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Why Microsoft may gain an upper hand with carriers thanks to 'Always Connected' PCs

Folding Surface fan render, by David Breyer.

Folding Surface fan render, by David Breyer.

The tech industry is in constant flux. New device types often introduce new business, distribution, and marketing models. Nothing, not even well established and familiar paradigms stay the same.

Under the current smartphone model carriers have a lot of influence on what devices are put before consumers. If a carrier isn't confident a device will sell or isn't motivated to work with a manufacturer it may not carry or invest in promoting a device. Consequently, a company that has little influence with carriers will have little success with getting its devices onto carrier shelves and into consumers hands.

This is one reason why Microsoft, unlike Apple and Samsung, failed to achieve broad carrier distribution during its attempts at success in the smartphone market. Here's why that may change with its new telephony-enabled PC category.

A new model for a new PC category

We've predicted that Microsoft's Windows-on-mobile strategy would lead to its abandonment of the smartphone space as the company invests in the mobile space via a pocketable, always connected PC with telephony. This would be an intentional progression of the new Always Connected cellular PC category. So, what advantages might a pocketable, eSIM-equipped, telephony-enabled, always-connected cellular PC category bring to the mobile space that might help Microsoft and its OEM partners circumvent the current carrier-dominated smartphone model? And how might carriers respond?

Initially, this new pocketable PC category is expected to be enterprise- and prosumer-focused. Broad consumer appeal wouldn't likely be a target, or even achievable, until possibly the third generation of this category.

At that time important variables, such as a broader proliferation of Progressive Web Apps (PWA), that Microsoft and Google are collaborating on and Apple has embraced and 5G, may have helped to diminish the app gap. Thus, making the device more appealing to consumers.

Even before that happens, however, as a PC, this device category would likely retain the market position and distribution channels common to PCs. With the addition of voice capabilities, however, it introduces a wild card that carriers don't currently face. Let's take a closer look.

How Microsoft can ensure pocket Suface success

If positioned as a PC, and sold as a PC, it's a PC

When a consumer want's a PC, he or she goes to a retailer like Best Buy, Walmart, a host of other physical stores or online distributors. They don't typically go to mobile carriers. Furthermore, various OEM's, like HP, have Business to Business (B2B) sales models where PCs are sold directly to other businesses along with other services the OEM provides. So, before we get to pocketable telephony-enabled PCs let's look at their predecessor, Always Connected PCs. The consumer and OEM behavior we described will likely continue with this PC category that is hitting the market now.

When Joe Consumer goes to Best Buy to browse Windows 10 PCs, he will see the "Always Connected PC" category in addition to traditional PCs. If he purchases one of these eSIM-equipped devices, he will have a new smartphone-like PC experience that will change how he interacts with a PC. It will have instant-on capabilities, long battery life and be always-connected just like smartphones.

Unlike most smartphones, however, these PCs will use eSIM, or electronic subscriber identity module, to connect to and identify it on cellular networks. This is where this PC experience begins to overlap the carrier space and lays the groundwork that will challenge the current smartphone model.

Remote SIM provisioning allows users to switch carriers without purchasing a new SIM card.

Remote SIM provisioning, unlike with physical SIM cards, will allow eSIMs to store and have different accounts or profiles. Simply put, users will be able to purchase data directly from a choice of carriers through the Microsoft Store without having to purchase a new SIM card. Microsoft has partnered with several carriers worldwide who will offer data through the Store. Additionally, the GSMA, an association of approximately 800 mobile carriers collaborates on eSIM standards which suggests further advancement and standardization of eSIM.

Cellular PCs are paving the way

Always connected PCs introduce new user behavior and a new cellular data provisioning model through this new device category. Multiple OEMs have already adopted cellular PCs, and the category will only grow among consumers and the enterprise. As millions of cellular PCs saturate the market this year carriers will want to stand out in the Microsoft Store. They will likely modify data packages to appeal to users who will have the ability to shift between carriers almost on the fly right from Windows.

This shifts Microsoft to a position of power with carriers for two reasons:

  • One, there are over one billion Windows PCs and 600 million Windows 10 PCs in the market. Thus, as cellular PCs market presence grows to conceivably hundreds of millions in time, Windows through which cellular data is sold, will have greater influence over carriers.
  • Two, unlike with Windows phones, carriers will want to offer Always Connected PCs in their stores to influence consumers likelihood of choosing them as a data provider in a space that cellular PCs will make more competitive.

