Imagine a world without a need for real paper, newspapers, books, CD’s, DVD’s, files, and other physical storage. Imagine a world without old, musty fragile books. Piles of old yesterday’s newspapers. Racks and racks of CD’s that all look the same. A world without DVD’s that get scratched and easily lost. A world without tons of papers filling your house and scattered all over the place. Imagine a world where your physical media, is now your virtual media. Welcome to the digital world.
I dream of this world some day. Where media and storage can be done on a computer as easy as pie. It’s somewhat possible today, but it’s not well implemented. You’ve still got books, CD’s, papers, newspapers, DVD’s, and all that stuff lying around. While they’re all useful as they are, imagine if we could just do it on our computers.
Virtual media is more beneficial in many ways. It doesn’t take up (physical) space. It really can’t get lost. It’s easy to organize. It never gets old. It’s just so easy. Here’s how the evolution to the digital world should move for each format:
Digital music is rising over physical music. More and more people every year are turning to online music services and buying more PMP’s (portable music players) and it’s definitely coming. What’s stopping it, is DRM and lack of quality. Of course, DRM is starting to gain hate (which is good), and online stores are releasing higher bitrates which is good.
Microsoft should do better in making digital music better. The Zune and the Zune software is kind of lackluster. Zune 2.0 really has to improve. Basically the Zune should have everything that a person could dream about having in a PMP, all in a nice package. If Microsoft could do that, the Zune would be top dog. Instead of releasing mediocre devices.
Like I’ve said before, Zune Marketplace needs to be revamped, and placed on WMP11 instead of the buggy Zune software. Microsoft does this, they’ll be winners yet again. Please, Microsoft. It’s not that hard.
Books are still here to stay, and may stay physical-like forever. Books give us knowledge, and they’re pretty handy. You see some rise of eBooks and audiobooks, but not much. The problem is reading it on a bright screen, availiability of books from publishers, and just the overall ease-of-use is hard to find. Sony made an eBook reader that kinda solves the bright screen problem. It uses electronic paper and looks just like real paper, although it’s really expensive. Unfortunately, publishers are even worse than record companies when it comes ot making their books available on the internet. They worry about piracy, and that people could just print off their books to other people and all that. Too bad. The other problem is that most publishers just don’t have a good place to sell their eBooks on. Most of them are just run-of-the-mill sites and have no real big purpose.
Microsoft should jump on the eBook/audiobook bandwagon. Before they’re the ones left behind once again. Microsoft should have a better dedicated eBook/audiobook reader. Microsoft Reader is not good enough, it even kind of sucks. I could see them integrating eBook/audiobooks into WMP 11 though. The library can have an option for eBook/audiobooks. The media controls on WMP can be used to control the book. The play/pause button can be used to play the audio, if it’s an audiobook. The previous and next buttons, on the sides of the play/pause button, can be used to flip the pages. Where previous, goes left towards the previous page, and next can go forwards to the next page. Makes sense to me. Microsoft can also offer other tools handy for eBook/audiobook keeping. Like an annotate button, bookmarks, highlighting, notes, that kind of stuff integrated into the reader. Microsoft can also provide a special online store for eBooks/audiobooks. Similiar to the design of an online music store. You have book covers (similiar to music album art), can columns for author, year, publisher, and all that. Windows Live Books anyone? Come on, Microsoft. You could at least do this.
In return publishers are more likely to be attracted to Microsoft’s service (considering they think Microsoft is big and can be trusted), and allow their books to be published in a digital format. Then users could now have access to tons of books right on their computers. eBooks/audiobooks will be more widely accepted, just like digital music, and will start becoming a standard. Publishers can take it a step farther, by making all their digital books have audio, with realistic character voice-overs and sound effects, making books come to life. Instead of audiobooks right now having one reader with little sound effects. Prices for books will also become cheaper than their physical counterparts. Considering that books have to be made from resources like trees, manufactured together, and then shipped all over the country, it’s amazing it doesn’t cost even more. But with it being accessible digitally, books will be cheaper. Like a 4.99 paperpack right now, could cost as much as $1.50, or even less. This will give an incentive for more people to buy books and gain knowledge. So Microsoft could make the perfect solution right here, and impact the world.
