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Microsoft's HoloLens and Surface creators may be the company's secret weapons

Panos Panay and Surface Pro 3

Panos Panay and Surface Pro 3 (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Microsoft has been pivoting from a Windows PC-centric strategy for years. Consequently, it gained industry respect for its category-defining Surface hardware and innovative mixed reality wearable computer HoloLens.

Computing has evolved from a desktop-centric experience to a "transient" computing phenomenon where users' digital activity moves seamlessly with their context. That shifting context can be via the morphing forms of a 2-in-1 or the cloud-based facilitation of digital identities across devices. It can also be via the forward-looking mixed - augmented (AR) and virtual (VR) - reality platform that can mimic desktop and mobile computing as well as introduces imaginative holographic computing scenarios.

The introduction of smartphones, mobile broadband, app ecosystems, Chrome OS and Google's web-based productivity tools have put the once-dominant personal computing giant, Microsoft, on the defensive. Furthermore, Apple's aptitude for superior hardware and software synergy highlighted shortcomings in how Microsoft's OS and hardware worked together. Furthermore, since Microsoft missed smartphones, the "nexus" device that changed personal computing, it also missed (to some degree) technologies, like digital assistants, app ecosystems and more birthed by smartphones and which fuel modern "transient" computing.

To change its present fortunes Microsoft used Surface to solidify its PC foundations by modernizing the PC across various form factors. To secure its future, it embraced mixed reality and HoloLens, by reimagining computing in a form broad enough to encompass desktop and mobile scenarios while also being capable of new and imaginative uses. Cloud is the thread tying it all together. Thus, Surface creator Panos Panay, Hololens creator Alex Kipman and CEO and cloud champion Satya Nadella may be Microsoft's "secret weapons."

Panos Panay brings hardware to the surface

Microsoft isn't new to hardware. However, outside of certain peripherals and Xbox, many of Microsoft's hardware efforts failed. Window phone tops the list of devices most missed by enthusiasts. Consequently, Microsoft, a software company, was rarely seen as standard-setter for hardware. Conversely, Apple (which has seen its share of failed products) is known for its luxury pricing and hardware and software synergy.

In a mobile computing age where Windows is less central to computing, Microsoft needed to invigorate the PC market with high-end aspirational hardware that competed with Macs and MacBooks. This was no small task. The Surface team, led by Panos Panay was tasked with creating a device that would optimally showcase hardware and Windows synergy for OEM partners to emulate. The "tablet that could replace your laptop" with its removable keyboard and pen was born.

The first two iterations flopped resulting in a billion dollar loss. Panay persisted through failure and stressed during Surface Pro 3's presentation that collaboration with the OneNote team helped build the seamless synergy between OneNote, Surface Pro, and Surface Pen. This success highlights not only Panay's drive but also the importance of collaboration between Microsoft's divisions to make its hardware and software shine. Surface Pro successfully inspired OEM's to create a range of 2-in-1s that, for years, remained a growing PC segment while others declined.

Surface which includes Surface Laptop, Studio, Pro, Go, Dial and Surface Headphones is now an industry-respected brand that Microsoft has positioned to birth new form factors in the years to come. Panay has emerged as a favorite among Microsoft enthusiasts for his accomplishments, passion and presentation style.

Alex Kipman mixes reality

Kipman is a visionary who envisions computing as immersive where users aren't confined to a screen. This notion is manifest in his early claim to fame, Microsoft Kinect. Though Kinect didn't become what he and Microsoft hoped, Kipman's vision for computing's future remains undeterred.

HoloLens, Kipman's tetherless, wearable computer, which was intended for gaming, helped push him onto Microsoft's broader stage after Nadella realized mixed reality's broader computing applications. Nadella aggressively set Microsoft's computing future (not unlike rivals Facebook, Apple, and Google) toward AR computing. Kipman notoriously claimed, "smartphones are already dead, and people just don't know it," referencing a "screenless" future.

As context for his bold claim, Kipman says to be visionary, you have to "shoot to be ten times better than anything else out there" and "by definition when shooting for ten times better people shouldn't understand you." He suggests the response "you're crazy" after sharing an idea is preferable to a more mundane "that's a good idea." Consequently, Kipman asserts, a person trying to communicate a visionary idea has to be good at telling stories. This is why he is increasingly at the forefront of Microsoft's mixed reality and HoloLens narrative. He's telling pieces of an ambitious story over time, supported with periodic technological advances in hopes that spoon-feeding consistent tidbits of the whole will ultimately be easier for the less visionary to digest.

Hololens 2, (technically version 3 since version 2 was scrapped in 2017 to position a 2019, rather than 2020 debut of versions 3's tech) is expected to debut at Mobile World Congress 2019.

