PCs

Microsoft predicts the future - without laptops (photos)

In the future, business people will not need to carry a laptop around with them to get their work done, Microsoft believes.

Instead, smart devices in connected rooms will change their settings according to the person using them, it has predicted.

In a video released on Tuesday, the company presented its vision for what productivity will look like in the next five to 10 years. It's the sort of world where you can walk into a hotel room and the television immediately displays your favourite channel; the alarm clock sets itself to your preferred time to wake up; the coffee machine works out whether you prefer black or white coffee and begins making you a cup; and the nearest tablet becomes your own personal computer, complete with all your files. 

Much of the video is based on the idea that powerful computers will be embedded in the world around us. These will be imbued with software-based intelligence to respond to the user's needs, according to Microsoft. In this scenario, a business traveller's glasses translate the audio announcements in a foreign airport to help them find the taxi rank and get a car sent for them.

Screenshot: Jack Clark

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

114 comments
wael_jabari
wael_jabari

I believe it???s a dream, Reality is something else. There is a horrible competition, there a huge market with different brands and different visions. That???s why other companies advancing in the current market with their attractive technology, because Microsoft keep dreaming and don???t live the reality. My vision for the close future is less complicated that that.

JJLyonsII
JJLyonsII

Bill Gates, when he built his house, had these systems installed. I have never seen a report on how it worked out there or if it was accepted or not. What really happens is that we start obeying the machines, they will plan our whole day.

Kostaghus
Kostaghus

... and I'm sure I don't like the CURRENT level. Don't need more. I'd hate that each time I board a cab the driver would automatically know who I am and why I'm going where I'm going. I prefer to keep a record of my meetings inside the most secluded and safe spot I can find: my mind. That's why I use NO electronic device for remembering things. I found that besides ensuring confidentiality it also helps maintaining my memory and higher brain functions. We ALL have a brain! Let's use it! More!

jasondlnd
jasondlnd

All of the following are *Possible* today: * Portable Augmented Reality (it's already being done in games on the PSP) * Cloud connectivity with voice transcription to a portable device (Apple's SIRI) * Hotel rooms that change color to match the mood of the occupant (St. Martin's Lane in London) * Real time video chat from anywhere (Apps, such as FaceTime and Qik available on iPhone and Android) * 3D computer monitors * Refrigerators with touch screens and apps (Samsung already makes one - the RSG309) * Coffee Maker with Internet connectivity (the Jura-Capresso Impressa F9) * Tabletop sized computer (Microsoft Surface) What Microsoft has done is taken all existing technology and made a video where each device works together ubiquitously, instantly, with no hardware or software incompatibilities. Possibility? Yes. Probability? No. Unless you have all of your devices from the same manufacturer running the same software (and even then, there can be issues and bugs that crop up), the world depicted in the video is a world that will never exist.

hezakiah
hezakiah

Will they all have to synchronized reboots, too? It will probably happen when I really need to be somewhere on time, or the OS will hang when I really need my black coffee and it will flood the hotel room with coffee, plus creamer - remember, I only wanted black coffee - ruining my only white shirt. You know, similar to now, when I really need to take care of something important and you are forced to reboot (due to a forced update, or the OS hangs) and auto save can only recover 1/4 of the work you just did. or the printer won't work because of the latest update... I really do not EVER want to see a fully automated technology based toilet... just saying. Before we can ever reach this level of techno-lifestyle, we need to make these systems bullet proof. We are FAR from that level at this time, when every upgrade is more like a degrade, incompatible patches, re-patches, etc... Microsoft's prediction is surrealistic, I suppose every janitor, garbage truck driver, and ditch digger will also enjoy this lifestyle, as well? Or will this only be for a privileged few? As it stands, the unemployment rate is up, will they unemployed be able to afford this as well? If we rely on technology to do everything for us, I predict that Microsoft will make the world lazy and cause a revolt that will lead us into a world much similar to the movie Idiocracy... or, will the rich elitist have the privilege of such technology, and most of us to be mere drones for their society.

