Ambient computing: Will Microsoft's lack of consumer focus hurt its future?

Intelligent technology is becoming an increasingly integrated part of our lives. Smartphones, smart speakers, AI, digital assistants, PCs, smartwatches, fitness bands, gaming consoles, virtual and augmented reality, IoT and in-car computing. These are representative of an all-encompassing personal computing experience that revolves around the user. An intelligent cloud manages user's data across devices creating a cohesive experience.

The model isn't perfect yet as certain technologies such as smart speakers, IoT and wearables are still evolving. The direction, however, is clear and the goal visible. We're approaching an all-encompassing multi-device world of ambient computing. "Computers" of various types will be part of our environment as much as they're part of our device portfolios. So where does Microsoft fit in here?

Devices will know us, perceive us, "follow" us and interact with us through cognitive services such as speech, motion and vision. It's evident that if a company isn't represented in all or at least most of the personal computing areas important to consumers, there will be an unavoidable gap in that company's ecosystem.

Like a broken bulb in a string of Christmas lights, that gap in the company's offerings will have a significant impact on the efficacy and appeal of its ecosystem for consumers. As a matter of fact, in Microsoft's case, that's already occurring.

Does Microsoft's "do more" vision do less for consumers?

Microsoft is poorly represented in certain areas of the consumer space due to lack of nimbleness, slow execution with getting products to market, poor marketing and lack of stamina in certain competitive spaces.

Part of Microsoft's challenge is its hyper-focus on its "do more" vision and "platform" strategy. It wants to provide the tools people use to "do more," and it seeks to be the cross-platform platform the industry's devices, products, and services run on.

While Microsoft strives to provide the tools, IoT, AI and cloud platform to attain these goals, rivals are building mindshare-grabbing consumer-facing products which are locking consumers into competing ecosystems.

Consumer troubles

After the advent of the consumer smartphone market, the app ecosystem, personal assistants, AI and the cloud were all mainstreamed among consumers. Microsoft's missing-of-the-boat in mobile is causing it to miss the wave in other consumer-facing areas of personal computing.

Digital Assistants

Without a successful mobile platform, Microsoft has struggled to make Cortana a recognized contender in the digital assistants war. Google Assistant and Siri dominate the collective consciousness of millions of iPhone and Android phone users. Conversely, Cortana which is available on 500 million Windows 10 PCs, millions of Windows phones, Xbox, the iPhone and Android phones is still struggling for mindshare.

Google's Assistant-equipped Home, Harmon Kardon's Cortana-powered Invoke and now Apple's Siri-powered HomePod are extending these cloud-supported assistants from user's phones to their homes where Amazon's Alexa dominates.

HomePod is certain to benefit from Apple's mighty marketing prowess when it arrives in December. Conversely, the Harmon Kardon speaker, which was on stage during Build 2017 and didn't get a mention, may suffer the same silent treatment many consumer-facing products seem to get from Microsoft when it arrives this fall.

Dis(Band)ed, Microsoft wearables where are you?

In 2014 Microsoft launched Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health, its cross-platform wearable and intelligent health platform. Microsoft intended to license the Bands proprietary sensors to hardware partners and positioned the Band as aspirational device companies could model.

After two iterations, Microsoft abruptly canceled the Band. Also, Microsoft Health never demonstrated the intelligence Microsoft promised before it too fizzled. Rumors of another wearable to fill the void left by the Band have yet to materialize.

Meanwhile, Apple sees success with Apple Watch, and Android wearables provide a host of options for consumers.

Driving into the future

Google's Android Auto and Apple's CarPlay (opens in new tab) are in-car solutions that are available on hundreds of car models. Though still an evolving market this further integrates iOS and Android into user's lives.

Microsoft has less mindshare and representation than rivals but isn't absent from this space. Microsoft's Connected Vehicle Platform (opens in new tab) uses Azure, Cortana and more to enable automakers to create custom connected driving experiences.

A mix of virtual and augmented reality

Microsoft's introduction of HoloLens and Window Holographic in 2015 seemed like a balanced product and platform strategy. Though we knew a first-party consumer-focused HoloLens wouldn't debut before 2020 it seems Microsoft or partners could have produced a less sophisticated AR headset modeled after HoloLens.

This would have given Microsoft both a market presence and mindshare.

As Microsoft promotes Windows Mixed Reality, which supports augmented and virtual reality, it currently has no first- or third-party AR or VR headsets in the market. Meanwhile, Google has a simple consumer-facing VR solution with Google Cardboard. It's not as advanced as Microsoft's "coming" VR headsets, but it's here, consumers use it, and they know it's from Google.

Apple's ARKit will also do what Microsoft hasn't yet done. It will put a simple, crude, and awkward (in comparison to HoloLens) phone and tablet-based AR solution in the hands of millions of consumers. This functional and engaging solution with the "AR" label will be enough for consumers and media to applaud Apple while it refines its platform and potential hardware to take on the more advanced HoloLens later. In the meantime, Apple's AR offering will be in the market grabbing consumer mindshare while Microsoft's will still be in development.

According to Xbox head Phil Spencer, a consumer-ready, AR solution that can be produced at scale is still five to ten years away. Imagine the consumer mindshare Apple will gain in that time.

