AI, Bots and Canvases Part V: Addressing the app gap

Each of these big players has a horse in the race and is approaching the challenges of the industry in both similar and unique ways.

  • Google has launched its new and versatile messenger, Allo, accompanied with an improved AI, Google Assistant. Together they bring a powerful and intelligent combination to end users.
  • Apple's iMessage has been revamped and benefits from imbued intelligence and openness to third-party developers. As a platform for apps, developers can bring apps to iMessage that will allow users to perform tasks directly from this canvas.
  • Facebook has launched Messenger Platform which allows developers to build bots that users can communicate with and use to perform services directly from Messanger. "M," the company's AI-human hybrid assistant can be communicated with via text directly from the Messaging platform to execute tasks for end users.

In contrast to its rivals, Microsoft's "messengers as a platform" approach is more ambitious. Redmond is not following the strategy of its competitors by merely focusing on its own messaging platform. The company's Conversations as a Canvas approach is consistent with the firm's goal to be the platform for individuals and enterprises to get things done, or to "do more," regardless of the platform used.

Wand's ability to get things done without "apps" may help Microsoft address the app gap.

In essence, Microsoft doesn't want to own the boats; they want to be the ocean upon which the boats are floating. With this in mind, Microsoft's platform strategy may signal how the company intends to leverage it's purchase of messaging app developer Wand Labs (opens in new tab).

Wand's unique messaging platform approach to "getting things done" with apps or better yet without them, in conjunction with Microsoft's Conversation Canvases and Bot Framework strategy gives Redmond an opportunity to optimize on the industry's move to messengers as a platform and to address the issue of the app gap.

Microsoft's platform approach is a foundation for Wand

Before we get to Wand, let's establish a clear picture of Microsoft's platform approach and AI and bots strategy. We know that Microsoft has not limited its AI and bots approach to its own messaging platform Skype. They have created a Bot Framework which allows developers to use Microsoft's tools to build bots for a range of messaging platforms. The diagram below provides a clear visual.

They have also made their AI, Cortana, unbounded so that she can communicate with bots via other canvases beyond Skype. This is an important point. Nadella said it this way:

Take bots — no one else is talking about bots that can be built using all the rich cognitive cloud services we have. How did one teach a bot how to have a conversation with a human? That requires conversational understanding, dialogue understanding. We have APIs for doing all of that in our cloud in Azure. And you can, in fact, build a Slack bot, or you can build a bot for Line, or you can build a bot even for Facebook. We don't know yet exactly what Facebook does, but our back end is independent. And you can just use your back end to build bots, like building mobile apps or building websites in the past.Then we have our own set of conversational canvases like Skype that they're opening up for these bots. So the approach we're taking is much more of a platform company approach, much more of an approach that says that it's both your personal and professional data. And if I take those two dimensions, I don't think anyone else comes at it that way.

Microsoft wants to offer both the tools and the platforms that help people get things done. When the PC was the personal computer before smartphones and the internet, Microsoft's dominance with Windows as a platform was enough to ensure Redmond's solution was the platform to help people "do more," as Satya Nadella communicates Microsoft's goal to be.

Microsoft is intent on providing the modern "platforms" for personal computing.

In an age of mobile computing, the Cloud, artificial intelligence, messaging platforms, apps and more, Microsoft's goal to provide (the now), many platforms for personal computing is far more complex and diverse than it was when the world of personal computing was confined to Windows PCs. Still the company is committed to providing the personal computing platforms users defer to get things done.

Microsoft's branding of personal computing

Microsoft's ambitious strategy involves homegrown solutions as well as acquisitions of smaller companies to help the Microsoft brand, "become" the tools that people use. The purchase of Accompli, Sunrise, Datazen and LinkedIn are examples of some strategic purchases toward that end.

Microsoft is positioning its brand as the tools people use.

Furthermore, Microsoft is also positioning itself to be a major player in the personal computing area of "conversations as a platform." This represents a move away from traditional apps can benefit Microsoft in relation to the app gap issue. Under the current "warehouse of apps" model Microsoft's mobile efforts have suffered a near death blow. The mobile platform is still holding on but desperately needs a shift, such as bots and Conversation Canvases, in its favor.

