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Microsoft is back from years in the woods, fearless and full of ambition

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Though the company's bold "all-in" attitude into these areas is derivative of what I'm referring to, they're not the foundation of this transformation. Simply put, Microsoft is different because it has become a firm without fear.

Chris Capossela, Microsoft's Chief Marketing Officer, said it this way during the December 23, 2015, episode of Windows Weekly:

"…the fear is really gone, and the ambition is really back. Now it's up to us to execute. But this notion of being fearful, cautious...ambition inside the walls of the company is just crazy high. Now we have to execute. But it's just a better place to be in than a culture that's kind of fearful and very cautious about everything. Let's go execute in 2016."

The candid discussion with Microsoft's amicable marketing head revealed a company that overcame fear.

Dare to be different

Lumia 950 and Surface

Lumia 950 and Surface (Image credit: Windows Central)

I'm a superhero fan. Marvel's Daredevil, the man without fear, is blind lawyer Matt Murdock by day and a fearless crime fighter by night. He's gifted with a "radar" sense akin to the echolocation employed by bats that allow him to perceive and act upon opportunities within his environment before those with ordinary sight see them. Combined with a strategic mind, calculating fighting style and character-defining courage he has a distinct edge over rivals. Combatants are overcome by Daredevil's offensive and defensive moves that take advantage of his ability to "see" more than what others perceive. An ability to see more than your rivals is a powerful asset indeed.

Microsoft's bold ventures into areas that rivals dared not tread have arguably positioned the company beyond the curve. Deliberate steps into the cloud, mixed reality, a unified platform, a freemium model for Office, category-defining hybrid hardware and expensive gaming accessories are signs of a company that's not afraid of what lies beyond the bend. This ambition is likely due to an acute sense of what the future holds. Yes, like Daredevil, Redmond's offensive and defensive moves are indicative of the company taking advantage of its ability to see what others have yet to perceive.

Business unusual

Microsoft's fearless and proactive modus operandi has not always been the way Redmond has done business. We need only venture briefly down memory lane, before the "One Microsoft" company reorg to get a glimpse of the Microsoft that once was.

Microsoft was a single firm with many independently operating divisions. The cohesive unity necessary for genuine innovation - conception, engineering, and execution - was absent. This disunity can be attributed to the confluence of many factors. One factor, no doubt, being rooted in the company's laser focus, and in hindsight, tunnel vision, on Microsoft's core asset - Windows. The company's primary focus in years past was making Windows comprehensive and ubiquitous.

This discussion may sound like today's strategy. However, Microsoft's original Windows strategy did not benefit from a deliberate harmonizing of the company's other divisions. Microsoft didn't capitalize on the host of engineering assets at its disposal to promote a single mission.

Steve Ballmer in 2007

Steve Ballmer in 2007 (Image credit: Microsoft)

Steve Ballmer articulated it this way in a July 11, 2013, memo:

Improving our performance has three big dimensions: focusing the whole company on a single strategy, improving our capability in all disciplines and engineering/technology areas, and working together with more collaboration and agility around our common goals.

Yes, many of the bold shifts manifesting under Satya Nadella's still-young reign began during Ballmer's watch.

Reasons for fear

Another reality that was present during Ballmer's reign was the impact of the United States government's antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft. This years-long battle had lasting effects on the way Microsoft conducted business even after Ballmer facilitated a settlement.

Microsoft asserted that the company's genuine attempts at innovation were the target of rivals.

One of the issues, you may recall, was Microsoft's bundling of Internet Explorer with its ubiquitous Window OS. This integration was viewed by competitors, such as Netscape, as an unfair abuse of Microsoft's monopoly position. In its defense, Microsoft asserted that the company's genuine attempts at innovation were the target of rivals.

If true, Microsoft's apparent lack of cohesion, follow-through, and ambition in years past may be the result of the company's cautious attempts not to repeat behavior that placed them in the cross-hairs of the Department of Justice.

Moreover, one can imagine that team meetings during and after those court proceedings were likely venues for leadership to stress far-reaching protocols to ensure that every "i" was dotted, and every "t" crossed.

At the turn of the century, Microsoft had endured a very public battle with the US government, rival companies, and nearly half of the states in the union, followed by years of court-ordered scrutiny into its business practices. One judge had even ordered a break-up of the company though this was overturned on appeal. This is scary stuff. Like the oppressive environment of his home, the New York City neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen shaped Daredevil's hardened character, this court battle was a culture-defining burden for Microsoft.

The court battle was a culture-defining burden for Microsoft.

