Nick Parker, Microsoft corporate vice president responsible for Microsoft Corp.'s device partnerships, demonstrated the breadth of innovation happening across Windows and the Windows device ecosystem. He was joined during his keynote by Tony Prophet, corporate vice president of Windows Marketing, and Dr. Hsiao-Wuen Hon, managing director of Microsoft Research Asia and distinguished scientist at Microsoft, who provided evidence of how Microsoft is innovating to deliver opportunity for partners and value to customers in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.
Parker opened the keynote talking about Microsoft's vision for devices in a rapidly changing market and how Microsoft is innovating across its products, partnerships and business model to create opportunity for partners. Parker also talked about Microsoft's device partner strategy to drive scale and innovation with Windows, through new partnerships and new technology that delight customers.
To talk about how the Windows team is operating with new speed and agility to deliver enhancements to customers and partners, and how Microsoft and its partners can build the next 1 billion devices together, Parker invited Tony Prophet to the stage. Prophet talked about how recent Windows enhancements including $0 Windows for devices smaller than 9 inches, relaxed certification requirements, the release of Windows 8.1 Update, Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows universal apps all make building incredible Windows devices easier for a broader ecosystems of hardware partners and ultimately more valuable and affordable for customers. He talked about the value of Microsoft cloud services across devices and shared the latest momentum:
- 2 billion Skype minutes per day
- 4.4 million Office 365 Home subscribers
- 400 million active Outlook.com users
- 250 million OneDrive users
- 48 million Xbox Live members
- 18 percent share of U.S. search market for Bing
He also shared momentum on apps and announced that Kabam, a leader in free-to-play games, will deliver its lineup of hit games to Windows tablets and phones over the next year, including "Fast & Furious 6: The Game," "Dragons of Atlantis: Heirs of the Dragon" and "The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth." Moving forward, Kabam games will be available for Windows in the same timeframe as for other platforms.
Prophet was joined on stage by Nick Hedderman, group manager in the Windows Product Management team. Hedderman demonstrated the latest capabilities in Windows 8.1 Update and Windows Phone 8.1, showing a number of new experiences that were built based on customer and partner feedback, including improved mouse and keyboard navigation in Windows and enhanced notification, personalization and file management options in Windows Phone. He finished the demo with a look at Cortana, Microsoft's new personal assistant on Windows Phone, and spoke about its upcoming availability in both China and the U.K.
Microsoft and its hardware partners announced new designs, price points and markets for Windows devices. Parker had nearly 40 brand-new devices on stage, including all-in-ones, laptops, 2-in-1s, tablets and smartphones. He gave the first sneak peek of Toshiba's 7-inch tablet that will be available in the coming months at a value-driven price point that is very competitive to any other 7-inch-class device and unveiled the HP Pro x2 612 2-in-1 that is packed with business-ready capabilities including security features, a Wacom stylus, and dual batteries in the tablet and the power keyboard. He demonstrated an expanding ecosystem with new partner devices including numerous tablets from partners in the China technology ecosystem in Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai, including Haier, VIDO and Luckystar. Parker also showcased a breadth of smartphones from value to premium from new partners including BLU, InFocus Corp., Prestigio and Yezz. These new devices are the result of Microsoft's expanded collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies Inc. on its reference design program, which enables device manufacturers to quickly and efficiently broaden their portfolio with Windows Phones.
Dr. Hon joined Parker on stage for a discussion about the future of computing and key areas of investment for Microsoft Research that include big data, machine learning, datacenter, sensors, computer vision and natural user interface. Dr. Hon talked about advancements in computer science and provided examples of how technology coming out of Microsoft Research ends up in products such as Xbox, Bing and Skype. He concluded by sharing his thoughts on how computing is evolving to become more human-centric, which provides a more personal and contextual user experience for people to do more, know more and be more.