Note, the company is still addressing the need for traditional apps via Xamaran and cross-platform app development and the app Bridges. However, through the Bot Framework and artificial intelligence they are preparing for and pushing the industry ([along with others](http:// /ais-bots-and-canvases-part-iv-competition-fierce-microsoft-not-alone)) in the direction of AI and bots.

Still developers, who have invested for years in more successful mobile platforms like iOS and Android, may not feel compelled to embrace developing bots for Microsoft's solutions. This current, and potential, future lack of developer support hurts Redmond's mobile presence today and may affect their impact in the "messaging as a platform" paradigm tomorrow. This is a dilemma in need of a solution. Wand may be part of that solution.

Wand(ering) AI's and bots

Microsoft, I believe, is working to evolve Skype into a strong first-party enterprise and consumer messaging platform while incorporating Wand's technology into its Conversations Canvases strategy. Microsoft's mobile strategy requires a strong first-party messaging option.

Most messaging platforms and AI digital assistants are used primarily from mobile phones. Apple for example, has dedicated users of iMessages and Siri on the iPhone. Moreover, Google may see a boon of Allo users to accompany the current Google Now users on Android phones. These entrenched smartphone users of Apple's and Google's platforms coupled with a billion Facebook Messenger users across all platforms, leaves Microsoft's Skype with an uphill battle as a competitive consumer-facing messaging platform.

Skype boasts about 300 million daily users. However, given the dominance of Apple and Google in the consumer space, their native messaging solutions along with Facebook Messenger and other third-party options dominate mobile messaging. Microsoft is desperately attempting to reposition Skype as a more appealing first-party messaging platform that will benefit from its long-term AI and bots cross-platform strategy. This positioning is important because as Redmond's bots and AI plans (hopefully) yield fruit over time, Microsoft's "best on Windows" goal would require that bots and Cortana on Skype would be optimally implemented on Windows 10 devices including phones.

"Best on Windows" would see bots and Cortana optimally implemented in Skype.

Skypes shift from a peer-to-peer structure to a cloud-based platform has admittedly presented many users with a less than ideal experience. Furthermore, compared to the flashy, consumer-friendly UI affects Apple and Google have added to their messengers, Skype feels rather utilitarian. Still, the early integration of about 24 bots in Skype preview reveal an engaging potential.

See more

Redmond does not yet have a strong consumer-facing messenger platform to rival the engaging UI elements consumers are experiencing with other tools on rival platforms. The companies support of multiple canvases is consistent with Redmond's platform-company ideology but is also a strategic survival play.

It is evident however, despite criticisms of its current state, Microsoft is working at making Skype a more modern, robust, competitive and ubiquitous solution. This ubiquity, tied to the company's bot and AI strategy, in conjunction with a "best on Windows goal" is key to what Redmond may be planning with Wand.

iMessage's and Allo's UI affects offer engaging consumer-facing advantages over Skype's UI.

Consider this: "Messaging as a platform" to get things done (or to do more) with bots from ordering flowers through 1800flowers to ordering an Uber, present an opportunity for Microsoft to address the company's app gap dilemma. The age of messaging as the new platform for apps, and Redmond's penchant for ubiquity as a platform company provides a potential solution through Wand's unique approach to messaging and apps.

Moreover, the acquisition of Wand Labs may also position Microsoft to offer an industry-wide personal computing solution that may help redefine how personal computing is experienced in a post-app, messaging as a platform, age.

The magic of Wand

Wand began as a digital assistant created by Vishal Sharma while he was employed by Google. The assistant Jacob was intended to help people "do things in the real world." But Google's vision for \AI differed from Sharma's and Jacob became the foundation for Google Now instead, focusing on predictive actions rather the "doing" functions Sharma envisioned.

Sharma left Google, and with a team of others established Wand Labs and relaunched his original vision as an app which eventually evolved into the intelligent Wand messaging app.

Wand's goal was to address the inefficiency of the current app model.

So what makes Wand unique as a messaging app? For one it did not start out as a messaging app. Wand's goal was not to address the fundamental "problem" of communicating with people across distances — it was to address the inefficient manner in which things are accomplished under the current app model. The company retained their focus on this goal as the app evolved into a messaging platform. Here's how Sharma put it:

"We've taken a step back…The wall on your iPhone and Android looks like MS Windows from years ago. Every time you do something, you have to install and then open one of those apps. Even worse, the information on those apps is not easily shared. You can't cut and paste songs or contacts, or food dishes, from one app or service to another and expect it to behave in the same way."

