It's only Wednesday, but already the week of the 23 May 2011 is shaping up to be one of the biggest in Microsoft's history. Based on early indications, it could also be one of the best.
Let's run through the events. Late on Monday night Microsoft CEO let slip what many had hoped: that Windows 8 will be launched next year. "We’re obviously hard at work on the next version of Windows’" he explained. "As we progress through the year, you ought to hear a lot about Windows 8." A Microsoft spokesperson subsequently told ZSNet Ballmer misspoke, saying "to date, we have yet to formally announce any timing or naming for the next version of Windows" but the cat is out the bag.
Just 24 hours later Ballmer was at it again. This time revealing the details of Mango, the long-awaited update for Windows Phone 7.
The update will bring over 500 new features to the currently slick, but limited platform. Chief amongst them: multi-tasking, contact grouping, threaded emails, core integration of Twitter and LinkedIn, merged messages across IM, email, Facebook and more, smart location awareness in apps and a browser overhaul with the inclusion of IE9. Microsoft will call the update Windows Phone 7.1, but in all honesty it should have been 7.0. Regardless, our first impressions of Windows Phone 7 Mango can be found here.
What both these updates show, however, is Microsoft getting back on track. Windows 8 will see Microsoft make the long awaited move into ARM compatibility, opening up the platform to a far greater array of hardware formats. This is something the leaked Windows 8 App Store proves is a primary aim. Meanwhile Windows Phone 7.1 finally gives Microsoft a credible mobile platform, something it should never have been without.
Both these announcements are also bolstered by huge Microsoft deals. The industry rocking Nokia agreement gives Microsoft not only a guaranteed hardware partner, but also a potentially groomed takeover target. Its bank busting $8.5bn purchase of Skype gives it a common communication platform and also drags with it Skype's 170m users. That's not a bad way to bolster your mobile platform, especially when the company's key product - Windows - is set to bridge the gap between desktop and mobile and carries just under 90% of the world's PC users.
Then again, as the saying goes, you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs...