The Windows 10 launch is a key moment in Microsoft’s path back to the top, as it looks to tackle mixed reviews of Windows 8 and kick-start the software upgrade cycle.
It was also a defining moment for Satya Nadella’s early tenure as CEO. But so much more came out of the impressive launch event, with a focus on mobile which has become the cornerstone of people’s lives, along with new hardware announcements too.
Microsoft set the bar high with its announcements. CMOs should pay attention to the lessons here such as the power of free, the age of open, messaging as the new social frontier, innovations in interfaces, along with the benefits of announcing new hardware and software innovations together to build excitement.
1. The Power Of Free Software
Microsoft has made it easy to upgrade: it’s free in the first twelve months for Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Mobile users. Aside from the obvious marketing principles of time boxing and ‘free’, this will help make its ecosystem more consistent and up-to-date. As the backbone of the Microsoft empire, the new OS will make more brands create more experiences for Microsoft’s platform. You can get a preview (and contribute to new features) of Windows 10 via the Windows Insider Program.
2. Universal Apps For The “Age Of Open”
Cross-device consumers are defining the present day “Age of Open”. Microsoft has responded to this in previewing how its universal apps will work on Windows 10 PCs, tablets, and phones in a seamless way. The Microsoft workaround is through ‘Continuum’, which automatically switches an app into full-screen mode when transitioning between screens, and can detect a keyboard. In addition apps will be more uniform and easier to develop cross-platform, so you can build one app for multiple devices. This too will encourage more brands to develop Microsoft 10 Apps.
3. Messaging: The Next Social Frontier
Skype will be the default messaging client of Windows 10 and as such has moved front and centre in this year’s new battlefront: messaging services. Apple’s iMessage, WhatsApp and others have transformed how people communicate; WhatsApp alone has just passed 700m users. The transformation is such that in Q1 2015, for the first time, the four largest social networks will have fewer users than the top four global messaging services. There will be over 2bn global monthly active users of messaging apps this quarter.
This in turn is having an impact on consumers’ expectations about how they can contact brands. 84% of consumers expect to be able to contact brands via mobile apps rather than calling. This year more brands will look to messaging services in order to improve customer service and contact.
4. Collaboration Is King
Surface Hub is a pen-driven, 84-inch screen that is perfect for digital collaboration. The possibility of new forms of meetings and internal collaboration spring to mind: from design solutions, to interactive reviews, and timing/milestone planning. It’s also brilliant that you can send outputs to cloud solutions and distribution seamlessly to mobiles once the meeting has finished. It’s an exciting new development. Here’s hoping for a smaller, more affordable version too.
5. Innovation In Interfaces: The Hologram Revolution
HoloLens is a new platform for immersive holographic virtual reality experiences – unlike the departed Google Glass and Facebook’s Oculus Rift, Microsoft’s offering uses holograms to create 3D objects in the real world. That Minecraft acquisition is starting to make sense. In fact, Microsoft showed off Minecraft, along with an impressive collaboration with NASA to simulate walking on Mars. The device bridges the ‘real’ and virtual worlds in a truly seamless way, but unfortunately you will still look like something out of a sci-fi film while using it.
Ultimately there is no pricing, no launch date, and no guarantee it will take off – but by all accounts it shows the new Microsoft CEO is breaking down internal silos to get innovations out to market. You can find out more here.
By 2020, Forrester predicts that mixed-reality computing will be mainstream. Many are predicting that hologram-based interfaces will replace the mouse-based interface that has defined the desktop computing age, much the same way touch-interfaces have risen to dominance in the mobile computing age.
6. Voice And AI To Make Life Easier
Cortana, the voice assistant, has landed on desktop (via a console game and mobile OS) – and what’s most impressive is the Artificial Intelligence and the way it learns your habits. You can even check these out in a “notebook”, detailing what it has learnt about you and what it knows. Ultimately Cortana, along with Siri and Google Now, would like us to talk into our screens more, and over time normalise voice control behaviour. Certainly with the wearables and driveables trends, voice control makes life easier for consumers.