Newspapers get old, fast. One day they’re current, the next day they’re old. In fact, news on the internet is much more accurate and gets updated quickly compared to physical newspapers. Newspapers all kills trees, take up precious space in our homes, and overall, aren’t that good. Well, except for painting projects or any projects of some sort. Nothing is stopping newspapers from becoming digital. Really, many news publishers embrace the internet. There’s really no disadvantage to them, except for finding ways to gain money for their journalists and reporters. Which means ads unfortunately. Also, some news sites have pop-ups which I hate. And people, overall, still like, and even prefer reading real newspapers. But digital news can get better.
I personally like the International Herald Times, primarily because of their simple layout of the news. It’s just so nice. News sites should also consider having a subscription feature, to get the best news on your computer. Without ads, all the news, not just selected ones. My daily newspaper, the Houston Chronicle, has a good site, but they don’t offer all the news I find in the real newspaper. Or sometimes, they don’t include the same pictures/graphics in the real one. And sometimes it’s better than the real one.
I like the NYT reader app. It’s like the New York Times, except digitalized onto an easy to use app. It works real great. It uses WPF, and is kinda slick. It also has $14.95 subscription to use it, but I guess it’s better than not offering a digital format at all. After all, journalists and reporters need to get paid, right? So obviously, the NYT reader shows the capapbilities of how digital news could and should be.
Microsoft could do better to jump into this bandwagon too. MSNBC on TV is neat. MSNBC on the web, however, is surprisingly awful. It’s just so sad. MSNBC on the web needs a serious revamp. I’ll make a post on how MSNBC can improve later. But Microsoft should know, that MSNBC on the web is really awful. So Microsoft should do something about that for starters. Microsoft should entice other news media sources to try out their newspapers in WPF. Maybe that will get some juices growing. The New York Times, Forbes, Seattle Post Intelligencer, and Associated Newspapers currently have some WPF reader availiable. Microsoft should also consider on making a NewsClip Reader for Windows. Like say there’s some article your really like on the web. Well that page could possibly have a link, so that you could download that article onto your computer. The NewsClip Reader could be sort of like a WMP for news clips. You can save article clips on there, read them anytime you want, organize them, work with them, whatever you want to do with your news on your NewsClip Reader. Sounds cool, eh? Microsoft should open this up to news sources who want to do such a thing, and that will make NewsClip Reader really popular. Microsoft can jump on the bandwagon first by making MSN articles have this capabilitiy, and adding the ability for RSS feeds in NewsClip Reader. That’s how Microsoft can make the perfect solution in this case, in terms of news.
CD’s & DVD’s
CD’s are really handing for storing songs, files, and all that. DVD’s are a nice thin way of storing your movies, TV shows, and videos. But now they’re easily be taking over by a much simpler formats – HD-DVD/BluRay and eventually USB drives and portable hard drives. Nothing is really stopping flash USB drives. They’re really handy. And many people are still just starting to use them over CD’s. HD-DVD/BluRay on the other hand is just plain silly. They’ll eventually be suceeded by just digital downloads. What’s stopping HD-DVD/BluRay from taking over is just that people can’t decide which is better. With HD-DVD, you get a great picture, interactive multimedia features, and cheaper prices. With BluRay, you also get a good picture, and it stores more. Personally, storage being the main factor for people is stupid. HD-DVD can store just as much, and even more with layers. Plus HD-DVD is cheaper and has other features. But people can fight about it if they want.
Microsoft could take a better handle on the situation. Currently, they’re supporting HD-DVD. Although not fully. Which is good, considering any format could die. Instead, Microsoft should vie for both sides right now. Making HD-DVD owners happy, and BluRay owners happily. I’m not sure how their OS supports each format, but hopefully they do it well. Add-ons for the Xbox 360 should be availiable for BluRay too.
Microsoft should also make downloading media easier. Like I’ve said before, better online stores would be really helpful. Having more content would be nice. Doing it fast, high-quality, and all that would be wonderful for the next generation. Just make it easy, and we’ll be happy.
So I think this how the digital world can move, and hopefully Microsoft can embrace it and do it right. If Microsoft can’t do anything I suggested, they’re sunk. Microsoft really has to move forward, and these are great ideas I have here. Otherwise, other companies will take these ideas and do it themselves and suceed. So that’s what I have to say about how the digital world should rise.