To say the relationship has been tumultuous would be an understatement. As with any relationship, there are two sides to this story.
A matter of perspective
In addition to my exciting position as a writer for the largest Microsoft-focused community, I've been an ordained minister for over two decades, an educator and an advocate for individuals with disabilities. Mediation is a common theme between all these positions. Mediators must understand both sides of an issue to help involved parties understand, not necessarily agree with, each other's perspectives.
Additionally, Windows Central is a forum-focused community where users, developers, and even Microsoft representatives, can communicate. Loyalists, embracing this platform, have passionately shared concerns regarding Microsoft's commitments, or lack therefore. We've published articles echoing some of those concerns. We've also articulated Microsoft's position on topics ranging from mobile to canceling consumer products.
And, Microsoft, loyalists would like a word with you.
A phone in hand or one that's planned?
First, a word to loyalists
Microsoft's "platform company," provision-of-tools and cross-platform missions have been counter-balanced with cryptic and confusing messaging about mobile and an increasing abandonment of consumer products. Thus, writers are challenged to communicate Microsoft's goals to a disenchanted core audience starving for mobile and consumer-focused news, who are generally disinterested in other topics that provide much-needed context.
Furthermore, many readers mistake an articulation of Microsoft's strategies as endorsements of expected success rather than provisions of perspective by a mediating party. A writer's role, particularly for a disgruntled audience, entails communicating the unpopular perspective of what is increasingly perceived as a hostile opposing entity. We're not necessarily trying to persuade readers to like what we believe Microsoft's doing, we're trying to help you understand it.
Loyalists must also understand our vocal community can easily become an echo chamber of ever-escalating, though legitimate, frustrations. My unbridled addition to that cacophony of voices via rants, as a long-time and disappointed Windows phone user, would be a waste of my opportunity to provide useful context. This is sometimes misinterpreted as misunderstanding our common plight. Using my position to rant rather than presenting both sides of this relationship could act as a barrier to productive mediation, however.
Loyalists should try to understand Microsoft's position
Barring Xbox, Microsoft isn't really in the consumer products business. CEO Satya Nadella recently stressed that point:
We are very different companies [from Apple and Google] ...We are a tool creator ... not a luxury good manufacturer. We are about creating technologies so that others can build. [With] Surface, we created a premium product ... every OEM should create a lower-priced model. We want to democratize things.
Loyalists must brace themselves for Microsoft's continued focus on being the platform of platforms.
Microsoft will continue pushing augmented and virtual reality, primarily through OEMs, via Windows Mixed Reality. It will further integrate iOS and Android into its ecosystem via Microsoft Graph, Cortana, Azure and cross-platform apps. It will incorporate a plethora of devices and platforms into an all-encompassing web of ambient computing through intelligent edge computing and IoT. Its first-party, Project Andromeda Core OS mobile device will be enterprise-focused, niche and aspirational.
Microsoft must understand loyalist's position
What loyalists find confusing and infuriating is that amidst all of this platform-, tools- and enterprise-focused talk, Microsoft has launched consumer-focused products and services that fans have embraced and the company has failed to support.
Consumers have invested time, money and energy in Microsoft's ecosystem. Losing the convenience and familiarity of Groove Music is frustrating. Watching developers leave a mobile platform Microsoft could have better supported, while developing its next-generation approach, is disheartening. Docs.com's demise makes our organizing comprehensive portfolios of content a waste of time. Microsoft Band, Zune, Kinect, and more, expand the tale of abandoned consumer-facing products. So you kind of have to wonder if Movies and TV is next.
Nadella's candor about repeatedly abandoning committed consumers is a refreshing level of honesty regarding Microsoft's mistakes. Level-headed loyalists welcome that type of honesty and further open dialogue at this "virtual table."
Dear Satya ...
As our favorite products are severed from the ecosystem, we legitimately question how you value our commitment. How can we have the promised "best on Windows" Microsoft experience when Microsoft's best efforts are on iOS and Android?
Microsoft enticed us with consumer products.
We understand Microsoft's a platform company. But it's you, Microsoft, that enticed us with compelling consumer products. Your messaging and actions are conflicting.
Given our longstanding relationship, loyalists would appreciate clarity. Carefully crafted PR messages promising personal computing nirvana as you cut first-party products and direct us to competing platforms won't do. Unorthodox candor and honesty is a fitting balance for the unorthodox handling of your loyal base.
Given your humility in admitting past mistakes, Mr. Nadella, we hope this invitation to our virtual table may be honored.
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