Articles from Predictions

Interesting First Impressions with the IE9 Preview

By Michael Flanakin @ 1:27 AM :: 2230 Views :: Microsoft, Predictions, Open Source/Standards, Tools/Utilities, User Experience :: Digg it!

MSDN

It's been almost a year since my plea to the IE team. Windows 7 has rocked, Office 2010 is looking very nice, and, most recently, Windows Phone 7 Series has amazed the world. All these great things coming together are really putting pressure on the IE team to deliver something revolutionary. Back in Nov 2009, the team talked about the tremendous performance improvements, sub-pixel text rendering, and HTML5/CSS3 support. All-in-all, there was a quick burst of information and buzz around what IE9 could become, but then it died off very quickly. I admit, I was quite skeptical -- and still am -- but at least it showed the team is heading in the right direction. In what seems to be the IE team's typical process, silence happened and annoyance returned.

Today, Microsoft announced the release of an early IE9 developer preview. I was pretty excited about this, since I've been waiting for it since they first started talking about IE9 in November -- well, maybe since IE8 was released without some of the big features I was hoping for. Nonetheless, I was grounded pretty quickly. For better or worse, there are some interesting things that came out of the preview.

1. Uhh, What's This Window?

I'm pretty willy-nilly with new software. Not too smart, but whatever :-P I installed the preview and expected magic. As it installed, I started closing other IE8 windows. All of a sudden, a new Window popped up. "Woo-hoo, it's done! IE9, here I come!" Then I noticed I left one IE8 window open. I switched over to close it and hesitated -- "Why is there an IE8 window still open?" I switched back to the new IE9 window and thought, uhh, this isn't a browser. There's no back button; no address bar; nothing. "Ah, maybe it's just a 'Welcome to IE9' dialog before the IE9 greatness kicks in!" I close the IE8 window, open another with the pinned icon on my taskbar. "Uhh, nothing changed." *Help > About...* Still IE8. WTF!? I guess this is more of a literal "preview" than I thought. No browser; just a chance to see how their pre-built tests work. Meh.

2. The Tests Work... Mostly

I've said it before and I'll say it again, just being part of the game isn't going to fly. And, if this is all the IE team has to show, I'm not impressed. Don't get me wrong, I love everything they show, from performance to sub-pixel text rendering -- seriously, this isn't something to scoff at, it's a very noteworthy improvement for any browser -- to all the HTML and CSS improvements. But it's not enough. Heck, the "Falling Balls" example didn't even work. I really want to bash the performance improvements. I even wrote this paragraph a few different ways to express my disapproval in different ways, but it all comes down to this: you won't realize how drastic the improvements are until you see IE8 and IE9 running side-by-side. The Flying Images example seems obvious, when you see it in IE9, but when you go back and watch it in IE8, you think, "Is this seriously what I'm putting up with today!? I feel lied to; cheated. How dare you, IE team; how dare you!" With all that said -- and seriously, the perf improvement is tremendous -- I'm still not happy (here's where my desire to bash performance comes in). While you definitely notice that aspects of performance have improved, the perceived performance really sucks. It's not the page loading that I'm talking about, tho; it's the standard page interaction that's defunct. Even clicking some of the links used by the examples were ridiculously buggy. I guess there's a reason they called it a "developer preview"... wait, that doesn't say "developer," it says "platform"...

3. "Platform Preview"

In an effort to find the hidden navigation controls, I scoured the lifeless window edges. The best I could find was the Page > Open... menu option. Well, at least that's a way to test out other pages. I figured, what better way to test out the new browser than to write a blog post. Let me just tell you that I'm dying here. I mentioned the perceived performance sucks already. Try typing in this thing. I feel like I'm clawing my eyes out -- and I'm talking about with freshly trimmed fingernails. You know what I'm talking about, when you trim your fingernails down to the nub and putting even the slightest pressure on them hurts. Now, try to claw your eyes out with that. That's why I feel like I'm doing right now. Every character is painful. *Ouch, oooh, ouch...*

