Leadership investigate

Microsoft conjures up the future of mobile productivity

Microsoft has released a new video that imagines what the future of smartphones, tablets, and productivity will look like in 5-10 years.

Microsoft's "Office 2019" video

Here's the original "Productivity Future Vision" video.

In releasing the new video, Microsoft also published a blog post reminiscing about the original, called Looking back on 2019.

The Microsoft Office team has some excellent video producers. Earlier this year, they also created one called History Reimagined: Declaration of Independence, which is based on the concept, "If only Word was around when our forefathers wrote the Declaration of Independence...it might've gone down like this." Fun stuff.

Also read

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

53 comments
dogknees
dogknees

I saw these some months back and my immediate reaction was, where are the content creators and developers in this demo? Where are the cool new toys for creators and developers? Where are the cool new toys for those that rarely collaborate? For those development departments of one? Doesn't seem to be much for us.

runningcommentry
runningcommentry

The only problem with all this is that Microsoft seems to have forgotten one small thing. The user. It's fine to make all this glossy 'cool' edge to edge display technology, but has anyone had the pleasure of actually using it?!? I have, and on a tablet or phone it just isn't helpful at all. It leaves no space to hold the device, it makes everything very 'touchy' and easy to bump. It just isn't as fantastic as it's portrayed here. The fact is we've been able to have edge to edge displays for over a decade, but we haven't actually made them because it just doesn't work when it comes to usability. Which brings me to another point. The author may have been a bit behind the times in 2006 and using his Palm Trio and Blackberry devices, but I had already been using windows mobile for three or four years by then, and before that even my Motorola had been able to do video calling along with a host of other things! The key issue hindering development has indeed been Microsoft. They keep creating major flops and bad user experiences which then put people off entire device families. Having used early windows tablets and slates I would have been entirely put off them in general, but for the iPad. The same goes for the clunky start menu'ed windows phone which never made any sense to me at all. Does anyone remember 'surface top' pc's?!? Kin? Microsoft seems to feel that using a few futuristic movie production techniques suddenly can be classified as 'innovation' when in fact George Lucas and many others have had that level of 'innovation' for decades! True innovation is when you can make dreams and the imaginations of many into a reality. It's one thing to imagine it, it's another to actually make it. Microsoft seems to have a history of not really doing either!

rich1
rich1

did anyone notice that no one in the video created anything? All they did was move or access stuff thaat balready existed. Reality and future depends on using technology to do things that haven't been preloaded into your computer..

realvarezm
realvarezm

Pleasee! how come in this concept they doesnt show robots and more interesting ideas, the whole minority report is an old concept, remember that microsoft is a company that will eventually disapeared overwhelmed by open source software and the rise of google. Same will happen with RIM and their future concept. Now when google shows their concept of the future that will a profecy. This videos shows all that microsoft does imitate, copy and play it safe. How come they didnt put basic office or home office in the video, BECAUSE they know this concept of market target is wrong. theres only 2 types of user high end user and basic ones, so why keep 4 or 5 kind of product, increase profit pure and simple. I dont know why i wasted my time writing this. Have a nice future M$

greggwon
greggwon

Microsoft is just using many of the same premises as are visible in Corning Glass Companies youtube video, "A Day made of Glass". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Cf7IL_eZ38. In the end, things are changing, and Microsoft research has demonstrated over and over again that they can 1) have good (not great) ideas, 2) poorly execute them, and then spend billions getting v2.0 to be "better". Look at Vista as a more recent example. Time to market, and buzz words are more important to Microsoft, then functional software. They can only get new/returning customers by promising great things with boisterous commentary. The real delivery is always a v2.0 or later fact. This just shows that their engineers have no idea how to create products. They have artisans driving product realization without engineering behind it, until the engineers have to fix things in v2.0.

carlsf
carlsf

This is as far as I can see where MS would like to drive consumers. Sorry Microsoft I live and work in the real world (Budgets, Financial constraints, World Financial Bomb etc....) Microsoft are expecting all to gloss over and business and users will have $bucks to spend. As far as we are concerned we will NOT be spending anything until our clients start spending more, cash flow after expenses reaches a healthy +.

