Last Wednesday, Microsoft held its Build conference for Windows developers in California. Obivously, Microsoft has been king of the hill in desktop computing for many years. However, Apple has gained momentum with more and more people working from Apple computers. A lot of that gain has come from the days when Apple launched its iPhone, which quickly integrated into our everyday lives. The ease of use of the iPhone also got a lot of people to change over to Apple computers. And that includes many people in churches and ministries that used to be heavy Windows users before. And it has become time for Microsoft to win back the crowds.
So, did Microsoft manage to do it? Well, it has been off to a good start. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer kicked off the keynote by explaining how Microsoft has been hard at work to create synergy between devices. He ran through all the different devices that are now powered by one form of Windows or another and stated that he did not know whether he should be calling them PC’s anymore. He concluded that by stating that he called them “All Windows, all of the time”. And that sums up what Microsoft is trying to achieve quite well. Obviously, we need to see how things will pan out over time, but the first steps are there. Also, Steve Ballmer introduced Microsoft’s new way of working, which is to release quicker and and more often to serve its users better.
Is it working? Well, Build 2013 was full of news, though it was more of a mix of consumer and technical information than Apple’s WWDC or Google’s I/O. But the important things are that the start button will be back for Windows on the desktop and that many tweaks and changes promise it will be nicer to work with.
One of the nicer things though, is gestures. From this update on, it will be possible to control certain things from making gestures at your computer. No special hardware is needed, the webcam in your laptop or desktop will suffice. It was nicely demonstrated by flipping the page on an online cookbook without getting dirty fingers on the screen. But imagine the freedom this can give to preachers that use powerpoint, to control their slides themselves, without holding awkward remotes all through the sermon.
Also, quick sharing between Windows devices will enable you to broadcast items from your computer to another system without delay, as demonstrated by a video that was started on a desktop, but broadcasted out to an Xbox -Microsoft’s game console- and played on a large television. Broadcasting over several devices is not new. Apple has its Airplay and Google has been working on something along similar lines as well. But the great news is that features like this, will help you to easily mix technology in with your story to make it an even more powerful experience.
And that is the great news that has come out of the three big developer conferences. Integrating technology in everyday life is going to be easier still. Obviously, this leaves us the challenge of finding the best ways to integrate it into telling our story to the world.
(And for those of you feeling adventurous, you can download the Windows 8.1 Preview already. Just remember it is for testing only, not for your daily work yet.)