Panay and Kipman, Microsoft's secret weapons

Panos Panay arguably made PCs relevant again for a company that relies heavily on Windows PC. Surface inspired creativity among hardware partners while the Windows team evolved the OS for context-conformity, inking, functioning as a hub for iOS and Android and more. Surface supports Microsoft's present and opened the door to innovative future form factors that Panay is expected to debut to drive Microsoft into the future.

HoloLens and mixed reality are achieving some success in the enterprise, education, government, and private sector. Still, it's expensive, and use cases, developer and general infrastructure are still too immature for a broad market launch. If mixed reality's story becomes the future, Kipman and Microsoft envision, Microsoft's years of investment, and first-mover position put the company at the forefront of that shift. And Kipman, the man some may have called crazy, will be there telling the story.

Related: These are Microsoft's three ambitious visions for mobile

Jason L Ward is a columnist at Windows Central. He provides unique big picture analysis of the complex world of Microsoft. Jason takes the small clues and gives you an insightful big picture perspective through storytelling that you won't find *anywhere* else. Seriously, this dude thinks outside the box. Follow him on Twitter at @JLTechWord. He's doing the "write" thing!

  • Kipman looks and sounds like he's smoking something legal in Washington... That aside... my hat's off to both these gentlemen Panay and Kipman for the great work their teams are doing. Panay saved laptops (YESTERDAY'S device), by redesigning them. And the HoloLens is honestly a really cool... crazy expensive... but sincerely cool... device of the FUTURE. That said... it's insanity on their part not to include a pocketable Andromeda device in their line up TODAY. This whole "visionary" thing is great... to a point... but some kind of recognition... a mere nod... to TODAY'S revolutionary devices would be most welcome by developers and enthusiasts alike.
  • Stating it is "insanity" to not release a pocketable Andromeda device is a little much. Would it be cool, fun, and useful to have that device now? Maybe? If the answer to that question was "Absolutely it would be cool and fun to have that device" then you would see it on the market by now. So let's just trust these guys and assume it isn't ready.
  • I think they're beyond the "nice to have" point. Two reasons. Trust. Relevance. Nadella and company swore up and down they were "committed" to mobile come hell or high water. Devs and others believed that sack of crap and invested accordingly. Trust is essential in business. Relevance - in order to stay relevant you first have to be relevant. To people over 40 yeah MS is still very relevant. Ask anyone under 30 and it's not so clear cut. Ask anyone under 20 and you may get a long blank vacant stare when you ask them how Microsoft is shaping the world.
  • Exactly. I don't trust Microsoft for a minute to a) get pricing right on HoloLens, b) support it for more than three years, c) deliver the exclusive content it needs. The whole strategy for HoloLens so far has been a disappointment. After three years on the market there are 377 HoloLens apps in the store. 20 for the Surface dial. 97 for Mixed Reality/VR. They put stuff out there and see what sticks and then walk away. They do a lot of R&D and come up with great ideas, but the actual product support investments of Microsoft are a joke.
  • HoloLens was never intended for consumers at this stage. You would be surprised how many corporations are actually using Hololens in their R&D teams and the amount of dedicated support they get from MS to tweak and tune the device for nextgen iterations. I suspect a HoloLens variant for consumers will only emerge as soon as the Xbox team has worked out the technics to incorporate it in the Xbox eco-system. The "expensive" Hololens devices will be geared at corporations and MS fans who want it as a gadget. My 5 cents.
  • Fair enough. But even as a company (and university) focused product 50k units are not particularly impressive. Back when the devkit came out Microsoft said they wanted to ensure that there would be enough software support when the consumer version comes out. Well, now that is apparantly happening (it's being presented at a consumer fair after all) but the software support just never materialized. Which makes sense, why develop for a platform that has no customers? That's why it's so baffling that they didn't just give away devkits for free, like they do with ID@Xbox. Microsoft currently has a technological advantage in AR. But other companies are playing catch-up (though none sell better) and Google and Apple are almost ready as well. In the end, if HoloLens v3 doesn't feature at least 4x the viewing area of the first (double horizontal and vertical FOV) it is dead on arrival. If it is priced above $1000 it is dead on arrival. As cool as the tech is, I wouldn't bet on it right now. Not on Microsoft anyway.
  • I doubt HL3 will be targeted at the masses so a price of about $1500 is my guess. It may be as low as $1000 but not lower. Surface products aren't cheap and if $1000+ iPhones can sell, then I don't see why a new cool tech like this shouldn't. It will be target towards enterprise and professionals. My guess is next version will be for consumers maybe in 2022.
  • Oh, but Nadella and his ilk will tell you that they've ALWAYS been committed to mobile, but that mobile--as you think of it--is becoming something different. So, they would say that it's too bad that you don't recognize how into mobile they really are. Of course, while part of that may be true, the point I always make is that you can't just abandon what's currently going on to focus on the what-if or the imagine-this research and development. The farther out your "vision", the more "crazy" it is, the more likely that a greater amount of time will be needed. More time is needed to not only establish the technology to actually execute the vision but convince people of WHY they need it. Meanwhile, the Apples, Amazons and Googles have been more iterative as they advance toward the Next Big Thing.