Thus, as PCs become a large part of the cellular roadmap, which is part of Qualcomm's not just Microsoft's goal, they may enhance the PC distribution model. Adding mobile carriers as an important partner to the traditional retail and B2B PC distribution channels for cellular PCs is the foundation for the telephony-capable pocketable cellular Windows 10 PCs that may follow.

Enter telephony-enabled cellular PCs

When Microsoft introduces it folding mobile Surface category later this year its enterprise and prosumer focus will "shield" it from the rigors of the consumer space while cellular PCs are altering consumer and carrier behavior and expectations around PCs.

Additionally, as Microsoft, Google and Apple push PWAs, a universal app standard, this year forward users will increasingly experience PWAs on these new PCs and other mobile devices throughout 2019 and 2020. 5G rollout in 2019 will begin introducing high-speed low-latency networks where edge and cloud computing will also likely support powerful apps in the cloud. By this time carriers will have conformed to the new cellular PC model and will have also accommodated, on a small scale the same model for voice, on enterprise-focused telephony-enabled PCs.

A cellular PC with telephony is still a PC.

It will be in this environment that I believe Microsoft will push its third-generation pocketable Surface, late 2020, with OEMs for the consumer market. These same OEMs will have already brought generations of cellular PCs to market, established business models with the enterprise and strong positions with consumers and carriers. It's conceivable that carriers will have even worked with OEMs on marketing cellular PCs to position their data plans as the choice among consumers.

It will be on this road, paved by cellular PCs that, I believe, Microsoft, with OEM support, will push pocketable cellular PCs to the mass market in a few years. Cellular PCs introduce an unavoidable change in consumer behavior as well as the relationships between Microsoft, OEMs, and carriers. That change may benefit pocketable Windows 10 PCs. A shift in carrier power is coming, and for a change, I think it may be in Microsoft's favor.

Now Read

How Qualcomm (not just Microsoft) is making PCs post-smartphone devices

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!

