It’s somewhat belated: But, I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas and a fabulous New Year!

Another Year With No Noteworthy Surprises

It’s over – well, Christmas and New Year definitely is, but I’m referring to CES 2017. Personally, I’m not sure I would have had the energy to come straight from my New Year celebrations, still heavily intoxicated, and attend the annual conference with any amount of enthusiasm. Damn – to be honest, it took me almost a week to recover!

Anyway, at this year’s show we mostly witnessed display-centric technologies from the usual suspects flaunting new screen capabilities, while PC manufacturers showcased their competitive streak, competing against Microsoft’s new hardware. Incidentally, the Microsoft Surface Studio is stunning and a revolutionary step forward in what we regard as a PC. So, I’m curious to know how Dell’s Smart Desk compares! For me, these technologies shift, stretch and more often skew our thinking about what a PC should offer – and that’s exciting!

I have to say, another year has passed with no noteworthy surprises, although the augmented and virtual reality domains seem to be gathering pace – I guess we’re still a few years away before we witness something notable in these arenas.

An Odd Sense of Comfort and Predictability

As usual, it’s customary for me to reach for my crystal ball and ponder upon what 2017 might bring. Undoubtedly, this year, we can expect the recycled predictability of a stagnant Apple incrementing their generational phones, watches, tablets and their respective operating systems (OSs) for desktop and mobile. Here in the UK, it certainly seems that Apple have also ramped up their prices, with Britain nearing their EU exit promise and a weakening pound having a clear effect on their decision.

But let’s go back to the generational mash-up, and here Apple isn’t the only guilty player, since Samsung uses the same incremental model with their technology and, more recently, with so-called ‘leaked’ footage of the Samsung Galaxy S8 emerging. Despite this, there is oddly some sense of comfort and predictability in the routine.

A Switch to Windows 10 Is Inevitable

Like Apple, Microsoft have been beavering away at their Windows 10 OS, that is, one OS for all platforms, unlike Apple’s macOS and iOS. In fact, last summer we witnessed the rollout of the Anniversary Update and, in spring this year, we’ll receive the Creators Update. Microsoft has also promised us regular updates and a host of new features in spring’s release and for the foreseeable future! I’m on the Windows Insider programme and have been privy to some new features already, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the ‘Holographic’ feature in ‘Windows Settings’ evolves! You see, this whole virtual reality thing is indeed slowly bubbling up to the surface.

Microsoft have taken an all-or-nothing approach with their new OS by stripping out the legacy look and feel and, instead, providing a modern looking platform in the hope of satisfying most user appetites. As such, Microsoft have the unenviable task of, first and foremost, keeping everyone happy – not such an easy task since, alas, everyone’s a critic (not least me).

With a breadth of legacy services and applications, it’s a task that’s quite daunting and overwhelming, but their unrelenting effort is paying off, since Windows 10 is gaining more ground in the OS playing field. It’s baby-steps and, with a recent announcement that Windows 7 will no longer receive new features and instead just receive security patches, consumers and businesses alike will be left with no other choice but to switch.

What’s Your Choice of Digital Assistant?

I really do love the fact that Microsoft provides one OS for all platforms, that is, desktop, tablet, Xbox, HoloLens and, of course, mobile. However, Windows 10 Mobile and Microsoft’s share within this domain remains weak, but with rumours of a Surface Phone making an appearance this year, I can only hope that Microsoft begins to secure a larger slice of the mobile phone pie. Likewise, and with the incremental model in mind, Microsoft also plans to launch Microsoft Surface Pro 5, which I’m eager to see, since the Pro 4 is quite stunning (and something I personally own)!

At CES, BMW showcased its concept of the ‘connected car,’ as well as welcoming a wealth of digital services to include Microsoft’s Cortana, which is already used for desktop, mobile and Xbox, so it must be a welcome decision to include their assistant whilst on the go. I’m sure other car manufacturers will have their own take on what assistant to use within their vehicles, whether that’s Siri or Google Assistant, or maybe even Amazon’s Alexa will join you on a road trip (Volkswagen and Ford are already keen Alexa fans). Yet, I do think it’s early days and certainly something to watch during 2017.

Until Next Time …

CES 2017 might be over, but we’re now heading towards Mobile World Congress (MWC), which kicks off at the end of February. I’m sure I read a recent article which touted the possibility of Microsoft being present this year, so I’m looking forward to seeing if they do indeed announce their Surface Phone. I already have the Lumia 950XL and I love the continuity across the desktop, tablet and mobile.

In fact, I’ll be at the MWC this year strutting my stuff and am looking forward to witnessing the news as it happens. I hope to catch Microsoft’s announcement too (fingers crossed). Yes, I plan to have first-hand access to dispel the rumours and gossip that often plague such events and I will offer my take on news and events as it happens.

So, this is where a paella-seeking Dr. G signs off.