  • If I found a person who didn't know how to use windows, I'd consider them poorly educated. To me, someone who's freinds with a lot of millenials, I find the notion that they are somehow PC phobic rather weird. Or the notion they think mobile OSes are heroic technological marvels. Hell, to me, that's the notion that's over 40. Boomers be like 'wow it's an app'. Yawn.
  • No Android apps? Niche market. Andromeda with Android apps? May be a hit. Definitely would appeal to mo peeps.
  • Why wouldn't they just buy an Android and have access to the complete Play Store? You realize an Android emulator would only be compatible with a limited subset of Android apps, mostly the crappy ones, right? There are no pocketable Windows apps worth using and carrying around peripherals to poorly run Windows apps when connected to a large display is a terrible experience. What is the point? If Andromeda cannot stand on it's own, there is no reason to launch it.
  • Yes, there very well be no good pocketable window apps but tbf there are no pocketable window devices either.
    There weren't good pocketable ios or android apps before good pocketable ios devices or Android devices either
  • Right. Android and iOS grew their own platforms and apps. Adding Android apps does nothing but remove any reason to develop native apps. Blackberry tried Android apps and it didn't help. Why buy a BB to run Android? Why buy Microsoft to run Android? It it just an omition that Android is a better platform and the ideal area to develop around.
  • You nowadays buy BB for the physical keyboard, which is a niche market but still is an existing market. Also don't agree with your argument, there still would be appeal to develop apps natively since it would also run natively on Windows 10 pc's/laptops.
  • That 'appeal' existed during windows 10 mobile as well. But consumers didn't own the device. Audience is the biggest driver for developers, not just quantity of platforms. Their biggest audience will be on Android phones, so there will be great native Android apps. And then the folks on windows devices will get a sub-par emulated Android experience with the app. Why invest in creating a native app at that point since the user can just use the Android app? That's why Android apps being supported on Windows is a bad idea. You may say nowadays you buy BB for the keyboard, but you're neglecting that emulating Android apps did not save them, which was the point of bringing up BB.
  • You buy BB these days because they use a fairly stock Android with security features and quick updates. The hardware keyboard is part of it too, but you cannot buy a BlackBerry with BBOS anymore.
  • I have to agree with Bleached on this one. Android apps running in emulation on a MS operating system would be the wrong direction. They'd be better off not building Core OS at all, and just going all in on a Microsoft branded Android foldable phone, and a Microsoft branded Chromebook. While I cringe as I say it I'm not totally opposed to them doing just that. It may be time for MS to admit, just like they did with the Edge browser, that they are too old and slow, and maybe not smart and talented enough, to compete with Android and Chrome OS in light computing. Such a move would be a difficult pill to swallow, but it would have the effect of clarity for developers. MS could make an official statement killing off UWP, and the MS Store for good. Or heck, have Belfiore tweet it from his treehouse. Nadella could stop lying to developers about "commitment" in mobile. Developers would have some closure... and could move onto platforms like Android and Chrome OS where they can be certain the underlying OS will not be abandoned as soon as they move their app wares into production. Maybe MS could turn Build into a completely Win 32 event for legacy developers, and gaming companies, or perhaps just cancel the event altogether. And all would be in order in the universe again.
  • I disagree.. Nobody is developing mobile apps for Windows anyways, so sending the wrong message to who? . Android apps on Windows is better than nothing. Way better than nothing. If you don't like then then don't use them. So, options are just that; optional. What's wrong with options?
  • I see where you're coming from, but I just think they're better going all in on Android OS and/or Chrome OS than going with Android emulation, dual boot, or some 1/2 baked hybrid. I'm not even sure the open sourced licensing of Android would allow for a hybrid solution. I'm sure it's all or nothing. There's no shame in MS admitting they cannot compete in light computing. They'd still have full Windows OS for legacy Win 32 and gaming desktops and laptops. But as far as light computing is involved maybe they're better off admitting they're just not talented enough to pull it off. Also... there are still a lot mobile apps out there on the MS Store. You can filter for them in the MS Store if you'd like. Microsoft admitting to these poor devs that that it's passed time to pull the plug on UWP officially would put a lot of them out of their misery. It's like shooting a horse that's obviously dying. At a certain point it's the kind thing to do.
  • Big chance though that in the future eventually laptops and desktops will be completely replaced by more mobile devices that can be unfolded or such to larger devices. So you need to have a piece of the pie in the mobile market too since the boundaries between mobile & desktop computing will fade more over time.
