I don’t know if I’ve said this enough yet but I love the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Period. I understand that the start screen is a hard sell for people afraid of change (it really is better in Windows 8, though) and that not every thing in the Consumer Preview is feature complete. That’s what makes it so great. There’s more to come. Optimizations to be done, iterations of the OS to materialize, apps to be developed and released in the Microsoft Store, etc. With all that being said, one of the more interesting overarching Microsoft strategies, the so-called three screens and a cloud principle, is really starting to materialize on the consumer side.
If you take a look below, You can see one of the usage scenarios for Microsoft’s “3 Screens” strategy. Using my Zune Pass, I decided to listen to a Gorillaz album on my Xbox 360.
This is the screen from the Windows 8 Xbox Companion App. You can see the song’s progress, skip and rewind as well bring up a virtual remote control that has similar commands to a physical standalone remote control. You can also browse the Zune library while listening to that song.
This is the view from the Windows Phone 7 Xbox Companion app. The Xbox allows for 3 concurrent companion apps to run at the same time. As you can see, you have the same functionality as the Windows 8 app and you have the added bonus of using your data connection or Wi-Fi to connect to the Xbox in the event that you have a wired network setup.
The finished product so to speak, the Zune App on the Xbox 360.
Now this is just one example but you can see the direction that Microsoft is going here. In my opinion, this isn’t even the most compelling demo of the Xbox Companion technology. My hands down favorite feature of the Companion apps is the Bing integration. You can use Bing within the app to find content from other app, WHILE THE XBOX IS RUNNING A GAME OR DIFFERENT APP. Bing a movie and see all the apps that have that movie then launch it . It’s seamless but hard to show without a video . Still, It’s encouraging to see Microsoft leveraging existing technology with new technology to improve the end user’s overall experience. Not bad for beta software. Let’s see what Q4 of this year brings.
(Lead picture photo credit : Rainbow Rapture. It’s a great time waster!)