By Ian Brennan
First published by Marketing. You can read the full article on Marketing’s website.
Microsoft, under the leadership of Satya Nadella, is starting to refresh its offerings and is trying to be seen as a cool brand consumers love to use. Since his appointment a year ago, Nadella has set Microsoft on a course that he hopes will see the company once again become innovators of technology. This shift in focus offers great opportunities for brands, and could even dramatically change the way we approach personal computing.
The main purpose of yesterday’s Windows 10 event was, unsurprisingly, to divulge more information about the upcoming revamp of the worlds most used operating system. Windows 10 is the result of a vision that Microsoft set out years ago, to create a seamless eco-system across all your devices. The OS will run on your phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, games console, and the 84" 4K Surface Hub.
Unified experience across platforms
It’s a pattern we’ve seen come to fruition in Apple products, creating a unified experience across multiple platforms. Much like Handoff and Continuity in iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Watches, Microsoft wants you to be able to continue your work and hobbies wherever you are.
This is a big shift, and a model of approach brands should start adopting. Consumers are going to quickly become accustomed to starting a journey on one device, and finishing it on another. Whether that’s writing emails, creating presentations, or handling phone calls, brands need to start building this experience into their offerings. Being able to start your shopping journey browsing on your phone, followed by detailed research on your desktop, through to arriving in the store and having your choices instantly available, the opportunity is there to be pioneers in multi-platform experiences.
Rebranding one of the most recognised Microsoft products
Microsoft also took the opportunity to release some information about one of its most famous products, Internet Explorer. Well, kind of. Internet Explorer itself isn’t really changing much, but what is changing is the introduction of a shiny new browser. Codenamed Project Spartan, the new browser is a move to distance itself from the Internet Explorer brand. Although Microsoft in recent years has improved Internet Explorer drastically, creating a very capable browser, many still associate it with the slow laggy developer hated beast of yesteryear. Project Spartan offers Microsoft an opportunity to wipe the slate clean, and start clawing back market share from Google, Mozilla, and Apple. Some of the built in features, including sharing and annotations, will give users a different way of interacting with brand sites, and an interesting opportunity to leverage.
Beam me up, Scotty. Or rather: Beam me in, Microsoft. What a surprise this was. Seemingly out of nowhere Microsoft announced its plans to completely change the way we interact with personal computers. The HoloLens is a revolutionary product, something the team has been working on for over five years, and something that Microsoft hope will be a big hit.
Allowing users to augment their vision with holograms is something we’ve all seen in science fiction, but it appears that could become a reality in the next 12 months. The headset is less immersive than VR technology such as Oculus Rift, and more engaging than companion headsets like Google Glass. It’s a way to construct virtual elements in the real world, and interact with them through a series of sensors.
One interesting use Microsoft was keen to show off was gaming, and in particular Minecraft. After recently purchasing the game franchise for $2.5bn it is now clear why. They see the game as a key strategic piece to the HoloLens product. Having such a popular and well-loved brand available on the device at launch is a valuable asset. This partnership and integration will help other game studios realise the potential, and support the platform in their own way.
Microsoft is back on track
Another demo Microsoft shared with the audience involved someone getting live help from a professional whilst fixing a sink. The remote plumber was able to draw arrows in the users field of vision and direct them to successfully change a pipe. Making fashion decisions by looking in a mirror and trying clothes on virtually, or personalised real time cooking lessons from celebrity chefs, the scope here for brands is interesting.
Microsoft is back on track - it has a clear vision and is focusing its efforts on winning over the public again. The world’s biggest software manufacture is making waves in hardware, by influencing the expectations and aspirations of its users. Brands that innovate early and adopt some of the key trends - which consumers will soon start to expect - should reap the rewards.