Wand addresses this problem in a unique way. The app converts the information that makes each app an app into a single semantic language. It then takes this information that is now able to be easily exchanged and used between users and apps and creates a virtual version of that app. This virtual app exists in Wand as a plug-in.

An example given by one journalist who used the app is that he was able to use the Gracenote plugin in Wand to capture a song, even though he did not have the Gracenote app on his phone.

Anyone with a smidgeon of imagination can begin to imagine the potential benefits of this technology in addressing Microsoft's app gap problem.

Behind the curtain

So how does Wand work its magic? In a nutshell, it breaks an app into components called "atoms." These atoms whether it is a song, contact, movie, etc. is recognized by Wand. In addition to breaking apps down into atoms and converting decoded information into virtual apps stored as Wand plug-ins, these "atoms" (which are the user's instances of an app) are also sharable. In essence, a user can share a song "atom" from one app, with a user who doesn't have that app. The receiver will be able to play the song via an app that is capable of understanding the "atom" (i.e., a video player for a movie).

Wand's tech may be integrated into messaging platforms via Microsoft's Conversation Canvases strategy.

If Microsoft plans to integrate Wands technology within the company's cross-platform AI and bot strategy, we may see Wands abilities incorporated into a host of messaging platforms across the industry. This plan, of course, includes Microsoft's first-party option Skype, where we'd hope to see optimal implementation on Windows 10 devices including phone.

Microsoft's possible plan for a ubiquitous implementation of Wand's technology throughout the industry seems consistent with the vision Sharma had for the company before its sale to Redmond. Sharma had begun talking to messaging companies about licensing Wand's technology in their messaging apps. We can see the passion and confidence Sharma has in the potential of this technology in this statement:

Like it or not, if those services want to perform Wand-like baton-waving — like giving password-free temporary access to Twitter or a Nest thermostat — they will have to come to Wand.

Now, of course, this unique technology is the providence of Microsoft.

Perfect fit

As a company dedicated to providing cross-platform solutions, Microsoft seems to be an ideal fit for Sharma's vision and passion. Sharma made this statement regarding Wand's sale to Microsoft:

Back in 2013, my team and I embarked on a journey to integrate services into the chat experience. The goal being to leverage mobile scale, natural language capabilities, and third-party services to enable users to easily access and share any authorized service or device. The work we've been doing with predictive assistance and delegated authority is at the leading edge of a broader technology shift that is redefining the information industry.It's an exciting time to be working in the area of semantics and conversation – an area that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has highlighted as core to the future and calls Conversation as a Platform. As such, I'm truly pleased to announce that Wand has been acquired by Microsoft.I'm proud of the work my team has done and what we've already accomplished in this emerging space – and I'm delighted to be joining a company that shares our passion and enthusiasm for this new era where conversation is the central focus. Making experiences for customers more seamless by harnessing human language is a powerful vision and one that motivates me and my team. Our deep experience with semantics, messaging and authority are a natural fit for the work already underway at Microsoft, especially in the area of intelligent agents and cognitive services.For those of you who have participated in our rolling trials, I want to say thank you. Even though we will be shutting down our service, expect to see familiar elements of our work in the future. I encourage all of you to stay tuned. This is an exciting moment for the industry and we've only just begun.

There is a wealth of information to draw from what Sharma shared above.

Expect to see familiar elements of our work in the future.

One particular area of note, however, is his statement, "expect to see familiar elements of our work in the future." Could this be a reference to the use of apps on devices on which an app does not exist? Time will tell. If nothing more the industry's move of "doing" from messaging platforms is aligned with Sharma's vision for Wand.

Microsoft's had the following to say about the Wand acquisition:

The Wand team's expertise around semantic ontologies, services mapping, third-party developer integration and conversational interfaces make them a great fit to join the Bing engineering and platform team, especially with the work we're doing in the area of intelligent agents and chat bots. Founded in 2013 by CEO Vishal Sharma, an experienced leader and entrepreneur in the field of search and knowledge, Wand Labs has already been developing in areas specific to Conversation as a Platform.Vishal is a unique talent and a well-respected thought leader in this area. We are confident that he and his team can make significant contributions to our innovation of Bing intelligence in this new era of Conversation as a Platform. I am excited to welcome Vishal and the Wand Labs team to Microsoft.

