Saturday, January 17, 2009

Microsoft, media and digital convergence

Recently Steve Ballmer at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas keynote speech, said technology was converging upon three screens - the computer, the phone and Television. The internet and software would allow all three to talk to each other seamlessly, with consumers able to access their content on any device. Regular readers will know that I am passionate about digital convergence. This new announcement by Microsoft will help to accelerate media convergence.

Ballmer said, "We're on the verge of the kind of technology transformation that only happens once every 10 or 15 years ... In the next couple of years the computer will be able to hear you and see you. Speech, gestures, handwriting will become a normal part of the way we interact with computers, with TVs and with phones."

New features announced in Windows 7 to support this vision include:

  • The ability to move between running programs using a simple preview pane that pops up along the bottom of the screen.

  • Seamless access to photos, music and videos stored on all devices on a network.

  • Users can pin frequently used applications on to a redesigned taskbar for easy access.

  • Right clicking on applications in the taskbar brings up a Jumplist of commonly used tasks associated with that application, such as recently viewed documents in Word.

  • Play to allows users to stream video, music and photos stored on the network to other devices such as the TV and Xbox 360.

  • Touch support is built into the operating system to support touch screen applications. Multitouch is supported, allowing people to use gestures to zoom and tilt the screen.

I recently read on a few blogs that television companies are scrambling to ensure that all of there content has digital presence. More and more we will see the integration of TV downloads and movies on demand. Currently Apple is at the forefront of digital media through iTunes. Combine this with Microsofts focus on cloud computing and SaaS, I see this as a very exciting time for us all.