JH_Chicago_Suburbs
JH_Chicago_Suburbs

As I watched the vision of 10 years in the future, I could see that today's Metro interface is a step in the direction towards the interface shown in it.

bwexler
bwexler

Science fiction writers come up with the ideas years or decades before the reality is created, often based on the science fiction. Has no one here ever seen 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Dick Tracy, Star Trek, Time Trax, or CSI. Many of these ideas have been kicking around for years and Steve (you pick which one) is now taking credit.

adornoe
adornoe

Take the video, remove all references to Microsoft, including any references to any one working there, and change all them to give the credit to Apple, and then... no doubt, it will be seen as innovative, imaginative, futuristic, a winner, envy-inducing and mind-blowing, and a "legacy" left over from Jobs' executive and imagineering mind.

netwidget
netwidget

@Rndmacts "Todays desktop is more powerful than the largest supercomputer of the 90's" Today's computers ARE very powerful. My uncle who worked at Boeing in the late eighties once told me that the diagnostic chip in an '89 Ford Fairmont station wagon was more powerful than the first chip put into the 747's auto piloting system. These comparisons to where we are now in technology compared to the 80's of the 90's doesn't do Microsoft, any real favors. If anything it is a reminder of how much they and others have thwarted advances in technology squandering every dime and milking every new thing until it they have lost all leverage in their patents, copyrights, and trade secrets. Where could we have been without these road blocks. It makes me sick to see people pretend that Bill Gates or Microsoft has done all the great things in computers. I get ill when I think that mankind with the limits of a computer programed with punch cards put man on the moon, and that anyone with a single laptop could have controlled all of the mission critical computer tasks for NASA while tweeting to a friend. What a waste! what a royal waste of time, ability, and effort the computer corporations spend protecting themselves from each other.

Rndmacts
Rndmacts

Claiming Microsoft doesn't have the smarts to dream this stuff up and that it must of come from Apple. These scenarios have been coming out of Microsoft since the 80's. Bill Gates used to give future of computing speeches challenging the hardware companies to make his vision real. Apple's supposed patent for swipe to unlock has been around since the touch pad mouse was invented over 20 years ago, you swiped on the face of the mouse to wake the computer from hibernation, their patent is based on a prior art concept. Most of Apples gesture parents are based on prior art, Steve Jobs wasn't the inventor at Apple, that was Wozniak, Jobs true ability was to take others ideas and repackage them as if they were new, the original Mac was based on graphics, the original Lisa was the true leap forward but it was expensive and Jobs didn't want to support it or market it. Microsoft tried to bring out many of these products but the ideas were way too far ahead of the existing hardware, the idea of interacting with a holograph is not far fetched, just expensive at this time The technologies being suggested here are not out of the realm of possibility, I remember when it was thought that a computer would never need 1 Mb of memory, then 512 Mbs and now a computer is considered underpowered if it doesn't have at least 2 Gbs of memory. Todays desktop is more powerful than the largest supercomputer of the 90's which required specially built air conditioned rooms to operate, look today 3D came out as active with special glasses, how long did it take for passive 3D to appear on the market, 6 months and daily we hear of Japanese and Taiwanese researchers working with holographic 3D. Its companies like Microsoft who put out the dares to the researchers to make things happen, and it is companies like Microsoft who will tie the technology together. I do know the contents of my fridge, it has a bar code scanner which keeps track of the contents, if I remember to enter the usage, it does send info to my smart phone of items I need at the grocery store. It does require that I participate otherwise it is just a stupid refrigerator which cost way too much money. I do have a smart oven in which I can place a dish in the morning and program to keep cool until it is time to switch to oven mode and start cooking, it can even send me a message that the dish is finished and ask if it should keep the meal warm. The technology being depicted here is not so far out of the realm of possibility and who knows what Windows 10 or 11 will be capable of, what hardware has made it to market by then.

