Microsoft and the duo user Part II: The consumers hidden inside enterprise

If Microsoft's mobile strategy is to succeed, they will need a reasonable slice of that mobile consumer pie. And they know it. Microsoft's duo user strategy is paving a path for Redmond's return to the consumer smartphone space — here's what that means in the context of a broader look at Microsoft's duo user personal computing philosophy.

We will gain a better perspective of how the collective weight of the Windows 10 ecosystem and Microsoft's apparent focus (to some) on everything but mobile is being positioned to benefit the firm's "phone" strategy. Redmond is betting that the strategic and methodical positioning of a unified platform centered around professional and personal productivity is the key.

Microsoft is not a one trick pony

Contrary to popular belief, Microsoft's mobile efforts are not all business. There is, however, no arguing with the fact that Microsoft's forte is the enterprise. The company's success with Azure and Office 365 as reflected in recent collaborations with GE and Facebook (opens in new tab) are just two examples. The embrace of Windows 10 Mobile and Continuum by HP with the Elite x3 and the business platform the PC manufacturer is building around the "phone" is yet another.

That, of course, is not to say that Microsoft is not successful among consumers. Ninety-percent of the world's personal computers are running Windows after all. Moreover, 1.2 billion people in 140 countries and speaking 107 languages are using Microsoft Office{.nofollow}. With 320 million Office downloads on iPhone, iPad and Android devices, it is clear that the default personal computing environment and productivity tools on the PC and other environments are Microsoft's domain.

Microsoft doesn't see users as the enterprise or consumers.

As a matter of fact, in the home, school and at work Microsoft is the only company that provides a fully comprehensive OS, cloud, and software solution that transcends environment's while keeping the user at its core. Here's how Nadella put it as he communicated the company's duo user personal computing strategy two years ago{.nofollow}:

We will think of every user as a potential "dual user" – people who will use technology for their work or school and also deeply use it in their personal digital life.

It is important to note that as a core ideological philosophy driving the company, Microsoft does not see users as two distinct audiences. Though the "enterprise and consumer" differentiation propels much of our conversations about Redmond's personal computing strategies, the company's approach to customers is far more holistic.

Microsoft's unified user vision

As part of the strategy that drives how the company forges its products and services and shapes them around a user's needs, Redmond has a comprehensive, holistic perception of the user. They see the dual user as they actually are: single beings with both professional and personal needs that a synergy of products and services can be tailored to serve across contexts and environments.

Nadella hammered this point home during an interview with Business Insider in April of this year:

I go back to our core focus as a company. Whenever somebody asks me, 'Are you a consumer company, are you an enterprise company?' I say, hey, we are a company that's centered around users who both have a professional role as well as happen to be consumers. That's where our strength lies.

With this philosophy as a guiding principle at the core of the firm's business strategies, it is clear that Redmond's efforts with its increasingly cloud-based personal computing tools and its focused hardware efforts, that all parts of the user, professional and personal, are in view.

Thus, the entire range of personal computing activity and all of the devices we use, including phone, are targets of Microsoft's duo user strategy.

The ties that bind

As I alluded to above, Microsoft is the only company that has a fully comprehensive approach that encapsulates the needs of users from the OS to the software tools level and across professional and personal environments. This all-encompassing platform and ecosystem approach is at the core of Microsoft's strategy for the hardware that this ecosystem will and does power.

As a ship is surrounded by and floats upon the sea, and is engulfed by and directed by the wind, Microsoft's broad platform of software and services are being positioned to support and power a range of Windows 10 first- and third-party devices. As a platform company Microsoft's cloud, Cortana and the Bots Framework are just a few examples of platforms powering or potentially powering Microsoft's ecosystem. Each of these platforms has current or potential levels of integration in Microsoft's ecosystem and will help integrate digital experiences across professional and personal contexts.