Looking toward the future

It will be interesting to see how Microsoft integrates Wand's technology of using and sharing app "meaning" or atoms, which essentially makes having a particular app less important than it is under the current paradigm. With a virtual app plug-in in Wand a user will have the ability to perform a function or service via the plug-in without needing the app on their phone or another device. This is an exciting prospect. Combined with the move to bots and the positioning of messaging at the forefront of mobile computing, this technology, if adopted industry-wide, may continue to decrease the importance of dedicated apps.

Bots combined with Wand's technology may help Microsoft bridge the app gap.

Microsoft, of course, will want it's first-party messenger, Skype, as engaging a platform as possible on Windows phones (and elsewhere), to compete with the user-friendly UIs of the competition as this technology potentially finds a place among the masses. Redmond's efforts in this space are multifaceted. It is investing in improving its messaging platform which is growing in concert with the technologies that currently and will run on it.

I'm sure Microsoft wishes the solutions to the app problem and the shift to a new personal computing paradigm were as simple as the wave of a magic wand. It may not be that simple, but the June 16th, 2016 purchase of Wand Labs may be just the magic Redmond needs to help level the playing field.

So what do you think of the potential implementations of Wand technology in Microsoft's Conversations as a Platform industry focused strategy? Does it have the potential of narrowing the app gap? Can Microsoft pull it off if this is indeed the direction they are headed? Sound off in comments and Twitter!

If you missed the any of the other parts of this five part series or these related pieces catch up here!:

Jason L Ward is a columnist at Windows Central. He provides unique big picture analysis of the complex world of Microsoft. Jason takes the small clues and gives you an insightful big picture perspective through storytelling that you won't find *anywhere* else. Seriously, this dude thinks outside the box. Follow him on Twitter at @JLTechWord. He's doing the "write" thing!

