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Thoughts about last night’s Microsoft event

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Scratching beneath the Surface

Microsoft, these days, in addition to creating software, is also working to bringing a new flavor to the hardware that we’ve been working with for years and I like the direction they are going in (except that that direction runs on Windows). Every October, Panos Panay takes the stage to show off something that his Surface team has been working on. And he, along with the other executive that took the stage, didn’t disappoint last night either. The Windows Creator update, Paint 3D, Windows VR headsets, Xbox Live streaming, Windows People, Surface Book i7 and the star of the show (who people on my Twitter TL can’t stop talking about), the Surface Studio, were showcased last night. Out of these, the three announcements that caught my attention, and for which I thought I’d pen down my thoughts are,

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Windows People – The hub-esque approach here towards communication with people who we communicate with regularly is really interesting to me. Windows People sweeps text messages, Skype messages, emails, etc., from each person that you communicate with regularly, to one place for easy access and action and I really like the concept. What I’d give to have something like this on Android, iOS and macOS. macOS does text messaging, iMessages, emails, WhatsApp messages, etc. well, but having all of these in one place, like the now-defunct Blackberry Hub would be so convenient. 10 points to Microsoft here!

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The upgraded Surface Book – Since Microsoft started taking hardware seriously with the Surface Pro, I have admired their take on the tablet-hybrid. Last year, with the announcement of the Surface Book, they took their vision (and my admiration) to the next level. A fully-powered laptop which can be converted into a tablet when needed is awesome! And they have packed it chock-full with the latest and greatest specs this year. And they are saying that it has a 16-hour battery life. 16 hours! That’s the dream! The only drawback for me (one that’ll never go away) is Windows. After using Windows for the first 14 years of my computing life, when I experienced the sweet relief of OS X, now called macOS, I vowed that I’d never go back. That said, I like how Microsoft is leading the charge to compete with arguably the best laptops in the world today, the MacBook Pros with some inspired design and almost no compromises (something that no other manufacturer has been able to do, all these years).

P.S. Starting at $2399, INR 1,60,000, it’s still very costly.

The Surface Studio and Surface Dial – I get it, at $3000 (INR 2,00,000) it’s not for you and me. It is geared towards the creators (with Windows Creator update, Paint 3D and the Surface Studio, sense a trend for last night’s event?), those people who spent their money buying the 12.9-inch iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil last year. But, damn, this is one stupidly awesome piece of technology (looks-wise, at least)! The 28-inch all-in-one PC, with its superb industrial design, the zero-gravity hinge and the crazy amount of technology fit into the tiny base, is the definition of futuristic. Add in the Surface Dial’s intuitive new ways of interacting with the Surface’s interface (the Dial will also work with Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book), the Surface Studio seems to be something else. That said, most of us, the regular people, won’t be needing (or wanting) one for a long, long time.

P.S. Just watch that ad, though.. Beautiful. Someone just beat Apple at their game!

Microsoft, in the last couple of years, has brought something to the table that was thought lost in the technology that we use the most, our desk and lap-based computers. Innovation. The ball is in Apple’s court now. Let’s see what their return shot is like. They are holding an event to announce updates to their Mac line. The winner in all of this, of course, is us.

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