145 Comments
  • Nice write up!
  • Thanks netmann!😎
  • Indeed, best ever article I've seen you write. Keep in mind the UK mobile phone market people. Whilst carriers are pretty much like used car salesmen, they do not have a stranglehold on the customer or the market. We have enough competition, and enough market diversity (contracts with phones, contracts without, payg, monthly contracts, you name it and all are popular), that we do not experience the 'trying' US mobile experience. If you US folks can break free, this is what you will get (or closer, anyway, geography permitting) with third party carriers like your Mint people in plentiful variety and supply. Remember, Windows Phone was working out well here. I honestly believe this could really be MS throwing you guys a rope. I can't wait to nab a not-phone. If they can keep it at a practical price so we don't get mugged constantly like iPhone users and can actually use the thing in public, it'll be noticed around here quicker than 3rd gen I'll wager.
  • Thanks Andy. And thanks for the input!
  • Selling dirt cheap phones in low numbers isn't "working out well".
  • @AndyCalling; I agree and the good here is the multi-OEMs that is available will provide the price competition but I really think this is where Cortana shines if Microsoft will allow it to but then again it could be Alexa and not Cortana.  
  • Love reading your articles. Always full of detail. I have a feeling MS will make a significant comeback for the Mobile market, albeit not how we might have wanted from the beginning, but maybe this is the best way to come back, and with a vengeance. Hoping the rumored pocket PC comes out this fall like MS said it would. Any speculation on the price tag for that future pocket pc?
  • Thanks😎...Price tag? Expensive. At least $1000.
  • Four figures is asking for a mugging. If this is something people are supposed to be able to use outside of the home/office/hotel then it needs to be cheaper. May as well get a full sized Surface Pro otherwise, as if this not-Phone is not able to be used in a mobile fashion what's the point? Would you wave a $1000 wad around at the bus stop or on the underground? Ask any policeman and you'll get laughed at.
  • There are tonnes of poeple already doing so with iPhones and Galaxy Note's? I don't see the difference
  • Hi Andy, that's where democratization comes in. Microsoft makes a premium aspirational device, and OEMs, as they did with 2-in-1s,populate the market with a range of different devices at various price points.
    Also, dov1978 makes a good point iPhones and Galaxy Notes are at that price, so a consumer who wants the premium product is already being conditioned for this price range💵.
  • We're in a post PC world - you need to get past 'personal computer' i.e. you need to come up with a collective name for a Window/device/screen/pad/mobile/gadget (er and PC).
  • We have called it a smartphone for quite a few years. Semantics isn't the answer to Microsoft's issues.
  • That's a good a point, and as the article's focus shows, semantics isn't even part of the discussion.😉
  • The future of forms factors is convergence. The Razer Project at CES shows this. I see devices like that running Windows 10 than Android, as Windows 10 is more adapted to run those types of devices than Android, while also having more standard control. I see smartphones being phased out and replaced by something like foldable devices and devices like Razer. 
  • How is Windows more adapted to running on those types of devices? That Razer Project is running Android if you didn't notice. It is more than capable of operating on such devices.
  • Because for laptops Windows is better and more familiar to average consumer.
  • But Windows is absolutely terrible everywhere else and this device would need to be a phone primarily. Android makes more sense as a desktop, see the S8 running Ubunutu, than Windows does as a phone.
  • Because Android is too fragmented and support is VERY limited compared to Windows while also the business model discourages standardisation. Unlike Windows, Android doesn't have the control that Windows has. For example, on Windows 10 ARM, all ARM PCs will get the update at once, instead of waiting for OEMs. While Android is good for candy bar smaprthones. It's a terrible OS and business model for convergent devices. How would you feel if you had to wait for months or not at all for an OEM to patch your PC? Not only would that be a disaster for consumers and PR but will instantly kill any chance for enterprise to adopt the OS/device. I think a consumer would rather have a Windows device with the ability to emulate Android apps (WSL style), which is definitely possible to do.
  • While Project Linda from CES was a very futuristic device it was only concept from Razer, just like the 3 screen laptop from last year. I doubt they would proceed any further than that. It all depends on how well the razer phone sells. But even then I do not think the average user would want to get the Razer phone, that is more for a hard core gamer and someone who is more versed in the mobile gaming scene. If it does come to fruition it will most likely have a Windows 10 as it's OS, not to say that there is anything wrong with Android, but Windows is the default OS of choice for the hardcore gamer, and is the best suited for Steam and the like than Android. And I think there in lies the problem as to why it will only be a concept. Since there is now Windows Mobile anymore there is no real benefit in making an Android version of a gaming capable phone/laptop hybrid. ALL hard core gamers if not most use Windows 10 as their OS of choice. Maybe when Windows makes it back in the mobile market?
  • The US carrier market didn't work last time because they refused to pay bonuses to the employees which Android phones had, and they didn't have the kickbacks. Different dynamic in stores now, but some older employees still remember that Windows was the phone that doesn't pay to sell.