Consequently, company-wide measures that were implemented to ensure compliance with the courts and safety from such legal troubles in the future very likely, subtly, and without intent, evolved to become the company's culture. A culture of fear, trepidation and muted ambition. A culture where Redmond was afraid to innovate truly; to bring ambitious products from conception to execution.

Man without fear

One would be hard pressed to categorize Satya Nadella as a fearful man. His distinct character, poise and ambition are the antithesis to that of a man ruled by fear. That said, we must acknowledge that many of the projects that we see coming to fruition during Nadella's brief tenure had to have been initiated while Ballmer led the company. Nothing in tech happens overnight.

What we can say regarding Nadella is that his bold ambition aligns decisions and projects he has inherited with his vision, boundless optimism and a strong charge into the future. A future of opportunities that he perceives, clearly articulates and like our blind hero, fearlessly acts upon before others know they're there. We're on the move.

Nadella fearlessly acts on opportunities before others know they're there. We're on the move.

Who can forget Nadella's July 2014 vision-setting Bold Ambition and Core{.nofollow} email? In that communication, Nadella spoke of mobility of experiences. In a device-centric world greatly influenced by the iPhone and a myriad assortment of Android smartphones, Nadella's prioritizing of a cohesive user experience across the devices through which those experiences occur may have appeared to some as a "sour grapes". Due to Microsoft's small representation in the smartphone arena, Nadella's "device-less" focus may have seemed like an attempt to downplay hardware.

However, the industry's continued evolution toward cloud-based experiences with our devices playing the role of transient access points to those experiences over the past year has begun to bear out the courageous vision portrayed by Nadella.

Hard way to go

This cloud-first, mobile-first strategy in no way precludes the importance of Microsoft's hardware vision. Nadella clearly{.nofollow} conveys hardware's vital role in Microsoft's ecosystem:

Our cloud OS infrastructure, device OS and first-party hardware will all build around this core focus and enable broad ecosystems.

Apparently, Microsoft's hardware vision has taken shape around it's 'mobility of experiences' core. The category-defining Surface and Surface Book are ambitious ventures into uncharted space with a deliberate goal of driving the rest of the industry in that same direction. Microsoft is no longer afraid.

In a world where declining sales of traditional PCs are touted as a prelude to the death of the personal computer, Microsoft instead sees an evolution of the category. The companies keen sense of an industry they have served for 40 years, combined with the intuitive insights of a courageous leader positioned Redmond to see opportunities others in the industry missed. Form-shifting devices were on Redmond's radar.

The daring context-conforming hardware of the Surface/Book and Continuum-enhanced Lumia's (and pending Surface "spiritual equivalent" "phone") set the tone for the type of devices that Microsoft envisions will help the firm facilitate its vision to empower the dual user. For Microsoft, the user, not the device, is the hub.

Imitation, they say, is the highest form of flattery. Apple's iPad Pro and Google's Pixel C are evidence that rivals now see what Microsoft saw when they launched the Surface in 2012. However, it is the power of the Universal Windows Platform and flexibility of Continuum that set Microsoft's solution apart.

Windows on the world

With Windows 10, Microsoft has boldly taken the OS where no other OS has gone before. Redmond has made Windows the foundation of a unified form-agnostic platform as well as an evolving service. These bold steps are not the mark of a company living under the shadow of its past. As Daredevil's character builds a career as a hero upon the shady foundation of his father's past, Nadella too sees opportunity in failure. Nadella's philosophy of building successes upon failures is helping to propel the company "full-throttle" into the future. With over 200 million installs of Windows since its July release Microsoft's final OS seems to be a success.

It's interesting to note how Microsoft unabashedly engineered deep integration of its products into Windows 10. Cortana is not just a handy assistant it's Microsoft's way of making Bing the default search engine for hundreds of millions of Windows users. Microsoft's engineering of products-within-products in Windows 10 such as Cortana within Edge, the more discoverable "Start-Menu-positioned" Windows Store with promoted apps, and other moves indicate that Microsoft is no longer walking on eggshells. As a matter of fact, Redmond is walking on air.

Offering Office

If someone had mentioned ten years ago that Microsoft Office would be offered for free and on platforms other than Windows, that person would have been laughed to scorn. Microsoft has taken one of its most lucrative businesses and done just that. 200 million iOS and Android users have downloaded free versions of Office. The freemium model is a simple concept: if consumers like the free product, they may be willing to purchase a more feature-rich version.

