Step inside the Microsoft Envisioning Center

Step inside the Microsoft Envisioning Center

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Back in the early days of Microsoft, our mission was to put a PC on every desk and in every home — an ambitious goal for the time. Behind that was the conviction that computer technology had the innate capacity to enrich peoples’ lives. The trick was applying it in a way that made sense, solved a problem, or generally made life better.

When dramatic technology changes are on the horizon, just describing a possible future isn’t enough – sometimes you have to show it and let people experience it themselves. Over the years, Microsoft has created immersive showcases that show how future technologies could shape our world – first through the Microsoft Home, which opened its doors in 1994, and later through facilities like the Envisioning Lab, which explored possibilities for the workplace of the future.

This work continues at our new Envisioning Center, which is all about imagining how technology could be used to make life easier and more enjoyable, sometimes in small ways and sometimes in revolutionary ones. The Envisioning Center is located here on our Redmond campus and it's been rebuilt from the ground up to incorporate our newest ideas and latest technologies. Today we announced its opening.

The facility encompasses scenarios at home, at work and places in between, and is inspired by our product teams, Microsoft Research and by the trends across the industry. I like to think of it as a concept car that allows us to share what it might be like to experience future technologies with visitors, get their feedback, tweak, remix and discuss. It’s all part of advancing the trends we think have the greatest potential.

As part of today’s opening, we put together a short video that gives a sense of what’s inside – and while none of these ideas are meant to be predictive about our products, they do highlight some of the key trends we’re investing in, such as machine learning and NUI. They also give you a sense of where these technologies could lead us over the next five to ten years.

Over the course of the next few days you’ll learn more about some of the work we’re doing to improve our understanding of how people interact with technology and some of the breakthroughs we’ve made. In the meantime, sit back and get a glimpse of our vision for the future.

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  • Awesome things again thanx microsoft

  • I'm not really into the big-screens-everywhere thing.

    And what about normal (suitable for actual work) PCs?

  • Eagerly waiting to get my hands on those devices!!

  • Its Microsoft, therefore it can be done!

  • I am building a multitouch table like pixelsense ;p

  • I like the ideas and I think they are good, but is this really what the world needs right now? More consumer technologies. If anything I think there needs to be a shift towards using non-conflict materials to manufacture electronics for a start...then we can start discussing the huge amounts of energy required...and maybe after that how having access to so much technology all the time isn't exactly healthy?

  • Great - how times change - thanks miscrosoft !

  • Quite interesting to see what will come up next from Microsoft! I believe the people that complain simply don't know how to operate their equipment properly, or need tutorials. They would enjoy them much more if they did. :)

  • Will this see the light of day? Microsoft always talks about the future but do they ever really bring out anything innovative? All they do is refine current technology. I mean look at the surface table? Innovative yes, theonly place I've ever seen one was at the Microsoft head office!

  • We totally share your vision, here's a video of our software running on our 8ft touchwall and a 60" touchscreen simultaneously we shot last week.  We are big believers in what MS envisions for the future, keep up the great work.  All our devices are built on Windows 7/8, we'd love to talk.

  • i thinkthe first priority of the future should be to get windows 8 right

  • > Microsoft always talks about the future but do they ever

    > really bring out anything innovative? All they do is refine

    > current technology.

    I think you're confusing Microsoft with Apple. Microsoft brought us the Windows-enabled smart phone that connected to other Windows services. Apple refined that and gave us the iPhone. Microsoft brought us the tablet PC. Apple refined that and brought us the iPad. Microsoft brought connected services to entertainment. Apple and Google have refined that and brought us Google TV and Apple TV. The world over, Microsoft has significantly innovated -- paying the upfront tax of showing the world what can be done. The rest of the imitators are then cherry-picking and producing products based on that hard work. The licensing fees that their competitors have to pay Microsoft show this is true. (

    I think what you're saying is that Microsoft rarely brings the experiences that they envision. They do the job half way -- completing the "possible" rather than following up with making the technology pervasive. I think to that, you have a point.

    Microsoft's recent years have shown that there is a significant shift in that thinking. From Windows Phone 7 and 8, we see that Microsoft is willing to take dramatic risks that provide far better experiences than their competitors. Will it matter? Will they gain enough running room to make a difference? Time will tell -- but Microsoft is very tenacious. Microsoft's search services on Bing are far superior to Google. Will it matter? Again, time will tell. Windows 8 and Xbox took on the task of completing a full end-to-end experience between the three services with a common design language that is extremely popular and completely destroys the competition when it comes to experience. Windows Azure, though still lacking in some scenarios, has made vastly superior improvements to cloud-based development. If they can get past some of the basic rookie moves we've seen with their network (expiring SSL certificate? really?) we'll see them take a significant place in the marketplace. So even to this point, thought there is some validity, I don't think what you're saying even applies anymore. That's old school thinking. You're remembering the past and applying it to the future -- basically what you're accusing Microsoft of.

    On that note, I'm confused why this video talks about having a conversation with Grandma over live video a thing for the future. We can do this right now, and without the cost that a gigantic screen brings us. Perhaps Microsoft forgets they acquired Skype. Second, why do they show someone having to put their device against a screen to transfer data? Why in the world should anyone have to do that? Lastly, one thing they got right is that this will cost a fortune. How many people have a house that can support this level of consumption? I'd say they should concentrate on building devices for the masses.

  • Amazing. Thank you Microsoft. I would like to see more about this technology. I would take a vacation to Redmond to visit the Envisioning Center.

  • I won't hold my breath... Some of those ideas have been in the home of the future for over 15 years...

  • The cost would be out of the reach for so many.