Okay, I'm exaggerating; but it is painful. But, now that I'm able to get past the examples, I'm realizing I have two versions of IE installed. Hmm... very interesting. Remember the days when IE was a crucial part of Windows and couldn't be unbundled? Well, they seem to have figured out how to install a new rendering engine without touching the old one, hidden deep in the innards of Windows. Of course, they did introduce the ability to completely uninstall IE in Windows 7, so maybe that's a moot point nowadays. Either way, this is a first for IE, as far as I know. Then it hit me... "platform preview." Are they saying something with that? Are we talking about a rendering engine completely detached from the Windows desktop OS?

4. IE9 on Windows Phone?

In the original Windows Phone 7 Series announcement at Mobile World Congress 2010, Joe Belfiore commented that the phone is more than just the Mobile IE we see in Windows Mobile 6.5 and its predecessors. He said it came from the desktop browser code-base. This alone doesn't mean much, but when he called out the sub-pixel text rendering, my mind started adding things up. Is this IE9 on Windows Phone!? Nobody has said that, but you have to wonder. I've read that Windows Phone 7 Series is based on IE7 with some back-ported features from IE8, but that doesn't really make sense, when you consider that sub-pixel rendering is only coming in the next version of the browser. I still have to wonder about this. It doesn't make sense to back-port that feature two versions. Maybe it's IE8 with that one feature back-ported, but maybe it's IE9. If that's the case, IE9 will need to be on a hyperactive beta period and, as I mentioned before, they definitely aren't close to being done, yet, and I'm admittedly not confident they even know how to do that.

5. Where's the Navigation?

I really want to get back to the preview. I'm still annoyed at the fact that I have to get to sites in a hacky way. Why would the IE team do that!? Do they not want us to use the browser? That can't be it. Maybe they didn't have time to finish out the preview and just crammed some stuff together to make the Mix10 keynote. Maybe, but I doubt it. I didn't notice this at first, but the menu options aren't standard. Specifically, there's a "Page" menu instead of a "File" menu. Perhaps I'm reading into this too much, but "Page" sounds like more of a ribbon tab than a menu option. Maybe the reason we're getting such a scaled-back browser is because the old chrome isn't there anymore -- we could be getting the first ribbon-based browser. I'm very excited about this possibility. At the same time, I can't ignore the fact that this will be a very touchie UI, given the ever-popular tab-based browser. IE7 brought me back from Firefox because the UI was slim and just looked and felt more professional. IE9 with a ribbon done right -- extra focus on "done right" -- could seriously bring people back to IE. At the same time, it's an opening for haters to complain about the ribbon. I whole-heartedly believe the ribbon interface is demonstrably better than menu-based interfaces. So much so that, if I had my way, I'd never use another menu-based interface again. I'm not saying the ribbon is the way to go in every case, but I don't know why a traditional menu would ever be the "right" experience. It just isn't optimal.

With all that said, maybe the ribbon isn't the IE team's target. Maybe they've put a lot of thought into how users should be interacting with the browser. In either case, I welcome the change. Chrome took an interesting move with minimization, but I don't think it was drastic enough. Google played it safe with Chrome. Microsoft's not afraid of taking big risks when it comes to user experience -- just look at Office 2007, Windows Phone 7 Series, and even Visual Studio 2010 to a lesser degree.

No matter what happens, I'll be eagerly awaiting either the next preview/beta. At the same time, I'm not holding my breath. The IE team has a lot to prove with respect to being agile and, if they really are creating a new UI, that'll just complicate things more. I'd like to say we'll see something by the end of June, but who knows with that team. All I can say is, IE team, prove me wrong; please, prove me wrong!


Gartner Predicts the Future of the Mobile Market

By Michael Flanakin @ 5:28 PM :: 1528 Views :: Technology, Predictions :: Digg it!

Gartner recently released a smart phone market forecast, which looks at prior and predicted market share fluctuations from 2007 to 2013. I found some very interesting, but quite explainable predictions. I recommend taking a look at it yourself, but here are a few teasers.

