Microsoft pledges to alter PC landscape

Microsoft is hailing "life immersion" technology, featuring multimedia and other improvements, as a means of kick-starting the PC...

Microsoft is hailing "life immersion" technology, featuring multimedia and other improvements, as a means of kick-starting the PC market.

The company is seeking to enable development of PCs with advanced graphics and sleeker, smaller designs that will entice users, said Will Poole, senior vice president of the Windows client division at Microsoft.

Poole discussed the company’s goals during a keynote presentation at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC).

"Why do consumers and business users believe what they have is good enough? This is the problem we face in the industry," Poole said.

"We are responsible for giving business users really compelling and engaging reasons to make that investment in time and money to buy new products."

Microsoft's vision of "life immersion" is intended to reach consumers on an emotional level so they will want the new products, he said.

Key to Microsoft's advancements for PCs is the Longhorn version of Windows, due in 2005.

"The breakthrough work that we're going to do in Longhorn is really going to change the landscape of what consumers and business people see" in a PC, said Poole.

Noting that the reduction in PC prices has meant margin compression, Poole said higher-priced systems needed to offer tangible benefits for users to make the investment.

PCs must be built to connect users to their networks whether they are travelling, in the home or at the office, becoming indispensable items, he added, and that software neede to move from "usually works" to "always works". Poole said.

Hardware must be able to withstand bruises and bumps, audio capabilities and robust power management was required.

Poole added that systems needed the "wow" factor, with industrial designs, aesthetics, 32-bit graphics, surround sound, and wide displays, said Poole. Other improvements needed include integrated biometrics for security.

Additionally, Windows would need to fix its own problems without user intervention, he stressed.

To show what users can expect in the PC market, Microsoft product manager Cory Linton displayed a set of small systems including a mobile phone-sized Spot device that provides information such as news, instant messages and the weather.

He also showed ultra-mobile PCs, including a pocket-sized prototype from Vulcan.

Linton cited Microsoft's planned Xeel technology, pronounced "zeal", for providing a common user "experience" across different devices. The software features a set of common navigation controls combining hardware and software.

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