Microsoft, consumers need to hear from you

The various failures in Microsoft's product history may repeat if it doesn't make marketing to consumers a priority.

Whether Microsoft likes it or not, consumers are dictating the success or failure of the modern multi-device personal computing platform. As consumers buy into smart home speakers, phones, VR and AR solutions and more that are part of a company's ecosystem, the likelihood of switching to another ecosystem diminishes.

Microsoft knows this. That's why in innovative desperation it demonstrated, at Build 2017, how the Microsoft Graph incorporates iOS and Android devices (opens in new tab) within Microsoft's ecosystem, using a Windows 10 PC as the hub and Cortana as the cross-platform UI. This is commendable. But if Microsoft is going to be relevant in the future of personal computing consumers need to choose Microsoft. Microsoft, therefore, needs consumer-facing products in the market (beyond the Xbox) that consumers can choose.

Ambient computing future

Eventually, smart home speakers will be common household appliances. Intelligent IoT devices of various shapes, sizes and purposes will permeate our homes, cities, cars, appliances and more. AR headsets/glasses will become normalized allowing us to see and interact with the digital plane of the IoT-permeated world that will surround us. In other words, screen-less devices will have a "digital" component that AR glasses will allow us to interact with as seen here:

This is the world of ambient computing that we are approaching. Companies that have a portfolio of consumer-facing products that meet consumers needs and provides the cloud, AI and IoT platforms will be best positioned for this world where personal computing is not centered around a single device.

Microsoft needs to aggressively aim to become more than the tie that binds. It needs to be part of the visible fabric of this evolving personal computing quilt, or landscape, that is encompassing us, or they could, eventually, face irrelevancy.

