An often irreverent look at this week's other news...
Biggest news out of Computex this week? Broadwell
For all the device news that happened this week, the biggest, I think, is that Intel is making mobile variants of its next Core processor chipset, codenamed Broadwell, which will enable fanless PCs and devices. Imagine a Surface Pro 3 ... without a fan. A MacBook Air ... without a fan. A Lenovo ThinkPad X1 ... without a fan. You get the idea. These chips, which will be sold as the Intel Core M (shades of Pentium M from back in the day) will also enable these devices to be as thin, or thinner than, and as light as, an iPad Air. The mind boggles with the possibilities. And it makes me wonder why Microsoft didn't wait for this chipset to deliver the Surface Pro 3. Me wants.
Even cheaper Windows Phone handsets on the way
Last summer, I asked Windows Phone Price Point: How Low Can It Go? This week, I got my answer: All the way to the bottom. Microsoft’s Nick Parker (basically the new Antoine Leblond, or maybe Michael Angiulo, if you're having a tough time keeping track of all the changes) said this week that current Windows Phone models typically sold in the "fours, fives and sixes," meaning in the $400, $500 and $600 price range (unsubsidized). But that's going to change this year to the "ones, twos and threes." (I will assume you can do that math.) More specifically, this change will impact carrier subsidies, in that there won't be any anymore, or at the least it will be less common. We're seeing this already with some of the interesting looking new phones that were announced this week, too: The YEZZ Billy 4.7 for example—yes, named after Bill Gates—will sell for about $200 on Amazon.com in the US ... with no contract. The goal: Beat IDC's prediction of Windows Phone jumping from a bit under 4 percent market share to 7 percent by 2018. Sure double digits are a possibility.
Kinect 2 coming to Windows developers in July
As it did with the Kinect for Xbox 360 a few years back, Microsoft will soon begin selling a version of its Kinect sensor for Xbox One that is aimed at Windows. Well, at Windows developers. The hope now, as then, is that developers will embrace Kinect and create all kinds of cool and innovative apps that could only be possible with the device's unique combination of voice and gesture control capabilities. But this is clearly a chicken versus egg type problem, since you don't have to search too hard to discover this never happened, at all, with the original Kinect. Will Kinect 2 fly higher?
Xbox One performance 101: Remove Kinect
One uncomfortable truth for Kinect is that Microsoft is now selling a version of its Xbox One console that doesn't even include the device, and it's obviously doing so in order to provide a cheaper ("cheaper," not "cheap," as this Xbox One version still costs $400) version of the console that can better compete with the PlayStation 4. But it turns out there is a second reason that you may want to remove Kinect from Xbox One (and thus a second uncomfortable truth): Microsoft has confirmed that with Kinect removed from the console, the Xbox One performs 10 percent faster. But no worries, Microsoft says it is still "committed to a future where humans and technology can interact more seamlessly—in the living room, on their PCs, and beyond." It will just be a little slower.
Office Touch for Android will likely arrive before Office Touch for Windows
And if you thought there was a lot of moaning when a surprisingly excellent Office for iPad appeared a few months back, this new is going to make your head explode. Mary Jo Foley reports this week that Microsoft will likely hold off on delivering its long-awaited Office Touch for Windows suite until "Threshold" (aka Windows 9) arrives next spring so that it can market them in a "better together" way that it finds so irresistible. I get the sprung gaskets out there, but come on. We already have an Office that is superior to Office Touch, and many people (like Windows RT and low-cost Windows 8 device users) get it for free. Put down the pitchforks and torches and turn away from the castle. You're just being silly.
"Google Passes Microsoft in U.S. Browser Market Share"
Apple's bad math
At its WWDC trade show this year, Apple's drawling Tim Cook once again used some bad math to rally the troops and demonstrate how silly Windows is these days. With OS X, he said, fully 51 percent of its 80 million strong user base, or about 40 million people, were already running the latest OS version, called Mavericks. But over on the Windows side—I know, I know, they're so inferior, right?—only 14 percent had upgraded to the latest OS version, Windows 8. "Need I say more?" he asked. Well, yes, Tim. You should say more. You should wonder aloud why only 51 percent of your very enthusiastic user base has upgraded to an absolutely free OS upgrade that is automatically offered to them through the Mac App Store. You should also explain which is a bigger number: 51 percent of 80 million (40.5 million) or 14 percent of the much bigger (1.5 billion) PC user base (210 million, or over 5 times the user base size of OS X Mavericks). You could have said that this disparity is all the more amazing when you consider that people actually pay for Windows, while Mavericks is free. And since it's a developer event, you might also ask which numbers developers prefer when it comes to users, bigger or smaller. I mean, there are all kinds of things you might have added. This stuff is just petty, Tim, and you have so much good news to share that doesn't have to involve denigrating your competition.
But Wait, There's More
Buy the books!
I'm trying to change the book publishing model, and would appreciate your support: Windows 8.1 Field Guide is available directly from me for only $2 in PDF, MOBI and EPUB formats. And it is now available on Amazon Kindle for $4.99 too. I also have other free and inexpensive e-books available too, including Windows Phone 8 Field Guide (free from that site, or available from both Kindle and Nook too) and the in-progress Xbox Music Field Guide. Coming soon: Windows Phone 8.1 Field Guide and Surface Pro 3 Field Guide!