wzaccardi
wzaccardi

jason, how did you find so many people down on Microsoft?

scsltd
scsltd

A lot of the clips show screens with lots of written content yet how often do we see someone still typing? We have been promised voice recognition since the earliest days of the PC yet its ever really happen!!

deonlab
deonlab

Microsoft should rather make movies! This looks like is a intro to a movie. Also I agree NOTHING NEW! Microsoft should get with the time before trying to get with the future! It all looks promising but with Windows and drivers and plugins and updates and security I have to say will this really work? You gonna get in the car/taxi and it is going to say reboot or get out of the car and get back in. (haha) Microsoft should first get a working tablet / phone / pad / remote anything to get the user away from the pc.

sub_techrep
sub_techrep

What a sorry pack of unimaginative followers you have, Jason, and you're encouraging them. Remarks like "The problem is that Microsoft is really good at these concept videos, and not so good at turning them into real projects" implies that someone who proposes an idea for the future is responsible for creating it. The problem is that your unimaginative followers can't come up with ideas like this and so others have to. Your unimaginative followers are part of the consumer, rather than the creative, society. Perhaps someone looking at that video will have a brilliant idea and discover a way to make part of it happen. If enough brilliant ideas are triggered and all put together, then we'll have the outcome depicted - but it won't be through the inaction of a bunch of naysayers. As Shaw said in 'Back to Methuselah', "You see things; and you say, ???Why???? But I dream things that never were; and I say, ???Why not????". Well, some of your followers can't even get to "why".

tarose.trevor
tarose.trevor

I had to stop the video after a couple of minutes... this just demonstrates the fundamental lack of imagination & disconnect from reality suffered by the vast majority of the business world... utterly unimpressive in every possible way is all I have to say... if you are impressed by that, you have very low standards indeed, the human species is lagging way behind it's potential.

rhonin
rhonin

Lighten up! Nice conceptual piece. If this does nothing other than show a possible path forward for a few forward thinking individuals and companies it is so worth it. Without vision we are stuck in the same dreary dead end hum drum existence. Me - I luv the tablet/smartphone concept and the proximity sharing. Now we need a power source....... hmmm.......

PineappleBob
PineappleBob

That looks like a TAT video from the recent past. Very cool and intriguing, but not in 5 years.

Buitremx
Buitremx

Not only Microsoft has this kind of ideas for the future. You can also find some of them at Corning. Yes, Corning, the glass people. If you look for the video "A day made of glass" in Youtube, you will find most (I think) of these ideas right there. Does that mean that the medium is already being developed, Mr Management Consultant? Also, I can't believe that Steve Jobs didn't leave behind a binder? iPad? just a regular notebook? full of interesting ideas that are either waiting for or being developed already at Apple. This technology might not be for everybody, but I'm waiting for it to start popping up at any corner any time now.

chris-b
chris-b

In comparing the new vision to the vision from 2 years ago, I note that the imaginary vaporware hasn't really changed much. Makes me wonder what kind of graphics workstations they used to create all those nifty Pixar style graphics! Here's a very relevant Dilbert from Feb 2000: http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2000-02-24/