Additionally, the company's limited-time offer of Office 365 with the purchase of a new Windows computer is also lucrative for the enterprise as they establish their software as a service paradigm. For example, my wife gave me an HP Stream 7 last Christmas, which included a year's subscription to Office 365. That subscription expired this year. To use Office for another year I had to pay $70 since I didn't have an ongoing subscription. This routine will likely become an annual ritual for myself and hundreds of millions of others for years to come. This shift to a subscription model after years of selling software to users was a bold move that works synergistically with Microsoft's cloud-first vision.

Beyond the horizon

Capossela reiterated Microsoft's play for the cloud during his Windows Weekly discussion. Redmond's subscription-based enterprise cloud is second only to Amazon's. Capossela shared how Google has the capacity for a similar play but with over 90% of its revenue coming from ads it just does not fit the company's model. Consequently, Microsoft and Amazon are the two top cloud services for business. Redmond is aggressively squaring off with Amazon for the top position.

As the "man without fear" stands against a vast array of villains confident of his ability to succeed, Redmond confidently stands toe-to-toe against rivals in diverse sectors like business cloud and console gaming. After Nadella had taken the helm, there were concerns that he might capitulate to the will of some investors and cut the Xbox division. Microsoft's long-term vision, however, included Xbox as part of the Windows ecosystem. Boasting Windows 10, the Xbox and PCs are core to gaming in Microsoft's ecosystem. And gaming, of course, is core to Microsoft's vision of serving the dual user. Actually 2015 was the biggest year in Xbox history.

Gaming is so important to so many of Microsoft's customers that a breakout Microsoft product in 2015 was the $150 Elite Controller, per Capossela. Who would have thought?

HoloLens and Microsoft Windows logo

HoloLens and Microsoft Windows logo (Image credit: Windows Central)

Speaking of breakout products HoloLens, Microsoft's ambitious mixed-reality wearable computer, is Time's 2015 Gadget of the Year. For a product that is still in development, has yet to be released and exists in very limited quantities, the industry has recognized the scope of Microsoft's ambition with this device. As a product that reimagines computing while pulling all of our productivity, leisure and communication tools seamlessly into this new mixed-reality paradigm, Microsoft has seen and is meticulously executing on the future of computing.

Like Daredevil, Microsoft seems to perceive more than the obvious. The companies smart investment in areas that stretch the imagination, create new categories and pushes the industry in new directions reveal an ambition and courage that was absent in years past. As we move into 2016, Microsoft is a company without fear, and that's just marvelous.

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!