  • I don't see how we can get pass PC world.  The form factors may increase with technology but you will never leave PC.  Desktop PC may decline but laptop PC, 2-in-1 PC and mini PC are trending up.  Now the cellular pocket PC arrives with WoA and 5G.  The form factor becomes far more mobile, versatile with longer battery life but it is still PC.
  • Since Microsoft’s history with phones speak for its self. These write ups have been for me at lease all for entertainment purposes only. Kinda like tabloids and Elvis and 2 pac  sightings. Great entertainment keep them coming lol!!!
  • You must not be reading the content. This is not about smartphones.
  • There is your semantics again. A touchscreen slab sitting on a shelf at Verizon next to the Galaxy S11 and iPhone 12 is a smartphone no matter what you want to call it. It will compete with them either way. The experience is the important part, not some made up category name.
  • Is a Surface Pro with Skype a smartphone?
  • It isn't pocketable.
  • Depends on the pocket. https://www.scottevest.com/v3_store/101_Vest_Men.shtml
  • "It isn't pocketable"
    Neither were the huge forearm-long mobile phones from several decades ago.
    Remember the moble phone Zack Morris carried around in his gym bag from 'Saved by the Bell". That wasn't pocketable.
    So if your defining characteristic for what makes something a phone is pocketability, history's got it wrong. Those early mobile phones that history, the industry and the world calls phones, are not pocketable, and therefore according to you are not phones.
    Admittedly the crossover into the PC functionality spaces of smartphones raises challenges of category differentiation, thus I'm more inclined to look at fundamental differentiating characteristics such as:
    Is it running a full desktop PC OS or a Mobile OS?
    Will it be positioned as a PC or a phone?
    Will it be distributed through PC or phone distribution channels?
    -----------------
    I believe this device will be running a desktop OS (Core OS) with CShell so will conform to mobile and desktop contexts. Will run PC and mobile and PWA apps. iOS and Android are mobile, not PC OSes. Windows 10 is a PC OS.
    2.I believe it will be positioned in the market as a PC beside other PCs.
    I believe it will utilize traditional PC distribution rather than strictly smatphone channels.
    https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https://netdna.webdesignerdepot.com...
  • Look, this is pretty simple.   If it has a phone number and fits in your pocket, then it is a smartphone.   Period.  The OS it is running does not matter.   Bringing up mobile phones from 1987 is irrelevant.  Those were not smartphones.  Those were actual telephones, as portable as the technology of the time allowed.   Since Windows PCs are clearly in decline - there were about 300 million sold in all of 2017, whereas that many smartphones are sold each quarter - I still fail to see how Yet Another Windows PC is going to change anything.  That 300 million represents another .2% decline from 2016, BTW.  They have been in massive decline  for 5 years now. The world already has “telephony enabled, always connected, pocketable PCs”.   We just call them phones.   That they are not running Windows does not mean they are not PCs.   They are the most PERSONAL computers ever created.    
  • "Bringing up mobile phones from 1987 is irrelevant."
    Not really. Particularly when someone bases the definition of a phone on pocketability (read the conversation stream).
    Those moble phones weren't pocketable but were phones.
    Now, I think folks need to take a look at where we're headed to get a grasp of why the category that is being introduced here is not a phone. As fanciful as this analogy will sound roll with it. Say the end game is a pocketable, form shifting connected device with FULL PC 💻 power akin to what you see in Westworld.
    That device is not a phone, but is more a PC used for complex computing and telephony.
    This is fundamentally what is being introduced here and is a distinct departure from what iOS and Android smartphones offer.
    This is a FULL PC OS capable of complex full PC computing on form and UI shifting hardware and software.
    Its just the beginning, and processing power will increase in subsequent iterations making the platform more robust and capable, 5G cloud computing where high speed, low-latency connectivity will allow cloud-based apps, powerful AI and more, and PWAs will populate all platforms.
    But the intentional use of a full PC OS, on a single device that conforms to desktop and mobile contexts with CShell on a device that is designed from the hardware and software and Continuum to work as full PC , tablet and a mobile device needs to be looked at a bit differently - beyond love or hate for Microsoft and for what it actually represents as the first gen of a new category of universal device that is not a smartphone.
  • If you have to go back to the '80s for an example, it is irrelevant. It is 2018, and in 2018 a smartphone is a ~5.5" touchscreen glass slab. Some even unfold into larger, multiple screen devices. Some can dock and run a desktop UI. They are all still smartphones. Microsoft isn't going down that path of semantics. It is silly and could very well turn into a joke. You really think Microsoft has the marketing chops to make the argument that a ~6" touchscreen slab isn't a smartphone?
  • Your argument of "having to go to the 80s" is without basis. If someone is arguing that a phone is a phone because it's pocketable, as was argued, that's THIER, definition and argument. What a phone 📞 is whether the forearm long phone from the 80s that isn't pocketable or the 7" inch Android smartphone which some argue isn't pocketable, isn't enough to define what is or isn't a phone.
  • Kinda agree with Jason, this is not WinPhone.
