It’s interesting to see all the new stuff coming out of Microsoft- it’s exciting times (again) to be in IT. Windows 10 preview is just around the corner and I’m hoping to have a VM up and running of it ASAP – but in the meantime I’ve just registered for the Microsoft Office Sway preview- it’s an interesting application that sits (in my mind) somewhere between PowerPoint and (from yesteryear) Frontpage- generating dynamic layouts based on content with a web friendly output.
This is an interesting step towards something I was hoping would start to become more popular in IT- flexibility of output. In web design we’ve seen lots of this already (responsive design, dropping Flash, and accepting multiple input types) but desktop applications are still lagging behind- the goal here should be to “create once” but “consume everywhere”- and Sway seems like it might open this option up for more people.
We consume more and more digital content on a variety of screen sizes and devices- once you throw in varying interface methods (touchscreens and keyboard and mouse combos are still the norm, but there’s still a whole lot of potential for gyroscopes and camera/microphone to become more common place) you’re going to need a whole new set of concepts for “documents” – not things bound by paper sizes, but by screen sizes and, ultimately, interfaces and API’s. With the right tools, we can start building a “semantic” web that truly could give us the dream of flexible information at our fingertips.
I’d also say that Microsoft’s products have long been one of the best tool-sets for creating GOOD looking documents with minimal hassle- if you suss out styles, pivot chart, etc. you can create amazing looking documents easier than any other applications – and if Sway achieves the same it could be very interesting.
As I say, I’ll wait to offer my opinion on Windows 10 until I’ve at least seen a bit more of the preview (and even then, there’s a long road from preview to production) – but there’s a lot of criticism being leveled at Windows 10 (Microsoft are surely no longer strangers to this type of “hate” – I’m sure they must have some of the bets comment filters tools by now!) but I’m excited to see a flexible interface design at the OS level- I personally enjoy using Windows 8.1 but it’s not without issues (RDP to server 2012 pre-R2 from Windows XP and I’m sure you’ll join me in cursing the charm bar!) and still far too much of the OS suffers from “nearly but not quite” syndrome (why are there two control panels- could we honestly not have moved the lot in one go!) and I’m hopeful that Windows 10 (which, IMHO isn’t as revolutionary as they’re making out at this point- but that’s marketing/press hyperbole for you) brings us another step forward and at least gets more people on-board with the new OS if only from a security/patching perspective.