Microsoft's cloud powers 80% of Fortune 500 companies{.nofollow} and is the growing intelligent computing platform seamlessly managing millions of user's professional and personal digital experiences. Nadella framed it this way{.nofollow}:

In this new world, there will soon be more than 3 billion people with Internet-connected devices – from a farmer in a remote part of the world with a smartphone, to a professional power user with multiple devices powered by cloud service-based apps spanning work and life. The combination of many devices and cloud services used for generating and consuming data creates a unique opportunity for us.

Watch Scott Guthrie, Microsoft's Executive Vice-President of Cloud and Enterprise share Redmond's progress and goals for Cloud in the video below :

Cortana, Microsoft's artificially intelligent personal assistant is being more deeply integrated within Microsoft's ecosystem and is maturing in her ability to know and serve users across personal and professional contexts as well as platforms. Nadella expressed it this way:

So I think of Cortana, its uniqueness will come because it can take your personal data, your Office 365 data, and be available across all platforms. No one else, at least as far as I can tell, is taking that unbounded approach to something like personal digital assistants. Anyone else who has a personal digital assistant, it's mostly a personal digital assistant that just sits and resides in either their software or their device or what-have-you.

Watch Marcus Ash, Group Program Manager for Cortana on Windows, demonstrate how Cortana helps handle business expenses for the "professional Marcus" and find a toy store for the "personal -Daddy- Marcus":

Microsoft's investment in the next UI frontier of bots and AI via the Bot Framework, also reflects the company's platform approach to the dual user.

Nadella alluded to this in his "July 2014 Bold Ambition and Our Core{.nofollow}" memo when he said, "We will create more natural human-computing interfaces that empower all individuals." He expounded further on this in the April 4, 2016 Business Insider interview, as that 2014 vision statement is beginning to be realized:

Take bots — no one else is talking about bots that can be built using all the rich cognitive cloud services we have. How did one teach a bot how to have a conversation with a human?... We have APIs for doing all of that in our cloud in Azure. And you can, in fact, build a Slack bot, or you can build a bot for Line.Then we have our own set of conversational canvases like Skype that they're opening up for these bots. So the approach we're taking is much more of a platform company approach, much more of an approach that says that it's both your personal and professional data.

Watch how Cortana and bots on Skype, as a Conversation Canvas, help Lilian Rincon, Principle Group Program Manager'' for Skype Consumer, gets things done. Booking a hotel for "professional Lilian " and arranging lunch with a friend for the "personal Lilian" are examples of an integrated AI and bot serving the duo user.

The above examples represent the reach and depth of dual user personal and professional applications of software and services within Microsoft's ecosystem.

Microsoft has recently reiterated its substantial investments in and embrace of a cross-platform strategy across the whole range of its ecosystem-building initiatives (including those mentioned above) support. However, Nadella has also communicated the company's vision that Microsoft experiences will be best, thus ultimately optimally delivered, on Microsoft or Windows devices. Though this vision has yet to be fully realized, I believe OneNote's implementation on the Surface is an example of this optimal synergy of Microsoft software and hardware.

Windows 10, Microsoft's dreamweaver

Speaking of Windows, as we know Windows 10 provides a progressively evolving unified core that gives developers common tools for app development across form factors and users an increasingly coherent experience across the same. We are still seeing the evolution of this dream as Microsoft develops the support of a vast ecosystem and broad personal computing platform.

From cloud, AI, bots, productivity tools and more, Windows 10 first- and third-party devices from Raspberry Pi to Hololens to "phone" are being positioned for a level of professional and personal computing that centers upon the user in a way that no company has yet achieved. As he has done many times before, Nadella reiterated this point this way when asked why Windows Mobile received little attention during BUILD 2016:

First of all, I don't think of Windows for mobile differently than Windows for HoloLens or Windows for Xbox now. We have only one Windows. We don't have multiple Windows. They run across multiple form factors, but it's one developer platform, one store, one tool chain for developers. And you adapt it for different screen sizes and different input and output.