    Because WinPhone was not a Win10PC, it had small audience & small dev support.
    Win10ARM today, is a Win10PC and we, human race, especially creators, businessmen and gamers, are not ready to abandon Win10 in general.
    I see no reason dropping ARM support, cause it's more useful in business sidda department than Intel's.
    And, as a programmer,
    1. We cannot abandon Win10,
    2. Win10ARM is a Win10PC,
    3. MsStore runs on them because it's a Win10PC,
    4. Even if Win10ARM died, UWP we wrote will still run on Win10PC (also on xboxes, IOT, AR, MR). There's nothing to lose. We creators (programmer, game programmer, planner, designer, music composer, etc) need powerful HW to run Adobe, 3dsMax, Unreal, VisualStudio, SVN, Git, Office, Local Server typpa application. But other than those, our ticket system, project manager, chatroom, etc are all web based. People in business department (CS, cooperation, international business, etc) works on the web. They don't need powerful HW, and ARM can provide always connect, e-sim, light weight and long bat life. My GF, as a APAC manager of a US IT firm, works on the web with virtual teams @ home (or in the coffee store) too. Like Jason's mentioned in the article, web is a big part in our IT world, we only need UWP for native features or speed and exe will die out slowly. And because it's a ARM, OEM can produce smaller device easily, small enough to fit in your pocket (and more useful than a smartphone OS, at least I can code & compile, XPA gaming, photoshop, use OneDrive on Demand on these).
  • Visual Studio on a pocket device?? You still don't get it, and Jason doesn't either. A pocket device will alwyas be a pocket device in need of POCKET APPS!!! ON THE GO APPS! STORE APPS FOR TOUCH DEVICES! first, before anything else, that will compete with smartphones no matter what you fanboys or MS is trying desperately to say! we already have on the go functionality, on Android and IOS, because MS failed like a bunch of junkheads.
  • Oh I get it mmgn. More so than you may think. First in regards for the need for mobile apps, I address that need and where MS is placing SOME of its hope in the section where I reference the industry adoption PWA (Google and Microsoft working together on PWA standards and Apple and Mozilla embrace of PWAs - I wrote a detailed piece on that its linked in the piece: www.windowscentral.com/author/jason-ward) Now the perspective you're mission and what I have addressed in other comments (please read them) is that the initial device in this category, expected late this year is a first gen device, not the end game. Open 👐🏿, your perspective a tad, look down thr road and try to see where Qualcomm, yes Qualcomm, is trying to bring computing in their goal to bring as many people as possible onto the cellular roadmap. (Read the piece linked at the end of this piece for details. The goal is the full power of the PC on the cellar roadmap in a mobile forma factor that can be desktop, tablet and function as a phone. I know, it's hard some of you to look past Microsoft's failures, but it's not just Microsoft's goal nor just a mobile comeback story. It's about cellular evolution and personal computings future. Think Westworld. I know to much for you, but go with it. It's an analogy. In Westworld we see a device that is form shift, has context sensitive hardware and software, the full power of the desktop PC and telephony. This is where Qualcomm and Microsoft are pushing computing. Qualcomm 835 brought the desktop OS to the cellularroadmap. A folding hardware design provides context sensitivity to conform to a tablet, PC 💻 (Continuum) or pocketable settings. CShell provides a context-sensitive UI (software) PWAs (in time) bring context sensitive app experience. 5G provides high-speed low-latency cloud/edge computing where some apps, even high intensity apps, will be cloud-based. Processor evolution will make the devices more powerful and more capable with subsequent generations beyond the first gen device expected this year. This isn't about a single device that will save Microsoft this year. It's about the BEGINNING of a device category, a full PC with the full range PC features being brought ot the cellular roadmap that can be a desktop, tablet and has telephony. It's the nascent stages of a shift toward the type of device you see in Westworld where all forms computing can happen from a single device. Yes, even Visual Studio via Continuum. I also see powerful gaming and Mixed Reality.😎 Again this is just the beginning. Your responses, seem limited to the short -term rather than taking in the long-term and other contributing factors.
  • Everything you list will benefit competitors just as much as Microsoft. Context sensitive PWAs will benefit Android and iOS "desktops" just as much as it will Microsoft on mobile. It will benefit Microsoft less because desktop websites are the norm already and you don't need Windows to access them. 5G will likely be available on Android and iOS first as will the new powerful processors. You speak about the SD835 coming to Windows, but now the SD845 is coming to Android. There will be 845 Android phones available before 835 Windows PCs. Context specific UIs have been built into Android for several years now, it isn't "coming soon". Nothing you mention is specifically a positive for Microsoft. They will benefit the other platforms just as much. Desktop use is decreasing for a reason, they aren't required as heavily today and that isn't going to change. It isn't the advantage that you hope it is.
  • Hi bleached. Thank you for your observation. But you seem to think that your making an opposing argument to my position when you say that what I mention "also benefits competitors." I know that!🙂
    I wrote an entire piece on Microsoft, Apple and Google embrace of PWAs. It benefits each of them.