Jason Ward

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!!! As personal computing becomes more of a multidevice experience and IoT grows throughout our world the foundations of ambient computing are being layed. Microsoft needs to be a visible part of this picture. As a platform company Microsoft is focusing on its place in IoT and an intelligent cloud platform to power what it seems as the future of computing. But that's just part of the picture. Consumers are dictating, by their choice of devices and consequently ecosystems what companies are seeing greater success is certain areas of personal computing. It is therefore important that Microsoft have consumer products that are part of this multi-device world that consumers can choose from and that a re a portal to Microsofts ecosystem. Without this Microsofts place in the coming ambient computing world may be in threatend. So what are your thoughts. LET'S TALK!!!
  • In my experience, the main problem with selling to businesses only, is the procurement process: *you do not sell to end users* but to a committee or even worse to professional buyers.
    This means you end up filling endless lists of requirements that are NEVER EVER used, while the end user practical needs are ignored in favor of whatever pet peeve the so called experts have.
    The end result may be big short term money at the cost of a lot of long term ill will among rank and file. Eventually someone among rank and file becomes boss and only remembers the pain inflicted.
  • Much as I hate to say this Jason, for long term Microsoft fans like us, perhaps it is time to buy that alternative phone and move into the current decade of technology.  It's sad as Microsoft is a great pioneer but doesn't appear to have the consumer focus or followthrough to compete at the top in this market.  It's like the consumer space is a hobby with lack of commitment except for a few services like Office 365.  I'm just not seeing any cohesive strategy (or any strategy really).  It's like hey, this is a neat AR or hey, this is a neat fitness band or look at this: a phone that locks when you drive your car, yet then watches Apple or others excel at the execution.  It doesn't help that Microsoft gave up and therefore gave away the mobile space, which let's face it, is the future of computing.  I'm still dumbfounded on that front.  It was like let's get usage above 10% marketshare in Europe and now lets give up on mobile.  I know that some of them believe cloud computing and services is the future, but you need a gateway device for that.  And controlling the gateway gives a massive first-party advantage that has been lost.  Frustrating. Oh well, enough rambling.  They are coming up with some nice sharing features in the Fall Update, but unless we get an iPhone or Android phone we'll probably not be able to fully appreciate them ;)
  • I have to admit I switched from my Lumia 1520 to an LG V20 recently.
    Microsoft has the greatest potential, but like past Philips products, they fail to grab the market fast enough.
  • they are dying because of it
  • Great article Jason and I totally agree with you. However let me add one caveat, when you stated: "Consumers are dictating, by their choice of devices and consequently ecosystems what companies are seeing greater success is certain areas of personal computing. It is therefore important that Microsoft have consumer products that are part of this multi-device world that consumers can choose from and that are a portal to Microsofts ecosystem.", I would suggest that in today's cross-platform world that Microsoft re-think their strategy of giving consumers a choice as to what apps and services they wish to utilize for their productivity rather than turning on all Microsoft apps by default.  Today's consumers are wise and don't wish to have apps and services pushed on them by an eco-system, but would rather choose which products work for them from a variety of eco-systems. Consumers are dictating their choices in areas of personal computing, and all of them aren't necessairly belonging to Microsoft, and they won't if Microsoft chooses to continue to force apps and services on users by default.  If I choose to use Windows, it doesn't mean that I choose or prefer to use their email, their messaging, their photo, music, video services, etc. by default. Let me have the choice in this cross-platform world to choose what apps I wish to have associated with my MSA! Consumers like choice, not dictation. This cross-platform strategy should be a strength Microsoft could promote and market, which would open users to an expanding market of multi-devices and apps, rather than forcing apps on users out of fear they would go elsewhere.  If I choose, for example to use Wire, Viber  FB Messenger or Whatsapp, why would I want Skype included by default?   If Microsoft has great devices and apps, there would be no need to drive consumers to the Microsoft portal...they will come for the product.  Try a little more advertising, and less default.  No consumer wants to be locked in to one echo-system anymore, (hello Apple).  If Microsoft wants users to choose Microsoft they better give users a choice of product AND service! Just a thought.
  • I think that if they lose all the consumers at the end they are going to lose also the enterprise. Because new consumers are not familiar with ms technology. So the cost for enterprise to familiarize them is going to be great.
  • But but profit is more important
  • I agree. With each new batch of students that moves through my classroom each year, MS is losing more and more valuable consumer awareness. Those young people will grow more and more accustomed to using iDevices and Android devices since MS was overrun by tablets in the education market. They have a huge hill to climb.
  • Seeing the exact same in my classroom. So F'in P.O.'d at MS for this complete and seemingly intentional dropping of the ball again and again.
  • Meh. In the 80s Apple was in every classroom also, but eventually we all realized that we need to learn a PC to get a job so we did. As long as Apple computers remain a rip off most businesses will continue with PCs.
  • Apple computers are not the threat. iPads, and Google devices are the threat to education, and largely just Google devices now cause the iPad craze has slowed down while Chromebook sales in education have soared. Then the threat will trickle into regular business sectors as less and less mindshare regarding computing will go to Microsoft all the while the iPads andnChromebooks get faster or better at each yearely refresh
  • Exactly. Without consumer recognition their corporate products will also become irrelevant. The time bomb is ticking and MS need to get back into mainstream consumer products, such a mobiles, watches and other smart devices NOW. Good luck doing this in 6 or 12 months, no one will care less.
  • The have shown Cshell , definitely they are working on something greatest compared to the competition.
  • CShell is nothing but a way of changing display size depending on device type lol...nothing wow! You fanboys never stop being delusional. No one but a few dozen fanboys care about their cshell crap.