The overall market has grown ~1.5x in 2 years and is expected to grow ~3.6x over the next 4 years. The ratio of consumer-to-business phones wavers, but remains about 3:1 throughout the assessed time frame.

Android
Gartner predicts Android quadrupling its market over the next 4 years, ending up #2 in the market. This is likely due to the open nature of the platform. While I agree with a large growth, 4x isn't quite what I'd expect. Seeing this, you're likely to suspect other big changes, too. I think you'll be surprised with Gartner's numbers, tho.

Blackberry
Blackberry is estimated to steadily decline over the coming years, ultimately dropping 6% from their current standing. From #3 in 2007 to #2 in 2008 thru 2010 to #4 in 2013. A thought-provoking rise and decline, but it shows how Blackberry isn't quite the innovator they'd like to be.

iPhone
For what most believe is the golden child of the mobile market, Gartner doesn't have much faith in the iPhone platform. iPhone tripled its market share from 2007 to 2008, then grew 50% in 2009. Most would think this would continue to shoot up over the coming years, but Gartner begs to differ. Gartner predicts only minor growth year over year thru 2013. They foresee a 10% growth by next year, virtually no growth the next, and a very trivial 1% growth in 2013. From here on out, the iPhone is expected to remain a #3 player thru 2013. Apple brought an interesting player to the market a few years back, but Gartner seems to believe that's where their innovation stops. I was very surprised to see the dwindling growth.

Symbian
Given the fact that we know Symbian is #1 today and we've already covered the #2, #3, and #4 players, you might expect to see Symbian in the #1 spot. Well... you'd be right. Gartner sees Symbian maintaining their place, but I speculate this isn't -- nor has it been -- due to superior innovation in the market. It's only a matter of time before other players take over. I suspect (not Gartner) they'll drop to #2 by 2016 as other players drive advancements.

WebOS
The road has been long and rocky for Palm, as we all know. WebOS seems like a last ditch effort to maintain a place in the mobile market. Gartner predicts they'll double their market share in 2010, but that's about the only success they'll see, as they slowly lose market share.

Windows Mobile
Gartner shows Windows Mobile steadily dropping from 2007 to 2010. That's no surprise, given all we've heard. With a mid-2010 release of Windows Mobile 7 -- Microsoft's response to the iPhone -- it's no surprise we won't see a spike until 2011, when Windows Mobile jumps up 15%. Gartner doesn't have faith that this will be good enough, tho, as they foresee market share dropping a little more than half a percent below their current share. While Microsoft isn't talking about Windows Mobile 8, they'll have to deliver it in relatively short order, if they want to show the market they mean business. I have faith this will happen by 2013. In fact, I'm hopeful that we'll see some major enhancements and mergers between Zune and Windows Mobile in the same time frame. My gut tells me we'll see this by 2012. It won't be until then that people truly see what Microsoft is capable of.

Others
Linux, Maemo, and others are also included in the study. I'm not familiar with any serious Linux competitors other than Android, but they've lost 50% of their market share in the last 2 years and are presumed to continue to drop, eventually giving Palm some competition for the least amount of share by "major" competitors... if you consider Linux a major competitor. I have to say I was surprised by Maemo, which I don't think I've heard much about. It's a Linux-based tablet OS Nokia developed and subsequently brought -- or, at least, is bringing -- to the smart phone market. I liken this to the opposite of Google's Android-to-Chrome OS move. With a 2009 initial showing, Gartner surprisingly predicts Maemo shooting up to 6.5% by 2013. Very interesting; unlike other players, who drop from 1.1% in 2007 to less than .1% by 2013.

 

If you ask me, Microsoft should seriously consider buying RIM. Right now, they're #2 and #4, but Microsoft stands to gain a tremendous amount from the corporate presence Blackbery currently holds. With what's expected to come in Windows Mobile 7, this would also give Blackberry users a very nice glimmer of hope around what I speculate will be a very nice mobile OS. Now isn't the time, of course. Given Gartner's insights, I'd say 2011 would be the best time to drive such an acquisition, hopefully showing value for Blackberry users in the Windows Mobile 8 time frame.

