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As a PC help blog, it’s our job to report on news coming from the world of Microsoft. 2012 was a big year for Microsoft. In the spring, Microsoft made a big splash by announcing its first major hardware project since the Xbox 360 and the Zune – the Microsoft Surface. And in November, Microsoft released the Surface along with Windows 8.
Microsoft’s newest operating system has its strengths and weaknesses. Its strengths include better security and compatibility, but its weaknesses include its restrictive operating environment and perplexing interface changes.
But the mixed bag of 2012 is in the past and Microsoft is looking ahead to 2013, which is shaping up to be even more important than 2012. How will Microsoft shock us in 2013? Here are a few rumors about Microsoft’s journey through 2013:
The Xbox 720 / New Xbox
The Xbox 360 was released nearly 8 years ago, way back in 2005. That’s a long time to wait between consoles, and it’s time that Microsoft and Sony released updates for the Xbox and PlayStation, respectively.
Thankfully for gamers, 2013 appears to be that time. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, both Microsoft and Sony will be releasing new consoles towards the end of 2013. Few details will be known until E3, which is when the companies are expected to debut their consoles, but here are some of the coolest rumors about the Xbox 720 (which will probably be called simply ‘Xbox’) so far:
-8GB of RAM
-Reality glasses called Fortaleza that would connect to Wi-Fi and 4G networks to provide HUD-like features during gameplay
-Six times more powerful than the Xbox 360
-$299 price point (!!!)
We could be looking at a late March announcement date for the PS4 and Xbox 720, so stay tuned! 2013 is going to be a great year for gamers.
If the rumors about Windows Blue are true, then 2013 will be the most important year in Microsoft’s history. Windows Blue would be a radical departure from many of the things that Microsoft customers are familiar with. The rumored subscription-based operating system would include a more customizable version of Metro along with plenty of other tweaks.
But the main point of Windows Blue is that Microsoft is emulating the success of rival operating systems like Android and iOS. Instead of expecting customers to upgrade to new versions of Windows once every three to four years, Microsoft could start distributing updates to subscribers throughout the year.
Like I said, after the mixed reaction to Windows 8, Windows Blue could be a crucial moment in Microsoft’s history. Is it going to be a really bad idea? Or will it revolutionize the way we think about Windows?
Windows Phone 7.8 and 8.5
Microsoft is taking its time developing Windows Phone 7.8 – which is the latest upgrade for Windows Phones that were developed before Windows 8 came out. Since those older phones cannot run Windows Phone 8, Microsoft is upgrading customers to Windows Phone 7.8, which adds a flashy new Start screen, tiles, and most of the other features that Windows Phone 8 users appreciate.
Expect Windows Phone 7.8 to come out in early 2013, while Windows Phone 8.5 will be out later in the year. Few new details are known about 8.5 so far, but it’s expected to be a pretty sizable upgrade. In 2013, Microsoft may also release details about Windows Phone 9, which is rumored to be gearing up for release in 2014.
Hopefully, Microsoft will be able to build off the success of the Surface Pro and learn from the mistakes of the Surface RT when it develops the Surface 2. Although I wouldn’t say the ‘Surface’ name has been tarnished, consumers have certainly been left confused over which tablet is right for their needs.
If the Surface 2 is able to offer a lower price point than competing iPads and Android tablets while offering better tech specs and a more usable OS than Windows RT, then the Surface 2 has potential. But if it’s just a thinner and more powerful version of the Surface RT, it might not have the reaction that Microsoft is looking for.
Nobody really gets excited for new Office releases. But when you write for tech websites, the release of a program suite like Office 2013 is pretty exciting. Office 2013 is already out and includes interface upgrades for all Microsoft programs. These upgrades are designed to make Office easier to use on touchscreen devices, but they also look better on traditional desktops as well.
The best part about Office 2013 is that Microsoft is focusing on cross-platform integration between iOS, Android, and Windows operating systems. That means no more annoying workplace conversations like, “Umm, that document you sent me looks WAY different on my Mac, can you fix it?”
The death of MSN Messenger
Microsoft’s former flagship Messenger program has been replaced by Skype. Fortunately, Messengers users can transition their accounts to Skype fairly easily. And Skype is a way better messaging application anyway.