Microsoft Open House: The Review

Windows phone 7 was the star of the event. It was, to its credit, very pretty.

As you saw last week, I was able to interview Steve Ballmer as part of the Microsoft Open House. But that was really a small portion of the overall event. Most of the day was spent on the launch and demonstration of the new, the shiny, Windows Phone 7. Microsoft will be releasing three of the phones on AT&T for $199.99 in the coming months, and there will eventually be 9 phones released–the next carrier set to get them is Verizon, which will see them next year.

Before we start anything: the new Windows 7 phones don’t have a copy and paste feature. They will get it starting next year.

Moving on: Microsoft completely overhauled the Windows Phone interface for Phone 7, and it shows. The focus of the new phones is on the devices as extensions of people. As a result, it’s possible to add individual contacts to your desktop as apps. Their app will update with their latest Facebook or Windows Live updates, so you don’t have to enter into the app itself to see what your friends are up to. Unfortunately, the contacts apps aren’t integrated into Twitter–and the Microsoft representatives were a little cagey as to when (of if) that would happen. There is a dedicated Twitter app; however, it’s not dynamic at the main screen level.

Read the rest on HackCollege.

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HackCollege Interview: Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft

Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft. Image courtesy of Flickr user JD Lasica. Licensed under CC 2.0 BY-NC.

FTC Disclosure: Microsoft paid for my trip to New York, my hotel, and my food. Blogging is awesome!

It’s a weird thing to sit down with $14.5 billion, but on Monday I did just that. As part of the Windows Phone 7 launch at the Microsoft Open House, I had the chance to sit down with Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, and ask him about the future of Microsoft’s relationship with students–especially in light of their release of Windows Phone 7–the future of technology, and what students should be doing to break into tech fields.

We started off the interview talking about Windows Phone 7, as the press conference about the new phones had happened just a few hours earlier. Ballmer was, unsurprisingly, adamant that he thinks Windows Phone 7 phones are the best choice for college students. He said that user experience with Android phones is patchy–it’s hard to know an Android phone is an Android phone when you pick it up–and iPhones only offer one model, ignoring that some people might want a QWERTY keyboard or different speakers. He’s of the opinion that giving students a “consistently delightful” (yes, that’s really the slogan) user experience over a variety of phones will draw them back from competing smartphone options. Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen, but for middle-of-the-road users (people who don’t want to root their Android phone and who want something more rugged than an iPhone), he may have steered Microsoft towards a winning strategy.

Read the rest on HackCollege.

Back from New York

I just came back from my whirlwind Fall Break weekend trip up to New York for Microsoft’s Open House. (The trip was sponsored by Microsoft and run by uniformly delightful people, so I feel bad that I’m writing this on a MacBook. Not enough to switch, but, y’know, bad.)

Managed to start the trip off with a solo subway trip from the swanky hotel (in which I was not able to work the elevator, because I am not wealthy enough for that kind of crazy) to the American Museum of Natural History. I managed to unintentionally stumble onto their 10th anniversary celebrations on 10/10/10 for the Rosa Space Center. There was acapella music done by astrophysicists in addition to the normal battery of amazing bones and things. I was delighted.

I even got to commune with my friend the giant ground sloth!

It was more fun this year (in addition to just being nerdy) because I’m in Biological Anthropology, and the Human Origins hall was basically just a collection of the things that will be on my next test, except that they may have actually been real and certainly weren’t made out of plaster. Turns out the American Museum of Natural History is better funded than Oxford. Shocking, I know. I’ll let you catch your breath. Continue reading