Short of a Microsoft/RIM acquisition, somebody needs to buy Palm for Palm's sake. Given my newly-acquired knowledge of Maemo, I have to say Nokia should seriously consider it. I was initially thinking RIM should give it a thought, but I don't see them having much to gain. Maemo and WebOS both have a lot in common. A merger could go a long way... not that Nokia needs Palm. The Palm-ers could definitely use some Nokia love, tho.

 

The last thing I should mention is that most of this is speculation on my part. Gartner provided the numbers -- aside from my Symbian 2016 and Windows Mobile 2012/13 comments. I wholly recommend you look at Gartner's numbers and other mobile studies they have to fully understand what they're thinking and why they made these forecasts.


A Plea for IE

By Michael Flanakin @ 10:28 PM :: 1713 Views :: Technology, Microsoft, Predictions, Tools/Utilities, User Experience :: Digg it!

Internet Explorer

Microsoft is out to prove a point with Windows 7. I can see the message clearly: "See, we can deliver on time; and earlier than most expected. And to top it all off, we did so without drastically changing the OS. That 'polished' OS you're looking at... yeah, it's Vista; 'Vista-point-1' to be exact. Sure, we tweaked it; but that's just to prove another point: Microsoft software isn't about bloat." I could probably go on for a while, but the signs are all there. Sinofsky has done a great job taking the Windows team under his wing. I've been very happy with some of the decisions they've made. As a matter of fact, I'm hoping to see some of the same changes on other fronts. Enter Internet Explorer.

IE8 is a big flop in my book. Don't get me wrong, it's my default browser and I love the enhancements; but it's just hiding the real, underlying problem: the foundation. I apologize for the analogy, but you can only mold a pile of crap so many ways before it just starts falling apart. Arguably, the same can be said about Windows, but Windows 7 has really given it a refresh. It's hard to explain how much better Windows 7 feels. I have to say I'd liken it to the first day I got Windows Vista, to be honest; but the key differentiator there is that I had quality hardware that was up to the challenge and no legacy software or devices to be concerned with. I'm not the "normal" user, of course, and I feel bad for those who had bad experiences. It's not because the software is bad, it's because your circumstances around which you experienced it were wrong. Not that Microsoft isn't to blame, tho; but I'm getting way off topic. It's time for a major change with IE.

I remember seeing some early concepts around IE8. At first glance, I was confused at a few of the ideas -- I'm thinking of one in particular -- but after I paused to really mull it over, it hit me. The power users would have at their fingertips would be astounding. There's a common root to the booming growth of Google and Firefox. This is exactly what Microsoft would've seen with this feature. Guess what: that feature never saw the light of day. As a matter of fact, I don't even know that it made it past that slide deck. Admittedly, the idea was rough, but it had some real potential. What's funny is that I just read something about the same concept being applied to another browser. *sigh*

Before IE8 beta 1 hit the streets, I saw another slide deck about what would be included in IE8 and 9. At first, I was excited, but it didn't take long for that to wear off. I actually began to question some of the decisions. There was (once again) one feature loved, but then I started to wonder if it even made sense. Depending on whether the team takes a left or a right out the gate will be the deciding factor for that feature... if it's still even a possibility. IE8 was pushed back so much that the IE9 time frame and feature set is completely out of the picture for what I saw. It's too bad; I was looking forward to a few quick revs. At the same time, this could be perfect timing.

