CNET Top 5
Times Microsoft was ahead of the curveMicrosoft has tried some wild ideas over the years. It wasn't always successful, but you'd be surprised by how much of today's tech retreads its past.
Welcome to Top Five, I'm your host Iyaz Akhtar. Microsoft Build Developer Conference is in the history books. Now Microsoft showed off all kinds of things, including the HoloLens, a computer that you wear on your head that shows off mixed reality. Now over the years, the company has gotten a lot of flak by people saying that Microsoft is behind the times. And is always trying to catch up. However, today, we're gonna take a look at the top five times Microsoft was ahead of the curve. At number five is Rover in Bob and Clippy. Now before you start throwing garbage at your screen because I mentioned Clippy, let's talk about it. Way back when Microsoft introduced Microsoft Bob, a new operating system designed to make computing easier. And also to introduce a virtual assistant. In Bob, it was Rover, a little dog. The same kind of assistant appeared in Microsoft Office with Clippy. Yes, it was universally hated, but arguably, these pesky little guys are the ancestors of Siri, Google Now, and Cortera. Number four is the Ultra Mobile PC or UMPC. It was introduced by Microsoft and Intel back in 2006. At the time, the idea was to build a computer small enough they could carry it around everywhere. The only problem with these things was battery life, not so great touch screens, and they really weren't ultra mobile. Oh, and they were expensive. So I guess the UMPC had a lot of problems. Fast forward to today, where people are regularly using pocket friendly computers to do a number of tasks that used to require real computers. We just call 'em cell phones now. Microsoft hasn't given up hope though, at build, Microsoft showed you can dock a phone running Windows 10 and have a desktop like experience. Number 3, one of my favorites, SPOT watches. They were introduced way back in 2004. Now, in case you don't remember these, you buy a special watch from a company like Fossil or Swatch that could display data like news, weather and stocks. Microsoft used FM radio to send data wirelessly to your wrist. You have to pay a yearly fee of up to 60 bucks or so. There were even plans to use SPOT, which stood for Smart Personal Object Technology, in appliances like coffee makers. The SPOT service was shut down in 2012. I guess if we want wrist notifications now We'll have to look at Android Wear, Pebble, Apple, oh, and the Microsoft band. At number two is the Xbox and online gaming. When Microsoft decided to build its own game console, the company put an Ethernet port on the back. According to an in-depth feature at Polygon, the inclusion of the port was very controversial. Because dial up was still around, and this is around the year 1999 so broadband wasn't as prevalent as it is now. However, we know how this whole thing panned out. Online console gaming on the Xbox wouldn't work as well without a broadband question. The other half of the equation is Xbox Live, a way for gamers to play against other Xbox Live members. Without the Xbox we probably wouldn't have such connected consoles. And in number one is the tablet. Way back in 2001, Microsoft introduced the Tablet PC. It was a full-fledged computer that had a number of form factors, including the slate. Each of the tablets had a touch screen, although you'd usually have to interact with it using an included stylus. It ran a specialized version of Windows called Windows XP Tablet PC edition. Some of the machines were a little bulky, and the pen interface didn't exactly work well compared to using a mouse. Tablet PCs weren't really successful. That is, until 2010, with the introduction of the Apple iPad, which led to a whole new slew of Android and Windows tablets over time. Timing is everything in life. Microsoft has executed some really wild ideas over the years. Virtual personal assistants, smart watches, tablets. Microsoft tried it, just a bit too early. If you think I was too hard on Microsoft, or too lenient, let me know I'm at Iyaz on Twitter. For more top five [UNKNOWN], check out top five at cnet.com. Thank you for watching. [MUSIC]