As the year comes to an end, I find myself reflecting on the progress we've made at Microsoft and how it's made an impact on my life.
I'm always impressed with the work we do here at Microsoft (you can see how unbiased I am :)), but this year I'm especially proud to see some of the work having a real impact in my house and with my family members.
Windows Phone 7
Several weeks ago, my family became Windows Phone 7 users. We got Samsung Focuses (Foci?) for my wife and two daughters, and I can tell you that they're very happy with their new phones. The Focus is light with a bright AMOLED screen, and I love the simple Metro theme. You can see how we've personalized each of our phones below. I want to highlight a few of my favorite features on the phone:
- Search using Bing allows you to speak the name of what you're looking for and get results with contact information and directions immediately. You also get the stunning daily Bing photographs in a layout designed for the phone.
- I have hundreds of Outlook contacts, Hotmail contacts, and Facebook friends. I have contact information for some of my friends in more than one of those sources, and I was impressed with the People hub's automatic contact linking so that each person had just one contact card with information from all my sources, including their photos.
- Live tiles really let applications shine right from the homescreen. I can tell how much mail I have, see my next meeting, the current weather, and Seattle traffic, and track my favorite stocks just by glancing at my homescreen.
- This week, Paramount Digital Entertainment unveiled Silverlight Enhanced Movies on Windows Phone 7. You can download School of Rock to your phone today from the Windows Phone Marketplace and you'll get the entire movie, plus extras like pop-up trivia and movie info. I'm happy to see partners like Paramount building great technology on Silverlight for Windows Phone. Silverlight Enhanced Movies will make my next long flight zoom by.
- I like having Xbox Live available right on my phone. I can download great games like Ilomilo and Bejeweled, change my avatar's clothing, and invite friends to play games with me. Games on the phone even help build Gamerscore.
Also, I'm excited to tell you the Windows Phone Marketplace now has over 4000 applications, and the number is growing daily thanks to developers like you! Keep up the great work.
We have an Xbox Kinect at home, and I was amazed at how fast my daughters got the hang of controlling the Xbox and playing games using motion and gestures. Dance Central is popular at my house, but for all my years of software experience, this is one place where my wife and daughters have me beaten hands-down. The ESPN application lets me view games on demand that would be hard to find on American television. They even have Cricket, and I can pause, rewind, and fast forward (which is particularly important for those multi-day Test matches).
The Kinect camera also makes for a very smooth instant messaging experience. You can video chat with either another Kinect or a PC running Live Messenger with a webcam. Kinect will lock into the speaker and track their movements around the room automatically so you can focus on your conversation.
You've been telling us we have some catching up to do to make IE a great browser for the future, and while it's not done quite yet, I'm happy to say that IE9 is well on its way to delivering on those requests. I've been using the IE9 beta for months now, and I really like the new cleaner interface. It just feels snappier too. IE9 also offers HTML5 support for rich interactive standards-based web applications.
Kinect, Windows Phone 7, and IE9 are some examples of how the work we do at Microsoft has had a positive impact in my household. Kudos to the Xbox, Phone, and IE teams!
Wish you all peaceful and safe holidays and a happy new year!