Microsoft's Home Of The Future Is Suspiciously Clean And Shiny

In the future, there will only be artistically designed dust and massive smartphones. Microsoft took groups of journalists around its "open house" set up at Sydney's Luna Park yesterday after announcing further details of Foxtel on Xbox Live and the exact date of the Kinect launch in Australia. The open house was intended to showcase Microsoft products of all types against an introductory speech that talked about the products of the future. Microsoft's future, to be precise.

While this was at least partially a gaming launch -- including that game-I-signed-an-NDA-over-so-can't-really-comment-upon -- there was also an opportunity for Microsoft to show off its entire product ecosystem within the confines of an artificially constructed "house of the future".

As I wandered around Microsoft's Open House yesterday, I kept on having the same recurring thought. Not so much that Microsoft still manages to make much better PC peripherals than Apple does (although they do), or that some of the staged household banter was, to put it kindly, a little on the fromage side.

More that Microsoft's vision of the future relies on everything being really, really clean and ordered in an almost frightening fashion.

First up we wandered through a "store" environment. I've never been to a Microsoft store, but I do wonder if this is what they're actually like.

Then into the kitchen. This was the point where the illusion was shattered. Sure, there were plenty of touchscreen PCs showing recipes, but where were the coffee cups waiting to be washed? The single jar of mustard left out from last night's dinner? Nowhere to be seen. True, there was a sprinkling of flour on the main kitchen bench, but that was only so that "Open House" could artfully be scrawled onto it.

Next the living room. Foxtel on Xbox was the obvious highlight here...

But is anyone's living room really this uncluttered?

There's also the oddity that the opposing wall was made entirely from custom Xbox 360 consoles. Anthony Mundine does NOT look happy stuck underneath the Hey Hey 360.

At last! Some clutter. Well... a bit of clutter. Artfully designed clutter, with no exposed game discs or CDs. Perhaps they'd ripped them all...

To the rather massive Alienware PC sitting on the opposite side.

I was also rather keen to check out Windows Phone 7, and true to form, in an effort to present the entire ecosystem, one was on display. I was rather hoping for some hands-on time, and perhaps the opportunity to slip one into my pocket "accidentally" when nobody was looking...

But it's not quite a handset, strictly speaking, and there was no way I was walking off with it.

It's one of those huge novelty in store display phones, running from a laptop tethered to the side of it. I'd never fit it into my pants in the first place, although I guess it could come in handy fighting off muggers or iPhone 4 fanatics.