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Ballmer outlines the road ahead for Microsoft Office, Skype, 'Bing Now'

Mark Hachman | July 15, 2013
Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer outlines how Microsoft plans to reinvent the future of documents, collaboration, anticipatory data, and gaming.

"The experience we will deliver across all our devices centers on the idea of better connecting people with the things they care about most," Ballmer writes. "This includes their files, documents, photos, videos, notes, websites, snippets, digital history, schedules, tasks, and mail and other messages, combined with real-time information from our devices and services. It is more than what we think of as the shell today, and no current label really fits where we are headed. Neither the desktop nor the social graph describes this new experience, and neither does the search box, the pin board or the file system."

Ballmer's statement that "we will not focus upon another social network for people to participate in casually" also implies that its social network,, will remain a technology play, rather than a distinct product.

4.) Serious fun: the future of Xbox One
Microsoft raised eyebrows when its first introduction of the Xbox One console focused less on its capabilities as a game console and more as a TV set-top box. But Microsoft's announcement that it would combine live streams of NFL football games with fantasy-football updates in real time is an example of Microsoft's plans for gaming, which include using the Xbox One to provide what it calls "interactive participation".

"Although we will enable these activities effectively, our biggest opportunity is in creating the fun people feel most intensely, such as playing a game that lasts hours and takes real concentration, or immersing them in live events and entertainment (including sports, concerts, education and fitness) while allowing interactive participation," Ballmer writes. "Interactivity takes engagement and makes things serious; it really requires differentiated hardware, apps and services. People want to participate at home and on the go, and in gatherings with others."

Ballmer also writes that Microsoft also sees "opportunity in fitness and health," which probably implies, at the least, a pedometer app for Windows Phone as well as more opportunities for Microsoft's Kinect peripheral. One of the opportunities for Kinect for Windows, Microsoft executives have said, is assisting physical therapy by guiding patients through the proper movements.

5.) Windows 8's 'Modern' look isn't going away
Finally, there's Windows 8, which Ballmer has called the "most remarkable replatforming from Windows," based not in small part on its revolutionary UI. And that, apparently, will not go away.

"We will continue to reinvent the core 'shell' of our family of devices and build upon what we have started with Windows 8," Ballmer writes. "We will keep evolving our new modern look, expanding the shell so that it allows people and their devices to capture, store and organize their 'stuff' in new ways. Our UI will be deeply personalized, based on the advanced, almost magical, intelligence in our cloud that learns more and more over time about people and the world. Our shell will natively support all of our essential services, and will be great at responding seamlessly to what people ask for, and even anticipating what they need before they ask for it."


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