epri307
epri307

I can see more go to IPAD than carry around around laptops. Depend on what is best for one as every one is making tablets alot easier than laptop.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler moderator

the way we've as yet failed at generating electricity without using up finite resources, I can see a future without laptops. ;)

susan41k
susan41k

In my future, there will always be a desktop (that I build myself) and a laptop - both running Linux or FreeBSD. That is not to say that I won't also have a tablet or some such device, as long as it does not use MS software.

vulovic.a
vulovic.a

Earth is getting warmer every minute, oil is reason to wage wars against countries, more and more people cannot afford a descent meal, and MakroSoft is thinking about making life easy by using ... what !? I'm working for private company (systems integrator, introducing new technology to our customers ), and as far as I can see, the future is going to be VERY black !!! Even now company's like MS, Apple, Cisco, Juniper, HP, IBM, etc, have more money then US / EU , not to mention other not so lucky countries, or the people in them. So what is stopping them to enforce there products over Linux / GPL-ed software !? As we all felt ( in economical sens) World Economical Crises is generating in US, is it not ? And as far as I can remember - not so long a go, US government WAS borrowing from Japan, not to bankrupt it self !? Anyone watched the movie "Wall-E" (2008) ??? It looks like our future !!! But unfortunately nobody can change that, it is MONEY that maters (even thou it has no gold to support it value), and liked or not every body works for it. It just crossed my mind - I pay taxes, so that government can pay police to enforce paying taxes... Nice !!! As for technology, it is just like knife ! It can be used to cut bread, or human neck, it just depends on the man holding it, just "A" tool. But when I look back at the time when I dreamed of a mobile phone ... And now I curse it every day - there is no time nor place where I can relax, relieve stress, without having someone call me and ask something. Imagine a future where even the coffee maker has something to ask and comment on something? Terrible !!!

josmyth
josmyth

Constant inundation of marketing and propaganda. No thanks. I like technology as a tool to help me on request. I do not want to live in a virtual reality world that automatically reacts to my presence in any location. Neo! Help!!

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

I'm old enough to remember the '60s when the "experts" told us that Atomic energy would be "the power too cheap to meter" - there would be so much energy we would never be able to use all of it, and it would be so inexpensive to produce that electric meters would become a thing of the past. Now the "experts" at MS are telling us that the laptop will disappear. I'll believe it when it happens, and I don't think I'll live that long - nor will anyone else.

pwoff
pwoff

Presumably my preferences will be held in "the cloud" by Microsoft or Google or some other similarly philanthropic organization who will deluge me with adverts "tailored to my preferences " all for free. No thanks!

BlueCollarCritic
BlueCollarCritic

I love the idea of walking into a room and having all my personal preferences acted upon by every device in the room from environmental to media but there???s a very real danger with this personalized & automated future; no privacy or anonymity . We???ve already seen how criminals can destroy people???s lives with just a few key pieces of data (social security number + birthdate) and how corporations like advertisers can formulate a very accurate profile of a user through analyzing their browsing history. Just imagine what government could do with the level of information that would be required for devices to ???know??? and ???automatically respond??? to individual users. I???m not talking about personal devices, computerized smart systems in your home but public area devices as well as a commuting locations (trains, busses, planes) and accommodations (hotels, resorts) . If you give out detailed personal preference???s about yourself so that public devices can respond to your personal desires you open a potential Pandora???s box that cannot be closed again. It???s like what happens when you upload a video now out of some emotional stint (i.e. being anger at a former spouse) only to wish at a later time you could undo it but can???t, ever. You can call it being paranoid if you like but until a method is devised that allows these smart devices to know you without knowing you so they can still respond to your needs and desires without having those same desires cataloged and associated with your real world identity then this kind of potential future needs to remain in the future.

todd_dsm
todd_dsm

Microsoft should start by attempting a small project, like organizing a company trip to the bathroom. If that is successful, maybe then they could attempt to make better software. After that, who knows? But this vision is way out of their league. It's a nice dream though.