  • Happy New Year folks! Thanks for reading and for all of your support last year. As we and Microsoft go into 2016 we anticipate great things! Capossela's insightful comment that the fear is gone from Microsoft and his admission that ambition is back is certainly a concession that Microsoft was operating under some very limiting constraints over the years. Fear is crippling. External forces are inhibiting. Combined with internal constraints derived from fear, where engineers, leaders and creative minds are bound by some foreboding feeling of some negative consequence to actions, the results can be devastating. But as we move into 2016, in Capossela's words the fear is gone! Where will Microsoft's ambition take us? LET's TALK!
  • Epic post man. Well done
  • @Double Thanks man glad you liked it! :-)
  • One thing...being blind does not make you more of a superhero with sonar (not radar). Also, I hate the freemium model. I like buying something and being able to use it forever, or until it needs an upgrade. That may be 6 years for a office, since not enough changes each year. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Agree. I hate subscriptions and the subscription model. Why rent when you can own?   Additionally, I think this article gives Satya Nadella way too much credit.  Most of the successes Microsoft is seeing now were started under Ballmer and Nadella is getting the credit.  Maybe Nadella's style is helping the company... but most of the substance was started under Ballmer.   My biggest pet peeve with Nadella is his utter neglect of Windows Phone/Lumia.  All the momentum it had under Ballmer is lost.  Yes, the advances were incremental... but at least they were in an upward trajectory.  Windows Phone has done nothing but collapse under Nadella.  I resent him for that.  A lot of us invested a lot of money and heart into Windows Phone... and Nadella just doesn't seem to care.
  • Yeah I dont get how people can be live that Ghandi is the reason why MS is as it is now. Most uf nit alle of the fruit we see today was planted during Crazy Baller reign. Credit were it is due people. And yeah I like how MS is portrayed as blind that is spot on especially true for their marketing. MS the most useless hero of all time... Apple can be Electra, beautiful but equally as useless.
  • Not to be confrontational, but I hope the two of you read the article. Jason clearly states the following..."Yes, many of the bold shifts manifesting under Satya Nadella's still-young reign began during Ballmer's watch." Jason repeats later in his article..."That said, we must acknowledge that many of the projects that we see coming to fruition during Nadella's brief tenure had to have been initiated while Ballmer led the company. Nothing in tech happens overnight." I think it is pretty clear that he is not giving all the credit to Nadella.
  • Backdated articles?
  • Thanks Jason, very good article. I love the idea of looking to the future and can't wait to see what's next.
  • Great review! Greetings from Portugal
  • I don't see it; it doesn't make sense to me. Windows Phone 7 Series and Windows 8 were born out of fearlessness. Windows 10 is a fearful retreat. Xbox One launched fearlessly, then took a fearful retreat. Everything about their execution nowadays is fearful hedging of bets. The only way I could call them fearless is to say that their current offerings show an overconfidence in their product (A lot of people are moving to Windows 10 so it must be great!). They need to be more afraid that when they reboot products and remove features, or remove things like OneDrive benefits, that there will be revolt.      
  • Another thing. I love long-form, analytical articles. I like to exercise my vocabulary and use as many words as are needed to explore some intellectual concept. So I do salute you for being the one who attempts to provide those for this site. But even your comment here shows off why I can never finish your articles. You need to tighten up your writing, and I say that with love.
    You ramble, you over-apply analogies, you jump between thoughts without tying them together, and basically you just take way too long to provide punches while taking too many paragraphs to express the idea. tl:dr; and I love to read.
  • Thanks Jason for the article. Always enjoy reading your articles and looking forward for more to come.
  • Here we go.
  • Another great article from Jason
  • Too long. But if it's anything like previous articles by Jason it's just another cheerleader piece. I swear he's either there ultimate fanboy or paid by Microsoft.
  • Agree, its getting a bit ridiculous now. Seems to pop one out every now and then to rally the troops but they never seem to be based in reality, just full of what if's and maybe's. Too much pie in the sky stuff, outside the echo chamber that is Windows Central Microsoft doesnt really matter as much as people want to believe.
  • @theefman @Jonnie I welcome you both to read the content in full. :-) I'm sure you both have quality contributions that can be offered that whether, for or against, what I present would have a respectable and substantial foundation when offered within the context of having read the piece that you have given your time to comment on. I by no means expect you to agree with everything I present, nor do I posit to see the entire picture. Perhaps after you read what I present you can add what I may have missed or offer an articulate rebuttal. But answering a matter before hearing it, well that doesn't give you the opportunity to share your insights at all. You don't do yourselves any justice. :-). It simply positions you within a very limiting scope where the only manifestation of what you have to offer is criticism. And well, I just don't believe that. You're regulars on a tech site focused on articulating information via the written word. I believe you have far more to offer. :-)
  • I like the articles, it's interesting to read about the changes MS has gone through structrually and curlturally and how these are deeply connected with the ethos behind it's products and activities. Year's ago I was obsessed with the new and exciting innovations *cough* that apple cam out with and now I'm an MS fan but I still appreciate the the products that other companies bring and it's good to have choice but not choice of the same things (if they call copied each other) but choice of things that are different because people are different and have differnet needs and preferences and I prefer MS (for as long as it suits me :)
  • What made you change? I want the recipe to apply it to many of my friends!
