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2012: The Year Microsoft Merges and Melds

I know we still have two months to go in 2011 but I’m already psyched for what 2012 has in store for Microsoft. It’s the year that Microsoft will be reaping the fruits of 2011. Just think of what they’ve been up to: acquired Skype, massive licensing deal with Nokia, pushing the Live cloud, Kinect everywhere and of course, Windows 8. After so much movement in 2011 Microsoft will be spending the next 6 months taking everything in – both literally and figuratively. Getting to specifics:

Yes, Skype is Microsoft’s and so far they’ve done nothing substantial with it. On the near horizon they need to merge Skype into Windows 8 and Xbox and Windows Phones. Next up they need to consolidate their offerings and that means that Windows Live Messenger and Lync and Skype need to make sweet love and have a single baby so it’s not fragmented. And of course, once that’s done the cycle repeats as Microsoft has to push out updates across its own ecosystem and all OSes that have Skype apps and even Facebook. That alone will keep them busy.

But of course, Microsoft has a huge partnership deal with Nokia under its wing as well. Yes, Nokia is going Windows Phone exclusively but that’s half the deal. The other piece of the puzzle are the Nokia assets: their music service, mappingdirections service, marketplace across the globe, NFC and so on. So Bing needs to bring all of the mapping and data that Nokia has into its fold and Zune and Nokia music need to live in harmony. This is all underway, but over the next six months we’ll start to see the level of fragmentation reduced as they merge their assets.

All of these great experiences get displayed on your tv using the one and only Xbox and the gift that is Kinect. That’s the same Kinect that is coming to your PC early next year and expect Microsoft’s TellMe voice integration that’s being used in Windows Phones now and in the latest Xbox dashboard refresh to come to your PC for voice and motion friendly PC use. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that Xbox and Kinect are really a way for Microsoft to showcase what they’ve been doing on the back end but at the same time it’s leading Microsoft in terms of design and giving Microsoft a consumer presence. Bing search, streaming videos, Zune music…if it’s here it’s there and as they expand their offerings this is where they appear and this is also where you see innovation emerge.

And what is that on the horizon? Windows 8 with it’s Metro goodness, battery sipping techniques and ability to take on the desktop and tablet in one punch. With new streamlined code under the hood, better performance, instant on and ARM processors in action not only does it drive down prices but Microsoft can compete on all levels – from tablet to slate to PC to server with the OS that outsells all of the others combined. All of these other tools from Skype to mapping to markets all merge here. This is the melting pot and this is the OS that Microsoft always wanted.

All three screens come together and the power of your Live ID to bring your setting, photos, contacts, music and apps to wherever you are. Finally, Microsoft gets to see all of their hard work come together everywhere at once in what’s slated to be a simply awesome year for them. Game on.