    I wrote a piece about Qualcomm provision of tools for the industry, powering the Mobile landscape and have mentioned 5Gs impact for thr industry. Of course I know it benefits Apple and Google too.
    Those benefits don't preclude what benefits it brings Microsoft and how it fits into Microsoft's strategy, however, which is what I'm highlighting here since this is a MS focused site.
    I can write ✍🏿 a focused piece on how it all benefits Apple or Google too. But that's not the focus of WC. 😉 So I provide industry wide developments and highlight where it benefits Microsoft with peripheral reference to the competition.🙂
  • Phones? This is far from a mere phone. There's this rumored Windows Core internal project happening at MSFT that will soon (hopefully) convert Windows 10 OS to adapt to any screen and device category and that's what MSFT is gearing up towards. As for this Surface Ultramobile PC, we will have a taste of stable intro to the Windows Core OS. It's all about portability.
  • Ok. First, Microsoft has to somehow sell "hundreds of millions" of "always connected PCs". That will take several years. Today, they sell 0 "always connected PCs" and they won't be available for a couple more months at least. Maybe they will catch on, but we still don't even know about the performance these devices offer. Next, they need to get people buying data through the Microsoft store for a device that they haven't historically bought data for or used an app store on. This will probably be even harder. There are few places that don't have WiFi these days. I see no reason for my Surface Pro to have LTE. Anywhere I want to do work already has WiFi and good WiFi at that. Then, if they somehow get these stars to align, they will be able to strong arm carriers into properly supporting their smartphones. Sounds like a great plan. Much better than releasing a great product and properly supporting it. Maybe they will try that someday. Forcing your mediocre, half supported product onto people is the plan for now. At least Jason Ward is for it.
  • The execution of the strategy I outline and the offering of a great and supported product are NOT mutually exclusive bleached. The two can coexist. :-) No one wants Microsoft to bring a mediocre and half supported product to market. In the voice of Balki Bartokomous from the 80's sitcom 'Perfect Strangers' - Don't be ridiculous! :-)
  • Google has made a living off mediocracy since they released the first version of Android, it doesn't really matter if the company behind the product is considered "hip". Microsoft products are held to an entirely different standard which will make it much harder for them.
  • Hey, perfect! Since *YOUR* experience is that you have GOOD WiFi anywhere you want to work, that will be ideal for everyone else in the world, too! Awesome.
    Or, maybe there is a place for this product amongst all those commuters who take trains, trolleys, the subway, or light rail to work every day. Or people who fly all the time and dont want to deal with Airport WiFi. Maybe that crap Starbucks WiFi just isn't reliable enough to put together a last minute presentation. Maybe students don't want to fight over wifi in a crowded college cafeteria or dorm room. Sometimes you make sense, bleached.. but I think you're looking through a straw on this one.
  • Then of course there's also the concern of WiFi security versus cellular connectivity.
  • I think it's more a question of what can a 6 or 7 inch folding tablet phone do on LTE that an ordinary smartphone can't already do? Yes, I know, it'll run 'desktop apps' whatever those are. But in your scenario, if you're on the train commuting, what desktop apps are you using? If you're typing anything substantial wouldn't a laptop/surface pro with LTE make more sense? If it's something you use a touch keyboard for, aren't you already using your smartphone? What 'desktop apps' are you missing out on? The form factor & functionality might be useful for some people, but this is a niche device at best. Unless the hardware is truly remarkable, I don't think the revolution is coming any time soon.
  • @bleached, I think your mock concern is actually missing the chief challenge: data consumption sales incentives and changing business models. At least in the US, do Verizon and AT&T want to sell devices that will use significantly more data than smartphones? I honestly don't know. To the extent they can include higher amounts of data for more expensive plans, probbaly yes. If all users are on unlimited data, then probably no. Whether or not carriers will take an early interest in this (prior to it being clear if there will be market interest) will be almost entirely a function of whether or not they view these new devices are potential revenue drivers. They'll be willing to take a chance on their success, but only if they believe that success will be good for them. The only ways I see it as being good for the carriers are: An additional device to a smartphone, so it lets them sell an incremental data connection Uses more data on a pay-per-GB data model, so even if it replaces a smartphone, its with a more expensive plan Exclusivity play, e.g., Verizon gets it and AT&T does not, so it brings customers into the Verizon store For a broad rollout, #3 is not in Microsoft's interest if they can avoid it, so hopefully not #3. That leaves #1 and #2. Note that #1 is very much at odds with even the carriers treating it as a "phone." Not semantics at all: the reason carriers don't call the iPad a big phone is because they want to sell data for your phone AND ALSO your tablet. If these new PCs are additive, like tablets, they'll like them and will work hard to persuade the market that they are not phones. That's not Microsoft, that's the carriers.
  • Your forgetting the many OEMs and the many variations of which this is just the start of a new product line for Windows... Nothing is being forced here how could it? If your watching many consumers they are already using their smartphones/tablets in a jacket that opens like a book. So many will be practically fine with this type of configuration. 
