Microsoft hits it out of the ballpark at ReMIX Australia demo

ReMix Australia ITWire has reported on the Australian chapter of the Microsoft ReMix conference running today, and their reported Alex Zharov-Reutt appears to have been pretty impressed.

The event was very wide ranging, from cloud computing and Azure, natural user interfaces, Windows Phone 7, Foxtel IPTV over Xbox, Tablet PCs, Silverlight,  to HTML 5 and IE 9 to Visual Studio and Expressions, with Microsoft focussing on how developers can use their existing skill set to bring their applications to Microsoft’s new platforms.

Particularly impressive was the keynote, led by Microsoft’s Australian developer evangelist, Michael Kordahi, which showed the integration of various Microsoft technologies with the Australian television network Foxtel’s IPTV offering.

During the keynote a demo was shown of a coffee shop meeting using Surface tables and the HTC HD2 running Windows Mobile 6.5.

Kordahi was shown talking with former Microsoft User Experience Evangelist, Shane Morris, and now CEO of his own user experience company, Automatic Studio, about Foxtel movies over a coffee on a Microsoft Surface table.

When Kordahi put down an HTC HD2 phone onto the Surface, out spilled a dial-pad which allowed Kordahi to enter in his phone number to receive details of the movies they had been talking about. Some of the movies also changed to reflect Kordahi’s preferences, while still showing some of Morris’. One example was the Matt Damon movie, "The Informant", which Kordahi said he hadn’t yet seen.

Tapping on the movie would bring up a trailer, and the info and options to record or download the movie could be simply moved over to the HTC HD2 screen. Kordahi also had a Windows Phone 7 on stage, which had a Foxtel TV app, and a demo of this was given.

Kordahi and Morris took some boxing gloves and pretended to go to a fight called "The Contender".

With the Windows Phone 7 in hand, the Foxtel app knew from location services that the user was most likely at the boxing event, and seeing as the fight was going to be broadcast, if the user wanted to record it on their Foxtel box at home.

More interesting was the ability for the app to display interesting info about the fighters and the boxing match – in real time, as the fight would be proceeding – while also giving users the ability to tap into a "live instant replay" feature of a 15 second rewind, demonstrated by Kordahi and Morris demonstrate.

Later on, Kordahi showed a PC, Tablet PC and/or Foxtel-equipped Xbox (and presumably Windows Phone 7 devices with a Foxtel app too) with a see a TV section that showed recorded content – and a section for the boxing match – one which would display the live instant replays viewed earlier.

Aside from one on-screen Tablet PC button-pressing hiccup that wouldn’t press, the whole experience was very fluid, created in a very short time specifically for the demo, and was an example not just of isolated "experiences" but was instead part of a "journey" that transcended individual devices and specific screens.

Kordahi went through other demonstrations with the Top Model show, with another "app" that was Top Model specific, giving information relevant to the actual episode being watched, keeping a user more engaged with that particular show, rather than having their attention splintered by general web surfing – and all, of course, if that’s what a user wanted to do.

Kordahi also explained that Windows Azure was in the background handling it all – the infrastructure, the scale, along with Silverlight handling a lot of the presentation layer.

Kordahi finished this part of the presentation by explaining that "As devs we build destinations, awesome sites, what we saw was a step beyond that – what ms has archicted was a journey… Coffee table, movies, phones, movie info – there was no major switch from app to app, it was just a continuation of the journey… Do meaningful stuff across different devices, not just switch from screen to screen."

That kind of integration could be Microsoft’s secret weapon in the battle against Google and Apple, and one they can certainly not bring to market soon enough.

Read more about the conference at ITWire here.

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