Given what Microsoft has achieved and is honing in its one Windows mission, it is worth acknowledging that if Redmond wants the industry of developers, users and writers to see Windows as a single platform their own language and messaging around the platform must be consistent with that message. It is this point that Nadella is directly addressing.

The UWP is weaving the components of Microsoft's duo user dream together.

The interviewer represents the position of many industry watchers. We are all adapting to this transition in the perception and language around Windows. If we are to grasp the shift Microsoft's ecosystem and platform are undergoing we must become more accustomed to hearing references to the development, progress and goals of Windows with the understanding that language that communicates former distinctions between "Windows on different form-factors" would be counter-productive to Redmond's goals.

It is this unified Windows platform that is helping Microsoft weave all of the components of its dream to serve the duo user together. Windows is the common denominator across all of Microsoft's first-party and partner devices that will deliver a cohesive experience to users across professional and personal environments and devices. It is also, per Nadella, the portal through which the optimal experience of the range of Microsoft services will be delivered to users using Microsoft's devices.

With Redmond's cross-platform pursuit's, and obvious quest to be the personal computing ecosystem regardless of device or platform, this is an ambitious goal. But if Microsoft ultimately delivers on this "best on Windows vision" as seen with OneNote on Surface, the company just may draw consumers to it's combination of software, services and devices.

Wrap Up

Will this ecosystem-wide, duo user strategy coalesce into a seamless provision of software and services on unique and powerful context sensitive hardware for professional and personal computing? Microsoft hopes it will. Time will tell.

What do you think? Will Microsoft's development of an ecosystem-wide duo user, enterprise and consumer -focused strategy help carry Windows on "phone" to eventual consumer success? Sound off in comments and on Twitter to let us know what you think!

