Hybrid tablets 'not ultimate destination, but still a place we’ll spend a long time in' says Microsoft

By Peter Gothard
19 Jun 2014 View Comments
Microsoft Surface Pro 3 with Type Cover and stylus

Microsoft feels that a combined touch and keyboard interface is not "the ultimate destination" for the endpoint, but still intends to spend "a long time" investigating this form of interaction with the Windows platform.

This is what Microsoft chief envisioning officer Dave Coplin told Computing today.

Further reading

Coplin explained how Microsoft still believes the message behind Windows 8, and its update Windows 8.1, is "it's not about touch or keyboard, but touch and keyboard".

But when asked if Microsoft sees this kind of interface as merely a waypoint on a longer journey, Coplin replied: "It's not the ultimate destination, I don't think, but it's a place we're going to spend a long time in. I really think that."

But Coplin, who admitted to preferring Microsoft OEM Lenovo's devices to hybrid tablets for "serious writing", was keen to point out that Microsoft still does not see its true, focused role as a hardware devices company.

"Microsoft's a platform company," he stated. "We build a platform that enables other people to do incredible things. And I don't think that's ever going to change.

"Yes, we can do devices and that's crucial to us, but actually our thing is – well, you won't hear us talking about driverless cars and stuff like that. We're quietly in the background doing all this research around machine learning that allows us to do all these things like Bing or Azure integration stuff to let people go and build the platforms of the future. So I think you‘ll see us rocking that space."

Coplin called this week's announcement of Azure's integration of machine learning "a pivotal moment in computer science".

"I think we do lots of things that [early on] people don't really understand the impact of. But the IT world is full of buzz-phrases and hyperbole. We'll be able to look back on these moments and say, ‘Bloody hell, it started here'."

Coplin said he is confident that Microsoft will now move away from its "old world, shrink-wrapped DVD releases" to a "rapid online" model, hinting at faster, leaner updates for Microsoft products in line with several recent announcements.

"You don't release a new version of a search engine every two years, after all," quipped Coplin.

"But if you're a big corporate and used to doing a two-year release cycle, three to six weeks seems terrifying. But to a consumer, that's normal. So people just need to get used to it."

Coplin also stated his confidence that the firm's "phenomenal" Nokia acquisition should get things "back on track", in terms of competing with Apple in the mobile devices market. Like many of his Microsoft colleagues, Coplin is also a fan of the company's new CEO, Satya Nadella.

"I think Satya's a huge part of this as well. Without pinning all our hopes on him, he brings with him a really different culture, and you can see it ripple down through the organisation," said Coplin.

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