Two things from Microsoft I’m looking forward to in June…

June 6, 2011

…well, only one will actually be available in June, the other is an anticipated announcement, but it’s a good one!

Microsoft has been sitting on all the pieces to bring a rich video experience to millions of homes through the Xbox 360. At this week’s E3 event, they are expected to make an announcement of Xbox LIVE Diamond level service for streaming video, with Microsoft acting as a sort of Cable TV provider over IP. Recently released statistics show that over 40% of Xbox use is non-gaming use; meaning video viewing, primarily Netflix, Hulu Plus, Zune Marketplace, and ESPN 360.
Microsoft already owns Media-Room technology, which it licenses to AT&T for their U-Verse service. This means that U-Verse is actually IPTV being sold as Cable.
My concern here, especially as an AT&T U-Verse customer, is that Microsoft may not offer this service when it would put it in direct competition with AT&T. Microsoft has historically been very protective of its partner arrangements. However, recent trends at the software giant have them looking a little less friendly to vendors. So if Microsoft throwing its weight around a little means that I, and many others, can get their new video service, then maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all. Fingers are crossed here, as I discontinued the TV portion of my service a couple months ago. If Xbox Diamond has decent offerings, at a reasonable price, I will definitely be signing up.
More reading at Giga Om and WinRumors.

…and actually coming in June of 2011…Microsoft Office 365!
OK, that one may not seem as exciting, and it can be hard to get too excited about Office products.
Let me say I’ve been a GMail user and fan since it was first released – I got my invitation off the TechTV Screensavers when Kevin, Sarah, and the gang posted their invites as they got them.
I love most everything about GMail – the conversation threading, tags and search, tie-in to Google Voice and other services are great.
However, I do have problems with GMail, and they stem from the way it handles name resolution, a problem that could potentially cause me to lose access to my GMail accounts. With so much of my online life tied up on my Google accounts, this is not something I can afford to let happen. I tried contacting Google support about it, but received only canned responses telling me how great this feature is! And there is the greatest problem with Google services – there is no support!
I don’t know if the paid versions get some level of support, but if I’m going to pay for web based email and document handling, I want better.
Don’t get me wrong – Google services are fantastic – for free products. But for me it really can’t stack up against a Hosted Exchange service with Sharepoint, tied in to full Office 2010 on the desktop.
So later this month I will begin transferring all my Google mail over to a hosted Exchange service. At that time this blog will also be moving to a hosted domain. Stay tuned for details.
Office 365 is the solution I have been looking for. Mary-Jo Foley has written up great documentation on Office 365, so visit her at ZDNet.

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