Nash David Jul 16, 2015 08:14:25 IST
These are busy times for Microsoft. And that’s an understatement. Windows is taking a giant leap with all it’s doing with the highly-anticipated Windows 10. Since Microsoft Build 2015 earlier this year, Microsoft has been giving out signals that highlight what it’s trying to unfold with Windows. The company has spoken about porting apps, carrier billing, and more. And we’re loving it.
It’s time to defragment
Yes, Windows has always needed it. But this time, Microsoft is trying to defragment the lines of businesses it operates across. Well, that doesn’t mean it’s shutting down anything. But measures such as the recent layoffs at Nokia, the same Windows working across devices – from the Raspberry Pi to HoloLens – it’s going to be the same Windows. And only reiterates its concentrated focus on its core – Windows. Remember the days of Windows CE, Windows Server, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone. Through the years, we’ve seen Windows in different flavours and editions.
The signal is clear. There’s no room for confusion. One Microsoft. One Windows. One Office. One Cloud. Across devices and form factors. It’s a great move for consumers, developers and businesses. Agility is the best strategy.
It’s mobile to desktop for Microsoft
While the rest of the industry has banked on mobile for growth, it’s been the other way round for Microsoft. Windows Phone wasn’t as successful as Microsoft would have wanted it to be. Android and iOS on the other hand were runaway successes for Google and Apple, respectively.
Microsoft’s strength, though, has been in its dominance of the desktop ecosystem. When you count laptops and desktops, the numbers are clearly in Microsoft’s favour. In fact, it stands at 90 percent market share. And Microsoft knows this. It’d rather hinge the future of its mobility business on the larger ecosystem, rather than create something new from scratch.
With Metro, Windows felt young, agile and mobile. It changed the way Microsoft looked at operating systems. It felt like a transition from Windows 1.0 to Windows 95. A new design language. Largely, Windows remained unchanged for all those 20 years. Other than air and glass effects with a few more additions, the principle design language stayed the same. Although Metro didn’t quite pick up, it was still a refreshing and much needed change that was appreciated by the industry at large.
But there was a problem. Consumers weren’t ready for Metro on a larger screen. It felt half-baked. It felt like a smart TV which is yet to evolve into a friendly interface operated with a remote. Swiping away on a mobile device is fun. But scrolling, and panning on a large screen is a different ballgame altogether. And business requirements prevent a complete transition to mobile devices at work. Microsoft seems to understand that. Office for mobile and tablet devices is the first sign in that direction.
So with the new Metro design philosophy forming the path that Windows will chart, Microsoft will bring the vast pool of desktop and large screen applications to experience the mobile ecosystem. And it’s banking on ubiquitous computing, with Continuum being the first step.
With or without OEMs, Microsoft will build
Among the distinct messaging we have received from Microsoft, an important quote given by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in an interview to ZDNet stands out. Nadella said, “If no OEM stands up to build Windows devices we'll build them.” That's audacious, don't you think? When did you last hear Microsoft say something like that? It was always dependent on its vendor partners to build the ecosystem of hardware around the Windows operating system. And with the recent acquisition of Nokia and the subsequent correction in its resources, there is greater internal confidence on its capabilities to walk it – with or without partners! There can be no greater determination towards the success of the platform.
Business or consumer – One experience, One product
Whether it’s work, business or consumers, they’re all people. Everyone's a customer. Consumption patterns and preferences don't change drastically. Then why have different products? Finally the ubiquitous strategy and the defragmented approach is looking at harmonising the approach towards how Microsoft looks at business and consumer products and experiences.
Why Windows 10 is free?
The larger debate is why Microsoft is making the biggest and most important product in its history, a free upgrade? We agree with the move, as we have written earlier about. And the reason has been given by Satya Nadella. It’s driven by the reason developers choose which platform they'd build apps for. There is consensus here. They build for numbers. If a platform has the masses, developers will build for it. And Microsoft has the numbers. Only in the wrong form factor. It needs significant traction in the mobile device ecosystem, since growth is currently driven by mobile. The easiest way to boost those numbers on mobile devices is to take a multi-pronged approach. Get the desktop users to have a ubiquitous experience; ensure that you get as many to adapt this new platform as possible; and make it as easy as possible, for developers to develop apps for the platform.
Microsoft has done it all. It’s upgrading its existing userbase to the new platform. And it’s making a free upgrade the route to bring in Windows 10. Satya Nadella seems to have got it right. The reason Windows 10 is a free upgrade and could likely focus on ‘building numbers’ is to create the right environment for developers to take a closer look at what we currently refer to as Windows Phone. Only, it’ll just be Windows!
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