  • I think that this new device can't be sold in carrier stores to achieve this goal. It has to be in a Best Buy-like setting surrounded by PCs. I also think this device is going to need to a dock available at launch to further the idea that it is a PC. Icing on the cake would be if the Mobile Plans app in the Microsoft store was able to be used to purchase plans virtually from multiple carriers, further eliminating the need to have someone go to an AT&T or a Verizon only to be swayed to an iPad. Though I'm not sold that Always-Connect PCs will be the next thing, I'm curious to see if PWAs and 5G shift the market elsewhere. US customers are just now in the last few years catching up to the European and South American models where we actually have to pay for mobile phones rather than subsidizing for a contract. So undoubtedly the market is shifting and the next couple of years will set the 2020-2030 decade I'm sure.
  • Only time will tell.
  • I'll continue to say this every time I see Microsoft and Carriers mentioned in the same article. There is no way on this planet that Carriers will ever work with Microsoft after all of the money they've stolen over the years. Microsoft basically collapsed whole segments of telephony by doing it better and doing it digital when carriers were still analogue.   Adding voicemail support and PBX integration into Exchange was a big hit for carriers who have a land line / business division.  This is AT&T, Bell Canada, BT, etc. Then they bought Skype, further eroding Telco revenues. Telcos are not happy that MS want to compete in this space.   The real outlier is how telcos are now utterly dependent a company that once made blue boxes that allowed users to steal long distance minutes from the carriers.   Microsoft are trying on the server end, aggressively targeting Telcos for Azure. The ONLY way MS will succeed with their always connected PC initiative, will be to curry favor with the carriers by allowing them to use Azure at a loss.    Everything else is just a silly pipe dream.
  • "Everything else is a pipe dream". Well deadonthefloor, its a "silly pipe dream" that is beginning to come true: "In addition to supporting connected PCs on their LTE networks, you can expect each operator to stock Always Connected PCs in their retail store, Qualcomm and Microsoft say." That's an excerpt from an article linked in the piece: https://www.windowscentral.com/microsoft-announces-first-mobile-carriers-support-always-connected-pcs So carriers are already on board to carry Windows 10 Always Connected PCs built by Microsoft's OEM partners this year. You said: "There is no way on this planet that Carriers will ever work with Microsoft after all of the money they've stolen over the years." Never say never. ;-)
  • "In addition to supporting connected PCs on their LTE networks, you can expect each operator to stock Always Connected PCs in their retail store, Qualcomm and Microsoft say." Yea, well, I bought my Surface 3 from AT&T way back. (interest free finanancing) It darn sure wasn't prominently displayed in their stores. The few bucks they get to add the data on this thing to my family plan isn't their bread and butter. They'll probably sell a couple of 'always connected pcs', if you dig around on their web site under 'accessories', but they won't be pushing these things. Notice that quote isn't from AT&T, Verizon.... It's from the guys wanting them to sell these.
  • Maybe, maybe not. But your Surface 3 was not a new category of PC with purposely targeted smartphone like qualities for an always connected, instant-on long battery life experience that will be supported by various OEMs.
    We don't know for certain how it will.all turn out, but your anecdotal experience, though it brings forth a very valid point, does not exist within the model that Always Connected PC, bring to the table with eSIM, partnerships with multiple carriers worldwide and the ability for users, via Remote SIM provisioning, to purchase data from a choice of carriers virtually on the fly from Windows without having to get a new SIM.
    There's a whole new infrastructure being erected around, what will likely be millions of these devices in the market in time, and carriers will likely find the space very competitive and will likely make the devices in thier store prominent for that reason.. That wasn't the case with your Surface 3 scenario.
    Thanks for the input and your experience, but I think there's more coming to the table now than what you experienced with your Surface 3.😉
  • "Maybe, maybe not. But your Surface 3 was not a new category of PC with purposely targeted smartphone like qualities for an always connected, instant-on long battery life experience that will be supported by various OEMs."  - Jason Ward.   Smartphone like qualities...meaning it's a smartphone.   The device you have shown in the picture above IS A SMART PHONE...no matter how you want to twist and turn YOUR definition...it's a friggin smart phone.    Now.  that being said,  if they can do ANYTHING i can do on my iphone.....I think it will sucseed...if it's the same as previous WINDOWS PHONES....dead duck no matter the battery life, connectivity, carrier etc.  
  • Actually if you're following the context of the reply Steve Adams the excerpt you chose from my statement was in DIRECT reference to the Always Connected PC category (laptops/2-in-1s) WITHOUT telephony that are hitting the consumer market this year. "Maybe, maybe not. But your Surface 3 was not a new category of PC with purposely targeted smartphone like qualities for an always connected, instant-on long battery life experience that will be supported by various OEMs." So no, those laptops and always connected laptops and 2-in-1s are by far NOT smartphones. Please try not to be so quick to refute something that you miss the context of the quotes. 😉