Windows 7 is on the way, with rumors of April and May release candidates culminating in a June, July, August, September, October, November, or January final release date. It's pretty clear nobody has a good clue of the actual release date, but there is one constant in all the confusion: simplicity and performance are the two driving tenets in Windows 7. These two factors are huge for usability and, furthermore, perceptions. So, when I think about what to expect in IE9, I'm looking for both of these: simplicity and speed. IE8 is a dog on some machines. We've seen JavaScript benchmarks and "everyday use" benchmarks that all tell us different things, but it all comes down to our individual experiences... and perceptions. For IE to be a contendor, it needs to clean up its act. I want a sleek, sexy browser. It's not Firefox; it's not Chrome; and it sure as hell isn't Safari or Opera. I'm not saying each isn't functional, I'm just saying there's a lot to be desired.

Opera's doing it's thing, although I'm not sure why it even bothers; Apple's giving Safari on Windows a go, but not doing well; Google's got juice, but I don't think they have the right talent-mix to succeed; and Firefox is leading the pack against IE, but hasn't really made any significant innovations and is growing more by perception than anything. Microsoft (read: IE team), the browser market is yours to lose [which you're doing]; but it's also yours to dominate. Take a step back. Review the history books. There is one constant in what drives the up-and-comers of today. See that and feed into it. The world is asking for simplicity, speed, and all-around usability. IE8 isn't the answer. IE9 could be. You can do better. I know it; you know it.


2008: Year of the Cloud

2008: Year of the Cloud

Every year, there's one underlying theme that seems to be pushed in the technology arena more than anything. This year, I feel like it's the year of the cloud. The last time I did this was five years ago, so I'll have to back-fill a few years, but here are the themes I've noticed over the past 11 years.

  • 2008: Year of the Cloud
  • 2007: Year of User Experience
  • 2006: Year of AJAX/Web 2.0
  • 2005: Year of SaaS
  • 2004: Year of Offshore Outsourcing
  • 2003: Year of the Architect
  • 2002: Year of Web Services
  • 2001: Year of XML/.NET
  • 2000: Year of Enterprise Java
  • 1999: Year of Linux
  • 1998: Year of the Web

We've been approaching "the year of the cloud" for a while, now. You can actually look back to 1998, when the web started to really catch on. A few years later, as Java started to build momentum and then .NET hit the scenes, which is when XML as a standard communication language started to catch on. Also tied to the .NET release was a huge push for web services. As this was more and more successful, service-oriented architecture (SOA) started to boom. In my mind, that was a big boon to the outsourcing trends, which have seemingly quieted down a bit, but not completely. SOA also led to the software as a service (SaaS) trend, which triggered Microsoft's software plus services (S+S) push, but that was more of a side story. With everything moving to the web, backed by [typically open] services, asynchronous Javascript and XML (AJAX) was the next big push. This was tied to the "Web 2.0" moniker, which I'd argue wasn't quite what Tim Berners-Lee intended. Either way, this led to the big push for better user experiences, which many people confuse with user interface design. The Web 2.0 push also kept the industry on its web focus, which is where we are left today.

It's easy to look back and see how we got here. Trends show that architectural changes typically take two or three years to gain momentum in the community, so we'll probably have a couple of years before the next major architecture peaks. The trend towards distributed computing has grown more and more, but I have a feeling things are going to start coming back a little. We've been pushing out to the web for a lot of reasons; one of which is the rise of the Mac. What we've been losing out on, however, is the power of the desktop. I see the S+S push to continue, but more as an underlying theme than a strong focus. Services will continue to be the foundation, maintaining the importance of cloud computing, but the desktop will be where the processing occurs. I see Silverlight proving a huge success, which will eventually bring .NET to the Mac. This will probably bring Novell and Microsoft a little closer together, with respect to Microsoft's relationship with Mono, but this may simply be a change in focus for Mono. Oh, and when I say, "bring .NET to the Mac," I'm not talking about the scaled-down version in Silverlight. I'm talking about the real deal. I see WPF and Silverlight merging along with the smart client architecture built into .NET today. This will take more than a few years, but it seems to be inevitable. Most likely, by the time all this happens, multi-core will be a way of life, as opposed to the we-should-be-thinking-about-threading thoughts most developers have today. Armed with a strong multi-threaded foundation, which is easy to use, the combined WPF/Silverlight presentation tier will quickly overtake Flash and Air. By this time, we should also start to see more integration into our everyday lives...

