Microsoft is betting on 'paradigm shift' for Windows 10 Mobile to be competitive
Microsoft's big plan for mobile is still a bit of a mystery heading into 2017. While Redmond has pulled back on its hardware ambitions undoing much of the Nokia Mobile acquisition the company continues to aggressively build out the Mobile version of Windows 10 with no signs of slowing down. All of this to the dismay of the media and even consumers who don't see the point.
Vahe Torossian, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft and the new president of Microsoft France shed some light on the company's mobile strategy in a recent interview with France's Le Point (opens in new tab).
Torossian reaffirms Microsoft's position of retrenchment noting that the firm has lost the battle in the consumer market. Instead, Windows 10 Mobile is mostly about "focusing on the business side" according to Torossian at least for the "next few years."
The admission is an honest one as Torossian notes that the barriers to compete at this stage in the consumer smartphone market are "now too high." While Windows 10 Mobile has made admirable strides since its debut last year the argument that it offers something more than Android or iOS is a difficult one to make in late 2016. At this point, people using Windows 10 Mobile do so out of personal preference rather than any substantial advantage over Apple and Google.
Nonetheless, Microsoft is sober about their mobile ambitions. While the company is cognizant that competing against Apple and Google in mobile is futile at this stage, Microsoft does see a path forward. According to Torossian Microsoft is "betting on a technology leap in a few years with a paradigm shift."
Details about that technology swing were not given. Microsoft, however, is apparently looking at the Universal Windows Platform (UWP), Continuum, AI, and Inking technologies as some examples of where mobile computing is headed.
The next bend in the curve
Back in October 2015 I wrote an article titled The future of Windows Mobile – Does Microsoft want to reboot the concept of a phone? that laid out Microsoft's long-term vision in the mobile space.
The argument I made was that the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL were decent phones, but not representative of what Microsoft is doing in hardware e.g. Surface, HoloLens, and Band. That is one reason why the announcement of those phones was kept rather low-profile. There was no advertising nor any consumer push for those devices. And why should they? The hardware and the OS at the time were underwhelming, and Microsoft knew that.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella revealed some of this thinking in 2015 in an interview with Mary Jo Foley:
I think that statement is still genuine and very indicative of what Microsoft is betting on. Truth be told, it is the only thing they can do if they're not giving up in the mobile arena.
I have been bringing this topic up a lot on our podcast recently about what comes next after the smartphone. It is evident that mobile technology is evolving and converging. The idea that in five years we'll still have the same smartphone design and functionality despite the rapid progress being achieved is woefully misguided in my opinion.
The question is what does come next and is Microsoft choosing the right path? That's up for debate.
Ironically, Google is facing the opposite problem in trying to get from mobile to the desktop (see Andromeda: How Google can conquer the desktop, figure out tablets — and maybe change Android phones forever). Apple faces the same issue with its OS bifurcation and increasing reliance on becoming only a phone manufacturer. There is also the diminishing returns on apps (read Walt Mossberg's article on why he says "the App Store is over").
Microsoft sees today's concept of a smartphone as nearing the end of its run. It's not just about running apps on a device that fits in your pocket but expanding beyond that to other screens. The HP Elite x3 is just the beginning of such a shift, but the same could be said about Treos and the Pocket PC back in 2006 that preceded the smartphone revolution.
Returning to Torossian and the Le Point interview, he says that the Surface line is about evolving "new types of form factors." I wrote in late 2015 that "Microsoft is not about creating hardware for the sake of creating another thing. They only create hardware after consideration of where the market is going to be, not where it is now."
The Surface, Surface Book, and HoloLens are examples of that forward-thinking innovation. Back when the Surface was announced many in tech media dismissed it, and many investors said Surface should be "killed off" (opens in new tab) as a relic of Ballmer's reign. Just a few years later two-in-ones are one of the only growth areas in PCs and the Surface now stands justified.
It remains to be seen if Microsoft can bring that same thinking to mobile. Make no mistake that is a big 'if' too but what other choice do they have? Windows 10 Mobile as is can't compete against Apple or Google in the consumer space. Trying to leapfrog them is Microsoft's only chance. The saying is 'go big, or go home' and that is what Microsoft looks to be doing.
How do you build the smartphone for the future and not just next quarter? That is Microsoft's ambition. Let's see if they can get the vision right and deliver.
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.
I do think MS has its hands in things that have a lot of future potential, AI, Virtual Reality, Continuum. This is what killed them in mobile - being oblivious to the future. I think they are in much better shape now to be ready for the next thing. The problem is, the next thing will likely leverage existing mobile tech as a natural extension. MS wont have that option and may still find themsleves out.
May I ask, how do you watch live TV? I use Windows Media Center.
Apart from that, there are great android tablets to use as primary device.
For games, i use HTPC. So am I missing anything?
That have communication features (phone, Skype).
If you rely on built-in features of the OS and try to manage this via vanilla VPN, then you end up A/ with a ton of varying devices, B/ a bunch of security holes in the OS, which you have zero control over, hence you fail or give up. C/ you still have a problem, because your information is stored locally on all of these devices, which in and of itself is a problem, encrypted or not.
