Hans Smellinckx, multi-channel marketing expert

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April 09, 2013

The phoenix is back… Microsoft

A personal view on the new tools from Microsoft.

Last month, Microsoft invited me at “the intimates”, a select group of people wanting to test out their new products. As a skeptic in the 90’s and early last decade, I was wondering if I could bring some positive news about the table and not just some more bashing. Well, Microsoft changed and how…

Windows 8

Windows 8 has a sleek modern design, leaning towards the Scandinavian minimalist design and guess what, that’s very popular at this moment. They also understood that the next generation of business people are brought up with a horizontal way of working, not anymore a vertical scrolling way. I call them generation S, the S from sliding.

ZA103881572Not only the fact that you can slide is quite powerful, also the speed of the action. The reaction speed from an IoS or Android device is slower and also limited. This mostly due because you can't really close programs on the other tablets, with windows 8 you can close any program with 1 slide. Windows 8 allows you to create as many tiles as you want and regroup them (and give each group a nick name). This way you can easily personalise your tablet or windows 8 enabled smart mobile device, like the HP Envy.
Talking about personalization, the communication between, windows 8 enabled devices is perfect, changing a background on my Microsoft Surface means that the background on my HP Envy changes as well, without me influencing it. It’s like an Apple environment, but this time,Hp-envy-x2 I decide what happens and not Apple.
When looking at Windows 8, it’s very well acting, very stable (since I have my new toys, the tools running on windows 8 didn’t crash, the rest did including a Samsung Galaxy Tab and an Apple iPad).

Office 365

If something changed, it’s the new office. A delight to work with and miles ahead any other competitor. Office 365 allows you to install 5 licenses, this means that a normal family will have more than enough with 1 Office 365. For small companies it’s a revolution, gone the server with on it all the Microsoft tools. You can organize your company entirely in the cloud, adding a license is just paying an extra license by credit card. And hosting your files on an environment that is not linked with a search engine could be potentially better.

Because the tools are cloud based, it’s extremely easy to work in a very flexible way. I am using OneNote regularly and it allows me now to work in real time on the same document, through different devices on different locations. And one huge difference with the rest… it all integrates with my familiar Office products. Therefore I strongly believe that the killer will not be the Surface (although it’s a very powerful tool), but the real killing will happen in the business environment. That space is owned by Surface-RT-with-cyan-coverMicrosoft and with the new Office, they’ll own it for the next decade as well and that will kill the iPad and Android… you spend more time working than being actively at home, so if you have a tool that can be used in both worlds … that’s where the future is.

A future where you can work, live and play with the same devices, a future where you have open minded platforms.

Surface RT

OK, the new surface, it’s not the first tablet, but the iPad and Galaxy tab weren’t either, so don’t be picky at saying that the surface is not the first. Is it as easy as the iPad or the Galaxy… yes. It’s running on a full version of Windows 8, so the same way of working as on my other windows 8 devices. Yes it’s different but it doesn’t restrict you in much, if you want to create 10 screens with a different name, you can. Can you create animated tiles with a ticker… you can (something the two biggest competitors can’t). I admit, when you have 10 tiles that are animated on one screen, it starts to look like Christmas, but I can imagine that youngsters will love this feature and the Asian market as well.
The Surface weighs heavier compared to the iPad or tab, but has some asskicking standard toys included, the clickable magnetic keyboard has a flat version and a fake key version. There is a stand included and a solid one, embedded into the case, so no cover needed and you can easily read in bed that book.
The speed of the Surface is fast compared to iPad and the Galaxy and the screen looks brighter than its two rivals and as the tablet is optimized for wide screen, movies are of a higher quality.
I already mentioned that it’s heavier compared to its two rivals, but because the tablet is rectangular instead of rounded everywhere, the handling is easier and more ergonomic. It slides less between your hands and you get a firmer grip.

The fact that you can split your screens, name your icon groups and work with proper Office tools means that I can work on it and play at the same time... basically, that I can use it as a proper tool during the full day and not only during play time, like the tab and ipad.

So the final curtain or a standing ovation…

As a skeptic you could argue that there are still some flaws, but let’s be honest, I rather prefer a nearly perfect system that’s open and close to my way of living, than a tool that looks nice and is unable to help me during the day. It looks like Apple and Google invested lots of energy to create a good looking tool, without making it useful in a work environment. They are back and it looks like they did their homework and this old skeptic is quite impressed with the result.


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