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Laplink’s CEO, Thomas Koll, reflects on Microsoft’s latest conference, Inspire.


This year’s “Microsoft Inspire” took place in Las Vegas. Hundreds of topics, strategies, and customer solutions were discussed, showcased, and demonstrated. This year the conference was open to all virtual visitors watching the sessions live as they took place. Regardless if you are a subject matter expert, marketer, or sales professional, the sessions give you plenty to think about and later discuss. Luckily, we always walk away with different impressions.

It was no different from any other year. A couple points Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, raised during his keynote stuck with me. He talked – not for the first time – about the smart edge, which is the concept of having billions of smart devices and PCs, as well as smart IoT (Internet of Things) devices, connected to servers in the cloud, providing local collection points for data and local computing power as well as executing simple commands from cloud or local PC-based applications. We already have billions of IoT devices, but they will become smarter.

It also implies that the PC will be the most important key component of the smart edge. In many aspects, Microsoft’s vision matches Intel’s, where Michelle Johnston Holthaus and Stephanie Hallford (Intel’s Executive Vice-President/GM and Vice-President, respectively, in the Client Computing Group) outlined similar notions, stating that the PC market is as strong as ever, but there are still over 100 million commercial PCs that are over 4 years old. To come closer to this vision of smart edge computing, the market must adopt new generations of PCs and there is no better time than right now.

Apart from the traditional laptop or desktop, I am very intrigued by Intel’s NUC (Next Unit of Computing) offering. These small form-factor PCs come with the same power of any full-sized PC. They are the best solution for smart endpoints on factory floors, traffic lights, remote data collection points, and remote computing platforms that are needed for automated AI solutions such as driverless cars or any other solution where immediate execution based on real-time data is critical to the process.

Back to Satya’s speech: He talked about the fact that 90% of currently stored data was collected in the last two years. Just imagine that! It means that data collection and storage is still on a mind-blowing pace. “The future is yet to come” perspective so often highlighted by technologists remains as true today as 10 or 20 years ago. That said, it also gives us pause. The increase of data is exponentially higher than the technology progress with storage devices. At the birth of the PC, we had unbelievable 20MB hard drives, now the standard is 1TB plus the nearly infinite cloud. But will the future be 10x or 100x that in just a few years? The influence of virtual computing and “living” in virtual worlds will play a big part of it. Will the management of data not only tackle analysis, AI outcomes, and knowledge creation but also deletion of “used” data?

Satya also touched on a subject close to my own heart. He advocated to customers and partners to utilize the best products they can find. Average products will not do it seems. Any software developer of course always believes that their code and products are the best. However, in reality, it is not so. We see a lot of bad, mediocre, and average products. It is not about the most complex products or the most innovative; it is about the best products for customers to achieve their goals. Laplink leads in an industry that is very much focused on providing products to automate and scale PC refreshes (replacing PCs or refreshing current PCs) by transferring applications, data, and settings to a new environment no matter what the original or the newer Windows version is. In this case, the best products are not imaging products that would overwrite the new PCs with the content of the old PCs, products that are merely focused on data backup and restore like OneDrive or your favorite backup utility. The best products are not “migration” options that only provide data and settings transfer. The best product might very well be Laplink PCmover, which we have improved upon year over year and that provides significant time savings and productivity gains in Consumer, SMB, Enterprise, Government, and Education markets. PCmover will transfer all your applications, data, and settings with a smart engine that can configure the transfer in all aspects the customer favors. Satya’s call for “perfection” is the right one; the result might just be different. Try out PCmover and find out for yourself.

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