Part I: Hey, consumers, Microsoft is building a phone for you

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 again for reading folks! Microsoft is a enterprise and consumer company and has core strengths in both areas. Unfortunately, they've lost ground in mobile and are doing what they can to leverage the weight of thier entire platform to push Mobile forward through enterprise and ultimately to consumers. Will this duo user strategy work? LET'S TALK!!!
  • Great article. As I read this I wondered if naming Cortana what they did was an effort to throw the fans a bone. I just cannot see Microsoft sitting in a room and deciding "Cortana for Enterprise" as the name they would choose.
  • great article as always, Jason
    for ​Dan, Dan, and Mike: you should really invite Jason to talk in the Podcast someday
  • Pack of hopeful lies.
    Ignorance is bliss.
    Can I please have over 100 down votes? I have never seen that number reached before. Posted from PornHub.
  • Lol you are back again
  • I just want to rile up the natives. LOL.
    I LOVE windows phone. Been there since...I cant even remember. Some phone with a stylus before Windows phone 7. All of this crushes my soul.
  • We do get riled up at times. :) Deleted previous thread as there was no need for it. That is a good reason to keep the old app around. haha
  • Good idea. I miss that option.
  • IMO messenger is not available for download.
  • The bots on the skype preview are awesome!
  • incorrect
  • I wish Microsoft would reverse their decision of limiting Azure Stack to select machines. That was a terrible idea. Enterprises were swayed by it and really going to like it, and now it's like "oh, nevermind".
  • Great piece as always Jason. (And I'm gonna name my band "Cortana and the Bots")
  • Thanks @boydtocen :-). Cortana and the Bots huh. LOL :-)
  • Apparently yet another enterprise service, Blackberry Good, has left Windows Mobile raft.
  • You're still here? And no, think again.
  • Microsoft's blend of business and personal has always drawn me to the platform. This blend has become stronger and more define the past couple years, but even in the age of Windows 7, their software alwasy felt just as useful for personal use as it did professional. I can't wait to see what the company is able to do next.
  • They will have a hard time getting Windows on Enterprise phones. Blackberry just released what they call the most secure phone ever and it is less than half the price of the HP and even much cheaper than the 950s. They currently have no portion of the enterprise market on phone and it will be a tough sell at best. More than likely, the people who are forced to use Windows Mobile will just be annoyed and will surely not choose a Windows phone for their private life. If Windows phones were compelling people would have bought them years ago and continued to buy them. Microsoft wouldn't be in this position if they had a viable platform. Obviously they don't, sales tell us that, yet they continue down the same path that has been rejected by both consumers and enterprise for 6 years running. Why does Windows Central continue to cheerlead Microsoft down a sure path to failure? It is time for some critical articles that go in-depth into the many mistakes they have made and continue to make. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Well I liked the Article. I have been a windows phone owner since windows mobile 2002. I left the platform only when Windows Phone 7 came out... That was a very bad operating system/phone..In My opinion. but I struggled with Android for about 18 months , then found a windows Phone 8... have stayed ever since, and my Lumia 950 with the Insider final build is awesome.. keep the pressure on Microsoft.. you improved greatly! and Kudos to Windows Central....the name says it all. thanks, Dave  
  • Why do you continue to follow Windows Central?
  • Windows Central, not Windows Phone Central. I have a SP3 and custom gaming rig. On the mobile side, Microsoft is so far behind i could never even consider their devices and yet they continue to follow the same path that has been an utter failure. I want to see Microsoft do something with Mobile and not continue with this failed Windows phone thing. Do you want Microsoft to fail? That is their fate with Windows Mobile. They may as well kill it now and use those resources to make Windows proper better. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • So, now you're claiming to be a Microsoft fanboy? Even though you continuously troll around in many articles? Gosh, these charades are borderline grotesque. W10M development is joint with W10 now, there's no point in "dropping" it. The plans for the future of Windows have already been set. If you don't like W10M, move on. No need for all this boo-ing. As for me, I don't really care if MS fails or not. I greatly enjoy my Windows devices, especially my Lumia 950 XL, but I don't have a financial or emotional attachment to a corporation.
  • "I greatly enjoy my Windows devices, especially my Lumia 950 XL" Exactly. But this is why I don't want MS to fail like they usually shoot themselves in the foot. I love my windows devices, and don't want to be forced into using another platform just because that's the only only option.
  • Don't like their mobile devices, great. Some of us like it. Ranting that it is a failure time after time is a useless exercise. If you walked into my office with gripes and no solutions... I'd throw you out.
  • unless you're God, I'm not buying your statement that Windows Mobile's fate is failure you're just a ranter