Okay, I'm probably getting a little out of hand here. If I go much further, we're going to be on the USS Enterprise, so I'll stop while I'm ahead. I'll just leave it at, it'll be interesting to see what's next. My money's on the power of the desktop, which we've lost over the past 10 years.


Hindsight on Foresight

By Michael Flanakin @ 9:21 PM :: 1454 Views :: Technology, Microsoft, Predictions :: Digg it!

Zune 120

Nothing new here. After reading another tidbit on the latest 120 GB Zunes, I remembered an old post I had. Not that big of a deal, but I thought it was interesting to see my prediction come to light.

Retrospectiva en Previsión

En Español

No hay nada nuevo aquí. Después de leer otro comentario acerca de la 120 GB Zunes, me acordé un puesto que escribí. El puesto no es muy importante, pero pensé que era interesante que mi predicción se hizo realidad.


Lower Xbox Prices = New Xbox Platform?

By Michael Flanakin @ 5:22 PM :: 856 Views :: Technology, Predictions :: Digg it!

Here's some "Yellow Submarine" talk about the Xbox... by the way, if you didn't catch that reference, then you're missing out on Mac Break Weekly Syndicated feed, which is entertaining to all. But, I digress... The Xbox 360 has been dropping its price over the past few months, it seems like. I look at this and think about how long it's been since there's been a serious upgrade and I have to wonder if we might be seeing the very typical price drop before a new release. I have absolutely 0 knowledge about anything related to the Xbox and don't even own one, but I do admit that I'd be very intrigued by a new platform... probably enough to actually go out and buy one, which means a lot to me since I'm not a gamer. We'll see. Supposedly there will be something coming out at E3.


Testing Custom Code Analysis Rules

By Michael Flanakin @ 6:55 AM :: 1127 Views :: .NET, Development, Microsoft, Predictions, Tools/Utilities :: Digg it!

Microsoft .NET

Over the years, I've been asked to put together coding standards again and again. The nice thing about this is that it enables me to pull out the old docs and touch them up a little. A year or two ago, I heard something that made a lot of sense: developers never really read coding standards and, even if they do, they don't usually adopt them. Let's face it, if you don't adopt a standard as your own, you're not going to use it. The only way to ensure the standard is applied is to catch the problem before it gets checked in. I tried a VS add-in that attempted to do this as you type, but it wasn't quite as extensive as I want, but I grabbed onto the concept. For the past year, I've been wanting to start this and have finally decided to do it.

As I sat down and started to investigate writing custom code analysis rules, I asked myself how I was going to validate them. After hacking away at one approach after another, I started to realize I wasn't going to get very far. Apparently, with the latest releases of Visual Studio and FxCop, there's no way to create the objects used to represent code. After talking to the product team, the official position seems to be that, since custom rules aren't "officially supported," they're not going to support their testability. I'm not sure who made this decision, but I think it's a bad one. Of course, I say this without knowing their plans. Well, not completely, anyway.

It's not all bad news, however. It turns out there are hopes to start officially supporting custom code analysis rules in the next major release, Visual Studio 10. Nothing's being promised at this point, it's just something the team would like to deliver. I should also say that the upcoming Rosario release isn't the major release I'm referring to. I'm expecting Rosario to be a 9.1 release that will probably hit the streets in early 2009. That's a guess, tho. If that's true, the VS 10 release probably wouldn't be until 2011. All I can really say about it is that it'll be a very exciting release. I can't wait to get my hands on a beta. Speaking of which, some of the goals they have for the product will make beta testing much much easier... I'm talking about a hugely evolutionary change, if not revolutionary, considering where the product is today. That's all I can really say, tho.

