The future according to Microsoft

I’ve a confession to make: I’ve always been a bit of a sci-fi realist. I was the kid who would sit around debating with his friends why ships always met on the same horizontal plane in Star Trek: TNG.I think this is why Microsoft Office Labs’ new “2019” video does well to impress me. Though imagining a decade on is not quite the feat of envisioning the 24th Century, MS clearly has a pretty slick future view of the world.

This is only a montage of the complete video (h/t to Long Zheng for tracking it down). Though the 2-minute montage gives a decent overview, definitely give the 5.5-minute full-version a watch, it’s well worth it. Some of my favorite parts:

Language Learning: When I first saw the two children conversing through a piece of glass, I was wondering why the heck they didn’t just go over to the door and talk in person. It took me a moment to realize that their respective video walls were many thousands of kilometers apart.

This sort of interaction between cultures, and learning of languages (one girl is shown teaching another how to write Sanskrit), is truly exciting. It promises to bring, quite literally, a whole new dimension to the classroom in a mutually beneficial and culturally expanding way.

Digital Newspaper: With traditional newspapers closing up shop, it was good to see Microsoft preserving at least the tactile aspects of the medium. As ironic as it is to write this on a blog, there really is something special about holding printed words in your hand, whether a book or a newspaper, which needs to be preserved.

That MS has envisioned a future where the two are combined in a very Kindle “Xpoint0” way is as reassuring as it is exciting. But how does one dog-ear digital publications?

The Coffee Cup of Tomorrow: No reason needed-–it’s just neat.

The future according to MS does appear to twist, pinch, tap and slide quite a lot–gestures that are surely becoming the new “click”–-and parts appear to be borrowed straight from CSI: Miami. However, there are few aspects of it that set off my “that could never happen” buzzer.

As cool as the video is, I can’t help but wonder if Microsoft realized how Apple-like its future appears?

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