November 22, 2011, 12:00 PM — A few weeks back, Microsoft released a "productivity future vision" video that created not small amounts of Internet buzz:
The video is slickly produced, and heavily relies on the sort of Minority Report style massive touchscreens that have been a staple of future visions like this since, well, Minority Report. 2011 touch interfaces -- including the slick Metro UI that Microsoft is betting its immediate future on -- are close enough to this point that you can sort of see how we might get there from here.
The video was discounted, perhaps predictably, by Apple-centric blogger John Gruber of Daring Fireball:
This video encapsulates everything wrong with Microsoft. Their coolest products are imaginary ... Imagine if they instead spent the effort that went into this movie on making something, you know, real, that you could actually go out and buy and use today.
The question of whether future concept videos like this are a worthy recipient of company resources is legit. But perhaps a simpler question needs answering first: are these videos ever right? We won't be able to answer the question about Microsoft's 2011 video for another few years, but thanks to the magic of YouTube, we have a deep well of examples from years past to pick through, and maybe help us come up with an answer to the question of whether Microsoft would have been better advised to spend their promotional resources on Microsoft Office giveaways.