  • It could be dangerous for them to focus and rest too much on the success of their cloud and Office business. Also: people WANT consumer products from them. With all their money and knowledge it's even irresponsible not to offer any health products anymore while the digital natives become older and would love to use technology to help in this regard.
  • Users want to use at work what they use at home. The more fun something is to use at home, the more they want it to bring to work. You say it with the iPad. The first versions could only do basic ****, but even then everyone wanted to struggle at work with an iPad. They don't care if a Windows pc can do more. Users want simple stuff. Life is, and jobs are complicated enough.
  • Microsoft themselves are sure trying to attract a consumer. It's their on the ground, retail team that is failing miserably. I've been to 3 MSFT stores now (including one on 5th ave) and sales team in all 3 were clearly bored and not interested in their own products. You go into Apple and immediately greeted by an Apple employee, MSFT sales team don't even know how to great people. Retail is everything when it comes to attracting consumers.
  • you are absolutely wrong. MS does not make any money with the brick and mortar stores. this is fact. those stores exist to "repair relationships". in other words, to give things away to irate customers. ok, so MS builds a store...they have NO phone to stock them with. they have no mass appeal with their first party products (other than xbox). their pricey and glitchy surface line isn't going to appeal to most, and hasn't they continuously set up shop across from apple stores, trying to flex, then end up looking fololish when their store is empty, and Apple's is packed.  Apple stores don't have macbooks and imacs flying off the shelves. people are there for the iphone, and number show that since mobile comprises more than 90 percent of Apple's sales. ahahah don't try to blame the retail workers for MS' continuous flops and lack of direction and follow through.
  • Sounds pretty spot on to me. I finally gave up a few months ago with my all Microsoft ecosystem. As an example, I got tired of waiting for a whole home audio solution that was always "coming soon". The day I gave up, I went out and bought several chrome cast audio receiver's, and in the span of a couple of hours, have the music system I have wanted for a while. Problem is, I had to switch to android to do it and ended up breaking the whole Microsoft ecosystem I had built and enjoyed which sucks. I get it, business is where the money is, so that's where Microsoft is focusing. I can't blame them. However, if they don't find some sort of success on the consumer side, Windows risks becoming a simple "launcher" (like how some perceive the iPhone, ironic huh?) so I can get to my services from Apple and Google.
  • Consumer focus? I don't think Microsoft really has any focus ATM...
  • From a business user I can say MS has pretty much zero focus on businesses also. We had to rewrite our plans and take a huge slap after having to replace all the 650s and 950 because of MS failed mobile OS. YES, windows 10 mobile is pathetic in business, simply pathetic. Mobile Management tools from MS work better with an We've had to replace all those crap  winmo10 phones with new iphones, but at least now, employees are much happier.
  • Is that band 3 prototype in the image?
  • Thing is other than xbox, people really don't want mass-market consumer products from MS. That's ok, bloggers should embrace it not weaponze this. Surface is not mass-market. Office is perhaps a hybrid mass-market consumer still not a physical product.. MS Stores are pointless in that they have nothing to sell mass-market consumers that other retailers can't sell (video games and laptops).  
  • "Surface is not mass-market" however, MS wants it to be and has since day of the line's launch. that's on them. a lot of reasons could point to as to why that's the case, but they all lead right back to MS.
  • we want MS to be mass-market but  i'm not sure they want surface to be mass-market. SurfaceRT was almost 2x more costly with keyboard than 11" x86 laptops.  Mac is not "mass-market" either, these are high-end upper income, student loan devices
  • MS has no clear direction or intent. they do an even poorer job of acting as if they do. that in itself answered the questions pretty easily, for me at least.
  • I think the whole issue Microsoft has is trying to be the platform of choice so people can build on, but the reality is, nobody gives a d**n, and they won't built on a platform without ecosystem. Google and Apple build consumer applications, Microsoft wants automakers to build a custom connected driving experiences. automakers make cars, no apps, software companies make apps... Microsoft can't seem to get that. And while they keep leveling their penetration on the computer space, access to things like Cortana are extremely limited to a handful of countries. Hell even the Xbox Live service is not available in most countries... living if Panama I have two options, set my Xbox as US so it works, or buy a PlayStation
  • "software companies make apps... Microsoft can't seen to get that" oh MS gets that, which is why they've always seemed to support iOS and Android better than their own. I mean, look at any MS app on iOS, then compare it to their own WP platform. it's laughable. you can't expect a company that supports other platforms more than their own, to care about their own fanbase.   
  • With all these clear examples, all the proof, fanboys continue to be guinea pigs for Dona Sarkar and her winmo insider toy thing...
  • Yes, it already has. People grow up with what they know and what they like. When these people leave school and get jobs this fandom bleeds into the their decisions as they drive their companies into the future. My company is a perfect example. The only MS footprint left in my company is office products, and that's only because of need, not want. All other tech projects and products (byod, IoT, mobile, tablet, cloud, services, software, etc...) include Google, Apple, Amazon, or Cisco. MS is never mentioned or even considered. Mentioning "Microsoft" here has the same connotation as IBM, Comcast, or Nortel.
  • You go into a Microsoft store and they use an Android phone. That's just pathetic. It basically says we care so little about mobile we will buy our own employees a competing device. As a consumer, if I am looking at the choice between Chrome and Windows S and the Microsoft employee has an android device I would wonder why I would go to Windows S if Microsoft's own employees thing that Android is better than their own company's offerings. Apple was able to invade the business phone market so successfully not because they went out and marketing themselves as the business phone but it was their consumers who demanded that their businesses allow them to use their iphones. Without a consumer push it will be a waste of time trying to get business to adopt any future Windows platform. When  I got my windows phone I tried to convince IT to support it and they basically said it wasn't worth the effort because they weren't sure Windows mobile would even be around in a few years. Sadly Microsoft proved them right.