  • Why would they kill off UWP? That makes no sense. UWP is generally better and easier to develop with (in conjunction with xaml it is great). They are just still developing it, just like parts of Windows are slowly but steadily being made more modular and modern over the years. And especially with Windows on Arm laptops coming to the market and steadily getting better (probably) there is more demand for UWP.
  • Windows S, not Windows on ARM (as Windows on ARM can run legacy code). So, more Windows S will drive more demand for UWP. And I don't know that Windows S is really pushing that many buyers right now. And UWP is nice to develop with, but far from being a clear winner in regards to, "hey, given no other requirements, what platform do you want to develop for?" There aren't many people who voluntarily choose UWP unless there are other driving factors *or* the lack of very common factors (like audience).
  • It should be more a clear winner that consumers give it credit for though. It has a quite a bit of advantages, even for pc and laptop users (I named a few in my post below Maverick's post). Problem is that people for some reason just don't know about it (I also did not until I started messing around with UWP, now as a consumer I also sometimes check the Windows Store).
  • I'm not saying I WANT them to kill UWP. On the contrary I'd love to see them support it by keeping their promise to make sure developers have a device smaller than 10 inches to run their "universal" apps on. But if they're going to be wusses about it, they might as well be total wusses and just kill the whole UWP thing off and release their own Chrome OS for light computing. Unfortunately I think Nadella is a complete wuss. He has no balls whatsoever. Plays everything super safe. If that's the case, fine, but quit jerking developers around. Either give us a frieking device to run our mobile apps on, or kill the platform and jump on the Chrome OS bandwagon for light computing.
  • I get what you are saying, that being said even without mobile devices UWP can sometimes be much better than x86. The problem here is that consumers don't know about it. UWP offers better privacy controls/permissions, modern ui, batterylife, auto updates and a few UWP only features.
    The thing with UWP is that it is still a bit basic so it cannot be used as broadly as legacy programs, but as it is still quite good for apps and sketch programs etc. It is not that UWP is lacking, it is that consumers don't know about the advantages. They look at it to much from mobile/tablet perspective but even desktop and laptop users would benefit from it.
    And I think it will make more sense for people to use it in a few years since Windows is slowly getting smaller devices anyway (smaller bezels, more touchscreens/2-1's, surface go's, woa).
  • Why do you reply to my comments?
    I don't like your existence less than give a rats ass about your opinion . Don't reply to my comments, troll. When are you going to get the message? Bleached: "Your track record isn't that stellar. Your site is always arguing that Windows whatever isn't dead until it is." Daniel Rubino: "So leave. No one is asking you to stay, in fact I'll gladly show you the way out. Since our track record isn't stellar, not sure why you hang around at all. Let me be clear: I'm asking you 100 percent to leave our site, never return and leave our bad judgements in your past".... Wed. Jan 23, 2019 7:32pm
  • WTF, are you two still ******** at each other... Grow up all ready, it's annoying as **** having to sort out this bullshit from the rest...
  • Honestly, past comments may have been annoying, but personally, i feel the comment you're responding to has a lot of merit. Android on Windows won't increase market share. It may just cause more people to convert. The only people it helps are diehard windows fans. And while I get the sentiment, it's just not a good business decision.
  • It is funny you think that comment makes me look bad. You conveniently leave out the part where I list the numerous times he was totally wrong, and frankly, they were obvious at the time. Daniel was unhinged at the time because I was right. The angry quote you reference makes that very apparent.
  • Google play store is full of grade A bullcrap. Virtually none of it is any good. iOS on the other hand, as much as I hate apple, actually has some decent software. But for most peoples purposes everything currently in the windows store does them fine, outside of banking apps, which will likely all be PWAs within a few years. Ecosystem's are kinda 2016. Unless it's actually powerful feature rich software that needs to be run locally, it's kinda pointless, everywhere has 4g.
  • iOS does have some better apps, but most of them are identical to the Android version. Android apps also do not have the limitations that Apple imposes on their app store. There are apps on Android that cannot be replicated on iOS.
  • Oh, you're right. I trust Ms alright. They missed mobile. Not because they weren't positioned to do so but bc of missteps. Constant missteps. I trust they will continue to do what they've been doing in that aspect.
  • Personally, I'd like a pocketable Xbox device instead.
  • I want a pocketable Surface Hub. 😁
  • Wait, hybrids are yesterdays device? I guess that's why they are the fastest growing market in tablets, and the fastest growing market in PCs. Hybrid devices have more place in the future than current smartphones. The software needs to be refined. A lot. The tech has room to expand. But fold that badboy up with a graphene screen, and you got a smartphone, a PC, a gaming device, laptop for productivity everything, no need for anything else. Hence why google is releasing the pixel slate. There will be times, even in the AR future, that people don't want to be immersed in graphics. There's also the problem of connectivity. Can't exactly stick a five G connection to your head. That's pretty much auto cancer.