wolfshades
wolfshades

One thing Microsoft has right is the penchant for the consumer to want instant-everything. The more automated, the better. Those of us who can afford it will want it. Lately, Microsoft has gravitated more toward Apple in terms of standardization - which all of these innovative ideas will require. They may even need to lock down some stuff, like Apple does, in order to ensure robustness. Apple would do well to provide some sort of visioning too - but don't count on it. They hit the jackpot with the iPad but in a few years time folk will be asking "what have you done for me lately?"

GreyGeek77
GreyGeek77

Who would design an "advanced" eye ware that put status messages on the frames at a location that the wearer cannot see? "Translating" indeed. Useless. This whole "vision" is more of an hallucination. I cannot envision an environment more ripe for massive government invasion of privacy than what is in Microsoft's "future". It might be OK for their business in China, which tries to monitor and control all aspects of their citizens lives, but not in a free society where the government is given limited power by the people, not the other way around. Already the US government is stepping wholesale on the privacy rights of people and has shredded the Bill of Rights, which you'll quickly learn if you are ever the recipient of a National Security Letter. Putting the perils of government abuse aside, I cannot envision people or corporations who have critical data, and want to keep it secure, putting it on cloud servers that would be administered by the cheapest labor, which is always ends up being in countries run by tyrants who treat their citizens as slaves. If they own the hardware they own the data that is on it. The US IRS will not allow the data they send out to the state governments to reside on a computer connected to either the Internet or a LAN. If a person even walked past my office while I had IRS data displayed on the screen I had to keep a log of what was on the screen, who walked by, and the time. Corporations with trade secrets who want to keep them secret would be wise to emulate such "paranoia", especially if they use Windows as their OS. The modern day 3.1 GHz multi-core CPU notebook with a 16" screen, fast video chip and 4 or more GB of RAM working into a 300 GB HD represents the zenith of both corporate and personal computing. I've been using a PC since 1978, when I purchased an Apple ][+. Today I am using a netbook in which the CPU is 3,000 times faster, there is 60,000 time more RAM, my network bandwidth is 12,000 times wider, and my storage medium has a million times the capacity. My two printers are lasers, one a duplex. And, this notebook uses only 70 watts of power. Not only that, the Kubuntu Lucid KDE 4.5.3 desktop I am running is the most powerful and easy to use desktop ever made, except for the KDE 4.7 desktop running on a guest OS in VirtualBox. I run SAGE, the second most powerful math engine ever made, and it is free. So are FireFox, LibreOffice, GIMP, Blender, VLC, BibleTime and a host of other excellent and free GPL software. Also on this notebook is the Qt4 SDK, the most feature rich and powerful cross-platform development tool ever made. I was given an Apple iPod 4 Touch for Christmas last year. I quickly found out that without a wifi connection to the web it has limited use for me. I was surprised to learn how few free access wifi hotspots there are, and without an Apple or Windows PC my iPod cannot be updated nor can files be moved on or off of it. Playing Angry Birds eats the battery up in around two hours. Leaving the wifi on kills it in around five hours. The battery is guaranteed to stay above the 50% level for only 200 recharges, and to replace a worn out battery I have to send it to Apple along with $139. I thought about switching from an iPod to Android and the 3G or 4G network, but telco greed demanding $80/10GB/Month plus $10 for every GB over 10 put an end to that idea. In fact, the fly in Microsoft's ointment of the future will probably be the greed of the telcos controlling the cell towers by making certain network packets "artificially scarce", i.e. more expensive, to maximize what they can charge the consumer. My son and his wife already pay close to $200/mo for 200 channels of cable TV, a 10Mb/s Internet connection, and a VOIP cell phone. The same plan in France costs $40/mo and with unlimited 24/7/365 calling.