blarman
blarman

1) Holographic interfaces. The problem with ANY kind of visual interface is the projection medium. You can't simply project into air. You have to project a picture onto a surface - whether that is a clear screen or a pair of glasses or a mist of reflective gas. This part is purely pie-in-the-sky nonsense. 2) Power. The power requirements for these types of things is still a major hurdle. And I'm not just talking about the devices, but the power infrastructure for providing it. 3) Connectivity. So every one of these devices has to have awareness of every other device. Can you imagine the bandwidth necessary for that? Not to mention the security nightmare... I'm going to relegate this one to the realm of pure sci-fi as well. 4) The refrigerator. I'm sorry, but noone but appliance salespeople ever keep a refrigerator clean enough where a camera is going to be able to tell you what's in it. ;) Now if we went back to those neat little RFID chips on everything and the refrigerator had a scanner... 5) Translating glasses. This one's on my "probably not" list, but for purely linguistic reasons. Translation of communication is difficult because of many factors including local dialect, colloquial phrases, accent, etc. - not to mention meaning differences due to homonyms and synonyms. It's a nice movie scenario, but is that going to be reality? Not in 10 years it's not, and not even if Microsoft owned everything. Parts that COULD work: Screens with touch/gesture interfaces. Microsoft wants to incorporate this in Windows 8, but we'll see how it actually flies. Digital hotel check-in. This one is pretty practical now with apps on mobile devices. Search. The technology already exists through search to find recipe suggestions, etc. Charitable donations. You still need the 2D barcode or some other identifier to link to - a picture alone isn't good enough. Probably not going to happen for economic reasons: Electronic appliances with interactive interfaces. Sorry, but I'm not going to pay an extra $1000 to get a computer put in my refrigerator. Nor am I going to pay thousands of dollars for a kitchen countertop with a built-in display. Have these people ever actually had children or prepared their own food in a kitchen? That thing would be broken in the first week! Real hotels providing this level of service. From the instant accessibility to transportation to all the digital amenities, this type of hotel is going to be out of range of all but the most elite business travelers. So what do the rest of us do? It's great to have a vision. Now it's time to make it practical. There's your challenge, Microsoft et al.

OldHenry
OldHenry

Balmer killed it because it wasn't Windows.

brian_leach
brian_leach

And as I watch this on my tablet, I'm thinking - yes it is innovative. Their tablets of the future somehow have evolved not to be covered in greasy finger marks.

The Management consultant
The Management consultant

These are of course ideas that would possibly never see the light of day at MS for two very good reasons.The materials used may not be available or need developing by a third party to make it available for software companies (samsung have the advantage here). MS are just claiming existing ideas as their own in order to increase their patent portfolio? MS seems to infer a new strategy of neche market combined with hardware as a solution copying Steve Jobs strategies which MS has been so evious of for sometime.Will it work with other manufactures more nimble in claiming this space before MS can get there? Will such declarations from a falling CEO save his bacon or will he be replaced in February as the markets want?

Isaidright!
Isaidright!

Great so some over sized smartphones. With regards to the Palm Treo 650 - I was doing everything but the "app" bit 5 years ago. I had Tom Tom installed, my email and calendar, contacts and mp3 files -as well as a camera - which was crap admittedly. This is 2-3 year thinking MAX. I am worried for MS if this is supposed to be 10 years out.Let's focus on linking all those back end (legacy) systems. Consumers have enough gadgets to deal with for now (smartphones, 3D TV, Electric cars to name a few) Now we want them all linked. So when I get in my car it accesses my online music library, notifies my home of my whereabouts (thus turning on the heating\lighting automatically), my in car display reminds me to pickup some milk - which is on special offer at the garage I am just passing and while you are there, don't forget it is your mums birthday - so some "no expense spent" flowers ;) and automatically send a birthday card. Perfect - go home, eat too much, sit on the couch and worry about how you are going to afford all of this technology.

mybatteryishot
mybatteryishot

This video is full of stunning visuals and is quite interesting. However, I cannot imagine that this sort of technology would be available to the average user and businesses that have real budgets. Also, our population is continuing to become more tech savvy, but these ideas do appear to be quite complicated for the average user. In the end, I'm sure reality will be a little bit simpler.

dcowsky
dcowsky

To bad it won't happen by Microsoft. With Steve Balmer as its leader, Microsoft will be a follower at best. Microsoft is already behind in the smart phone and tablet business. Granted tablets are a fad toy, but if they become fully functional computers then the market for them will take off. Innovation is not Microsoft. Microsoft is putting its hopes on Windows 8 and if turns out bad then Microsoft will really be far behind. Microsoft needs an innovative leader until that happens don't expect much.

drleos
drleos

They just bought or copied others' results... That's not a way forward.

