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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Microsoft is Finally Achieving What it Set Out to Do With Passport - the Key is Consistency

Back in the year 2000, before "the cloud" was even a marketing term, Microsoft launched a product known as "Passport", a product touted to be the end-all-be-all of identity services that developers could integrate into their products for identity and storage of personal information. I remember because I was a developer at that time and I recall looking into what the company I worked for at the time needed to do to integrate it into our product.

The problem at that time, however is that most people only had Desktop computers and therefore not as much a need to have a consistent identity as they do in today's mobile-centric, "post-PC" world. The product pretty much failed, and was revived a little later as Live ID. It's safe to say that Microsoft, like Marty of "Back to the Future" was ahead of his time. With the release of Windows 8 however, it looks like Microsoft is finally back in their own time, and the future looks sweet.

A Consistent Experience

The one word to describe Windows 8 as opposed to the former Windows is consistency. In previous versions you had Pocket PC followed by Windows Mobile followed by Windows Phone for the mobile experience. Then on the Xbox you had an entirely different experience. And on the Desktop it was just "Windows".

Windows 8 fixes that, however. With Windows 8, now all Microsoft devices will be powered by the same operating system, same underlying architecture, same SDKs for developers to build their apps under, and even a consistent cloud architecture through Azure and SkyDrive (for users) that follows you across each device you use. Microsoft is also building apps for 3rd party devices to continue that experience there as well. The result is a brand that follows you wherever you go.

Good for Developers

Finally, developers can "build once, write everywhere". When building apps to put in Microsoft's new Windows Store, it takes only a few tweaks to format those apps to work on the Surface, on Windows Phone 8, as well as even Xbox and any other device that supports the Windows 8 experience.

Expect games like Halo on the Xbox 360 to have versions that work on your phone, your Surface, or your Desktop. Even the Xbox controller and Kinect SDKs are consistent, and simple to integrate for your apps across multiple devices.

A Writer's Dream

Through Microsoft Office 365, I can now have all my books, posts, and writing sync'd across multiple devices. I get the experience that most people expect, meaning I can use the same interface my publisher wants me to use for the templates they provide for my books. Finally, I can write my books even on my phone or tablet device - that's pretty powerful!

Passport is Back, With a Vengeance

Microsoft Passport is finally back, in this case the form is as your "Microsoft ID" or "Windows ID". It's accompanied by SkyDrive, and now whenever I log in with my ID, all my preferences follow me from computer to computer. This even includes authorizations I've given to Facebook and Google and Twitter, and all my friends in those place! My photos follow me. My lock screen will even follow me if I want it to. All my settings can follow me wherever I go.

I'm loving the new Microsoft, because it means that all of the sudden your desktop machine or phone or tablet are all just "Windows devices". In the new Windows world it shouldn't matter what type of device you are on - all the apps you love on Windows follow you wherever you go.

Microsoft is finally where it wants to be, and it will only get better from here.

This post was typed entirely on my Microsoft Surface - something I bought with my own money

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