Back to the point, since there's no realy testability of the code analysis framework, I decided to create my own object model. The part I'm missing, obviously, is the factory logic that converts code analysis types to my types. I'm hesitant about this approach, but it's working so far. Hopefully, I'll have something to deliver soon. I keep bouncing around, tho, so at this point, I want to deliver a release with only naming conventions. That release is mostly complete, I just need to get approval for a distribution mechanism. If I don't get that soon, I'll just release it on my site.


Latest on Windows 7

By Michael Flanakin @ 9:24 AM :: 1176 Views :: Technology, Microsoft, Predictions :: Digg it!

Windows 7

There's been a lot that's come out regarding the next version of Windows, code-named Windows 7. Let me try to summarize what I've seen...

When it Will Release

First, let me touch on the release date, since that's been heavily debated. The initial speculation was that Windows 7 would be released in 2010. Later, rumors of a 2009 release cropped up. It wasn't too long until Microsoft released comments stating that Windows 7 would take three years to develop. Speculation from the field translated this to 2011 release. Of course, that was coupled with some doubt. As if that wasn't enough, Bill Gates recently stated that the team is targeting first quarter 2010. I'm sure the Windows team is slapping their heads wondering why he shared this, but it's too late, now. I believe the team has been purposefully quiet about the release for two reasons: (1) to ensure the release was on time; and, (2) to lessen the impact on Vista sales. I don't blame them. If you ask me, I think we'll be looking at an early 2010 release with hopes that it'll be ready in 2009. Of course, I have nothing to back that up, so it's merely a blind prediction.

How it Will Release

Microsoft has had a vision of releasing components of Windows independently for the past 6+ years. This was mainly related to the server operating system, but it's still a great feature for the client. With the software+services push, some are speculating there will be a piece-meal release methodology. I don't expect us to see this with Windows 7, but it's coming. There have also been rumors of subscriptions, which is another area Microsoft has been interested in for years. In my mind, this is more of an issue with society, than Microsoft. If the community would grasp the concept, Microsoft would definitely go there. I don't know if we'll see that in the next release or not, but it's another thing I see coming eventually.

What it Will Include

A while back, there were some hints to what was going to be included in Windows 7, but it now lookse the release is picking up a new set of pillars focused on design and usability: specialized for laptops, designed for services, personalized computing, optimized for entertainment, and engineered for ease of ownership.Taking it all in, the core concepts seem to be around ease of use, connected computing, and security -- pretty much taking the next step after Vista. I see this being evolutionary, as opposed to the revolutionary version of Windows I hoped this was going to be. I guess I can hold onto those hopes for the next release.

With an increasingly mobile workforce and consumer population, tuning the OS for laptops is going to be a big win. With this, they'll be looking at data security, responsiveness, touch/tablet interfaces, wireless connectivity, "on demand" access to all your information, and power management. Most of these are pretty obvious. The only one I had to take a second look at was "on demand" access. This is basically about either storing your information in the cloud or ensuring access to it, no matter where it may live. Windows Live is how we're going to get there. This pretty much says that Windows 7 will definitely have some Windows Live integration. I can already see the EU beckoning for "justice."

With the "on demand" component of the last pillar, we have a good transition into the second, designed for services. This one's obvious as well. Windows will focus on remaining up-to-date (as in with patches), worry-free upgrades, Windows online , help and community, family-friendly web experience, gadgets, and in-box application improvements. We already have most of what's here. I think the pillar is mostly about providing a more integrated experience. I am curious how Microsoft plans to achieve "worry-free upgrades." That's going a long way. Apple has that today, so it's not entirely out of the question, but I think Apple gets it thru customer confidence, not by technical prowess. Lastly, I'm interested in the application improvements. I've been using custom apps like Notepad2 and Paint.NET for a while now and it'd be nice to have something better than what was delivered in Windows 95 built-in. I heard about upgrades to these apps last year, but haven't seen what's come of that. The AeroExperience website posted these images. I hope this isn't it, tho. This is a bit minimal.

Calculator in Windows 7 Paint in Windows 7

Personalized computing is something that will really bring Windows back to the consumer. To achieve this, Microsoft will target customization, internationalization, access anywhere, secure roaming, and home network management. Again, these are pretty self-explanatory.