RobAchmann
RobAchmann

Now that the 'swipe' is protected property of Apple, these apps will be very lucrative for Apple!

adornoe
adornoe

or very inexpensive.

adornoe
adornoe

but, perhaps a doze of reality can overcome that problem. So, get into the real world, and start looking at how things really work.

adornoe
adornoe

because, you can't see very clearly what's happening in the real world, and especially, not in Microsoft's world. No company gets to be the size of a Microsoft by just copying and using trial and error and releasing "beta" with the hope of corrections in later versions. That's basically your perception of how Microsoft operates, but, Microsoft is still the biggest technology company around, even if Apple is overvalued with a higher market cap. But, Microsoft is a much more diversified company than Apple or Google or any other company, and they didn't luck into that, or just throw things at a wall in the hopes of having something stick. No company can be successful with that kind of "research". Microsoft, in fact, has more research happening within it's walls than Apple or Google, and some will succeed and some will fail, for success and failure is something that occurs at any company. Apple and Google have had their successes and failures, and so has Microsoft. So, stop using that clouded glass you're using, and start looking at reality.

adornoe
adornoe

whatever "visions" or plans it has or demonstrated in it's video. If you want to chastise anyone for the problems in the economy, you should be directing your arguments at people in government, who, to a large extent, created the bad economic situations we find ourselves in.

adornoe
adornoe

where ideas from the imaginations of technologists, are used in movies and on TV. A lot of what is seen in the movies and on TV was first imagined by innovative and imaginative people in the tech fields, and that's why, a lot of movies and TV programs have consultants from the people with imagination and experience, assisting them with the technical aspects while filming.

dogknees
dogknees

Is saying "Bill Gates or Microsoft has done all the great things in computers"? While there are some extreme views here, I don't think you'll find someone claiming this. And there's the problem. You're reacting to something that doesn't exist. And that's about as pointless as you can get.

TheiJerk
TheiJerk

I agree with you in the aspect that those certain Apple followers who think all that is good and new is made by Steve Jobs, as if he is the only person working at Apple.

TheiJerk
TheiJerk

I like how you had the guts to talk about how Steve Jobs (rest his soul) was a great "re-packager"/ sales man. The IT people today, a good number of them, are set in their ways when they are in an industry that is ever changing. Many of times, MS (not just MS, but other companies too) have put up the dares and challenges for other people to answer. Whether they then employ you, buy you out or whatever; the statement still stands. Good post!

tarose.trevor
tarose.trevor

i am actually not down on microsoft at all myself... I wrote critically of them on this particular subject not because i dislike them as a company, i dont... but simply because i am utterly unimpressed with most people's so called "vision" for the future... i am constantly amazed how people can go to the best schools & universities & have all the wealth & authority to act with big companies like this... and yet utterly fail to be impressive (so far as i am concerned)... even steve jobs didnt really ever blow me away, and I am actually stumped as to why so many people were so impressed, except in so much as that i can imagine compared to what everyone else was doing, yes he was amazing... but personally i think i could do a lot better job than all these guys put together if i had their resources & opportunities at my disposal... and you can call me arrogant or whatever you want for saying that if you like, but i am just saying it because its true... in fact i think most of our achievements as a species in every field of endeavour are way short of what we are capable of, and there are many reasons for that (its another debate & subject entirely)... but the point is, please dont think i am just being hard on MS, i am not.

deadlycreature
deadlycreature

Most of these steak-heads have no merit in what they are saying. It's just cool to hate Microsoft. You don't even need a reason. Just kick Microsoft and everyone will love the comment. Windows 8 Hasn't even been released and I'm amazed at the negative press posted mostly from people haven't even seen a preview of it! It???s really sad because it negates the purpose of the commentary (here at least). For the record Steven Sinofsky is making some huge progress breaking the mold at Microsoft's "same old, same old" approach . Don???t be surprised if Ballmer disappears in the upcoming year and a more aggressive Microsoft is on the rise.