  • Our school district is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on new equipment and technology. Almost all of it is Apple and Chromebook related. Many of these kids will grow up with no exposure whatsoever to Microsoft. They have failed miserably in this area and the effects are long lasting.
  • Well recently in terms of desktops and laptops/tablets Windows hold 89% market share. With OSX on 5%, and the rest shared between google and Linux. So the data shows otherwise. It's only the mobile OS that Google and Apple lead on. So i disagree. All the high schools I've viewed for my daughter this year have technology rooms full of Windows desktop computers. The presentations by the schools on Open day was also done on a Windows PC. There is just so much more software (millions more) available for Windows.
  • In terms of most grade level students, it all about Apple and Chrome. That is where the vast majority of educational software is directed. To think this will not affect mindshare as these kids age going forward is silly
  • The mindshare is officially 5% of the entire world. How is that going to affect it?? That's less than 5 years ago. Where Apple had 8%. It's going down. Not up.
  • My question to you is this: What personal devices do these high school students use outside of school? I live in a neighborhood with a lot of middle and high school kids and the over whelming majorty use Apple products personally and at home. Some use Android but "nobody: (sample size is too small to measure) regarding MS products. Success in this market starts at the bottom and goes up. What I use personally dictates what I consider when buying business or home devices.
  • Microsoft has bigger things to worry about, like making sure people have the freedom to choose to use whatever bathroom they want.
  • Based on my experience trying to purchase two of the new Surface Pros, my conclusion is they both have no idea how to market to consumers nor do they care. It was a bungled process all the way through and the only response I got from Microsoft was "talk to customer support", which had no idea what was going on. It was the worst purchasing process I have ever experienced, ranking right up there with sitting in a car dealer for 4 hours trying to buy the car I specifically picked out before I even walked into the dealership. I have been a Microsoft fanboy for many years now, but I'm finding that is slowly changing.
  • I agree totally Jason.
  • The clock is ticking...the 950/XL is close to being obsolete. The Alcatel will be the only viable flagship left for consumers, but not for long (TMobile version is already becoming buggy because of (IMO) no firmware updates, and I don't know if the unbranded version has had a firmware update recently). I'm also betting HP won't bring out their promised refreshed x3 unless they see some improvement in W10 support. I think W10 phone devices are now in a worse place then Blackberry even. I just hope my next Android phone will be compatible with my MS Wireless Display Adapter (another awesome device that MS seems to have stopped supporting)...but I already know Samsung devices won't be.
  • Yes it will.
  • I have recently been viewing High schools for my Daughter. All of them have technology rooms with Windows based PCs in them. I'm trying to get her in a Grammar school as she wants to do Graphic design and learn to code programming. For gaming and CGI. The impression i got was MS was the only choice for full Software. Maybe my circle of people are different, but none of us use many apps at all. Aren't interested in wearables and are all getting desktop PCs this year, as phones just don't cut it. Even the best and fastest phones feel the same as 4 years ago. They are just frustrating for anything outside YouTube. The buzz has gone. And app developers are dropping like flies because 90% of the apps out their are pointless and don't make any money for devs. The average app is used for less than 48 hours and then uninstalled and never used again. The reason why tablets never sold like Phones is because phones are purchased under contract loans. Tablets are not. They are bought out right. The phone business model is volatile. And not future proof. What happens when things change and carriers are chosen on a monthly basis without the need for Sim cards? You can bet if people had to pay up front for their phone, phone sales would rapidly decline year on year.
  • U speak like a member if ms marketing team who convince themselves that they r doing really well
  • They are. Latest figures show 89% market share. And OSX/google share the remainder 11%.
  • Microsoft is 89% if you stick your head in the sand and ignore mobile. Phones are getting more and more powerful and the software is constantly getting better. There is less and less need for PCs. They are quickly getting relegated to proffesionals and heavy tasks.
  • Wrong on your view over apps. Devs drop like flies from this pathetic UWP Store. On both IOS and Android devs do make money, otherwise apps would not be there. The average app is used 48 hours then uninstalled?? :))) Who do you think you're fooling here? MS is present in the PC area. That's it! Phones, tablets, wearables, Health, Cars are all topic where MS either failed miserabily or is not curious about because of their pure stupidity. AR/VR is another sector where others will do better. And don't tell me about Surface Pros as tablets because those are not tablets, are 2in1s. Tablet experience and usability on windows is pure mediocrity.
  • Microsoft is a busness geared company, where about 85% of their profits come from (Office, Windows and server software OS and apps).  The Xbox thing is a gamer thing. You build good games with a good selection for a reasonable price, the gamers will come. Besides Xbox (and like I said a complete different market), Microsoft has NO clue on how to reach consumers. It needs to completely fire it's entire marketing group and start from GROUND UP. Anyway about it, they cant do both buisness marketing and consumer marketing, mixing the 2 does not fit with the younger demographic. Again, Microsoft is NOT cool to anyone under 25... and you wonder why that is ???
  • The problem is, we misunderstand what ms lineup of products is. Microsoft had to make the surface to show its hardware partners that design matters. Look at windows machines before and after. It was priced way too high so that it wouldn't offend dell and hp and all the others. The band and band 2, surface studio and most of MS hardware was produced in limited numbers and never intended to sell in huge numbers. Most of ms hardware is intended to convince their partners to make great products. The one product that ms intended to sell in huge numbers, Xbox, and guess what, they market that pretty well. 
  • MS is 99% close to being not cool for 25-40 also...
  • Yes, Microsoft's lack of consumer focus is going to hurt its future? Simple as that.
  • Apple has made squillions of dollars selling to consumers but, somehow, this has gone over Microsoft's head.  
  • Why why why show us the Band 3 in torture! :( My 7th (yep, 7th) Band 2 died yesterday and I've finally switched to the Fitbit Charge 2 given that text notifications are (somewhat) working now with the 950. What a step backwards.