  • Thanks for reading folks! Microsoft has been making a lot of acquisitions in an effort to "be" the platform for personal computing. The quantity and quality app disparity is something we've acknowledged in the past. In Windows Phone isn't dead Part VI we talked about Windows as a development platform, Xamarin and the app Bridges as part of the answer to that challenge. We also talked about the industry's transition to AIs and bots part of the answer (for certain types of apps) in the Untold App Gap story parts III and IV. In this series we've looked at AIs, bots and Conversation Canvases in greater detail and we've seen the role AI, bots and messaging platforms may have in the future. In this piece we see how Microsoft's platform strategy and industry-wide approach to providing AI and bot integration into a wide array of Messaging platforms may see the integration of Wand's, technology that does away with the need for a dedicated app through a messaging platform, implemented in Redmond's overall strategy. It will be interesting if Microsoft executes this strategy and if so how pervasive it will ultimately be. With this possible plan in mind, I can see why Microsoft is pushing to make its Bot Framework and Conversation Canvases strategy the industry standard for this shift. Well ....LET'S TALK!!!!
  • I felt the ground move...
  • Good article. I do believe that the warehouse-of-apps model, as you call it, has been a frustrating hiccup in the road of technological innovation. Apple spent billions of dollars making everyone think that there needs to be "an app for that", and the result is that a perfectly good, cross-platform, cost-efficient solution that already existed (websites) got pushed aside for a disjointed, platform-locked, cost-heavy, app-for-everything model that is not ideal and never was ideal. I've never understood the obsession with mobile apps. Except for a few exceptions, the grand majority of mobile apps should be mobile-optimized websites. Perhaps this bot framework can finally kill the vexing, counterintuitive warehouse-of-apps model that has been imposed on consumers and developers.
  • Yes couldn't agree more!
  • It sounds more like something for enterprise rather than consumers. Skype isn't as popular for consumers compared to the other messaging apps. I really don't see that changing, especially since most messaging is done via mobile devices, not desktop PCs. Posted via my Nexus 7 2013 using the Windows Central App for Android
  • Yeah, fair point. I talked about the poor consumer-focused aspects of Skype. I think that's one of the reasons MS is working so hard to improve Skype. If Messaging as a platform continues on the trajectory it's on MS will need a strong first-party option that appeals to consumers. Let's hope they can make that happen. :-)
  • The difficult part will be getting consumers who abandoned Skype to return. It's like Yahoo Messenger was popular years ago, but nobody uses it anymore and wouldn't bother trying it again. Another example is BlackBerry Messenger. It went cross platform, but it never retained its popularity. Posted via my Moto X Pure Edition using the Windows Central App for Android
  • Unfortunately this is true.
  • I've seen a major distinction between MS consumers and Apple/Android users in that the ones on MS do drift into the enterprise connectivity area than standard consumer apps. They are the ones to trust a conference call with management using Skype than one of the consumer centric competitors. Yeah, there's a Facebook/Instagram gripe from users coming from other platforms but that's just it, Win10 isn't supposed to be like one of the other platforms.
  • I've seen a major distinction between MS consumers and Apple/Android users in that the ones on MS do drift into the enterprise connectivity area than standard consumer apps. They are the ones to trust a conference call with management using Skype than one of the consumer centric competitors. Yeah, there's a Facebook/Instagram gripe from users coming from other platforms but that's just it, Win10 isn't supposed to be like one of the other platforms.
  • Bots must be translated to every language, that's more challenging that developing an app. Also, can I play "Pokemon Go" with a bot?. As I see it, bots are a lame version of the old "use the web browser" for the app gap.
  • I think you're making a general assumption that companies like MSFT want to turn ALL apps into bots. That really isn't the case. Visual games are an excellent example of apps which most likely would never be turned into Bots. Same with maps, and probably even music. But, there are other apps, like Uber, and SkyScanner, which can easily be replaced with a bot. Honestly, since Uber was integrated into Cortana (as a sort-of bot), I haven't once opened the app. The same with Hipmunk and SkyScanner; I don't bother with their sites as I can quickly get what I'm looking for via the bots.  Furrthermore, Bots can be restricted to use short statements, which can easily be translated to different languages. This is essentially the same as in apps, where you have to translate every word.Now, if the bot was going to have paragraphs of dialogue, then it would be more of a pain than in an app. You're also overlooking the benefit that bots have for devs. Not every company includes ads in their apps, which means they have to cover the cost of developing and maintaining their apps on Android, iOS, and (if they have one) Windows, from another revenue source. Not to mention that if their site also doesn't include ads, they also need to cover those expenses from another revenue source. For comapnies like Uber and Lyft, who make their revenue through rides, and not ads, creating a single bot which runs on many messaging services (Facebook, Skype, Slack, etc.), on many platforms (Windows desktop & mobile, Android, iOS, Linux), would significantly reduce the costs of development. It also allows them to create one shared expereince, which looks/acts the same on every platform. 
