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WPC: Wowed by a Microsoft Vision Video

I've been watching Microsoft product demos and vision videos since 1998, and I have to admit I'm jaded because of the experience.

For example, I feel like I've been watching unified communications videos for a decade, and they're always promising that implementations are available now to allow you to see user presence, switch communication from IM straight into a voice call, take priority work calls in your car, etc.

At first, the "gee whiz" aspect was tempered by the heavy integration work required, which meant nearly no one was implementing the systems. By the time those solutions emerged from reliance on vaporware or unreliable or prohibitively expensive hardware, the demos had become far less interesting. And there was that hangover feeling of having been fooled by the earlier demos.

But I saw something relatively jaw-dropping this week at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC). Microsoft Business Division President Stephen Elop showed a video on Wednesday of what the digital world could look like in a decade or so. Surface computing was ubitiquitous on walls, floors and windows, and hand-held devices were credit-card sized with fingertip control and full-surface video.

It was pretty inspiring stuff, the kind of thing that makes me love being involved with this industry.

I appreciate that Microsoft isn't making any promises that you can start to do this stuff now, or even in a couple of years. Bill Buxton, a principal researcher with Microsoft Research, provided exactly the right context for the video after the audience watched it: "The key thing is you need that envisionment to give you focus, because if you don't know where you're going, every direction is the right direction for how you think strategically."

You can see the video on YouTube here.

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 16, 2009


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