TsarNikky
TsarNikky

Conspicuously missing in not only this article, but also in almost all the hype about Windows-8: Where are the provisions for keyboard data entry? Touchy-feeling screens don't do it. If voice enabled, how can one correct errors? If voice enabled, how will microphone distinguish owner's voice from all the surrounding voice noise?

rxantos
rxantos

The more computers do for us, the dumber we grow as a species. Until the day a computer is self aware and realize that it does not need us. :) Seriously, all our information over the net? A paradise for identity theft and marketeers. Where you stop being a human and only be a consumer. Just remember to slave yourself to buy all the things you do not need but marketeers tell you every day to buy.

petersword
petersword

sounds a lot like the predictions that predicated the Jetson's cartoon....I still kinda feel that soon enough the elecricity will go out forever, but thats me just me being a little paranoid. Peace

robert.a.hatcher
robert.a.hatcher

Okay lets put on the glasses and be looking at images or maybe a movie or a spreadsheet while driving down the road. yes! We need another distraction to kill or be killed

daveinboise
daveinboise

Microsoft has brought us many great things over the years and some that are not so great. I just don't buy into the "nirvana" being presented here. I watched both videos, the one from last year and the one from this year to see what has changed. It's going to take more than Microsoft to make this stuff happen. Some of the technologies presented in the videos MS has been working on for years in Seattle, the smart walls in the house for example; I'm still hanging pictures on mine - not communicating with my wife or checking for recipes for my daughters bake sale. 10 years is just too short of a window for these technologies to be implemented, give it 20 maybe and then we'll see where we are.

wayne.lucero
wayne.lucero

What about when two or more people are in the room. Obviously my wife trumps me but do I get to trump anyone?

arc-jr-88
arc-jr-88

I'm amazed how people forget that it's only less than 10 years ago we didn't have smart phones. Phones were phones and apps were on computers. Browsing the internet on a cell phone was ridiculous! We've come a long way Baby, and the dinos are falling by the wayside, fast. I can see MS vision becoming a reality, but of course with some modification along the way. For one, I can see a lot of issues with security and privacy, and don't forget the accidental downloading/uploading/transferring/sharing of your info due to shaky or sticky fingers :-) People who've gotten used to the screen keypads will be crying foul this time around! It will be here before you know it and even myself, already in my 60's, I'm worried having to contend with this "new" technology because the fingers are no longer what they used to be. Well, I guess I have to live or die with it. Just two cents worth from an old fart.

Al_nyc
Al_nyc

Sounds like a very easy way to monitor all your movements and activity. I can see them trying to push mandatory RFID implantation which will be "for your own good".

swerson
swerson

Given this reality, there will be no more private world. If there will be machines keeping all data about me and the vast majority of people around the world, we will all be transparent to those who control it. We should have faith in something that no technology can guarantee a day that works perfectly. We'll have to trust the honesty and good will of each one of us.

maruadventurer
maruadventurer

As nice as this seems, the way they think it will happen won't. That future conversation -- [Hotel IT Guy] So how much will this hotel upgrade cost me? Round numbers. [MS Tam] $100k a room, time 500 rooms, about $5m. Of course you will need to have the CALs for 7 billion people @ $25 per, you never know who will walk in the door, eh, that's $175Bn. Oh and the TV, alarm clock and coffee maker are all 8 core processors @ $750 per core for 500 rooms, that's $9m. Rough total -- $180Bn [long pause] [MS Tam] Do you want extended service support with this order?

maruadventurer
maruadventurer

And that embedded world will be powered by Linux!!!

wdvs88
wdvs88

It would be mighty embarrassing if every time you walked into a room, with your wife and kids, the TV switched to the porn channel, and try explaining to your boss why the tablet lying over there all of sudden is full of pornhub files. Sorry, but personal laptops (or something like them) will still be used in the future. And as other said, maybe MS needs to work on making things work in the present first.

epw
epw

I hope we get to see that technological world. With Iran developing nukes, and practicing low precision launches from cargo ships, I'd hang on to all my wind-up stuff for now. A car made using a distributor with points would also be good.

