Microsoft's Larson-Green Talks Tighter Cross-Platform Integration, Casts Doubt on Windows RT

In a way, the future of Microsoft and its Windows platform is wide open right now. The way Microsoft's devices and services chief Jule Larson-Green sees it, we're on the cusp of a new era of computing and user interaction. Speaking at the UBS Global Technology Summit, Larson-Green talked about how user interaction with technology evolves through different inflection points.

In computing's early days, the mouse served as a major inflection point, and if you were a software vendor, you either took advantage of that fact or you became obsolete like WordPerfect did. After the mouse came touch computing, which presented an opportunity for Apple to race in front of the competition.

"We had smartphones, but like BlackBerry, they were based on the keypad and the stylus and trying to use the concepts of Windows in a smaller device," Larson-Green said.

Motion Control
Image Source: Flickr (openexhibits)

Microsoft led the charge during the first inflection point (mouse) but fell behind during the second (touch computing), which is where Windows 8 comes into play. However, Larson-Green believes another inflection point is right around the corner, one that moves beyond tablets and smartphones.

"There will be another inflection point and it will come from the hardware input model; so that's why you've seen us do things with Kinect with gesture, why you see us doing things with voice," Larson-Green said.

She's not saying that PCs are going anywhere, but that there will be a new category of devices. It begs the question, will Microsoft get into wearables like smartwatches and glasses? Larson-Green didn't elaborate, though she did say to expect "lots of exciting things" from Microsoft next year.

As we move into the next era of computing, Microsoft has some decisions to make with its Windows RT platform. Right now, Microsoft actively supports a phone OS, Windows RT, and Windows 8. Larson-Green said Microsoft won't continue to have all three, which could be a hint that Windows RT isn't long for this world.