Friday, 21 December 2012

Microsoft Turns To Build Devices and Web Services


Microsoft Turns To Build Devices and Web Services




Microsoft pushed down that path in 2012 with its new Windows 8 operating system, which provides a platform for a bevy of Web-connected services it hopes consumers will use. And it rolled out its Surface RT tablet computer, a slick-looking slate-and-keypad combination designed to grab share in the market that Apple's iPad now dominates.

Windows 8 tablets
The first tablets from Microsoft and its partners used a variant of Windows 8, called Windows RT, designed specifically for devices running the ARM system-on-a-chip architecture that keeps gadgets thin and extends battery life. Next year, beefier and more expensive tablets will emerge that run the full version of Windows 8.

It's a bit confusing for consumers. But the Windows 8 tablets will be able to do a few things the Windows RT ones can't; most notably, they'll run legacy Windows applications in the familiar desktop mode. That could have some appeal for corporate customers, who are likely to be slow to adopt the new tile-based interface on Windows RT devices.

Kin THREE
The Microsoft could try its hand at making a mobile phone. After all, the company rolled out the Surface, competing directly with hardware makers, to showcase Windows 8 on tablets. It's not too much of a reach to believe that the company might make a mobile phone to put its Windows Phone 8 operating system in the best light.Microsoft made mobile phones once before. The short-lived Kin ONE and Kin TWO were yanked from the market less than two months after their debut. That disaster notwithstanding, if Microsoft is really going to be a devices and services company, making its own phone seems like a possible next step.

Xbox Next
Microsoft is already a device company. Just look no farther than its Xbox video game console. The first Xbox debuted in 2001. Its successor, the Xbox 360, hit shelves in 2005. It's remarkable that the Xbox 360 continues to sell well, even outselling Nintendo's brand new Wii U console in November, according to NPD.Engineers, designers and product managers have been plugging away at a gadget, dubbed by some as Xbox Next or Xbox 720. It's likely that Microsoft will announce plans for its next console, perhaps at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles next June.

Microsoft has been increasingly morphing the device into an entertainment system complete with movie, cable and music services. Count on the next Xbox to push even farther in that direction.

Skype is Microsoft verb
Microsoft has offered plenty of services over the years, everything from Xbox Live to its Skydrive Web storage offering. But Microsoft never had a product that users invoked as a verb.

Skype may well be a prototypical service for Microsoft's future offerings. More than a quarter billion users tap into Skype on their PCs, tablets and smartphones. That's not enough for Microsoft, though. It's putting Skype at the heart of all its communications offerings. Starting early next year, Skype will replace Microsoft's instant messaging service, Windows Live Messenger.

There is already a version of Skype for Windows 8, complete with the tile-based interface that's at the core of the new operating system. Skype engineers are working on a Windows Phone application. It's not too hard to imagine that Microsoft will offer a version of Skype for the Xbox as well.

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