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商业 - 科技

微软跳出PC,布局未来

Lisa Eadicicoo 2017年05月17日

不过无论未来的趋势是什么,微软似乎都做好了前所未有的充分准备。

当微软于2014年在苹果的iPad上推出Office办公套件时,许多观察者认为他们是在努力提高在移动领域的存在感,尽管这意味着与强大的竞争对手合作。此举也象征着当时新上任的首席执行官萨提亚·纳德拉决心让微软跳出已经(现在仍旧)主宰的笔记本电脑和台式机领域。

很明显,三年来纳德拉始终坚持着这个计划。在本周微软为软件开发商举行的Build年度大会上,这家位于华盛顿州雷德蒙德的公司展示了新版的Windows,提供虚拟现实体验的新款控制器,以及人工智能软件Cortana的改进。没错,微软错过了移动端的潮流。不过结合来看,这些宣言证明他们不仅想收复失地,还要加足马力为下一个重大趋势做好准备,无论那会是什么。

微软对于Cortana的研发,或许最为明显地体现了该公司跨平台的方针。苹果等竞争对手在数码领域都着眼于兼容自己的硬件产品,但Cortana却可以兼容Windows设备、联网扬声器、汽车等在内的所有产品,没错,也包括iPhone。微软一直以来都有力主宰着办公场所,因此他们在这些地方普及Cortana时拥有独特的优势。在Build大会中,微软的演示展现了一个办公室职员利用会客厅扬声器上的Cortana,通过简单的声音命令就能完成日常工作,包括在公司的聊天室里发布更新,驾车开会时掌握交通情况,或是申请休假。

与此同时,即将到来的更新将会让Windows 10成为微软史上兼容最多平台的系统。Cortana可以帮助用户无缝切换设备,无论它们是否安装了Windows。改善的剪贴板可以让用户在Windows、安卓(Android)和iOS设备之间复制和粘贴内容。而名为Story Remix的视频编辑应用还能让用户在各个设备之间切换工作——如果你在苹果设备上干了一些活,又切换到Windows的电脑上,它可以继续你的进度。

不过微软最大胆的赌注是虚拟和增强现实上。当使用宏碁(Acer)和惠普(HP)即将推出的头戴设备时,微软Windows 10 Mixed Reality提供的一系列体验会让你模糊现实和数字世界的界限。不过它的关键还在于虚拟现实能否在短期内成为主流。如果可以,微软就在争取业内主导权上占据了有利位置。在之前的采访中,微软的Windows和设备执行副总裁特里·迈尔森表示:“我认为,如果我们能搞清这项技术的应用,它就能给我们的生活带来革命性的影响,让我们可以在分离时进行沟通。”

微软开发跨平台产品的理由很充足。研究公司高德纳(Gartner)称,2017年第一季度,全球PC机的销量同比下降2.4%。另一家公司IDC则表示,PC出货量实际上有所增长,不过只有0.6%。如果你的公司像微软过去一样与PC紧密相关,那这样的数据可不是好消息。所以这样前瞻性的风险对冲,可能让微软有机会在未来保持竞争力。

纳德拉在2015年接受ZDNet采访时表示:“如果要说错误的话,过去我们犯下的一个大错,就是认为PC无论何时都会是一切事物的枢纽。因此,我们需要时刻寻找下一个时代的拐点。”当然,没有人可以预测未来。不过无论未来的趋势是什么,微软似乎都做好了前所未有的充分准备。(财富中文网)

本文最初登载于Time.com。

译者:严匡正

When Microsoft brought its Office suite to Apple's iPad in 2014, many observers viewed it as a move to strengthen the company's presence in the mobile space — even if it meant working with a fierce rival. It was also a sign that then-new CEO SatyaNadella was committed to extending his company's reach beyond laptops and desktops, where its Windows software already dominated the market (and still does.)

Three years later, it's clear that Nadella remains committed to that plan. During this week's Build conference, an annual Microsoft event for software developers, the Redmond, Wash.-based firm showed off a new version of Windows, a new controller for virtual reality experiences, and improvements for its Cortana artificial intelligence software. Yes, Microsoft missed the boat on mobile. But, taken together, these announcements show that it's committed not only to making up lost ground, but also to powering the next big thing in tech, no matter what that might be.

Microsoft's work on Cortana perhaps best highlights the company's platform-agnostic approach. Whereas rivals like Apple have limited their digital aides to work with only their own hardware, Cortana is available for everything from Windows devices to Internet-connected speakers and cars to, yes, the iPhone. Microsoft sees a particular advantage in making Cortana useful in the workplace, given the company's historical dominance there. One demonstration during Build showed how an office worker might use Cortana on a living room speaker to get everyday tasks done with simple voice commands, like posting updates to the company's workplace chatroom, getting traffic notifications while driving to a meeting, or requesting time off.

Meanwhile, the forthcoming update will make Windows 10 the most multi-platform version of the software Microsoft has ever made. Cortana will help users seamlessly transition between devices, whether they run Windows or not. An improved clipboard makes it possible to copy and paste content between Windows, Android, and iOS devices. And a new video editing app called Story Remix lets users work on projects across devices — if you get some work done on an Apple device then switch back to a Windows computer, it'll pick up where you left off.

But Microsoft's boldest bet is on virtual and augmented reality. Its Windows 10 Mixed Reality software powers a range of experiences that, when used with hardware like the upcoming headsets from Acer and HP, blend the physical and digital worlds. The jury is still out on whether VR will go mainstream any time soon. But if it does, Microsoft is well-positioned to be a dominant force in the field. "If we can get that presence right, I think it's just going to revolutionize our lives, allow us to connect when we're apart," Terry Myerson, Microsoft's executive vice president of Windows and devices, told TIME in a previous interview.

There is good reason for Microsoft's cross-platform approach. Worldwide PC shipments dipped by 2.4% year-over-year in the first quarter of 2017, according to research firm Gartner. Another firm, IDC, says shipments actually grew in this year's first quarter, but only by 0.6%. Those numbers are bad news if your company is tied to PCs in the way Microsoft has historically been. So this kind of forward-looking hedging may give Microsoft a way to stay relevant in the future.

"If anything, one big mistake we made in our past was to think of the PC as the hub for everything for all time to come," Nadella told ZDNet in 2015. "Therefore, we have to be on the hunt for what's the next bend in the curve." Nobody can predict the future, of course. But Microsoft looks more prepared than ever for whatever's around the corner.

This article was originally published on Time.com

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