  • Microsoft hybrids are just laptops with modular keyboards. They do not have the experiences to make them anything more than that today. Maybe next year.
  • These two are already kicking there respective markets
    And you call them secrets?
    What a Joke []-)
  • Context, context, context. Your attempt to come across witty really exposes your inner idiot
  • Microsoft's Surface and HoloLens creators may be among the company's secret weapons in the war for dominance in personal computing. They are doing well in their markets as you state, but one, its the title kind of a playing on words :-) and also a more serious acknowledgment that Microsoft has lost a lot in the way of personal computing with the advent of the consumer-focused smartphone and the technologies it has birthed, pushed toward the forefront or supports (personal assistants, smart speakers, smart displays, wearables, etc). So the "secret weapon" point doesn't stop with thier contributions to their respective markets as we see them currently manifest, but also in the long term impact of those evolving categories and tech on Microsoft's pontetial impact on the broader realm of personal computing. If you think of the potential formafactors that may come from the Panos Panay and the Surface team that may bridge computing scenarios, or the impact of HoloLens tech if successful on the broader scale beyond current tailored implementation, and how it could impact and even further merge communication and computing as new category of wearable ACPC with voice in the future. This is what the "secret weapon" reference was referring to, as communicated in the piece, not just current success, but how these two individuals could impact Microsoft's personal computing status which has been put on the defensive in the last decade or so.
  • Jason, please delete your response to their comment . Let mine do the talking for you. This person clearly is incapable of digesting ideas written in long form and even though your response is shortened in comparison to your post, I fear it's still WAY too much for them to comprehend if THAT response was all they took from the post.
  • Perspective, perspective, perspective!
    To me, the statement undermines there current work and puts them in place where they still might have to prove themselves.
    It kind of triggers me.
    Though I will take my words back of calling it 'a joke' .
    Everyone can have there perspectives and others must respect them and critise them in appropriate manner.
    But, I will hold on to not calling them secrets.
  • Stating they have a role to play in another market doesn't undermine their current work. It's that many people don't see HoloLens or Surface as the best way for microsoft will reclaim their throne in personal computing that they once had. In that, they are secret weapons. They look like one thing, but will be used for another. It's odd that you're being driven to be triggered by such semantics. Did you read the article or just the headline? Nothing in the article comes close to undermining their work. If you disagree, please point out where.
  • as Eminem said in his MGK diss "what good is a machine gun, when its out of ammo"
  • He also referred to not so "sick" rappers.. "Couldn't make a belimic puke on a korn and ffuckin peanut poop“... Cool stuff May I also add that Eminem said "I'd bust in my own mother, and have a new son, and brother, at the same time" 🤔🤔 Hey, he said it, not me.😉
  • You know sometimes I think he loses himself in the moment. Like I imagine his Palms are sweaty
    Knees are weak
    Arms are heavy
  • I don't see how those quotes are relevant. You think that is what Panos is trying to do with his mother? The OP's quote was relevant to Microsoft's situation. Your's are not and they certainly don't prove that Eminem is incapable of having an intelligent thought. Assuming that was your point, it was a bad one.
  • Explain the relevance. I'll bite the bullet and dismantle your argument. Real quick
  • Microsoft has no successor to Windows. They have had to move towards supporting other platforms because Windows is "out of bullets".
  • You're an idiot
  • Rap is crap. Offensive lyrics pushing hedonism, hate, death and materialism.
  • There's different kinds of Rap, or HipHop.. Is all Rock crap because some of it is violent, materialistic, or vulgar? As a matter of fact, you just described tons of Rock I listen to every day. Lol. What about movies? You're telling me you don't watch violent movies? 🤔🤔🤔
  • Hahaha, wasn't that the same argument your parents made about rock?!
  • If one quotes someone in a scenario, it does not automatically mean every single quote from that individual applies to said scenario. What I took the comment to mean is that what good is a platform without any reason to use it. It may be more specific (ammo may be apps, users, etc.), but in the end, it comes down to that Microsoft has run out of steam and they're main product is a steam engine. I loved Windows, I loved my Lumia 950. I then moved on to an HP Elite X3. The hardware ecosystem was outstanding. But as a platform, I was running out of things I could do other than the web browser to use other products no longer supported on the platform. I eventually made the move to the Pixel XL (which was also driven by a need to switch networks and Verizon no longer showing any support for windows mobile). They had great ideas, but poor execution unfortunately. And they're too slow. How are they going to make headway into mobile if they let people entrench themselves in already existing ecosystems that Microsoft is still supporting. Continuum was awesome, but now they're giving Samsung and Android time to catch up. In regards to Apple, I'm convinced they believe the iOS interface works everywhere and will just project it onto a larger screen or make monitor-sized iPads as their response.