If you go the route of virtualization, like my company did, you kill all birds above with one stone. You allow users to bring whatever they want to the table and force them all to use a single platform, completely bypassing the OS on the mobile device, nothing gets stored on it locally outside the secure element of the app itself, it is a closed system, so if they lose the device, no data loss occurs. Moreover, you have a complete visibility into what they are doing, for the purposes of data loss prevention and internal fraud. App refresh and push updates are all much easier as you don't need to worry about users' variance in OS types or build versions. I think BYOD is a great win-win situation, as long as it is cloud-based, because you don't have to be dealing with (and buying) all these devices for your employees. If you implement BYOD without virtualization, I think you are doomed due to all the problems, whcih hardly outweigh the benefits.
(I mamaged to do it on my 5" Blue Win HD LTE by increasing scaling to 225% - but don't have a 950 to try it on)
(Just want it to look like it has done since WP7.5 days...perfect for visually impaired people)
Continuum got some major improvements, includng multi window support. Continuum has already had the ability to VPN. Gaming has always been a limit of hardware: You can play mobile games in Continuum but you're not going to play GoW4 simply because the phone can't run it. While I agree that what Continuum really needed was win32 support, I think intel squashed those dreams for MS and now MS is back on the drawing board again (hence another 6-12mo delay on surface phone following intel's canceled mobile plans).
Google have the mobile space sewn up. Apple have the high end. Microsoft have the desktop space...where no one cares about apps - and where pretty much everything happens through the browser.
* Ability to customise start screen on second display
* Pin apps
* Windowing and snapping I imagine we'll see inking stuff for the Surface Pen too. Give me SMB shares and Edge extensions and it will be near perfect.
I can only think about the wearable tech, but wich device? A watch? A band? Another thing? I dream with a device that I saw in Terranova TV Series a couple of yers ago. A curved display that some actor used to fit their wrists. But I dont think that we'll see something like that in the next couple of decades....
Apps are nice at times but don't carry all the information gained from browser sites. Edge works fine for the most part. Apps do not
If the profit margins were good, but the sales numbers were small in comparison to the others, would that be a success to you? I just don't think success is just about volume.
In my humble opinion Microsoft have a terrific product which they failed miserably to promote, it seems almost incredulous that this was allowed to happen, the key word allow. Line up an apple handset, an android one and a large screen windows, I personally don't know anyone who hasn't said that Windows is fantastic eye candy, It's tremendous, simple, innovative and has endless expandability, I just don't get it, this is why when I read articles such as this that something tells me that we are not hearing the truth. From a professional point of view the writings on the wall, as I have written here before, I for one will hold on for a few more months to see where this all goes. Certainly as it stands to date it's far from inspiring, completely and utterly their own fault.
I agree, Microsoft and Nadela have failed with the great opportunities of Windows phones. Hopefully, looking to the future, they will recognize the value, innovate with it and most of all promote/ market it.
Really? Two years on, and no sign of Cortana around here... Bluetooth all busted... Office apps better on Android and iOS... Yeah, they're REALLY aggressive with Mobile Windows. Not. And what's this "cooperate"? There's no such thing in the mobile world. People, including employees, will demand what they're used to, developers will develop to market leaders and cooperations will adopt the platform that suits their needs, usually the one that provides the greatest flexibility and the happiest workforce. Meaning they'll choose the mass market leader...
How do you accept a camera app working 80-90% of the time and slowwwww?
To use continuum, you would have to disconnect a monitor connected to a perfectly working PC. Microsoft are just lazy, they want instant dominance and when they don't get it they curl their tails and hide. So what if you sell fewer phones than anyone, who cares... Just sell.
Every market has a volume seller.
You don't tell kids not to erect lemonade stands on the side of the road because the neighbours have coke in the fridge.
I can't buy a business phone while am a regular customer.... But I will still keep my 3 Lumia's .
Very nicely said. I think Microsoft needs to develop and innovate much faster if they are going to have any hope of getting any sort of foothold in the enterprise or consumer markets.
I disagree. I don't believe Microsoft has had a consistent vision and most certainly has never had any consistency in their marketing strategy. There has been no "grand" plan. These are the problems. Great ideas, poorly executed.
That all said, I'm sticking with WP 8.1. At some point I'll move to 10. Hopefully it will have all the 8.1 features / functionality by then.
Actually 8.1 is missing a lot of features of 10.
What are you exactly talking about when you write 10 will have all the 8.1 features?
Hp phone = spectre of phone
Accer phone = aspire of phone
Lumia = suppose to be surface pro of phone Ms ass effed up this time. Not pushing devs to make uwp and apps then marketing wm selling point
Sometimes happens to me too.
Please don't make such emphatic statements when you don't actually know
Sony is looking to resuscitate it's profits send shrinking electronic and device businesses, they could do with some help.
Sammy, who knows what issues they have but royalties can be sorted out.
Your account works there too... Try it, might like it better
Need dual with big screens devices with better appariene, easy to find in more stores. Win Phone 10 is a much better OS than Android. Less ads and no **** apps. Google Play have a lot of userless apps therefore the quantity