A Glimpse Into Microsoft's Future

· · Particle Debris

Future User Interface.

Microsoft is a changed company under CEO Satya Nadella. We’re not the first ones to notice. This change has manifested itself in several ways, most notably the willingness to provide solutions on whatever platform the customer wants to work with. More exciting, however, is how people interact with their computers. This week, John points us an article that reveals Microsoft’s important new thinking about the human-machine interface.

Alexa, Siri, You're Not a Trusted Family Member

· · Editorial

Amazon Echo

The conceit of AI agents like Alexa, Cortana, Google Home and Siri is that they are to be always listening, invited to be treated as trusted family members. Or the loyal computer of our family’s starship. John Martellaro doesn’t like these analogies at all.

Tim Cook Is No Steve Ballmer

· · News

Apple CEO Tim Cook

A piece at Seeking Alpha argues that Tim Cook needs to be replaced as CEO of Apple because he’s “identical to Steve Ballmer.” Bryan Chaffin was specifically asked what he thought, so here’s the short version: it’s balderdash—Tim Cook is no Steve Ballmer.

Microsoft Adds Cortana to the Voice Assistant Game with Invoke

· · News

Invoke voice assistant appliance from Microsoft and Harmon Kardon uses Cortana

Amazon has Echo, Google has Home, Apple reportedly has its own voice controlled assistant in the works, and now Microsoft is getting in on the game, too. Microsoft’s device is called Invoke, and it uses the company’s Cortana voice interface coupled with Harman Kardon speakers.

Wow, Microsoft Surface Laptop is $999 of Sexy

· · Cool Stuff Found

Microsoft Surface Laptop Bloomberg Screenshot

OK, this hurts a little, but I’m going to be try and be strong: the new Microsoft Surface Laptop is sexy. There, I said it. It’s $999 of sexy. It’s sleek. It’s light. It has 14 hours of battery life. But most of all, it’s pretty. I mean, it’s astounding, right? A Microsoft laptop, and it’s pretty. And the company’s Surface Arc Mouse is also pretty. Yeah, and sexy. And at $999 (mouse sold separately), Surface Laptop is even compelling. John Martellaro wrote a good piece looking at Surface Laptop from a technical standpoint, but I think the fact that’s it’s sexy as can be deserves highlighting. Under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft is becoming an all new company. And with this device, Microsoft has thrown the gauntlet down in a big way. And I’m hoping Apple comes back swinging in an even bigger way. Below is Mark Gurman’s hands-on look for Bloomberg that includes a nice look at the mouse.

Microsoft Launches a New Assault on Apple: Surface Laptop

· · News

Microsoft Surface Laptop

On May 2nd, Microsoft presented its latest product in the Surface family, the Surface Laptop. This is a pure laptop, in the style of Apple’s MacBook line, and has a 13.5-inch display. Notable is the low weight, 2256 x 1504 display, fabric keyboard, four available colors, Windows 10 S and a claimed 14 hour battery life.

Apple's iPad Fights For the Education Market

· · Particle Debris

Apple using internal magnets to attach Apple Pencil 2 to iPad Pro

The education market is very price sensitive. Three players are in a pitched battle for the right-priced personal computer: Apple (iOS), Google (Chrome OS + Android), and Microsoft (Windows 10 Cloud). These OSes and their implementation on hardware, plus the right kind of marketing and staying power, could determine which company seizes the hearts and minds of schools and students.

Microsoft Opens Minecraft Marketplace For In-App Purchases

· · Cool Stuff Found

As part of the Discovery update, Microsoft is also bringing a new feature to the game called Marketplace. Minecraft Marketplace is coming to the Windows 10 platform, as well as Minecraft Pocket edition for mobile platforms. Players can create and sell items in the Marketplace using a form of game currency called Minecraft Coins. When a player creates an item to sell, they can set their own prices as well as take a small percentage of the sale. Once you sell something, such as a custom skin or a map, the app platforms will take a 30% cut. Players can access items they buy through their Xbox Live account. This means that you can access your purchases no matter what platform you use. Microsoft will launch a public beta on Android in mid-April. The beta will test the Microsoft Coins so you won’t see any player creations yet. Microsoft is also hosting a Reddit AMA on April 20 from 9AM-12PM PST.

Microsoft Opens Minecraft Marketplace For In-App Purchases

TMO Background Mode Interview with Microsoft Chief Creative Architect Ben Rudolph

· · Background Mode Podcast

Ben Rudolph on Background Mode.

Ben Rudolph is a Microsoft Chief Creative Architect. That means he’s responsible for consumer, retail marketing. In Ben’s words, “his team … builds the experience that turns shoppers … into fans of Microsoft. That involves everything about how the Microsoft brand shows up to consumers in the retail environment.” That may not have been of interest to Apple fans just a few years ago, but the arrival of CEO Satya Nadella has changed all that. Ben and I chatted about his early career interest in being a physician and the path that led him, instead to Microsoft. Then we got into the Microsoft’s Surface Studio that sent shock waves through the Apple community last year. We also discussed the refreshing new corporate mission of Microsoft under Mr. Nadella. This interview will take Apple fans where they’ve never gone before.

Trump Reportedly Drafts Executive Order Targeting Visas Used by Apple and Other Techs

· · Analysis

Macro of a U.S. Visa in a passport

The White House has reportedly drafted an executive order that would target visas used by Apple and other tech companies. According to Bloomberg, the Trump administration wants to change the rules for temporary worker visas known as H-1B, L-1, E-2 and B1. Those rules changes would affect the ways several American companies recruit skilled workers overseas.