TheiJerk
TheiJerk

On a lighter note, it's good to see your appreciative comment on the board. We need more companies to push the bounds of creativity in order to stir up competition to better provide us consumers with better products. Some of us who posted are light-hearted tech enthusiast, some are know-it-alls, some are small thinkers (true), and some are of course bias Apple followers who would like to pounce on anything MS does, the same way some MS people will do whenever Apples says they are the first do do something when they are really not (they just reinvented it at best).

TheiJerk
TheiJerk

Sad but true. Tablets don't really serve a power house of purpose like laptops or desktops; so when will the fad become an essential? Microsoft needs a leader, that will foster designers with innovation and the team that can make it happen.

TheiJerk
TheiJerk

According to my brief search (because I know that such an obvious swipe gesture shouldn't have been patented and I may have misunderstood your comment), I found that only the "swipe-to-unlock feature" is protected by Apple (so they say) and I can see where they can make money from that. I took your comment as just the normal swipe movement which has been done for years, even now on the Kinect. Good point to bring up!

dogknees
dogknees

I'm aware of the current state of the art, and I'm looking for the next BIG steps in development technology. Changes that provide the same improvement in efficiency as the user tools that are shown here. The same sort of paradigm shift.

adornoe
adornoe

simple as black or white, or simple vs difficult, or clear vs murky. There are many shades to running a business and many variables to consider when marketing to so many different opinions and needs and wants. Your definition of success, and your visions of the future, may not match what most other people would want, and, though one can have the most visionary outlook for a company or even a country, it all has to be tempered with how people perceive your ideas, and thus, what you think might be best or "futuristic" and "visionary", may turn out to be duds in the general population. Everybody has "better" ideas in their minds, but, it's a lot simpler to have those ideas when looking from the outside than from the inside. Ideas have to be expressed and tested and subjected to practical thought, but, nothing is ever "visionary" or "best" until the people have spoken. That's why there has to be a lot of caution before proceeding by all companies for any of their products and services. There are, no doubt, millions of "visionaries" in the world, but, most of them fail to excite, except in their own minds.

dogknees
dogknees

I'll still be creating apps for myself. Just the tools will make it easier and the apps will be better.

adornoe
adornoe

and all put into tools that facilitate development of an idea from conception to a finished product. When that's possible and available, then, you can be sure that, your job will no longer be "special", and that even the most non-technological in the world will be creating highly useful applications with very little need for training. Then, you won't have a need for the development tools which you wish were available.

dogknees
dogknees

I just want to see the same progress in development tools as these videos show in collaboration tools. If I knew in detail what I wanted, I wouldn't be asking the question. I want to see where dev tools are going in the next 5-10 years. I'm looking for the cyberpunk dream of programming in a 3d visual metaphor/paradigm where we no longer have to cut code, but can finally do what the OO wonks have been telling us for years and "plug modules together to create new and original functionality". I want to see some serious AI technology being applied to the writing and maintenance of code. This stuff has come a long way in the last decade, but isn't being put into our tools. So, come on MS, how about some effort for those of us that have been promoting your systems to our peers for 20 years now. Those of us that make them work in the real world for real people.

adornoe
adornoe

most of what's needed to be creative with the new technology is already out there, and Microsoft and Google and Apple and others, have gone out of their way to make sure that developers have whatever they need to create new applications for their environments. Perhaps you're looking for software and hardware that can take your ideas, and have that technology take it from there, and all that would be needed is for you to approve, or not, whatever the technology comes up with, until it finally matches your idea exactly. Computer Aided Software Engineering (CASE) already exists. So, what is it that you have in mind?