Microsoft concept video peers into the future

Microsoft’s Office Division has released an intriguing concept video outlining the company’s vision for the future of productivity. Office Division president Kurt DelBene expects technology to help “manage our time better, focus our attention on the most important things, and foster meaningful connections with the people we care about.” That’s all on display in the video, which is slickly produced and filled with interesting interface ideas.

Apparently, gestures and touch-based interfaces will dominate the future. The mouse is nowhere to be found, although stylus input does make an appearance at one worker’s desk. Why does the future have such an aversion to the precise simplicity of our desktop rodents?

I guess it’s just not flashy enough for a video like this one. The seemingly far-fetched interface elements certainly have more zazz than a mouse cursor, and DelBene insists that they’re all based on technologies that exist today or are being explored by R&D departments at Microsoft and other companies. Holographic projections and interactive surfaces aren’t outside the realm of possibilities, and they definitely look cool.

Beyond the eye candy is an underlying current of connectivity—to your friends, colleagues, and information, all of which can be accessed seamlessly on multiple devices. That’s a future we can probably all get behind… just as long as those devices come with off switches. Thanks to Neowin for the tip.

Comments closed
    • shank15217
    • 8 years ago

    In the future, there will only be good looking people.

    • Suspenders
    • 8 years ago

    Well, looks like they licked that Peak Oil problem after all in this future. Whew!

    • cheapFreeAgent
    • 8 years ago

    Do you believe that our kids are able to learn with that kind of platform/thing ?
    I believe paper and pencil are all they need.

    • JohnC
    • 8 years ago

    …just had a random thought that it’s interesting how MS thinks that in future there won’t be anyone with any physical impairments of upper limbs or any problems with eyesight… or there would be, but such “unproductive” people would be hidden in some special “reservations”, away from such attractive and “smart-looking” physically-perfect people and from any “modern technology” which would only be reserved for such “more productive” people… o_0

    “Microsoft: a true visionaries in a science of eugenics”?

      • Kharnellius
      • 8 years ago

      Way to take a rather neutral concept video and slap a negative political stance on it.

    • RhysAndrews
    • 8 years ago

    See to me, the big issue with this vision is that in its attempts to be perfectly centralised, it becomes really confusing. From what I can see in this video there is so much happening at once, so much a single device can do, that it would overwhelm me. There is such a perfect harmony between all the devices and I can’t see that happening.

      • willyolio
      • 8 years ago

      you sound like my parents trying to figure out my computers.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 8 years ago

    I thought the smaller pump needed popup box was a windows error message at first. That would have been awesome.

    • Malphas
    • 8 years ago

    Although a lot of this is already happening and certainly the sort of devices we use and input methods will change and become more varied, I’m almost bemused by why these type of videos assume we’re all going to prefer going to work and go to the extra effort of swinging our arms around like apes at our desks and talking out loud to our computers rather than just using a keyboard and mouse.

    • tootercomputer
    • 8 years ago

    Very interesting. The emphasis here is all the visual and touch. What a contrast to the auditory/vocal interface for the new Apple Isis?

    • JohnC
    • 8 years ago

    Eh, this “future” looks really lame… Where are my artificial eye replacements, through which I could receive all of this interactive information without using billions of other stand-alone/built-in space-wasting PDAs/tablets/displays?

    Edit: also, this video desperately screams “hmm… our Windows Phone OS is not really doing as well as we expected, the Windows 8 is still somewhat far away and we don’t know yet how well it’ll be received, so we NEED to show the world that we care about future gesture/touch-based mobile-oriented devices NOW! Since we can’t show that using actual products yet, let’s at least do some eye-candy “concept” video…”

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 8 years ago

    Cool video! Can’t wait for the cool stuff for Apple to make possible and Microsoft to wish they had made it first. 🙂

    • Vulk
    • 8 years ago

    Also, one thing that bugged me. When the people were in their homes, why were they using tablets and stuff when their walls, tables, and kitchen appliances were all displays as well? Seriously, everything was a 3d holographic display, especially in that house the kid was in. So why is she screwing around with a tablet, or even carrying anything at all?

    Why not just sit down at the table and do something, then walk into the other room and be able to access it? In that interactive world why would you need separate devices in the home?

    It was cool, but the more I think about it, the more I come to the oppinion that it’s not well concieved. They didn’t match the presented tech to the environment they were trying to create in intelligent ways… Basically they did what bad SF writers do, i.e. they didn’t account for the behavioral changes the tech they were proposing would have on ordinary people.

    And don’t get me started about the software suggesting a pump change. OMG, if those engineers weren’t already doing scenarios to see what the impact of how different pumps would affect what they were making, they deserve to be shot, or at least crushed by the economic impact of their poor design, and ground out of the market. Seriously, they needed Clippy to tell them how to optimize their design.

    It’s a PR piece, but things like that all crush my willing suspension of disbelief.

