.
This coherence and ecosystem they are creating is something that once differentiated Apple from Microsoft, but now as Microsoft (and by the way also Google) is shifting the future of computing is going to be very interesting. I believe that Microsoft is on a good way to accomplish its goal to have the effect of the gutenberg press on this next generation of computing.