Microsoft’s Vision for the Future

Microsoft have released a new video suggesting they seek to reposition themselves over the next decade. I think they are on to something:

Their vision for the future is evidently very ambitious, but I believe that if anyone can pull this off, it’s them.

Microsoft’s approach has always been to create user experiences that are improved through exclusive use of Microsoft products. Sure, it’s got them in a  lot of trouble in the past, but it’s their corporate power and knowledge of how technologies (especially theirs) can work together that will best service the user through Ubiquitous Computing and Augmented Reality.

What’s especially interesting to me is that they really seem to have thought past their next release, Surface. It’s great to see something of their overall strategy. Something Apple, Google & Yahoo! are far less forthcoming with.

We are soon to have a Surface installed in the lobby at work. Really looking forward to it, but I’m concerned it’ll be too prescriptive in what it can be  used for. If Surface and any of the featured technologies in the above video suffer the marketing / usability failures of Vista it’ll be years more until these tools become a reality, at the hands of their competitors.

Will feedback on Surface once I’ve had a hands-on.

Web Discoveries for March 23rd

These are my del.icio.us links for March 23rd

  • Blog Marketing and Blog Ads : SocialSpark
    Very compelling idea – crowdsourced social media advertising where advertisers connect directly with bloggers through a brief. Set wordcounts and offer creative assets, plus a small fee. Will research further.
  • Make Something Cool Every Day 2009 on the Behance Network
    An artist has made these really great images, posted them on Behance & Flickr. Wonder if there’s scope to work something like this into a long-term campaign? Hmm…
  • SoundCloud > Jazzanova Remix
    Very cool competition site that visualises both the waveform of a UGC remix, as well as user annotations along its timeline. Worth a good hour of browsing when I have time.
  • Soft Drink Generator
    Create a new line in soft drinks with this online tool – results look really effective!
  • Twitter ‎(Social Brand Index)‎
    The largest directory of Brands that Tweet that I’ve found so far. Let’s hope it gets encyclopaedic, and saves everyone time. Where’s the Wiki?

SoundCloud

SoundCloud do clever things with music.

SoundCloud: The Tour from SoundCloud on Vimeo.

I found them by accident when searching for remixes of ‘I Can See’, a great song from Jazzanova’s new album – listen to it with Spotify on this link.

Anyway, over at SoundCloud they’ve hosted a remix competition that lets users easily upload their mixes and have them judged by Jazzanova themselves, who had this to say:

“Since so many astonshingly good remixes had been submitted, it was no easy task for us to come to a final decision,” says Jazzanova’s Jürgen von Knoblauch . “We discussed the matter over and over again and finally agreed on three winners who had very different approaches and represented the stylistic variety of all submitted remixes. However, we had to draw the lucky winner of Ableton’s software package and Soundcloud’s premium membership. Once again, we would like to thank all the remixers/producers who participated in our remix contest and submitted their excellent works.”

What’s cool about the contest is it gets users engaged with SoundCloud for one great reason, but entices users to explore their other options (as in my case) such as their free website widgets: a dropbox for users to submit any track to the site owner; a player that shows the track’s waveform and allows users to annotate it at points along it’s timeline. These raise the profile of the service across the social web and drive traffic back to their homepage.

With this competition, SoundCloud and Jazzanova are in perfect symbiosis – both benefit from being associated with the other. I’m very interested in researching their company further, as there has to be elements that larger advertisers can participate in.

The effect on Jazzanova’s album sales will be hard to measure, but I’d love to hear from anyone involved on side-effects/uplift in consideration or other brand metrics.

Web Discoveries for March 9th

These are my del.icio.us links for March 9th

Introducing… Ubiquity

Very exciting semantic technology for Firefox, that susses out what you are trying to do, and does it for you!

The below video, though highly stylised, is a great indication of our next steps towards Web 3.0, and onwards towards ubiquitous computing in the academic sense, that of interrelating processor-equipped devices/clothing/pens/kitchens etc that share and translate information to improve or simplify our lives.

We’ll need years of research to teach your jacket to stream your favourite album when it notices you’ve been sad lately, but Mozilla have at least made small steps towards mind/machine connectedness by removing a few of those quirks from the internet’s core product – email.

Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.