  • The Fitbit Charge 2 was also a step backwards from the Fitbit Charge HR.  The vibration alerts aren't nearly as strong as the original HR, and a screen that nearly blinds you in the middle of the night when it activates as you roll over in bed, are my two largest complaints.  I wished that there was a Band 3.  Maybe we'll be surprised with one for Christmas 2017.
  • Samsung Gear Fit 2 is great
  • Education and business are both constrained environments, and both places, where "do more" would make sense. The thing is, the store is a productivity desert, no coding environments, no nothing, only, finally, Office, which is still Win32 with a special treatment to make it break the sandbox. Epic fail, if you ask me. The last sign, that this company cannot overcome its legacy of divisional infighting; don't be fooled by One Microsoft. Consumers are all about content. And if content is a video stream (with Windows still lacking a couple of protocols like UPnP), a mp3, a audiobook, an ebook, an emagazine or a game, the Windows Store is either a desert too, or a place having weird suggestion, sorting and search algorithms. And no, it is not a strictly mobile problem, it's rampant on the desktop, too. So, unless Amazon pulls the trigger on a complete renewed and working set of apps for Windows, I fail to get excited. Unless content for age group 10-16 is not the utter void it is, apart from 27 € Minecraft, Windows is toast when I buy a tablet or a phone for my children. And finally, loosing too many work or free hours on updates is simply not acceptable. I don't need to reboot Linux, and honestly I shouldn't be even aware, Windows is getting updates.
  • First of all, Microsoft need to put their products and services globaly. Actually they only focuses in europe and USA, in latin america we never receive a product from they. The Lumia x50 line never gets here and the Surface line either.
  • Microsoft will end up being the supplier of apps that run on iOS and android. Once business make the switch to android and iOS (MS is making all its services available there, to speed things up), the need for windows will slowly disappear. Azure can easily be copied by google and apple, leaving MS with just some server sw business and xbox. The way they are going now they are missing out on all big market innovations and the lack of services, no mobile presence, no car sw, no iot, etc will mean that MS will only have half an ecosystem. This will mean nobody will develop for MS as this ecosystem will go where mobile has gone, down the toilet. I think they know they missed the boat and that's why they have begun developing apps for iOS and android. That's all that is left for them, really pathetic, if you think about it. Complete lack of vision combined with a healthy amount of arrogance and lack of customer focus and see how quickly a big company can turn into a dinosaur looking extinction in the eye. MS is about to pull an IBM and they have no idea that its happening.
  • Don't forget to mention a CEO who has no interest in the consumer space and fails to understand how consumers, the people that buy products, are the ones that dictate where things go including enterprise. MS is beyond the point of being able to turn this around. We're not at the beginning of the end, we are closer to the middle of the end and it will only accelerate from here.
  • Apple also has no IoT and replicating a cloud service is a lot harder, than you suggest. It's about choice, and honestly, Apple is diametral to this. Also, they have no server stack to speak of. Google may do it, but here their history as a data hog bites them. Also, bringing Android or ChromeOS to business sounds like a bright idea. But you cannot habe the hybrid systems businesses strive for using Google cloud. The real contender here is Amazon, especially from a manageability PoV. But Microsoft is in a very good position, not least because head of dev&cloud Scott Guthrie is absolutely delivering what he promises, 100 percent. As a dev I can tell you, it's a delight to work with them. Just look at the Windows division of broken promises, to spot the difference.
  • I really have nothing to add that hasn't already been said. As much as I want to stay with Windows Mobile, for the first time, I'm starting to really consider my options. If I decide to do so, Android will likely be my move.
    As mentioned in the article, the Band was a product that was actually starting to gain some popularity. If MS had not cancelled the Band 3, it might have seen Surface like growth in the wearable market. The Band 2 was a vast improvement over the first. The only thing the Band 3 needed was to be water proof and better material for the strap, considering you couldn't change it. As much as I enjoy using my Band 2, the band has broken and I find ways to repair it, but that is getting old. I'm now considering a FitBit to replace it.
    It's a shame, that Satya is so consumer unfriendly. If MS can't bring something meaningful to the consumer market that will help capture mindshare, before the end of the year, MS can forget it going into 2018.
    I had faith that this retrenchment would only be a 6month to a year thing, initially. I was hoping MS would finally get back in the ring with a renewed vigor and start winning some rounds. As it stands now, they just seem to be ready to throw in the towel. Commitment to something is definitely key to MS's success in the consumer market. Without it, resistance becomes futile...yes, I just said that. It's like finding your favorite ice cream brand and flavor at the local grocery store, only to realize, the store no longer carries it and you have to search other stores to find it. By that time, you just end up going with another brand and flavor that is just as good, or better and more widely available. Smh
  • When you get your Android phone check out the Gear Fit 2 from Samsung, it's like the Band 2 but better in most ways.
  • Honestly, I feel MS's biggest issue is TRUST. I have no doubt that MS will deliver some great hardware and software over the next year or two. But I have a complete lack of confidence that they will do what is necessary to sustain or grow these products in the long run. With all their successes, there are countless examples of failures (most self-inflicted) that have left consumers feeling burned. I held off on buying a Surface until the book came out because it met my use case. But most importantly, I finally felt the product had enough wind underneath it wings that MS wouldn't torpedo it. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for my Band or countless phones (back to wm 6.1). MS needs better out reach to consumers to build back trust and establish a faithful core of consumers that will advocate for their products. In their greatest areas of need I feel they have tried to snuff us out. And in the case of phones, they have been quite successful.
  • Yeah, agreed but think of what you are talking about:
    Microsoft, the vision company, the player of tomorrow or in other less pleasing words: Microsoft is the Team Rocket of the consumer market.
  • I loved that Team Rocket comparison xD
