Microsoft: Unify Further, Then Innovate
Microsoft: Unify Further, Then Innovate
The state of Microsoft coming together has started, but I would argue it is far, really far, from being the Apple and Google experience we would all like to see. I want to go down a few areas that Microsoft really needs to bring together for the future. Starting from small things to unify, to big areas of innovation.
Windows Phone 8: Rooms + GroupMe
Now this is a great feature that brings together people who choose to invest in the Windows Phone ecosystem. The issue is, without dedicated apps on other platforms this really falls through. While this may seem like a grand task, I foundation is already there. If you remember, before Microsoft bought Skype, Skype bought GroupMe. This through clever deduction, Microsoft owns GroupMe. If Microsoft can take Rooms, use GroupMe as a back-end service point, then deployment would just mean updating the already awesome GroupMe app for Android and iPhone to work seemlessly with Windows Phone 8 Rooms.
Deeper Skype and Phone Number Integration
Skype does not offer an unlimited texting plan.
At the time of writing this, Skype Preview has just come out for Windows Phone, and judging by the videos, it looks awesome. There are still many features Skype is missing. One, which I find myself confused about is the Skype plans that are offered. Skype does not offer an unlimited texting plan. With Skype so heavy integrated into Windows Phone, this missing pricing option is perplexing. Google Voice really beats Microsoft on this. Being able to text from your computer, and have it show up on Android is an awesome feature. (One I have grown fond of with Apple's implementation through iMessage). By providing this option, many people can scale back on the out-dated system sold to us by carriers, in favor of a more complete one. Another feature that will probably take more time on is a web-based version of Skype. I can probably write another long blog post about what Microsoft should do with Skype, but I will keep it brief.
Transform Bing Rewards and Xbox Live Rewards into Microsoft Rewards
Visa, Mastercard, Panera, CVS, and etc. all offer Rewards for loyal customers. Its a great way to build brand loyalty.
Visa, Mastercard, Panera, CVS, and etc. all offer Rewards for loyal customers. Its an awesome way for people to become investing in a brand, something Microsoft needs. I personally use Bing because of the rewards it offers. I am basically getting paid (albiet in a small way), to use their service. What is really happening here is Microsoft gets $X from advertisers, and when I search I get a small portion of that. If Microsoft can extend this rewards system across its line-up, I can possibly earn more points. Imagine being able to OPT-IN to having advertisement tiles on you Windows Phone homescreen, and your Windows 8 homescreen, with the possibility of earning reward points. This proposition can open the door to major advertising dollars for Microsoft, and major amount of points for me. I'll be more inclined to watch the ads if I know I am getting something out of it.
Xbox 720 - Apps, CableCard, TV's with Xbox built-In, Downloadable Games (including New Releases)
The idea of a smart TV is nothing new, but Microsoft can really lead the front thanks to its Xbox. It can be the first company to offer Apps on a TV and receive a great amount of traction (Google TV, good idea, just not a very good implementation). Apple is working on a rumored TV, and if Steve Balmer means what he say's about fighting Apple at every corner, then TV is a front he can't afford to lose. With the new Xbox on the way, a really opportunity can be made. You should be able to buy TV's with Xbox and Kinect built write-in, along with selling a stand-alone box. Both from Microsoft and from OEM's. License out the parts that go in the console, and put them into a TV. Then just to leave no stone unturned, add CableCard support. To offset cost, just make it an add-on. With this add-on, a person can buy a television, and avoid connecting a single box to it. If something like this can be implemented people would be more inclined to buy Xbox Video content, Xbox Live Gold, and immerse themselves into the Microsoft Ecosystem more and more. Last point I want to make, is that customers should be allowed to have the option to Download a new release directly to the Xbox, the day it comes out on physical disks.
Microsoft Sync: Deep car integration, microwaves, toasters, Home Appliances (Windows 9/10)
This is a grand picture I see with Microsoft and Windows platform. There seems to be this trend that an Operating System must lie in pieces of hardware that make up Phones, Tablets, Laptops, Desktops. Why not have the underlying code work on things we use everyday. From your toilet, to your fridge, to your toaster, and to your lights. Create an experience in which Apps can be created, used, and widely distributed to everyone. Lay the ground work for a start-up to create an App for the toilet that checks your stool sample the moment you go to the bathroom. Or a fridge that can tell print out your grocery list, tell you whats currently in your fridge and gives your a cooking recipe based on what you already have in your fridge... so many possibilities.
Microsoft really needs to innovate in areas that help to build a platform. Things like the Modern UI are helping to pave the way, but the issue is that this is all stuff they should have done years ago. They have some serious catch up to do, before they can even start thing about innovating. If Microsoft can leverage its software assets the right way, then I truly believe they can innovate again.