A silver lining for Microsoft: Better Windows experience across mobile, desktop and cloud

Newsrooms across the globe have been talking about Microsoft over the past couple of days. It was meant to be about the next operating system from Microsoft – Windows 10. But turns out, most of them were discussing layoffs at Microsoft.


Newsrooms across the globe have been talking about Microsoft over the past couple of days. It was meant to be about the next operating system from Microsoft – Windows 10. But turns out, most of them were discussing layoffs at Microsoft.

Let’s face it. Microsoft is a huge company. And its acquisitions and layoffs have been huge as well. First 18,000 and now 7,800. Over the past year, that’s 25800 employees we’re talking about. It’s no joke. And is never an easy decision. Add to it an impairment charge of $7.6 billion. It’s never easy.

However, from the email Satya Nadella wrote to Microsoft employees, there are some significant highlights.

Better focus

“I am committed to our first-party devices including phones,” Nadella wrote. That’s something many have been waiting to hear for years. Think Apple iPhone and Google Nexus. The third mobility platform after Apple and Google is provided by Microsoft. Microsoft Lumia should have been that option. But, it is now an opportunity for Microsoft to rethink the whole approach for synergy between hardware and software.

Until now, Apple has been a striking example of hardware and software in a closed environment. Such an approach helps a manufacturer have tighter controls over user experience. Eventually a user gravitates between openness, as in the case of Linux and Android in general, to experience as in the case of Apple – Mac or iOS.

The strategy at Microsoft is to merge hardware and software together under a single roof. Instead of different teams working in isolation, and then wondering how to merge the two, the strategy seems to hint at looking at Windows as one entity. That’s the best thing that could happen to Windows.

Mobility and cloud

Windows is computing. Windows is mobile. Microsoft is on the cloud, with Azure. Since computing is getting increasingly mobile, the best way to take Windows to the next level is present it across all mediums, be it desktop, mobile and cloud. It’s already happening and that’s what Satya Nadella just reiterated in his email.

 A silver lining for Microsoft: Better Windows experience across mobile, desktop and cloud

Satya Nadella has talked of 'leaner business' but earlier refused to confirm job cuts. Image: Reuters

 

A common vision to let Windows give a consistent experience – across form factors with a uniform identity. That’s possible only with a top down approach that emphasises on customer experience. That again is on priority for Microsoft, and Nadella has addressed that need too.

“We’ll bring business customers the best management, security and productivity experiences they need; value phone buyers the communications services they want; and Windows fans the flagship devices they’ll love.” That sentence just sums it up.

Microsoft is looking very closely at management, security and productivity for professionals and the enterprise at large. We expect enterprise mobility management tools to evolve out of this strategy. Value phone buyers is interesting from an India point of view. More budget phones from Microsoft! And finally, Windows fans get the flagship devices they’ll love. In our opinion, Microsoft has checked all the required check boxes.

Prioritising businesses

The beginning of a healthy journey is prioritising the path ahead. Microsoft is part of myriad businesses. From hardware, software, search, maps and cloud, Microsoft is present across a vast array of businesses. In areas where Microsoft has an upper hand, it is focussing efficiently.

In the ad businesses, Microsoft has partnered with AOL and AppNexus for display. However, Bing will continue to power search and search advertising across AOL websites, according to Nadella’s email. That’s a significant boost for Bing, in a zone where Google dominates. Finally, Nadella writes, “We view search technology as core to our efforts spanning Bing.com, Cortana, Office 365, Windows 10 and Azure services.”

Cortana: Apple has Siri, Google has Google Now and Microsoft has Cortana. Microsoft's voice assistant was announced for mobile devices, just like other companies. But now Microsoft has decided to give it a big push in Windows 10 and bring it to desktops. Apart from its own mobile devices and desktops, there are reports about the company's plan to introduce standalone Cortana app for Android and iOS.

Cortana: Apple has Siri, Google has Google Now and Microsoft has Cortana. Microsoft's voice assistant was announced for mobile devices, just like other companies. But now Microsoft has decided to give it a big push in Windows 10 and bring it to desktops. Apart from its own mobile devices and desktops, there are reports about the company's plan to introduce standalone Cortana app for Android and iOS.

Cortana is big in Windows 10. It’s got the attention of the whole world. Similarly, with Microsoft looking closely at HoloLens, the role of Microsoft’s Cloud technologies will need better synergy with search and navigation capabilities.

From a bird’s eye view, it all hints at a more closed approach in the way business is carried out. With lean teams come better agility. Eventually, we hope for devices from Microsoft that very efficiently use Windows capabilities. Where hardware and software perfectly complement each other.


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