garyleroy
garyleroy

This may sound appealing to those who line up for the latest igadget and spend "quality time" with their kids by yakking on and poking at their phones, but this sounds to me like another pointless waste of energy. Give people LESS to do, so they can get even fatter? They can't even find their own TV channel or brew a cup of coffee? Perhaps they can just sit in a comfortable, heated chair with video glasses, headphones and smellavision and they don't even have to actually go anywhere. Life is about doing things and meeting challenges, and that includes the mundane tasks that often bring us new experiences every day. It's not about becoming a nation of lardbutts who can't even manage the basic details and tasks of everyday life. Think all this gadgetry and simplification will free us up for more "important" tasks? Just look at how much smartphones have done that...people walking around buried in their screens, or thinking they have to be talking remotely to someone 24/7, oblivious and unaware of their surroundings and real life in general.

memartin2
memartin2

The article says, "Much of the video is based on the idea that powerful computers will be embedded in the world around us." An old friend of mine had a plaque on his office wall that said, "Never Trust A Computer That You Can't Carry With You." I'm kind of inclined to agree with him. Given the rampant and increasing government intrusions into our lives via cell phone tower hacking, computer hacking, and generally illegal gathering of information about us and our lives, I am NOT willing to put all that information on a central computer that can - and will - be easily compromised by "Big Brother", our new governmental overlord. You can't trust them.

keycee
keycee

so what will the future be with.. guess our minds then we will be able to access the internet and all sort of infos with our minds

tpirog
tpirog

When I was a child we believed everyone would one day benefit from technological advances. We imagined a George Jetson-like world, where everyone had flying cars, computers were ubiquitous, and when you wanted something you just spoke it and slave machines would obey. However, the only people who will benefit from this kind of technology will be the filthy rich, 0.1% of the population who steals all this from us because they can. Human nature is such that, unless prevented, the haves will always take from the have nots. The way the world is going today, the average American will be lucky to own an old laptop in 10 years. Yes, this vision will probably be true for the super mega-rich, but apparently the people at Microsoft have blinders on, because the 99.9% will only see it on their televisions when they watch the future version of "LIves of the Rich and Famous." http://www.tpteq.com

Bduffel
Bduffel

The Gates' home incorporated much of this stuff when it was built...what...? 15? 20 years ago? and his first book 20 years ago established the technical vision that laid out the groundwork for the technology we enjoy today... but, the whole big brother concept freaks me out...

nick
nick

Modern lifts tell you what floor you are on. How about one that listens to you and takes you to the requested floor? As far as MS goes. Shows like Start Trek, SF movies and books were "predicting" these technologies years ago. The suits at MS must have had fun watching old movies and reading old books. The Communicator in Start Trek - hot damn we call it a mobile phone!

Barmace
Barmace

I saw a demo that Microsoft was developing this technology but i think these guys have a better Idea, http://www.pranavmistry.com/projects/sixthsense/ imagine if they can shrink it to the size of a button or a pin. In the video you see a girl with a tablet that is on a table. My thought is make the Table the compuer?

bheite
bheite

Microsoft is always good at promising things, but poor on delivery. How does all the individual information, and personal data they envision sloshing around in theior perfect world get protected against all the data theft just around today? Are the bad guys banned from MS's secret universe? Hello? reality check here.....

jackster12
jackster12

It's appropriate that the stock photo with this article is someone wearing glasses, because where future "vision" is concerned, Microsoft's track record isn't all that good.

