Microsoft is launching a lot of products in calendar 2010. Which of them is the most "interesting" and potentially groundbreaking?
According to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer -- who spoke to a group of executives in Bogota, Colombia, on April 26 -- that distinction belongs to Microsoft's Project Natal, a gesture-based game controller that Microsoft will be previewing at the upcoming E3 show and launching this holiday season.
From a transcript of Ballmer's April 26 remarks:
"Perhaps for me the most exciting product we'll bring to market this year, and it really fits in this context, actually comes out of our videogaming group. You might say, why would I talk to a group of CEOs about videogames? Because the technology actually is very general purpose, and we'll see come into the rest of our lives pretty soon.
"It's a technology that we call Natal. It's a little camera and microphone that sits on top of your TV set. And if you want to control the TV, you don't go get some remote control or big fat gaming thing. If you want to look through TV channels, you just gesture, and the computer recognizes your voice, it recognizes your gestures. You want to see the next sports program, you go like this, it will cycle you through. You want to play a game and you need to jump, you jump. I'm not going to jump too hard; a little bit too high altitude here in Bogota for that, at least for me. But it recognizes you, it knows your voice, who you are, your gestures, what you're doing.
"And if you think about that in a lot of settings, why am I carrying this thing? I've already forgotten three times where I set it down. I should just be able to go like this, and the camera should recognize that gesture and control the slides for me, and let these kinds of things freely happen."
Ballmer is making the rounds in South America to talk with a number of customers, with a heavy focus on Microsoft's Online services -- the family of Microsoft-hosted applications, including Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Communications Online, Live Meeting, CRM Online, the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) and the forthcoming Windows Intune management offering.
Last week, Microsoft expanded availability of its Microsoft Online Services to 17 new markets. Colombia is one of the newly added targets for BPOS.
Meanwhile, speaking of Microsoft's Online Services offerings, the Redmondians unveiled earlier this week new functionality that is part of the May service update for its Dynamics CRM Online service.
The May update will support integration between the Microsoft's Dynamics CRM (either the on-premises or hosted version) and its Dynamics GP ERP product. Officials made the announcement as part of its Convergence conference, which kicked off this past weekend in Atlanta.
Microsoft officials said last week that Dynamics GP 2010 will be available to customers as of May 1. At Convergence, Microsoft also announced a new promotion for Dynamics GP customers, via which they will be able to purchase Dynamics CRM Online for $19 per user, per month, for a year.