Think about how far smartphones have come over the past five years. In 2006, we were using bulky Palm Treos and BlackBerry devices that could barely make a phone call and pretty much just did email. Today, our smartphones have replaced digital cameras, GPS units, MP3 players, and even e-readers, newspapers, and magazines in many cases.

Just think what our smartphones will look like five to ten years from now. Microsoft has a few pie-in-the-sky ideas about that and it has conceptualized them in a new video called “Productivity Future Vision” produced by the Microsoft Office division.

If this sounds familiar, then you don’t have deja vu. Microsoft produced another video by the same name back in 2009 (it was also referred to as “Office 2019” and you can click over to page 2 of this post to view it). The new video released this week has a lot of the same stuff but it takes several of the ideas a step farther and introduces a few new concepts.

David Jones, who works on “envisioning” at Microsoft and whose team made the video, said, “We see an expanded definition of productivity where it’s not just about getting things done. It’s also about doing the right things, and doing them well and enjoying the process with other people in a very natural way.”

Take a look.

Microsoft’s “Productivity Future Vision”

Sanity check

I’ve hit Microsoft pretty hard in recent years for not telling us its vision about the future of computing, so I have to at least give the company a hat tip for this video since it shows that there are still some smart people inside the company thinking about the future of product innovation and not just how much more money they can milk out of consumers and IT departments. I like that there are people at Microsoft dreaming big dreams.

The problem is that Microsoft is really good at these concept videos, and not so good at turning them into real projects. Does anyone remember the amazing concept videos Microsoft showed off leading up to the launch of Windows Vista? I do. The UI was stunning. But, the released product was something different entirely. How about the amazing videos of the Courier tablet that captured the imagination of the tech world? It turned out to be unattainable, and Microsoft killed the project.

As entertaining as it is to watch these videos, it’s hard to take them very seriously until Microsoft can start connecting some of these ideas with steps that it’s actually taking in real world products.

(Go to page 2 to see Microsoft’s previous “Productivity Future Vision” video from 2009)

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.