  • Kinect + Cortana + Surface = next level smart home device. Too bad MS will never do it.
  • Ms already did that. It was called Xbox one. Next.
  • Are you kidding me? Have you used Cortana on Xbox One? I don't think you can even use smart home stuff through it.
  • Google Home + Android + Google Assistant = next level smart home, available today and fairly cheap.
  • Please. That experience is horrific.
  • My Google Home mini gets immensely more use than my Invoke. ::shrug::
  • That experience is here today and quite mature. I can easily turn lights off, adjust the thermostat, unlock my front door, and do any other numerous tasks with simple voice commands that work every time. If you don't like Google, Amazon gives you the same experience. Microsoft and Apple do not. They have a very poor experience compared to the competition. Microsoft has already waved the white flag and Siri is an also ran.
  • What I really need, is for my fridge to be hacked, and for my thermostat to get a virus, so that I can save myself getting up to turn the lights off.
  • Good thing those devices aren't running Windows. No platform is more targeted and exploited than Windows.
  • While I REALLY wish that was true, Microsoft never really had that kind of vision. I saw the potential from the beginning, but I was the minority voice. We hold on to our original Xbox because we use the Kinect all the time. Cortana in 100% on with all our devices. But Microsoft isn't doing the right thing with either of those. I've said it many, many times...I want the Tony Stark world. Microsoft stood the best chance early on of taking us there. Satya Nadella and his ilk destroyed that, and now Amazon, Google and Samsung are fighting for the lead in that arena. But not even THEY get this. They're all idiots as far as I'm concerned.
  • Microsoft was never anywhere near the lead in this area. Siri started it and Google wasn't far behind with a superior Assistant service that predicted your needs. Amazon improved on them both with a smart speaker that made them accessible in the home. Microsoft was never anything but an also ran. They didn't have a mobile platforms calable of growing Cortana's influence and they didn't capitalize on smart speakers. Cortana was always a far inferior experience. Even Microsoft now admits that.
  • Yeah, not sure at all about this piece. Seems a lot of saying nothing, regurgitation and rehashing. Was hoping to get something out of it but alas...
  • Yeah, same drum beating MS rhetoric saying absolutely nothing new or insightful.
    WTF is this article about other than click bait
  • Well, they certainly COULD be "secret weapons". But that assumes that future computing scenarios evolve the way we currently imagine them. I am old enough to remember when "the future" was flying cars and a computer TERMINAL in every home. That terminal had a keyboard and a screen, and would be connected to the mainframe in the local library, for instant reference. A terminal is a dumb device, merely input/output. The real computing happened elsewhere, because "computers" were large and expensive, and therefore located elsewhere. 50 years ago, no one imagined what we have now: basically pocket super computers that contain billions of transistors, and are more ubiquitous than 8 transistor radios once were. Pocket computers that run all day on battery power, are connected wirelessly to every other computer on the planet and everyone has one. Or three. Pocket computers that have astonishing amounts of local storage and processing power. Predicting the future is notoriously difficult, particularly future computer technology. In 50 years I seriously doubt "computers" will look anything like what we have today, AND they will be 1,000,000 times more powerful. Just as today's computers (phones) look nothing like green screen terminals connected to mainframes, and are 1,000,000 times more powerful than the mainframe of 50 years ago.
  • Speechless.... Totally speechless here.... I can say for sure that I will prefer a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 or 9 instead of a hololens or some foldable device. And... it seems like the majority of the consumers have spoken already so what is there to write about here? There is no secret weapon here. Only a need to communicate on handhold devices and exchange data and knowledge. The rest is buff and huff.
  • Current consumer focused mobile devices, smartphones, are eleven years old and the markerlt as you say has spoken and has been speaking for 11 years. Still, technology evolves, and historically every ten years or so there us a shift The platueing and stagnating of slate shaped phones is evidence that we are entering the boundaries of the next shift. Investments in foldables and AR are the nascent stages of this shift. To state that the eleven year old paradigm is an enduring immutable reality doesn't take into account the historic regard of how dramatically technology shifts and what we are seeing in foldables and more, AR as the next shifts. The consumer market hasn't spoken yet on either of those, they are too young and haven't yet been presented in a mature form to the consumer space. Let's wait until that happens then see what consumers say😉.