  • I work in IT, thus I'm heavily immersed in the MS ecosystem, and my Lumia 950 still does everything I need it to do. However, I'm by no means the typical mobile devcice user.  The bottom line is that what happens in the consumer space has a direct impact on what happens in the enterprise, and if MS doesn't realize that and take it seriously, they are going to start seeing even their hold on the business world start to slip significantly.  I go into restaurants and donut shops and see iPads being used for order taking and sales transactions.
    There's no reason this couldn't be accomplished with MS front-end products that are more eaisly integrated and managed by the back-end server side of business.  The hardware capability is there.  The infrastructure is there.  The management structure is there.  But most people don't know that.  Marketing has pretty much ALWAYS been the Achilles heal for MS, and while they've come a long way in design, capability, and future vision, they still absolutely suck at marketing.  They also suck at listening to their technically competent fans, as we have lamented the dismal marketing efforts on major MS-oriented websites for years, and MS seems to not hear us.
    My company will have new employees that look at me like I'm insane when I tell them our company uses Windows Phones and tablets, and that we do not have or support Apple or Android products.  I do my best to show them the latest capabilities of Windows Phone and Windows 10, and I have some success at wowing a few and have even made some converts.  But I'm only one man with a limited auddiance.
    There is so much that Windows 10 will do right now that the average consumer isn't even aware of.  It's astonishing how many people I know who will say, "Yeah, but Windows doesn't have apps."  That right there is the most glaring evidence of what is at the heart of all of MS's efforts.  Despite their ubiquiti, despite the fluid interaction of their devices, despite their enormously deep pockets, people just don't "get" that the Windows of today is vastly different from what it was 10 years ago.  It's as though they just think MS put a new skin on Windows 7 and gave it a new name and called it done. The new CAPABILITIES are being lost on people.
    MS is REALLY good in W10 of nagging people about updates.  What they should be doing instead of nagging is INSPIRING people to update by equiping those nags screens and update lists with web links that will take people straight to videos showcasing the new capabilities and real-world usage.  Instead of those pop-ups being viewed as an incomsequential annoying, they should be viewed and used as a marketing and customer engagement/education opportunity, and MS is missing the boat there.
  • The HERE suite and some of the other Lens apps were the hook that Microsoft started and SHOULD have exploited.  City Lens was a FANTASTIC example of practical and simple AR.  Yet MS stupidly let that fish get away.  For THAT ALONE I would gladly slap Satya Nadella for not fixing.  Instead, those ignorant fools completely abandoned lenses altogether.  And no developers have made any attempt to do anything with that.  So, that's why Microsoft will never, ever get a foothold in AR.  As for the personal assistant, I will say again what I have said many times.  Microsoft is MAKING NO EFFORT TO INTEGRATE THE CORTANA EXPERIENCE.  None at all.  Why is this so difficult understand?  Scenario: You one of these stupid Harmon Kardon speakers, your Xbox, your Surface tablet and your phone, all in the living room.  Then, not thinking, you say, "Hey Cortana, turn on the Xbox".  Too late, you now have the Xbox turning on, but then your phone, speaker and tablet all respond with variations on "I can't do that right now, check back for future updates" or "Here are the instructsions how to turn on your Xbox".  Microsoft has GOT to figure out how to make Cortana REALLY ominipresent. The system MUST be able to not only recognize YOU, but recognize all the devices that hear you--and could provide you a response.  It THEN must be able to intelligently figure out how to decide which method to present the response to you.  If I want to watch a certain channel, every device listening should recognize this is most likely a command that the Xbox is uniquely designed satisfy--all other devices should simply go back to sleep.  Cortana should allow me to specify the device within the command, like "Hey, Cortana, show me the weather on the Xbox" or "Open OneNote on my tablet".  Until Microsoft figures out this, I don't care what they or anyone does. This is all just semi-useful garbage.
  • What's funny after reading Jez write-up about how "Microsoft needs to get serious about mobile or give up" had be laughing.  There are so many of us who have complained that Microsoft losing focus and plain not caring about what some users think.  I find it funny now is the time these Microsoft centric writers want to criticize MS.  I say save your breath.  You had your chance and blew it.  To your point.  HERE suite was and is awesome!  City Lens was one of the best apps.  Photosync.  And I could go on and on.  But I blame this on the writers and incompetent users.  They (users) complain now.  But every time Microsoft removed a feature or great app they NEVER complained.  They were too busy "Oh look Windows 10 is here."  "Oh look, we've got these insider programs.".  Like simple minded sheep they were more concerned about any little shiny toy Microsoft put in front of them instead on concentrating or focusing on what was really happening - removal of great apps and features. Microsoft used these people as guinea pigs to better their software for iOS and Google.  Like you I refuse to move to iOS or Google.  But just because I'm not moving doesn't mean I agree with how MS has basically ruined a great OS.   
  • Fanboys will always be fanboys and eat any crap MS is throwing. When the x50s were launched with that pathetic mediocre buggy OS, very few complained, the rest...Oh, wait for the next update, be a good blind fanboy and pay MS over 500 EUR on a broken piece of crap OS
  • Your points are quite valid but your wording is... well, as you put it: "Crap".
  • NO.
  • The only division of MS that has even an inkling of a clue when it comes to consumer focus is Xbox, since Phil Spencer took over at least. I've said it a thousand times, "Microsoft" is too enterprise sounding. They need to come off the back of Xbox or create a new division that doesn't have the Microsoft name there. "Microsoft" just doesn't sound cool in any way. No matter what you release. Try it, walk up to a random person and ask them to say the first word that comes to mind when to describe any particular brand. Apple, Google, Uber, Tesla, Virgin, Xbox, will generally have positive results, yet you say Microsoft and it will go more in line with things like Norton, Netgear, Epson, Encyclopedia Britanica etc. Definitely not in the cool category. It just doesn't ooze fun or excitement, it's boring and necessary where people will think of Steam, Nvidia, Intel, Corsair, RGB, Thrustmaster, long before they ever get to Microsoft or Windows as anything to do with their PC. Whenever anyone does some kind of cost of PC to console comparison they always omit the OS. Instead of trying so hard to make Microsoft cool, especially as their business is so heavily weighted towards enterprise. they just need to create a new identity and get that going. They could build Android phones then and once enough people are buying their phones, make the switch to WP. Bet you if Samsung suddenly decided to switch from Android to WP, enough people are fans of Samsung over Android that they would rather change OS than change brand. The only time you ever hear of all this UWP stuff and how great windows is, is at their Build conferences and whatnot. which less than 0.00001% of the population actually have any interest in. They need to be out there touring malls and getting things in the hands of the public with live demos and free swag. Get people talking about this amazing stuff. For 1 because the phone and hardware stores aren't doing it and for another, people don't like change unless they can first really see what they are missing out on on the other side. The big key to doing that is to have a new name doing it. People see a Microsoft stall somewhere, they'll pay as much interest as if it were a Keparsky stall, with a new name there though, people won't have that presumption and may just peak a little interest.
