By Dervish / Last update January 12, 2022

Microsoft releases a video every few years to look forward to the development of productivity. This seems to have become a common practice, and large screens, ultra-thin devices, and sensors are generally the "protagonists" in these videos. However, unlike the past, Microsoft did not release a video this year, but instead invited reporters to visit the "Expectation Center" laboratory to experience Microsoft's vision for the future firsthand.

The laboratory is located in the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington, covering an area of 7,000 square feet; the laboratory has large-screen devices for teamwork, conference rooms that can automatically identify participants, and touch-sensitive desks. All of these hardwares is driven by touch, voice, and even augmented reality technology, while software reshapes the way Windows and Office work.

Anton Andrews, head of the Microsoft Vision team, said: Our office world is undergoing earth-shaking changes at a rapid pace.

Fluid Framework

It is not easy for everyone to keep up with the massive data of today's era. This requires companies like Microsoft to provide better technology to meet future development.

In the past, Microsoft may have tried to modernize Windows, Office, and other software services, but now, the company is increasingly relying on the Internet and open source communities to meet these broader technical challenges.

The core of this vision is what Microsoft calls the Fluid Framework (see previous reports from This technology can split the document structure into modular components to speed up people's collaboration on the Web. Andrews compared it to Lego bricks. Big bricks can be split into small blocks, and data can also be split. He explained: For us, data is just content, and this Fluid Framework allows us to play with all content.

Surface Hub Wall

Andrews also conducted some demonstrations, all of which involved collaborative improvement of documents, multi-person meetings, or other tasks that required collaboration.

Among them, a demonstration showed the Surface Hub Wall-combining projection technology with 100 point-shaped Surface Hub sensors to transform the wall into a smart wall that supports touch, handwriting, and even voice input. Microsoft intends to apply this technology to the walls of conference rooms.

In fact, these demos have subverted the way we use Windows and Office every day, because they do not use a traditional keyboard or mouse. Surface Hub all includes a prototype interface that can start new collaborative work methods through Windows. This is similar to a home screen, which contains all the user's information, recently opened documents and data.

Next year, Microsoft may launch Surface Hub 2 with similar functions, making Windows more lightweight and relying more and more on the network.

Practical hardware for remote meetings

Multi-person meetings are common in any office, including some meetings that require remote communication. However, sometimes some network problems, or problems with equipment such as microphones and display screens, make people feel very uncomfortable, and even feel that they are excluded from conference participants.

Microsoft hopes to solve this problem through the combination of sensors and cameras, and to better record and transmit conversations that occur during video calls.

The hardware they are developing for remote meetings can recognize up to nine participants, and the AI in the device will also record some subtle body language to prevent the participants from being negligent. In addition, the hardware will have a built-in Cortana assistant to assist in the running of the meeting, and augmented reality technology can also mark the names of participants.

This hardware device also supports transcription services: documents referenced by participants will also automatically flow to the transcription feed of the meeting, and then transmitted to artificial intelligence such as Cortana through a graphics platform that connects multiple devices. At the same time, Cortana is moving in the direction of a digital assistant, helping them arrange their schedules through dialogue with the employees of the office

In the future, we are likely to see that Microsoft's hardware replaces Polycom, which often appears in business meetings, so that meetings can proceed more smoothly.

Large screen touch desk

In addition to the above three examples, Microsoft also demonstrated a touch desk with a large screen. Microsoft has previously developed Surface Studio, a device with similar functions, but Microsoft’s vision is to dominate the entire desk and work space through a huge touch screen computer. This vision allows staff to collaborate across multiple documents and in the Fluid Framework Combine data.

By breaking the document into modular components, Microsoft envisions everything that can be combined by drag and drop. The work of multiple people can also be linked to a document, and then artificial intelligence is used to understand images and text, and combine them into a style.

However, this technology is obviously not yet mature, but it at least provides an idea of where Fluid Framework can be applied.

Mike Morton, Microsoft Fluid Framework project manager, said: Fluid Framework can process any type of data. Although we have not tried to handle audio or video, I can say that there are definitely potential technologies that can support this.

This means that if you put a live video link into the document, it may be automatically transcribed.

Microsoft's focus shifts to the web

Microsoft also plans to ensure that its Fluid Framework is open so that the community can contribute more to it and even help the company develop it. Although it is too early, Microsoft has been prototyping since 2016 and introduced it to a larger engineering project about 12 months ago.

CEO Satya Nadella has also been committed to pushing the company's focus to the network. Mike Morton stated: Since serving as CEO, Satya has been an advocate for our investment on the Internet. His vision is remarkable because people generally resist change, but Satya is very good at encouraging people to accept change.

However, the challenge that Microsoft faces now is how to realize these visions in front of competitors. Because for those who are accustomed to Office and Windows, Microsoft's new attempt is not a big change.

Now Microsoft is considering adapting Windows to different hardware models, so I have to mention Windows Lite, which is not as complicated as Windows; it supports a more basic user interface and may even pay more attention to the Web. However, Microsoft did not talk about Windows Lite at this week's Build conference.

At present, we have seen the basic applications of Windows on devices such as HoloLens 2 or Surface Hub 2, but if Microsoft wants to realize these above-mentioned visions, then Windows may have to make great changes in the next ten years to adapt to more hardware.

Looking at current trends, Microsoft may further open up the source code of Windows and allow the community to improve it. Moreover, we have recently seen this in Windows Calculator and PowerToys, and this approach seems to continue for the foreseeable future.

Microsoft is re-planning its own future, trying to make itself more open, and with technologies like Fluid Framework, Microsoft is approaching the dream it has wanted to achieve for many years.