The next pillar is about high definition graphics, media streaming, better playback, TV on Windows, and audio improvements. This is another area that is pretty much just enhancing what we already have today. I'm mostly interested in the TV on Windows scenario. This is already available, but very limited today. I consider this to be part of the Media Center vision, but Microsoft seems to have a few different products in the area. I hope there will be some consolidation here, but that may not make complete sense.

The last pillar is about ownership. Microsoft will put a strong emphasis on diagnostics and data recovery, lessening the fear of new applications by decreasing the need for administrative access, improved upgrade experience, administrative productivity and security enhancements, devices that "just work," quick/clean out-of-the-box experience, reduced management time/cost, and improved data security. We've seen a lot of improvements in this area with Vista and there's still some room to grow. If you haven't jumped on-board with Vista, you're in for a vastly improved experience and it looks like Windows 7 will be even better.


Surface in the Home

By Michael Flanakin @ 10:20 PM :: 1088 Views :: Technology, Microsoft, Predictions, En Español :: Digg it!

Microsoft Surface

I'm excited about Surface, that's for sure. Powered by WPF, it's a great platform for some very cool apps. Despite the fact that other vendors are looking to dig into the space, nothing has really happened since Surface was initially announced. Things may be changing, tho. There's been a huge demand from the field and apparently Microsoft is looking to release Surface to consumers sooner than the 5 year estimate initially estimated. I can't say I'm surprised, but what that will really mean isn't very clear. If I had to guess, I'd say the first consumer version of Surface would arrive in 2010. The biggest blocker to getting it out sooner is the cost of hardware necessary to produce the large-scale graphics and touch capabilities.

Surface en la Casa

En Español

Me excitan sobre Surface. Accionado por WPF, es una gran plataforma para algunos aplicaciones muy buenos. A pesar de que se busquen otros proveedores para cavar en el espacio, en realidad nada ha ocurrido desde que se anunció Surface inicialmente. Cosas pueden estar cambiando. Hay una gran demanda y aparentemente Microsoft puede publicar Surface a consumidores antes que la estimación de 5 años. Estoy no se sorprenda, pero el mensaje no es muy claro. Si tuvieran que adivinar, diría que la primera versión de consumidor de superficie llegarán en 2010. El Bloqueador de elementos más importante para conseguir fuera antes es el costo del hardware necesario para generar los gráficos a gran escala y tocar las capacidades.


Improving Standards Compliance in IE

By Michael Flanakin @ 8:15 AM :: 734 Views :: Technology, Microsoft, Predictions :: Digg it!

IE8 Beta

I wrote this a month ago, so it may seem a little out of date. I figured I'd go ahead and post it anyway. If you haven't been following IE8 much, it'll still seem like new

Standards compliance has never really caught on with the vast majority of web developers. Since Firefox hit the streets, more developers have started to pay attention to the ideals behind web standards, but they still don't seem to be doing the work to achieve compliance. Admittedly, a lot of the problems were brought on by IE's acceptance of bad practices, but the root of the problem truly lies with developers. IE7 resolved a number of standards compliance issues, but unfortunately, it broke a number of sites built specifically for IE6 at the same time. IE8 tries to resolve this problem. Today, we can opt-in to standards by specifying a DOCTYPE, which indicates what version of what standard the developer intends for a page. The problem is that no browser to date implements any standard completely, so there's still a chance your page will render differently in browsers that "support" the desired standard. IE8 fixes this problem. How? By allowing developers to write pages for specific rendering engines (i.e. IE6, IE7, IE8, FF2, or FF3). I love this idea, for obvious reasons.

With IE8 and Firefox 3 both passing the Acid2 test and Acid3 on its way, I think we're in very good standing. While I don't expect huge leaps and bounds between IE8 and 9, I think we're well on our way to some form of nirvana on the web. Hopefully, IE9 will come in the Win7 time frame, which I expect to be in 2009 or 10.