  • Hi Jason, You are the one coming out with the "smartphone like qualities" comment right in your quote.  I am just saying,  most of your articles are on this supposed "not a phone but really is a phone" even in innuendo.  I know the always conneted PCs released now have no phone capabilities.  but 99% of the people here are talking about the magical surface shown above,  Which is most def. a phone.   Even if no one wants to call it that because 1.  They are blind by marketing jargon,  or 2.  They are afraid to call it a phone and cause another "reboot".   If it was not a phone but a pocketable PC like you claim it would look more like the GPD 7" POCKET PC.  NOT a dual screen PHONE.  
  • Hi Steve. I like you are very aware of what most people are talking about. I'm also aware of what YOU were talking about, like everyone else, you were talking about the pocketable inking focused cellular PC that will follow Always Connected PCs (first to enterprise and prosumers late this year and the category supported by OEMs to consumers in a few years).
    But while talking about THAT category, you took an excerpt from the article that directly referenced Always Connected PCs, and reframed it in a context in which I didn't use it, as a foundation for your counter point.
    That doesn't work. You can only refute a point a person makes, not create your own point with with another persons words, claim that that's the point the person was making, then refute it. 🤯When you do that, since YOU'VE created your own point you've excluded me (or whoever you're disputing) from the discourse and are effectively debating yourself😉
    ------------------------
    Now you say, "If it was a pocketable PC., as I say it would look more like a GPD 7" pocket PC."
    Come on Steve, you've followed tech long enough to know that NOTHING HAS to look like anything. I believe you're old enough to remember rotary phones. They look nothing like the phones we carry in our pockets. But both are phones. Or the first phones that required two handed use, one for the mic and one for the earpiece were phones and are vastly different in form factor even to the cordless home phones.
    The model T looks nothing like the latest Tesla.
    The PCs from the 80's look nothing like the Surface Pro.
    So, a pocketable PC with telephony needn't look like the GPD 7" pocket PC to be a PC.
    But like all other PCs it will run a full PC operating system unlike smartphones.
    It will be likely positioned as a PC along with other PCs, unlike smartphones.
    It will likely utilize PC distribution channels unlike smartphones.
    Though you, use the clamshell dual screen aspect to equate it to smartphones, not too many smartphones sport that clamshell design. But 100s of millions of PCs do. And the dual screen aspect is inline with the Microsoft Courier design which nobody, when it first began getting attention and even now, called a smartphone.
    Folks really need to look beyond this whole smartphone paradigm.
    What's happening is being pushed as much by Qualcomm as by Microsoft (please read the last story linked in the piece). Qualcomm's goal is to bring as many people as possible to the cellular roadmap. That move is being fulfilled in part by bringing the most prolific desktop PC OS to cellular. Think about the long-term goal for a moment and not first generation technological limitations.
    Envision the full power of the PC from gaming, multimedia editing, inking, and more on a single device that can be a desktop, tablet and mobile device connected to the cellular roadmap.
    Step one, Always Connected PCs gets Windows onto the cellular roadmap.
    Step Two, First gen pocketable PCs gets a form factor that can be a desktop(Continuum), tablet or mobile onto the roadmap.
    Step Three, 5G (beginning 2019) makes high-speed low-latency cloud computing (cloud based apps, collaborative work, gaming) practical.
    Step Four, Advances in processors on these 5G edge connected pocketable PC, make 2nd, 3rd and subsequent generations of these form shifting pocketsble PCs more capable of replacing desktop tasks.
    Step 5, PWAs will likely, beginning this year with MS, Google and Apple pushing them, and a real adoption beginning beginning in 2019 forward begin eradicating the app gap making the mobile aspects of this device category more useful.
    This is where its headed. Look at the end goal, then back it up to see how these company's are gettin us there. The brief pieces I just played out are steps toward that goal. But it has to start somewhere.
    First gen devices toward that goal, with thier limitations seem to be viewed in a bubble here absent the motivations of other players like Qualcomm and the inevitable technological advances (like better processors and 5G) that will benefit subsequent generations of this category, just as technology has always done.
    Guys, lets try to look a little further down the road. This pocketable Surface expected this Fall isn't the endgame. Its just the beginning.
  • Jason,  Interesting.  With regards to PWA's.   Let's say Apple released a PWA.   Does that mean that this device can access it without issue?  or does apple have to authorize the use?
  • I want to believe this magical picture you've painted.  However, as someone who works in Telco, you're dreaming. Remember, Microsoft Kin?  Remember Windows Phone 7 where they snubbed their noses at carriers saying they'd be removed from the update chain?  Remember Windows phone 8.1 which never even got a Verizon variant? There's backdoor deals that benefit carriers more than MS.  They will partner and let the product lines atrophe with inaction just like every other attempt. As a current Lumia 950XL user who had to buy theirs outright from MS because no Canadian telco was going to touch Win10 after the WP7 fiasco, I really want to believe your rose coloured glasses vie