FORT WORTH, Texas -- Janet Kennedy asked retailers to remember the days when they had to send IT people armed with CDs to drive to each and every store for system upgrades.
A groan rose from the audience of about 500 attending the 2012 PDI users' conference in Fort Worth, Texas, gathered at a luncheon general session to listen to the Microsoft executive. Kennedy, vice president of the Redmond, Wash.-based company's central region enterprise and partner group (EPG), said an "epic" technological transformation is coming from the PC giant, as it seeks to provide connectivity to "every person, every device and every business."
Greg Gilkerson, PDI president, Janet Kennedy, MicrosoftWhere originally Microsoft founder Bill Gates envisioned a personal computer on every desk, the new target is for continuous cloud services, suggesting a potential evolution of its software-licensing business model.
In recent years, Microsoft has spent $6 billion to build 13 data centers around the world. It spent $9 billion annually through the recent recession in research and development, purchasing related business and retooling its existing products.
Coinciding with the consumer unveiling of its "Windows 8" platform this fall, Microsoft is selling the concept of a standard user experience across all devices, from the public's perspective as well as on the developer side. Paul Kimbel, technology center director for Microsoft, joined Kennedy on the stage to demonstrate elements of the new platform.
Among the capabilities were the following:
"We have the most innovation, the biggest launch and most value for consumers and businesses in the history of our company," Kennedy said. "From phones to tablets to PCs to screens to Xbox, Microsoft offers a no-compromise, integrated experience. It’s a very exciting time in our industry."
Through prepared videos, Kimbel showed how the applications can be used in various professions, including healthcare, travel as well as retail sales. During the retail segment, the video illustrated users finding areas of the store where they could find the products, as well as showing an online payment.
Kennedy also ran an introductory video for Microsoft's new tablet, called "Surface," which is set to debut in late October, as well as its smartphone. The devices will have the Windows 8 interface and give users the ability to access all their Microsoft accounts.