Is there life yet in Windows Client?Posted: October 26, 2016
Full Disclosure, as usual: I am currently employed by Microsoft, and have been for the past 18 years.
I came across the announcement for the Surface Studio today. This reminded me of a talk Steve Ballmer gave to several groups across the company back in the day. The question from the audience was “what do you see coming in the future…”. At that time, he said a lot more voice, eye tracking, bigger screens, just more and different forms of input and interaction. Say what you will about Steve Ballmer, but we did have a vision of how the client side consumer devices might unfold. Of course, we did kind of miff the early phases of the mobile computing thing, and had a few missteps on the tablet band wagon, but here we are.
I have never used the Surface Studio, but it looks very interesting to me. My toddler children ( 1 and 3) are growing up in a world of touch screens, tablets, and content delivery and interaction devices from 2.5″ to 45″. This is their world. I’d love to buy one of those Surface Studio devices if for no other reason than to put it in their play room so they could pull up various games and video content. I could cobble together the same using a Dell all in one, but this one looks really cool.
There’s something else going on here though. Often times I’m a consumer like anyone else. I have several products from the fruit company (not their phone) and I like them. I don’t allow my house to go fully into their walled garden though, because I’m just contrarian, so, we have plenty of MS, Linux, Android as well. Different devices for different functions. What’s going on though is a revival in my way of thinking.
If I read too much of the stuff on Hacker News and the like, I begin to believe the Windows client is irrelevant. To some extent that is true. The apps that I use are far more important than the OS that’s running them. These days, it’s Plex, or Kodi, or whatever is running Netflix. Typically just a web browser on a decent media machine is required. Same goes for email, and web browsing, and even dev code editing. The underlying OS simply doesn’t matter. But, now there are new devices with new capabilities.
It’s not that MS Windows is what I desire, it’s that I desire to run that Surface Studio “App” if you will, and it so happens to be run using Windows. Same goes for HoloLens. I don’t really care if HoloLens is running atop Linux or FreeRTOS, but it so happens to be running on Windows. Windows running on a Raspberry Pi isn’t quite as exciting, but these other ones are. If I want to do VR, I’m sure to get my hands into Windows, because that’s the OS that has the most VR stuff going on. If I want to get into the creatives, and I’m not locked into Apple, then Windows again, driven by things like this Surface Studio.
It’s a strange feeling. I like bashing Windows as much as the next guy, largely because as a share holder, I want it to get better. The company seems to be showing some nice innovations in form factors, and pushing the envelope in terms of new forms of interaction and consumption. This is enough for me to hold on to my nokia windows phone just a little bit longer in anticipation of the exciting next new thing from Microsoft.
I know, strange, isn’t it?