  • You mean their "most most secure phone ever"? It's android, albeit it has some of blackberry tech. It's still Android with all of its pros and cons. Their BBOS10 is much more secure, but that didn't go as well as planned, hence switch to android...which still didn't make their hardware division profitable, thus they just got alcatel idol 4 added little to it and named DTEK50, which is just a bad name. Microsoft on the other hand have money, which BB currently don't and they are really only starting to get ONE windows into proper form. I agree that not everything that they do is great and mobile should get more attention. Which it will get in redstone 2. Microsoft is diverse enough and profitable enough to work on such a hard task. I for one will buy me 950 'cause my Z30 is great, but I don't see even a little progress after 1.3.2 release. Apparently "secure" android is what BB is focusing on. Not the market they can gain a lot of traction in.
  • Why do we always have to equate consumer sales with the platform and it's strengths? The average consumer doesn't know what they want in a platform. They only know they want snapchat or what other crappy app is popular at the time. Or they want the newest iPhone or subpar apple product that's rolling out because it's the hip thing to do. I was told by my boss one time when I mentioned that I had a WP "that's garbage" and "apple baby!" This all spawns from the average consumer only doing what they know, and not doing research into things. Speaking of ignorance being bliss...
  • Well said bleached.   I agree 100 percent.   The pom poms are out in full force like MS can do or has done no wrong.  It's stilly.   They have made a mess of their entire platform in the past year and a bit.  I jumped ship to apple and I am so happy I did.  I traded my acer timeline for a 2007 macbook.....its smoother than w10 and this is a super old OS.  My new 512gb macbook in space gray and Ipad pro will be here soon.  Hopfully in the next week or so,  Then I will really try out apples operating systems.  I have one of my 2 surface 3 sold now and one left to go.  Then I am completely free from the doldrums of Windows....
  • Actually they called it the Most secure ANDROID phone. Which is not that hard to do given how insecure android is. Basically a library exists in android that can't be removed or updated because it can mess up everything. So there's an exploit that lives within it. It can only be exploited if it's rooted, but still blackberry I guess must prevent rooting. Read about the HP elite security features. Windows mobile 10 is by far the most secure OS. That's not saying much right now, things can change. But it is built from ground up with security in mind. Most android phones have to put security over something that is insecure.
  • Microsoft has enterprise and non-enterprise customers, which everyone here already knows. This article uses a lot of words and a few examples to explain this, but the question is, why? What was the inspiration for this?
  • Patience. Part 14 will reveal all.
  • Because people who are not waving microsoft pom poms and flags KNOW that MS is focusing on enterprise.  So they (windows central), have taken upon themselves to school the masses in why MS is NOT focusing on Enterprise.  
  • Actually, the assertion throughout the article is that Microsoft has a duo, Enterprise AND Consumer focus. Not just an enterprise focus as many have asserted. I believe I've supported that assertion with both example's quotes and analysis that show that what Nadella conveys as the goal is actually being played out.
  • They talk about focusing on enterprise, but they still fail to provide a working VPN on phones. Even after months of complaints on feedback hub and twitter.
  • Nice one!! i hope we see cortana and skype soon :3 (bots are fun xd)
  • "But if Microsoft ultimately delivers on this "best on Windows vision" Perception is an important thing and while that statement may have been uttered some time back I've not heard it in a while and the perception is that it's not important to Microsoft.  Away from PC, I think that of Microsofts significant first party applications, only Groove would likely be considered Best on Windows if winodws includes Mobile (and in this case, it clearly is, even with the recent updates for Android). However, the effort with which micrososft is putting into improviong and / or showing off Office on iPad, lock screens on androind, and that all the key features of it's software can be accessed anywher has led to the perception that rather than "Best on Windows" it's "You don't need Windows". In mayny cases, it's not perception. These things are clearly better on other platform, or being updated first on other platforms. A very recent exampl, though not against phone in this case is that the new Authenticator app will debut on apple watch and android wear but the Band will come in a future update. In the end, what is really necessary is not for someone to say "Best on Windows" or (paraphrase) "we don't think of mobile as separate, it's all windows" but to deomstrate these things a bit. At buld, Nadella might have been sincere in his words, but that's not the perception. Having a few windows phones on stage to say, "look ​it really is the same Windows - see how it works the same on Mobile too with the same awesome functionality as PC!" that would have been great. For a Microsoft garage lock screen improvement to debut for Windows 10 mobile would be neat, and for new features to debut on WIndows 10 mobile before or the same time as Android or IOS would be great.  ​ Microsoft has to beverywhere, we get it, and getting office users on Android is just fine for them, but for phone to be a going concern, people need to think that at least Microsoft cares about it, and for that we need more than the occasional mention in a press release surrounding financials, or layoffs, or a defence of why the presence was small at build. And if Best on Windows could include Windows 10 Mobile more often, that would be a big boost.
