Robert Johnson

Steve Jobs is gone, Windows 8 is coming and Apple panics

I was surprised Apple announced the developer preview of OS X 10.8 yesterday. There is something curiously odd how they went about this, and I believe it has everything to do with the company everyone loves to hate on -- Microsoft.

Anyone following Apple for any length of time should know they are the king of secrecy. Products are announced when they're ready (there are few public betas), usually during invite-only media events. But not this time. Apple claims they did not want to overdo the whole "announcement event" especially having just hosted the iBooks event. That sounds like a pile of crock to me.

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Microsoft, don't screw the pooch

In late November, I opined why Microsoft is in trouble. A couple of conversations I had over Thanksgiving led me to believe there are tons of misconceptions about Microsoft consumer products, such as: Windows Phone is dead and Windows PCs are nothing but junk.

But I think the company can correct these problems by aggressively taking action in several key areas: Windows 8 hardware requirements, Windows 8 and Windows Phone marketing, synchronization and natural user interfaces.

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Windows Phone is the best phone you aren't using

I am a new Windows Phone user -- HTC Titan -- and I cannot be more excited about it. As a UX developer it is very apparent that Microsoft has paid some serious attention to detail in ways I have never seen before. In my opinion, Windows Phone really is the best phone people aren’t using.

Every day, hundreds of thousands of consumers make smartphone purchasing decisions and every day most of them choose Android or iPhone? Why? Because they think they're better since most sales technicians at Verizon and AT&T will push Android or iPhone over and above Windows Phone.

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Microsoft is in trouble

From a technology perspective, Thanksgiving 2011 ranks as one of my most insightful and frustrating holidays ever. I'm an enthusiast who wants to see Microsoft make a strong comeback among consumers. Unfortunately, three Turkey Day incidents left me disheartened.

Microsoft has got a big perception problem.

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Why I chose iOS and Windows 8 development over Android

Android is hot from a device sales perspective -- 550,000 activations per day. However, even though apps for Android phones are surging in the marketplace, it does not yet appear that the same is true for Android tablets. As popular as Android is, it is my personal opinion that iOS and Windows 8 should be the focus of future development.

The sheer popularity of iOS and the beauty of Apple's hardware make iOS a prime candidate for app development. I'm not saying developers shouldn't target Android at all, but I believe iOS and Windows 8 offer (or will offer) the best user experiences going forward.

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I'm totally stoked about Hulu Plus for Xbox

Has it only been a week since Hulu Plus came to Xbox 360 via Xbox Live? It seems so much longer. I'm more than just a little excited about it, if you can't tell.

A friend of mine recently bought a Roku player, and I asked him what he thought about the Hulu experience. He wasn't very happy about it, citing the lack of previous seasons for some of his favorite shows -- then there is the number of commercials. I personally didn't really see those as negatives, and so when Hulu Plus finally arrived on Xbox 360 I was anxious to try it out.

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3 things I like and dislike about Xbox Live

In November 2009, I purchased my first Xbox 360. A year later I bought the Kinect bundle, and I have been more than pleased with my purchase. Recently, PlayStation Network outages got me to reflect about my decision to choose Microsoft's game console -- to appreciate how important Xbox 360 and Xbox Live are to my TV watching habits.

It's by no means picture-perfect entertainment, but awfully good. Here, I share what three things make Xbox and Xbox Live a central element in my living room, and what three things I think Microsoft should change.

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10 Things I would like Steve Ballmer to do in 2011

While I would not consider myself a Microsoft fanboy, I definitely do find myself interested in the company's products to the point that I'd love to see Microsoft recover from its past mistakes and establish its brand firmly in the minds of consumers again. No matter how you view Microsoft, it is a great company with some pretty cool products. They are nowhere near the popularity of Apple or Google, especially when it comes to the tech press, but I cannot help but think that Microsoft stands in a unique position to wow us in 2011.

Will Microsoft do it? I don't know for sure. But I hope so. Microsoft employs some of the smartest and most talented programmers and scientists working anywhere. Then there's Steve Ballmer, the charismatic CEO whom many people think is fighting to save his job. As a Microsoft user and developer, I want to see the company succeed in 2011. Surely Ballmer wants to receive feedback from people like me, so I have compiled a list of 10 things I'd like to see him do this year. I believe that if Ballmer is successful at bringing these things (and others) to market this year or next, he will not only save his job but will make Microsoft a stronger consumer brand, something the company desperately needs in order to be competitive in the future.

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Five things that excite me about developing for Internet Explorer 9

I gave up on Internet Explorer way back at IE7. As a user interface developer, the CSS and JavaScript workarounds created way too much unnecessary work. So I turned my attention to the next best thing at that time, which was FireFox. It was the most standards-compliant browser on the market at that time. Its plugins (e.g., FireBug) made my work easier and much more enjoyable. So as I spent more time with it as a developer guess what happened? I also became a regular user.

The IE9 Release Candidate, which Microsoft posted today, may change all that again. IE9 is the first Microsoft browser in years that has me excited about UI development. Finally, I can see a future void of the many CSS hacks necessary to get a page to play nice with IE. There are five features in this release candidate I am excited about as a UI developer.

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Could Kinect be Microsoft's iPod?

On November 8, 2010, one of my most anticipated packages arrived from Amazon: a 250 GB Xbox 360 Kinect combo. Kinect is one of the more popular devices to leave the doors of Microsoft. The Redmond, Wash.-based company initially expected to sell two million of them during the holiday season but upped estimates to five million due to high preorder sales. Not a day goes by without reports about how someone has hacked Kinect for some other use besides gaming. I think this suggests demand for natural user interfaces will expand beyond touch, and go mainstream. Couple that with the high cool factor Kinect offers and this could be the device that reinvigorates Microsoft's consumer image. Could Kinect be Microsoft's iPod?

I think so. In case you don't remember, Apple was largely a forgotten company in the mid 1990s. There were no mainstream products, Macs were very expensive for most consumers to buy and most businesses chose the certainty of Windows. Things began to change when Apple cofounder Steve Jobs returned to the company in late 1996 and became interim CEO the next year. In 1998, he launched the trendy, translucent iMac. But there wasn't much room for Mac sales to grow -- most people used Windows PCs. Apple needed something new.

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