With Windows 10, will Microsoft finally challenge the Apple-Google duopoly?

Nadella has been ticking all boxes right with his efforts trying to bring things on track, be it free Office app or the latest announcements at the Window 10 event.

It's been almost a year since new CEO Satya Nadella took the reins of Microsoft. He has been trying to make some organisational and culutural changes within the company ever since. Unlike his predecessors, Nadella is on a 'mobile-first, cloud-first' war path and he is doing good so far. Barring his "karma" faux pas, Nadella has been ticking all boxes right with his efforts trying to bring things on track, be it free Office app or the latest announcements at the Window 10 event.

Microsoft seems to be slowly turning the table. We wouldn't say the new announcements have paved way for the company to grab a large chunk of mobile share, but it has undoubtedly made some solid moves overall. If things fall in place for Microsoft, it could no longer be a two-horse race between Apple and Google.

With Windows 10, will Microsoft finally challenge the Apple-Google duopoly?

There is definitely a wave of change. Firstly, Microsoft has finally made its new upgrade to Windows 8.1 free of charge. For the first time ever, Windows 10 will also be a free upgrade for Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 users, at least for the first year.

As we noted earlier, Microsoft has taken a cue out of Apple’s book which has been giving out OS X and iOS upgrades for free, to ensure that users don’t have to shell out money for an OS. Google offers its Android platform for free, too. Needless to say, this change is about charging for value added services and access to apps, and not for operating systems, just like its competitors.

In fact, in the enterprise segment, the company also plans to explorer new spaces with its all new Surface Hub. The Surface Hub is an 84-inch 4K LED TV, meant for enterprise use thanks to its large touchscreen and the fact that it runs Office 365. The Surface Hub is a large screen that allows teams to collaborate. Integrated with Kinect sensor, it starts up instantly, as soon as you approach the device. The interface has three default options namely, a Skype call, a OneNote notebook, and a connecting third-party devices. Read more here.

Another piece of technology that makes the company standout is the Hololens. In the past one year, Microsoft has been ensuring that it isn't late to the party and willing to quickly adapt to the possibly upcoming trends, be it the smartwatch or the new Hololens. After all, augmented reality is believed to be the next big thing.

The Microsoft HoloLens headset. AFP

The Microsoft HoloLens headset. AFP

"I believe that virtual/augmented reality is the next platform for computing, following the five earlier ones: mainframe, networked minicomputers, PC, Internet, and mobile. Michael Abrash of Oculus — the company Facebook bought for $2 billion — considers it the last platform, as laid out in this great video, because all the previous experiences can be embedded within it," states Gigaom's Stowe Boyd.

Microsoft had tried to bounce back with its Windows Phone OS and Windows RT for tablet. However, its decisions fell flat on its face. The company has finally decided to bring seamless integration across its platforms. Unity across operating systems is something that Apple and Google have been going on about for sometime and Microsoft also clearly believes that this is the way forward.

This means,  tablet users can forget the horror of having to deal with something like a new Windows RT on their devices, which received terrible user feedback. Windows 10 ensures that desktops, mobiles, laptops, tablets, 2-in-1 devices all run the same Windows 10 OS, which will be optimised based on the platform.

Microsoft has also gone a step ahead of Apple by bringing its personal voice-assistant Cortana to all Windows 10 devices, including desktops and laptops, which is a massive plus point. It plans to integrate Cortana in the Search Bar, which makes absolute sense, considering the company is still the leader when it comes to desktop PCs.

There have been several other announcements in the past that have helped the company tread along the right path. One of the first announcements to emerge from Nadella-run Microsoft has been  Office apps for other platforms like Android and iOS. Soon, Android and iOS users could download Microsoft Office apps for free, without the need for an Office 365 subscription.

With Nadella stressing on cross-platform and mobile, there’s no doubt that what we are seeing is a different Microsoft. Whether  the mobile bet will pay off with Windows 10, of course, remains to be seen.

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