Lately one of the most talked new software projects in works has been the new Windows 8, and specifically its new Metro UI. Some people like it, some people hate it. However all the people I know think that it is mainly designed for tablets and other portable devices, aiming to compete with Apple of the hearts and minds of home users. This is certainly not a wrong view, but I myself think that Microsoft has even more ambitious goal: to take over the living room, to replace traditional television and peripheral devices connected to it with Windows. Even Steven Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft, hinted about it in his CES 2012 keynote.
Before going further, let us remind our-self of the importance of the living room and the television. The television has been and is an inseparable part of the modern way of living, it is a centrepiece of home where individuals and families come to share time and experiences together. Such is an importance of the television and its place in our life that it annually generates nearly 50 billion dollars in advertising revenue alone in the US. That is the market where Microsoft is aiming at, and incidentally a market that Google is trying to erase.
Now many companies have tried to take over the living room from the television, however all of these attempts have more or less failed. The reason for their failure has been simple, offerings to replace or amend the television have been too complex, needing either set-up-boxes, peripherals or too complicated to use remotes. The only new technologies and services that have been successfully introduced and become ubiquitous have been those embedded into television itself like the EPG which came with the DVB standard. So how can Microsoft think that they can succeed where other have failed?!
The answer to why Microsoft can take the television is because they have the technology and vision to make using of Windows driven televisions as simple and easy and intuitive as using our current televisions. The two key things that Microsoft have are the Metro UI and Kinect motion capture technology. By combining these two and embedding them into an Internet enabled television, they can create a market proposition for consumers that offers more with simpler terms. What Windows driven television means is no more hassle with remotes, no more usage of incoherent OEM UIs and added services, instead there will be one coherent and intuitive user experience that combines all services together.
However the television market is too big and established for Microsoft to take it alone, the change has to come and supported from industries tied to television, from device manufacturers to cable operators and from broadcaster to advertisers. Microsoft has to offer more than just renewed consumer proposition, they also have to create new value for all current stakeholders to succeed in their quest of conquering the living room. I will continue with this subject in my next blog post.