  • I shall return to this in like 5 years and then you might realize what I meant. In the meantime you can read about Samsung's' new foldable phone on Android. Central the phone that was suppose to be the new revolutionary thing in the world of the smart phones. Remember the so called Surface Phone? The one that would make MS thinking ahead and make that new paradigm shift? Trust me when I say this the smart phones and phablets are here to stay and they will eventually evolve into what we see now just that Later on they will start to be able to communicate with every single tech device around us. In some way they can already do that with some things like bands and watches. Cars, refrigerators and even our doors are already following or will. They are here to stay. They are driving the whole IoT innovation. MS should never had let their phone business go. Google and Samsung and also Chinese companies are seeing this. Pretty much everywhere in Beijings bigger malls people are using their phones to pay with and here in Denmark Copenhagen we also use our phones to take the bus buy tickets and buying stuff online or paying in shops. The smart phone and all those apps has become too important to let go. In China you can hardly do anything online without the app WeChat(weixin). It is simply just impossible to use a public wifi in many places without handing out your wechat id anymore. Android is on thise Chines handsets as well. We are talking 1.4 billion people here.(yes not all have smart phone yet in China but let us assume one third has then) The Chinese companies like Huawei and OnePlus(x) are shipping huge numbers of cheap highend Smart phones these years. That also means that Android is here to stay with all the apps public organizations and private companies are shipping. Govs around here even uses Android apps to communicate with the citizens now. So unless those hololens can be with Android and does not need to cover your face then let us see.. As I said I will be back in 5 years 😉
  • Well folding phones and AR haven't even been developed properly yet, to a consumer level, and smartphones are post peak. You might as well compare the blackberry with the nokia in the 90s and use that to claim the smartphone will never take off.
  • Samsung just announced their foldable Android phone for $2000. Surface Phone are not out yet will perhaps never be made. The world Android and smart phones has only just begun revolutionize our way of living and working. We are only seeing the beginning. Especially because that companies from China can pack those handhold devices with specs that we could never imagine for very low prices. Soon Samsung will see competition from other Asian companies and then the foldable device will also start to be more affordable.
  • They already threw HoloLens under the bus when they killed Windows Phone. That once again showed a lack of willingness to fight for a market. If you have to expect Microsoft will treat your product like their other products and potentially kill it after two years because not enough people bought in - it makes you think long and hard if you want to buy that product. The competing AR solutions will run Android and iOS. With millions of apps. It's the same problem all over again. There is no easy way to get back into mobile devices, not as long as they aren't running full Windows 10 and with enough overhead to run every app that runs on a dedicated desktop PC. They could do a Nintendo and lock their services to their own devices. That could work - or it could kill them. And that's the problem, Microsoft doesn't exactly know what it really wants. The cloud strategy forces them to have their software on as many devices as possible. But that hurts them when they create their own devices, which always miss the uniqueness and exclusivity of Apple products but are priced like Apple products no matter what.
  • Yeah because no one craves anything like running a limited app designed for a tiny smartphone on a forty foot wall sized screen. Same as android lost the tablet wars, and no one EVER installed android on a desktop, there's no market for a smartphone ecosystem on bigger displays. They also don't operate on a 3d interface. When you get that bigger display, you want enhances UI and functionality, which renders androids smartphone ecosystem irrelevant. Also, I had a look today at the google play store; there's basically nothing the average user needs that isn't on windows outside of banking apps. Look, there's a reason why MSFT basically built hololens ones as a beta; to fill out an entirely new kind of ecosystem that didn't exist, same as they have been working on the UI. I know people think smartphones are some kind of permenant technology feature, but they really aren't. Hell, app ecosystems aren't, most stuff will be web based in the future. Touch probably won't even be that big in the future, with voice and 3d gesture on the rise. Smartphones are postpeak, and even google knows that android doesn't scale, which is why it has switched focus with the pixel slate to chromeOS. In time, no doubt, they'll kill android, and all that will remain is android apps, as a legacy app platform, like dos applications are now. Maybe apple has some secret AR project, but and perhaps they stand a good chance with apple AR kit, but google has focused more on AI, and I think even apple has more in terms of AI IP. Apples next big push could be AR or it could be AI. Or it could be utter stupidity, we haven't seen much quality leadership from them in awhile. They unlike MSFT and google, aren't even building a hybrid OS. Right now apple is still riding a wave, that everyone can see the crash of, just over the horizon. If they play their cards wrong, in a decade apple could be basically an object of nostalgia. Most of googles profits, like apples, are all banked on one product, but at least for now, google search will remain dominant. As far as Google is concerned, they want a hybrid OS as much as MSFT does. They don't like being tied to linux, and they want desktop level functionality, and to break into all the various FF inbetween. I'm sure they see AR and folding screens and hybrid 3 in 