  • Very well put @themoonbeam, thanks fir the contribution!:-)
  • Then it just means that WM and Windows in general is not going to get behind in the Bot space, but that doen't solve the app gap (at least, not completely). Ultimately you can slap my face when the whole Bot thing wins over apps or compete with them. Rigth now, my skype preview app is full with some bots, but all of them are in English, wich is not a problem to me, but it also doesn´t feel natural (my mother language is spanish) and seeing how many time took Microsoft to deliver cortana to Mexican users in spanish, I just see bots being a US thing. But who knows, rigth? cerainly not me, neither this site.
  • It is probably is US only. Which inevitably leads to the continuing hemorrhaging of market share in the rest of the world. So adding to no Cortana, no Groove Music Pass and no Bing points we now have a focus on IS centric bots?
    Good luck with that Microsoft.
  • You have probably never seen how bot works. Bots are not meant to replace existing apps but to perform various tasks that can be automated. And developers don't have to translate bots since that can be done with Cortana, Azure services, etc.
  • I look forward to checking out the Skype enhancements on my Lumia 920 running WP 8.1.  Oh, wait...
  • Make sure you keep hanging on to the 920, and being bitter.
  • "msft doesn't want to own the boats; they want to be the ocean upon which the boats are floating." You got me there ;)
    Msft trying to get the Skype to ppl (hopefully as a platform in all types of devices such as in HoloLens which is already making waves) will take time since it is and has been a base for the business ppl. I've tried the Bots in Skype, they're very minimalistic in its work but fun though. I get how msft wants to be the connection between ppl and bots that would replace apps while others' take on AI performs as individual sole services. Conversation with a bot should be here in the near future, that would probably change the course of developers from working on apps to transferring/reworking the code to the bot framework. There are infinite possibilities to this when the shift in personal computing would mean personal bot management and customization according to our moods and needs without compromising the original sense of the bot or an AI.
    First things first, I want msft to put a spell to its Skype with its Wand. Skype is a great service with possibilities, all it needs is the bold and right transformation and effort to make the next leap in the computing experience.
    As always, a great article to read :) Thank you Jason.
  • Thanks raytiger:-) You like that boats and ocean bit huh? Lol. :-) Thx! I think it gives a good imagery of Microsoft's platform approach. :-) I agree that the whole AI and bots shift is full of amazing potential, fir simplifying and unifying processes and task execution. I look forward to see where some creative minds, with vast imaginations', take this shift! Thanks for the support!!!
  • Great article Jason!
  • Thanks ia_win!:-)
  • I don't know much about bots, boats whatever. All I know it's that as a HSBC customer they refuse to make an app because Microsoft's share of the mobile market is only 1%. I am trying to give this platform a chance but as a traveling business person I need to be able to access my accounts quickly without the aid of a chip and pin. When will this bridge be gapped.
  • Change to Natwest. Their app is fantastic. Just made the switch and couldn't be happier generally. That bridge wont be gapped for a long time.
  • I hear you.. Screw you Capital One. If it would be worth it, I would switch to Wells Fargo or Bank of America. It just isn't worth switching accounts over because I can't scan checks that I rarely deposit, but it would be nice to do so when I have one!!!
  • Use the HSBC website, it gives you a lot more information than an app does anyway.
  • shaun,  It won't.   As a customer of different banks,  I have the app for every one of them.  Bots,  I want to open an app and everything i need is there.  I dont want to have to speak, type long sentences just to check bank accounts etc.  thats what MS is missing the boat on with bots  They think everyone will want to just talk to their phones....NOPE.  
  • I think you have provided a perfect example of how this tech will overcome the app gap
  • Please explain.  i said NOT EVERYONE wants to be yapping to their phones your type out long complicatied things if they don't have to.
  • Just asked the "Spock" bot on Skype if he liked tea or coffee, but all he wanted to talk about was Vulcan logic. One track mind if you ask me
  • Lol yeah I was chatting to him and found him most illogical.
  • One big thing that would make skype more appealing: Ditch the subscriptions. You can call any cell or landline in the US for free on hangouts.
  • That's an excellent point. Another hindrance is the need for a separate Skype number. I am able to make WiFi calls using Hangouts without getting a separate number for Hangouts. I just choose the Hangouts Dialer rather than the Phone app. Posted via my Moto X Pure Edition using the Windows Central App for Android
  • Great article Jason. Not surprised though. I've come to expect it. (even if it takes a while between pieces. :)
  • Lol. Thanks! I guess I need to speed it up huh?:-)
  • nice move.. there is way too much apps that aren't talking the same language. we don't need 10 messaging apps!