BlazingEagle
BlazingEagle

away from laptops. Like current computers, As tablets continue to mature, Their capabilities & power will increase. As for their screen size, As tablets become more ubiquitous, I imagine there???ll be a docking station with a monitor & physical keyboard that the tablet docks with to give us more viewing real-estate. Also, Why not allow a tablet to increase a desktops processing power when it docks? The desktop could use a tablet as a secondary CPU thus theoretically increasing the power of the desktop it???s docked with.

jasondlnd
jasondlnd

In 2001, I had a Nokia 3110...entry level phone first manufactured in 1997...black and white screen and "beep" style ringtones...but it had games and an "app store" you could connect to and download apps to extend the functionality of the phone! This was in huge contrast to the next phone I had in 2004... a Motorola V551...it did everything a smartphone does nowadays (browse the Internet, play games, E-Mail with a unified inbox, play music, take pictures, shoot videos, Instant Message, etc.) granted, it was slow and limited, but it worked! The thing about it though is that my second phone (the V551) was the next logical step up from the Nokia phone. While using the Nokia phone, I saw the potential in what phones could do...a lot of it was realized with my second phone. That potential has been taken one step further with smartphones, which can do *more*....what the future holds is what "potential" phones and portable devices have now. Technology is basically steps...each level up is an advancement in hardware and software development that builds off of the previous generation.

adornoe
adornoe

matters of importance will be handled by Windows or whatever Microsoft has going for it at that moment.

adornoe
adornoe

which indicates that, when a person enters the room, certain technology will kick in to adjust the environment towards your needs and want's and likes. The situation you describe is a "many people" entering the room case, and for certain, the smarties in silicon valley and elsewhere wouldn't have allowed that kind of situation to go unnoticed and forgotten while the development process was still occurring.

bruno_ann
bruno_ann

Without the "rich," no one would experience these things. Not now or in the future. Yes, there are many non-rich people who invent things, but most of them benefit personally from it eventually. Most of the time, the benefits are the motivation for coming up with a good idea in the first place.

adornoe
adornoe

other means, and other personal accessories that a person can wear that can carry the technology that the glasses would have carried. Perhaps a bracelet or watch or necklace/chain/earrings/belts/ etc. It's amazing how many people can't use their imaginations? Or, perhaps it was mostly people trying to find causes to ridicule Microsoft? Perhaps it's both.

adornoe
adornoe

evolve into something more powerful, they'd have to become laptops. The lack of power and features in tablets, is something that makes them reminiscent of computer monitors of the 1970s and 1980s, but, the tablets would be a bit more useful with wireless connections and better graphics. Other than the wireless connections and better graphics, tablets aren't that much more useful than those old time computer monitors, but, in the evolutionary ladder of computing, tablets are just monitors with a bit more power and better portability.

susan41k
susan41k

I remember helping a grad student back in the mid 1990s configure a LAN with linux machines and access to the internet through a Linux server with DHCP and NAT. At the time Windows did not even have its own TCP/IP stack. I also remember that Linux used a fixed device for the infrared port on laptops. Microsoft would create a virtual COM or virtual LPT port which would not stay constant across reboots. Sometimes you would get COM3, sometimes COM5, sometimes COM4, etc. requiring reconfigration of your printer after each reboot. It wasn't until win2k that MS wised up and made it a fixed device. In the future MS will be doing the same as it is doing now - playing "catch up".

adornoe
adornoe

more powerful. But, they're still very limited in what can be done with them.

BlazingEagle
BlazingEagle

other than processing power & reasonably powerful graphics, What truly distinguishes tablets from extremely low-end laptops? Don???t tablets essentially boil down to glorified PDA???s? I think tablets definitely have a purpose & place, but their limited features don???t justify their expense.

adornoe
adornoe

Like I said, Linux will still be doing the dishes and opening the doors, while Microsoft is doing everything else of importance. That's been the same for the last 30 or so years, and even in the last 20 years after Linux started trying to "become competitive". Linux, is still in the 1% range of users, at least in the personal computing field, and that hasn't changed, no matter how capable. It'll still be the same 10 and 20 years from now, and, what the world will still have is something similar to a 4.0 GPA individual opening doors and doing the dishes for a living, while another individual who is equally as smart, is managing big corporations and administering large government agencies and offices. The Linux guy might be very capable, but the Microsoft guy is just as capable, but much more noticed and usable.