  • I think we wont see any fruits in mobile for another 2 years, i think it's a long play, a marathon and not a sprint, I think it's inevitable for a lot of enterprise company to start to reconsider windows mobile, redstone 2 and 3 will probably make it no brainers for them to seriously consider windows mobile, and depend how the X3 and whatever the surface phone end up becoming, will help usher that in. However I do think the devices that help really push UWA/P are the XB1/s/Scorpio and HoloLens, I think there will be strong developer interest in those devices, which will ultimately prop mobile to greater prominence, not say WM10 will be number 1, but that it can become a strong third platform in next 3 years. Another area MS need to focus outside of Enterprise customers is with the Creative user, they need to show Windows as the premium platform for creativity. I thinks it's obvious also that Windows is the best platform for gaming, and they need to continue leading and redefining in gaming. I don't think Google or even Apple will be able to really compete outside of mobile, especially in the dual user scenario, it be a few years but i thinks we will see migration back to windows devices in the not so distant future, i think if WM10 becomes a success in enterprise it will eventually peak consumer interest.
  • While it may be a long play, even in a marathon you don't stop running. Microsoft has essentially stopped running. I could understand if they were not trying to forge ahead in consumer mobile and just hold steady, but it looks like they are doing all they can to actuall get rid of the few existing customers they did have. No new phones, dropping entire countries from sales, even those where Windows Phone was strong. It would be much easier to try to hang onto the customers you did have, and then build from that 7% market share with enterprise customers. It will be much harder to try to make headway from the < 1% market share they are at today.     
  • I feel your comment, I think the backing out and sliming down of the portfolio was consequence of using the surface strategy towards mobile, I do wish they would of put more effort into maintain current userbase, but also understand emulating the pc market in trying to let 3rd party OEMs come into fill out the voids, I actually got the Alcateld XL W10 instead of budget 640 to see what a non lumia w10 experience is like, Lumias are certainly better, but I hope new OEMs can carve out some market amongst fans, but it is a tough pickle of a situation mobile users are in.
  • Microsoft never was the platform for creative users. Artists, film makers, and musicians have always preferred Mac OS. Posted via my Moto X Pure Edition using the Windows Central App for Android
  • Windows XP which is 15 years old is much better for productivity than iOS or Android, but I will include in this list Windows Mobile 10. Sorry guys, but Windows Mobile is not good for productivity, even this Continuum feature is doomed for failure. Unless, it can support x64 software .  I really want a Surface Phone that is a 2 in 1  1) It can be used as a x64 PC that supports full x64 Windows 10 not the mobile version 2) It can also be used to run the Windows 10 Mobile version .  My thought is that since Intel cancelled Mobile CPU's this phone will need to be powered by Intel Core M  Fingers crossed.
  • Doesn't core M have like a minimum of 30W TDP?
  • You're confusing it with Intel Core i5, Intel Core M has 4.5 W of Max TDP/Power. Here is the link
  • Gabriel,     I am on a 2007 macbook right now typing this.  I can tell you that any ideas that anyone has about Apple not being productive is a load of beans.  I can do everything on this computer I can on my windows computers.  I used to think like that,  however,  after using this computer for the past few days,  I can tel you that MAC is very much as productive as windows.  More so,  in alot of cases.   Video/Photo production,  music production,  web content creation,  etc.   You can do so much more with Apple,  easier than with windows machines.  There is pretty well nothing you cannot do on Mac.  besides proprietory software written by a single organization that will only run on windows,  but other than that,  Mac wins....faster, smoother,  better hardware, better software etc!
  • Voted up on this. I've been using a macbook pro at home since 2009, and yes, it is productive. We have top of the line audio and video editing and creating tools, adobe's excellent photo editing suite is available, we have MS office for it besides Apple's own office suite, apps for everything, even lots of games that are build for mac...and the OS is excellent. My 2010 macbookpro still works like a jet after upgrading my HDD to a SSD.
  • That proprietary software may be quite important. I do agree though, Macs are largely as productive as Windows machines.
  • I never said OS X, I've never had a Mac but from colleagues and family and friends that use Macs they really like them. I agree with you, MAC is very productive tool.
  • Well unfortunately ms has not done good in mobile. I guess there throwing it all on the wall and hoping it sticks....  
  • The way I see it, this strategy should work. Who knows, 5-10 years form now there may not be many iPhone/Android users left, as everybody will be on Windows 10.
  • Great article.