The Digital Skeptic: Software Can't Reinvent Microsoft; Hardware Might
First off, the soon-to-market Surface tablet PC has something Microsoft has not seen for a decade: positive brand buzz. This thin, elegant tablet computer with a bolt-on keyboard immediately grabbed the attention of even the pickiest geeks. The otherwise impossible to impress Gizmodo called the Surface's keyboard "the killer (or be killed) feature."
And the Surface is only the beginning of the real things with real legs.
Microsoft Touch Mouse, for example, is simply the best on the market to me, and the Xbox, a major winner in worldwide video game tools. Behold these stats from a splashy promo video: 66 million consoles shipped, 40 million XBox live members and 18 million Kinect sensors, which let users interact with the device using no controller at all, were also sold.
Keep in mind that each of these hardware platforms sits in the middle of a fabulous brand ecosystem. XBox has become a multichannel TV hub similar to cable TV. Never mind Netflix(NFLX) working on it -- Paramount announced an app that supports its UltraViolet content platform.
Even more bizarre, the Kinect has become not only an extension for controlling games, but an extension for controlling just about anything.
Take a look at the site KinectHacks.net. This service does nothing but list the cool things people control with a Kinect controller, from the basics such as moving a PC cursor without a keyboard (which I so love) to being able to sketch out the skeleton of your hand with the thing, control robots or note hyperactivity in kids so parents can intervene before awful things happens. And the list goes on.
Go ahead, try to tell me anything in Microsoft Office 2013 -- anything -- is as cool as using your fingers to control a robot.