  • After a good meal, I send my compliments to the cook regardless of how many times I eat their creations. The same is true, compliments to the author for such a wealth of information. Style, preparation, delivery and presentation is on point as we 'readers digest' this. Since Microsoft owns the backend systems, I wonder if a developer is able to write code once and be translated across the other chat platforms. If that would be the case, then the war would almost certainly be won. In light of writing bots using systems that target one platform, it would be beneficial to target the vast community of chat platforms. Facebook is also smart by allowing Microsoft's backend to power bots in their messenger experience. If it doesn't always work with their implementation, then they can always rely on developers who have embraced the Microsoft approach
  • @Banele. Wow I appreciate that analogy. Thank you. Also thanks for the input to the discussion!
  • Part 5, I guess this was a five course meal. Were waiting for dessert now
  • Don't developers still need to approve Wand accessing their software?
  • In regards to the section on Skype - I would love to see Microsoft grow its user base for Skype. Unfortunately, with W10M recent move away from interested Skype, I have completely stopped using it. I previously used it on a daily basis and preferred using it over standard texting. I even talked non-Windows Mobile users into using their Skype app. Now that it is no longer integrated into the texting app I don't use Skype at all. I have no interest in opening a separate app. Might be just me. I feel the same way about Facebook messenger too. I would rather someone just send me a text message so I don't have to check a separate app for other messages.
  • I totally agree with, I loved the integration and ease of opening one app to cover ground on two social front. I will say this though, you win some and you lose some. What I love about the new app is group calling, I use it all the time, so I guess when Sms gets integrated it will be the same experience but reversed ( possibly even better with Cortana and bots integration, it will be a fine experience )
  • Such a joke. As long as CEO asshat is in charge MS is doomed.
  • Always one dumb arse who has to pipe up. No idea about the world in which he lives
  • So come in then. Explain to us what brings you to this conclusion.
  • Put down the crack pipe and the stupid pills, please.
  • I've used Windows on my phones since Verizon's "Pocket PC" slider (remember that beast?) and I've kept it up through some Alcatel thing with a teeny little trackball on it, an HTC HD7, HTC 8X, Lumia 920 and finally an Icon --- now I have a $75 used LG G2 VS980 and an app for Dunkin' Donuts, Taco Bell, McDonalds, Menard's, Home Depot, Lowe's, Kroger, PayPal, US Bank, USPS, UPS, FedEx, Plex, Netflix, Ryobi PhoneWorks, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Blizzard's Hearthstone, Tumblr, Instagram, my kid's school district, GE Credit Union, Reverb, Napster (Rhapsody), Plex, Flipboard, Flixster, Android Pay, a Quick Remote app that works, AND Office Mobile with Outlook, Bing, XBox, One Drive, Remote desktop, Office Lens and finally, Pokemon GO. It hurts me - I miss my Icon, it was SO much more beautiful, this stupid phone looks like LeapFrog made it... but I couldn't take it any more. Tell me why I cannot run most of those programs on my Icon, I would love to switch back! Oh, and while I'm here, we're talking about chat, I think..... I dunno -- if I want to tell my wife something I just send her an SMS. Am I a caveman?
  • "Looks like LeapFrog made it" LMAO this is the exact reason I hope WP doesn't kill mobile. I can deal with the apps aspect, though it is getting harder and harder to ignore. But there is no way in hell do I want some ugly UI on my screen that is not remotely user friendly or even native functional without apps.
  • There are MANY android phones that don't look like a leapfrog device.  And you will never get that support on your icon.  Sorry...
  • I could see this being a really good idea for making banking apps better integrate into some type of money manager.  It sounds like you could potentially perform native banking functions across several banks within the same app.  This would be huge!  Of course this is just specualtion based on what I understand this service to do.
  • Wow, exciting indeed! This might bridge the digital divide between product/service provider and consumer. Microsoft isn't new in messaging based workflow for business. Thinking of BizTalk Server and SharePoint. It sounds this is going to make it rather easy to write consumer front-ends for their own Dynamics and legacy as SAP and even mainframe processes. Google, Facebook and Apple have never been into this and I don't think they will get over the entry barriers. If they execute well, and I have no doubt with Satya at the helm, then Microsoft is going to make a fortune with its Conversation as a Platform and related cloud services.
  • @Thanks for the input Joscelin!
  • You're welcome and thanks for the compliment.
  • Am I the only one who feels like every one of Jason Ward's six part editorials are exactly the same? Geez how often can we talk about the same stuff....
  • Where are the products of the Islandwood Project? Can MSFT release the ported apps, or none is ever made out of it? Before our phones gets obsolete, the coming of appless (app-less) MSFT bot-run phone in the future.
  • I see a lot of similarities between today and 2006. Microsoft was the dominant phone along with blackberry. While MS was still trying to take CE to a stylus type interface, they were leapfrogged by apple and Google. The latter two pushing ahead with a new way to interact. Now I wonder if it's MS who will leapfrog the others buy thinking to the future. Just a thought...
  • Satya must be stupid.... How the hell can you attract developers if you ask 30% of the price with a 0.4% market share, with Apple/Google asking 18% ?????FUC### IDIOT....