    • Vulk
    • 8 years ago

    I love all the holographic work. We’re going to be sooooo Star Trek. Hell if they can make stuff pop out of the screen so you can swipe it away like that guy at his desk, why even have a screen?

    Umm, yeah. Some of that I can really see happening. Some if probably never will, again the mid air holographs especially. At least not for me, my eyes have radically different prescriptions, and even when they are being corrected every form of 3d I’ve ever tried gives me nasty headaches very quickly. It’s such a phenomenon that just seeing it depicted made my head start to phantom hurt.

    But otherwise yeah… There were lots of neat concepts in there. Lots of crap too. Translucent materials make it harder to read things because you loose the contrast you need to easily discern shapes, stuff like that. Also the work station that was all flat, down to the keyboard just being a display on the flat table looked like an ergonomic nightmare, and a horrifically expensive solution to a non-existent problem…

    All in all, it’s just a puff piece of marketing with as much reality behind it as your average Star Trek show…

    That’s my two cents anyway.

      • fantastic
      • 8 years ago

      Are you talking about this keyboard?
      [url<]http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/en-us/p/arc-keyboard-limited-edition/J5D-00029[/url<] Not that I'm a fan, but it's real. I think it just came out.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    “just as long as those devices come with off switches.” AMEN!

    • AlvinTheNerd
    • 8 years ago

    The biggest issue is while there is a huge amount of output shown off in this video, very little input technology is shown.

    Many consumer based devices are going toward output heavy and consumption based interfaces. The reason touch screen didn’t work in the 80’s but does today is that touchscreen devices are consumption based and not input based.

    But there has to be someone somewhere putting in this information. While you can write scripts galore to organize and collect data, eventually someone has to put that information into the computer. Someone has to put the data, addresses, and changes in maps and someone has to put in the calendar with that information so that it can be displayed when she arrives. Someone has to put in recipes, put in the information about what is in the fridge, etc. Even if you can put some sort of digital key on everything you buy at the supermarket, food is crafting and that means new combinations are made and have to be identified.

    Touching flat screens is NOT a good input method. It isn’t ergonomic, it isn’t tactile, and it isn’t fast. The only advantage is convenience. But for this world to exist, there has to be more and better input methods than just the one keyboard shown. Kinect type inputs can go a ways, but I think developing neural input mechanisms, speech recognition, and something for high precision, ergonomic input such as quality keyboards will be vital. Otherwise we go around consuming the same information in slightly different forms for eternity in a transubstantiational hell.

      • Vasilyfav
      • 8 years ago

      Who’s putting all that data in?

      Millions of Indians and Chinese for 1$/hour. As well as making those displays in awful factory conditions.

      PS. I will never trade a good mouse and a big monitor for a touchscreen tablet, [b<]especially[/b<] at home. And the only reason all that shit looks futuristic is because they photoshopped out all the wires.

      • humannn
      • 8 years ago

      Good points. I’m thinking the data is largely inputted via voice at that point in the future, a la an advanced Siri. Makes sense to go in this direction since we can speak much faster than we can type, among other reasons.

    • RickyTick
    • 8 years ago

    Wow, that was really cool, and nicely done.

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    keep it up microsoft. You’ve revolutionized technology for the past 30ish years, no sign of stopping anytime soon!

      • TREE
      • 8 years ago

      Microsoft’s “research labs”: a collection of sheds located in the back gardens of a small number of old age pensioner care homes.

        • Arclight
        • 8 years ago

        I can’t link you to the article but i remember reading somewhere that M$ invest billions annually into research and development so idk why you said that….

          • sweatshopking
          • 8 years ago

          cause he’s an idiot.
          [url<]http://www.pclaunches.com/industry_buzz/microsoft_rd_budget_2010_95_billion.php[/url<]

            • TREE
            • 8 years ago

            Microsoft has been pouring money into it’s R&D departments for years. However money makes little difference if the company’s management lacks the ability to spot the blunders from the potentially successful products.

            A common notion in programming is that if you are constantly searching for the most efficient or elegant solution, before having attempted the most simple one, you end up never finding a solution. This occurs as a result of having never discovered the non-theoretical limitations first.

            Microsoft’s research department suffers from this issue. They have yet to discover the limitations of today’s technology. And instead of discovering new ways to do things, in order to address the limitations of a current technology or to enable technology use in a new field, they conjure up solutions to problems that simply don’t exist. By doing so, they create nothing but countless unusable or unwanted devices that have no real purpose or goal. This is by definition the way that Microsoft research operates. All you have to do is follow their product track record.

            So yes, my statement was correct. With pointless research going on and no clear strategic direction, Microsofts way of looking into the future is stuck in the past.

            • JohnC
            • 8 years ago

            Well said.

      • PenGun
      • 8 years ago

      LOL. They have retarded technology and it’s possibilities more than any other single cause.

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