1s in our future as much as MSFT does. Android is fine, for a smartphone. But that age where everything is limited to touch interface and tiny screens is going to pass. And that's what it was really for. I'm quite certain android won't even make it to "Z". Not because it would fail in the market next year or something, but because Google is still hungry, and has a proper defensive mentality; it like MSFT wants to future proof itself. One of their biggest products is Android, and they don't even make much money from it. Because it's open source, based on linux and limited to cheaper smartphones where people don't even spend much on apps. Not only do they need to future proof themselves, but they need to evolve beyond that. Where apple is concerned, I don't even sense the hunger. They are ontop, and I get no real sense they know how far they could fall. Maybe they have some secret project, maybe. But it wouldn't surprise me if they had a bunch of half arsed ideas and no real plan.
  • I see people in China stopping using their computers at home when they get cheap highend Android phones. They say they only use them on work. This is a trend I have seen for years. People no longer need a laptop or a desktop to communicate, read news or buy stuff. Laptops are more for work. Movies and such are perhaps still seen on pc and laptop screens but here smart tv are also winning. The phone are here to stay. It has been here for 20 years. Before it was just a call nd texting machine. Now it contains EVERYTHING about ones social life and even thoughts since many also use them for taking notes or allow for laptop synchronizing so notes taken at work or school can be read on the run.
  • I think two things will eventually replace smartphones, one foldables, and two AR. And I think the 3 in 1, with a lightweight hybrid OS will replace most PCs. Ideally both of these will run the same OS. MS has a bold vision, and I think it's the right vision. The trouble is that 'the next wave' seems awhile off. true AI is a long way off. folding screens depend on currently expensive graphene. But the AR thing? Whilst the display tech has a while to go before being truely portable, and cheap, I think that's probably the closest to being realised.
  • Foldable will still be smartphones like today, they will just expand to have a bit more screen real estate. That won't change the UI or experiences that much since they will still be limited in size so they fit in your pocket. Microsoft has nothing to compete there. They have no small display ecosystem and haven't proven themselves capable or willing to build one. As apps get better and AI improves, the need for a keyboard and mouse interface will continue to erode. Microsoft will have their desktop niche for a while, but that isn't going to help them scale down to mobile devices. If it was, the time to capitalize on that has passed.
  • Exactly what I think too. Samsung just released a foldable phone and last year I think LG did as well. Or was it ZG something? They still looked like normal smart phones just a bit thicker and then they are used pretty much like that after what I could comprehend form that Zg foldable phone review on YouTube.
  • And that's the problem. Microsoft has "vision". When what they need is execution. To use a sports analogy... they can have the perfect play all drawn up on paper... but go out and fumble the ball and that beautiful play is good for nothing else than toilet paper. They've postponed, and probably canceled, Andromeda - their foldable. And AR, while admittedly cool is decades away from maturity. Until smart glasses are about the size and weight of average sunglasses it's a non starter for most people. Meanwhile... without a NORMAL mobile device like all the other cool kids... their mobile ecosystem rots on the vine.
  • Foldable smart phones are already here. ZG has had one out for at least a year. They are not the new tech breakers. People love to be able to hand out for their one handed phablets of phones and then instantly being able to just do what they need to do without having to fold out or open something. The flip phone Era died years ago. Pixel 3, Iphones and Samsung Note 8 /9 have shown us the markets new direction. The foldable phones are just a small option that will appeal to the few. Just wait and see.
  • Aren't these two guys out of gas? Tablet sales peaked in 2013 so its going to be a tough to get people excited about tablets again. Hololens was announced 4 years ago and is moving at snail's pace.
  • The problem with Surface is that it's an Apple'esque, super expensive alternative to what most consumers need. In the Apple ecosystem, you can pull this off better because Apple does not license macOS to other OEMs. People who want macOS, or to be in the Apple ecosystem have no choice but to pay those prices. In the WIndows ecosystem, this is not the case. I doubt I will ever see or touch a HoloLens. I'm just not interested in that stuff, and competitors will develop cheaper alternatives when the tech becomes ready for mass consumption - possibly using other platforms (Android, etc.). I doubt I would ever care to pay Microsoft's premium to test this, and frankly their ecosystem doesn't offer enough to make it attractive enough (Developer Support, etc.). And I find it humorous that people here are still going batshit over Andromeda, etc. Give it up, already. Microsoft should have purchased Vegas and Sound Forge from Sony when they had the chance, then developed/updated them so that they had some decent media apps to offer from the Windows Store at amazing prices... Something that is optimized well for Windows 10, which could showcase on devices like the Surface Studio and Surface Book - similar to how Apple has Final Cut Pro X, etc. But I guess they are too deep in bed with Adobe to go that route...