Hey Microsoft, when in India?

The world is ready for the Windows 10 Devices event – the biggest Microsoft event in recent times - in New York City. Across the proverbial seven seas a lot of Windows enthusiasts in India will view the live stream in the evening, and expectedly wonder 'When in India' at the end of the blitzkrieg on the stage.

The 'Last' Frontier

The last Windows Phone flagship device, the Lumia 930, went on sale in several countries across the globe in July last year, but it only trickled in to India in the second-half of October. The Surface devices, now headed to their fourth generation, have still not released in India. Microsoft Band? Well, let's not even go there.

And, while hardware is a tricky business and needs supply chain and retail setups, we've not been served any better on the software and services front as well. While Bing always had limited features for the Indian market (unlike Google's all out and last mile services in India), Cortana on Windows Phone is still in alpha. No Groove Music too (Google Play Music, iTunes and the new Apple Music are here of course). More recently, Windows 10 rolled out in India without Cortana – one of the marquee features of the latest version of Windows.

The Big Billion

The second class treatment is ironic. Technology companies across the globe see the Indian market as the biggest opportunity, along with China. The unfortunate population numbers and the untapped majority aids the opportunity with a huge potential customer base. Even at Windows Central, readers from India rank highly after the US which is enough evidence of the interest in the Windows ecosystem in the country.

It's not that Microsoft doesn't realize that. The slew of budget and mid-range Lumia devices launched since last year and the recent announcement of local datacenters in India are a testament to Microsoft's interest in the market and the recognition of the opportunity.

And many readers at Windows Central keep pointing out – incorrectly, of course – that India should be better served since an Indian-born Satya Nadella is at the helm. Hah!

When in India

For all we know, the October 6 event will see the launch of Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface XL, and likely the Microsoft Band 2 as well. There will be some accessories like the new Treasure Tag and a Skype speaker, perhaps.

It is left to be seen when some of these will land in India. October-November is the major festive season in India, but the Lumias will likely not make it very soon. Nokia has had a fantastic supply chain and retail presence in India, and with Microsoft Priority Resellers, I would imagine Microsoft to carry forward the experience. But that hasn't been the case as yet. For most Lumias launched in India, you'd still struggle to find accessories in stores – even those ones that were formally announced.

There are about a dozen brands selling wearables in India, including the expensive and hardly selling Android smartwatches, but Microsoft Band is nowhere to be found. The great reviews that the Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 have garnered have only sparked the interest in several Indians like me – I bought the Surface RT, and now Surface 3 from the US. While Lenovo and HP have introduced several tablets and convertibles, the Surface products are nowhere to be seen. This needs to change.

All in Hope

So, as Microsoft finds its way out as part of its biggest transformation, a zillion Indians would hope that they feature right up on the list as launch plans and services are formalized. One would expect Microsoft to bring broader and feature complete services, launch more devices, more quicker, enriching the Microsoft ecosystem in the country.

Abhishek Baxi