  • They need to bring a MS store to Richmond, VA and stop playing
  • I would say Satya is bring the disaster in near future to MS.
  • You know what,you could be onto something,and I agree with what someone mentioned earlier about Phil Spencer,clearly Mr Spencer knows how,or knows someone that does,to market a product,i was thinking about this the other day,in a 24 hr period,how many ads do we see on TV about MS,(besides XBOX) I'm going out on a limb and gonna say 1 if your lucky,and I'm absolutely nowhere near as qualified for the job as the people doing it but I know if I'm trying to market something,the first thing I'm going for is the TV,you never see any,maybe a Surface commercial every couple days and a MS cloud service commercial twice a month,but Samsung and Apple are as frequent as soda or snack commercials,and the name change isn't a bad idea,but I've gave up being angry or bitter about it and I love WP as much as anyone in these forums,but I'm just gonna keep using my WP till it for real for real dies,and I've realized that if Nadella is really actually trying to straighten this mess of WP out then it's gonna have to be rebuilt and folks that is a enormous task,its gonna take some time and patience and for us that love our WP's,were gonna have to remain open minded,who knows,the reason it's taking so long is because they're building an absolute monster of a phone,(that we'll not be able to afford but get on a ridiculous 2 yr contract anyway) that's actually gonna be a game changer and eat iPhones and galaxies for breakfast,we gotta wait and see i suppose,either way I'm gonna still use my WP and be the oddball in the crowd,and if I can't get an app i simply go through my browser and then when I get to the log in page I tap on those little dots in the corner and select"pin to start screen" boom,i got something just as good,that easy,at the end of the day it's just a phone,or device,i don't have"feelings" for it,i don't think of it as I do my daughter,i don't take it into consideration when I'm deciding on what to eat,but on the other hand we all want what works best for us,as individuals,if you want a iPhone 7+,go get it,if you want a flip phone from dollar general,cool,but for me,it's Windows or nothing,unless its officially discontinued I'll always have a WP, because it can't ever die because it was never alive,adios
  • You cannot get around the fact, that a Microsoft labelled commercial is for most people the signal to switch channels. The brand is not consumer friendly. The people driving the brand are no real consumers, and they are proven to be incapable to think as some.
  • "Does MIcrosoft know how to or care to market to consumers?" Well let me try to explain in as few words as possible. NO. 
  • They could have ALL the things and everyone would STILL 💩💩💩 on them, they make cool things but no one cares or wants them, y'all don't know WHAT you want. It's never enough! 😒
  • It is so sad that good articles like this one here rarely reach important people at Microsoft. I think these articles contain useful feedback information for Microsoft either in their content or in the comments posted by readers. But has anybody from Windows Central seen a reaction to any of their stories from Microsoft? I doubt that. It's like talking to deaf ears. It looks to me that Microsoft has forgot that enterprises are made of people. Which are consumers when not on duty. When you are at work you are forced to use Microsoft products because it's the company's policy. And you might become accustomed to these products. And you might want to buy and use them at home. But then you realize that you do not have access as a simple consumer to all the products you are accustomed to from work. And you become annoyed and distrustful in regards to those Microsoft products.
  • What products? Office?
  • Oh, I know some are following it very closely, along with all the other sensible news site writings. But they seem to consider hiding the best way to garner feedback.
  • Hi Jason, I've noticed your articles are changing from optimist to pessimist. As somebody with inside information, don't tell me you are losing faith?!
  • Losing faith?? Faith in what? in Microsoon? :))) Microfail? Microlayoffs?Microcrap?
  • Nadella where are the MS mobile phones 560, 660 and 960 for the mobile first cloud first strategy?
  • An idea we floated just yesterday. They still could turn around the situation. All it takes is to forget about mobile solutions based on Windows, but having a pure, secure Android made safe by Microsoft, featuring a MS login and store. This way, Microsoft could offer their customers a way to move on, keeping them in their ecosystem, concentrating on adding better features than Samesung and Google, instead of tiring Windows users with an app store, where nothing really progresses and the holes continue to gape.
  • An idea we floated just yesterday. They still could turn around the situation. All it takes is to forget about mobile solutions based on Windows, but having a pure, secure Android made safe by Microsoft, featuring a MS login and store. This way, Microsoft could offer their customers a way to move on, keeping them in their ecosystem, concentrating on adding better features than Samesung and Google, instead of tiring Windows users with an app store, where nothing really progresses and the holes continue to gape.
  • Hi McZosch I actually wrote about the idea of Microsoft ditching Windows Mobile for Android for this site back in April. Yes it comes with some benefits BUT there are also some major reasons they shouldn't and likely will never go that route. Check it out here:
  • Maybe we should start a online campaign against the way MS treat consumers. It would spread and then they can't ignore it.
    Fact is many people have to leave the company I think to much old or people with old visions are working at MS.
    We need people with the same passion and vision as panos Panay in every division.
  • Microsoft should start investing in robotics hardware for consumers, so that we can have in few years assistants that help humans on work labor, another area of investment should be nanotechnology for human health so our kids have better technology to cure infectious diseases