We all (hopefully) use cloud services in some form, but with more apps starting to rely on them, expect Windows 8 to have cloud at the core, along with the endless possibilities of Kinect's motion, audio and lip-reading skills.
Take a SkyDrive
Microsoft already has SkyDrive, up and running since 2007, as a useful cloud-storage depot for users. But, expect that to be a more focused and integrated resource by the time Windows 8 hits desktops, offering automated syncing across devices and playing home to your important content. It will also likely move cloud from being an opt-in service that becomes part of the furniture for many millions of users.
Apple's iCloud and Google's Music are rapidly showing how the cloud can be integrated into computer and device storage. That's something Microsoft is keen to pick up on, according to the latest blog post from the Windows Live team.
So, expect your appointments to be meshed across your devices, your Windows 7 or 8 Phone to send pics direct to the cloud and your PC to automatically retrieve them for editing and printing, and all the other smart things that cloud can do for us.
However, as we're just at the start of the consumer cloud adventure, you could also expect new features, based on location or user mode. Perhaps when you pay with your NFC-enabled phone, certain types of transaction can be automatically be updated in your cloud-stored expenses/personal spreadsheet or finance app. Or, audio recordings of interviews can be automagically transcribed for you when you get back to the desk!
Smile for the Kinect
That's one thrust into improving our humble user lives, but Microsoft's Kinect, which has been a massive hit with Xbox gamers, could have a far wider impact. It already brings motion and audio control to home users and the SDK has just been released for Windows PCs. Soon, there will be all kinds of apps improving user interaction with the computer in sci-fi Star Trek-like ways
However, Kinect 2 is not far off, rumored to be far more powerful, capable of lip reading, Siri-like interaction and a greater degree of motion control. That will likely be a key selling point for Windows 8-powered home computers or smart TV devices (to compete with Apple's play in this area).
If Kinect 2 is small enough to be integrated into PC monitors, laptops, Windows 8 tablets and TVs (or even phones) then it could become a massive market mover for Microsoft in the race for control of the computing environment.
Also, Kinect is something coders will have great fun developing for. It could watch users' eyes as they browse the web to truly track interests and focus, improving user experiences across the board. Emotion detection could produce more calming environments when a user gets stressed and so on.
These levels of interaction will move the computer on from the dumb terminal it still largely is to something in the home that (if you don't mind the Big Brother or 2001's HAL overtones) when tied in with smart devices could finally see us entering that Jetson's world.
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