In tandem with its Windows Phone 7 international launch event this week, Microsoft also held its annual Open House event, at which it educates the mainstream (i.e. non-technical) press about the products and services its offering for the current holiday season. Here are some of the products Microsoft showed off at this event.
Nothing new here, and no new tablets as rumored. Instead, Microsoft had a set of tables with progressively more expensive Windows 7-based PCs, mostly laptops, along with some gaming machines and a hands-on preview of the new Ages of Empires game.
Say what you will about Microsoft, but the company usually makes great hardware. I'm not a huge fan of its Arc Mouse products, however, and the new version, which "snaps" straight "for easy packing" is form over function. It's an ergonomic disaster, just like its predecessor. But the new Arc keyboard looks interesting for living room use.
A lot of the younger guys were all over the Kinect dancing and game titles, but I was more curious about its use as an interface for non-games. For example, you can use it to navigate through the new ESPN and Zune experiences. It actually works pretty well, but as Microsoft noted during my hands-on time, using voice commands (which is part of Kinect too) makes even more sense.
Mac Office 2011
The folks from the Mac Business Unit (MBU) were also on hand to discuss the pending release of Office 2011 for Mac. I'll be reviewing that separately soon, but I wanted to at least pass along one pertinent bit of info: Oddly, Microsoft is not explicitly supporting its own Windows Live and Hotmail services in the version of Outlook that's included in Mac Office 2011. On the PC, as you may know, Outlook users can utilize Hotmail-based email, calendar, and contacts via the free Outlook Connector software. No such software exists on the Mac, and none is planned, at least nothing they were ready to announce. So those hoping to access Hotmail via the new Outlook client in Mac Office 2011 will be disappointed: Yes, you can access mail via an old-fashioned POP3 connection, but there's no contacts or calendar integration at all.