Countdown to 2012

So here we are, 1 day away from a new year – another year of tech progress and surprises. So what am I looking forward to in 2012? Here’s my shortlist


  1. Windows 8 – with the beta due soon, I’m as eager as others to see what has changed since the Developer Preview and get to grips with it. The recent post by Wired’s GadgetLab sums up a lot of how I feel about Windows 8. Differentiation without fragmentation.
  2. Windows Phone – I’m optimistic about 2012 for Windows Phone, especially with Nokia on board. After using the Lumia 800 for a few weeks, I’m back in the Nokia fold for a good while. They’ve married their excellent design skills with the beauty of Mango. The result is very pleasing.
  3. Xbox and Kinect – ten years ago people thought we were mad to get in to the console business. Microsoft is persistent and Xbox is a shining example of how that pays off. It’s now much more than a gaming console with live TV, music, social and this little thing called Kinect. In 2012, the ambitions for this combo just get bigger.

    Okay, I’ll pause there and say that those are the 4 Microsoft products that excite me the most – not least because of the emergence of a common design aesthetic across them with metro. You can hear more about that in a great interview The Verge did with Steve Kaneko. So what am I looking forward to beyond our own products?

  4. The combination of AR, search and social – not to labor Microsoft stuff further but Bing is doing some smart stuff with social integration. Don’t take my word for it though, read this excellent post by Esther Dyson from August 2010. Smart minds can see over the horizon and join dots that others can’t. Esther is one one those. We’re seeing some good stuff with social and search and I’m keen to see how it gets connected to augmented reality applications.
  5. Big Data – as my friend JP Rangaswami recently pointed out, if you’ve not heard about Big Data you must have been hiding under a rock. As always, JP brings some much need clarity to this topic and my own interest is in how machine learning is applied to Big Data to enable some real breakthroughs in science and medicine. Oh, one other post worth a read here is Information Week’s discussion with Steve Ballmer on Big Data where he said “Nobody plays in Big Data, really, except Microsoft and Google.”
  6. The Internet of Things – another buzzword but amazingly I agree with Robert Scoble on two topics for a change – the whole notion of the Internet of Things and the role of sensors in our lives to track all manner of things. It’s closely tied to the topic of Big Data for me, so I’m now off to hear Robert talk with Splunk who are doing smart stuff in the world of data.
  7. Natural User Interfaces – quite possibly my most over-used phrase in 2011 – but it’s not going away. In fact it’s only going to get bigger, in part because the Internet of Things and Big Data provide more context to be able to build more natural user interfaces (NUI). In fact, context may well become my most over-used word for 2012.


Lists like this are supposed to have ten things but 7 has always been my lucky number so I’ll leave it there. Expect to see much more on all of these here on Next at Microsoft during 2012.

Thanks for your readership during our first year, and if there are things you’d like to see more (or less) of feel free to leave them in the comments or send me email.