  • I'm really attracted to where the innovation is, years ago Apple were leading this, bring out amazing high qulaity products with a  great experience, not much has chnged though since the launch of the iPhone, iPad & iTunes but they still make great products with a great experience (if very expensive). Micorsoft has been innovatrive all along, before OneDrive there was Mesh (2007) and before W10 there was WP7 which is where it all began. They've become a kinder & more innovative company it seems that care more about things from the user's point of view which is good for the user interms of what we have choice of but also for MS as it means extra income. Like Jason says, it's been there all along but now it's starting to show. While I appreciate Google, Apple and MS each have their own great products, of them all I think MS is the best positioned in providing an all round package (OS, Office, Ovedrive, UWA, Devices) but unlike the others, I'm not tied in, I could get an Apple phone tomorrow and have all my MS stuff on it with out any issues.
  • Learn to write succinctly, Ward. Preferably, both articles and replies. Droning on is a sign of poor writing discipline. ;-)
  • @Normanton Thanks for the feedback.;-)
  • Hard to disagree with that assessment.
  • Yup, where I saw the title, I just clicked on it to confirm it was from him, lol
  • LOL     You didn't even read it?   This ain't twitter. :) 
  • It's exactly as previous articles.
  • It's an attempt to lift up the spirits of Windows fans. Keep it up Jason! In a world where bashing the device you claim to support has before a new fashion, it's nice to know that there are still guys like you.
  • Hey if Android Central is writing year-end love letters to the Nexus 6P, I'd say this is pretty tame and a lot more objective.
  • To be fair nothing recently released by Microsoft deserves a end of the year love letter. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Another day, another article to strengthen the faith of the faithful. Nutella watch over you, brethren.
  • Where have you been lately Jason?   (Looooong Holiday?  lol ) I'm putting this article in my Microsoft Edge Reading List so I can enjoy it with a Shot of Espresso when I get home from the office. (In other words, I'm not wasting this read while multitasking on the clock)
  • @snakebitten Hey, man. Thanks. Hope you enjoy it. Glad you want to give it your undivided attention. :-) Sorry to be MIA. I got a few pieces coming down the pipe. Hiatus is over. :-)
  • Keep up the great EDITORIAL work!!! And please dont capitulate to those here who bemoan the "long reads".  Not everyone lives in the short attention span, 120 character sound bite culture.  Well done sir, I look forward to your continued efforts.
  • Microsoft > Everything Else
  • Apart from iPhone's
  • Microsoft>Apple :D
  • Keep up the good work Microsoft.
  • I like this Microsoft
  • I'm sorry, but I just don't see it.  I have nothing but disdain for Satya Nadella and most of his management team.  They took operating systems that I felt were going in great, fresh directions and then went backward, all the while pretending to be advancing the operating system.  I had no problem moving away from the Windows 7 and older style to the new...but apparently most people were scared to death of that.  Now the operating system has turned into something I loathe almost as much as Android and iOS.  As far as I'm concerned they did all this EXACTLY out of fear, NOT ambition.  Now that Microsoft has focused on doing things first and better on competing platforms, they've removed any substantive reason to stay on their platform at all.  And hardware?  The Surface line of tablets are the only thing worthwhile.  They took what Nokia excelled at and ruined it.  I see no improvement coming because I see no change in their vision or attitude.
  • I agree. Windows10 is a pile of crap meant to mine data. The years and years of revisions and fine tuning of settings, integrations, and functionality were all flushed down the toilet. Why? Because apple and google ran ad campaigns that even microsoft bought into. Instead of polishing their image, Microsoft threw in the towel and **** out Windows Phone and Windows 10. Nothing is ever complete on these platforms. They are both half baked solutions with 10 sides of promises- which never amount to anything.
  • Windows 10 is going to rule the corporate PC landscape between Q2 and Q4 of 2016 in most Fortune 500 companies. I work in a big bank, and my laptop with Windows 7 will migrate to Windows 10, so big enterprises are skipping Windows 8 completely.  If something Microsoft should be proud of is Windows 10, even Samsung is now choosing this OS on their Galaxy products, which makes all of us think that they care more about customer satisfaction than Google loyality with Android.  Pretty sure that if Microsoft makes a comeback of Project Astoria later in 2016, we might see a Samsung Galaxy S8 phone with Windows 10 Mobile for 2017.  Just my 2 cents.
  • I agree that Windows 10 has potential... but the "one OS to rule them all" was really Ballmer's idea.  This isn't Nadella's idea.
  • Are you sure of that? Is it not possible that is was Nadella that gave Balmer that ida?
  • I think the astoria project being placed on hold is more to do with the latest google move. GPLing its java to avoid paying oracle more money when it loses it court case. Google were idiots here they should have just licensed it like everyone else. Though I think they will stiil screw with it by keeping private code which they are not allowed to do under the GPL. Or they are just playing games to avoid court restrictions on use and their capacity to distribute.... then I dont know that having android apps on WP is necessarily a good idea long term. honestly I think they will "F" it up by too pig headed(google).  
  • "Pretty sure that if Microsoft makes a comeback of Project Astoria later in 2016, we might see a Samsung Galaxy S8 phone with Windows 10 Mobile for 2017. "   Again: why would anyone buy a Windows Phone to run Android apps in? Better to just buy an Android altogether and get the added benefits of Google Play Services. Forget it, Gabriel. There will be no S8 with Windows 10 Mobile in 2017. If there's even a Windows 10 Mobile in 2017 you should already be very happy.
  • Yup . Definitely. I mean its a service and hopefully someday this year win 10 mobile is finished and ready to actual release and doesn't need polish to hide things. If that's not happening till june I will definitely need to find a new 6" phone. Or downgrade to 8.1 again.
  • I agree with a lot of this. I am resentful of Satya Nadella as well because he has essentially destroyed Windows Phone/Lumia.  The whole thing has collapsed underneath him.  If mobile is so important... and if Windows Phone is collapsing... why is Nadella getting accolades?  It makes no sense.  How can you be "Mobile First" if your mobile platform was under 5%... and falling (now below 2%)?  Where exactly is the success?!? Maybe everything can be resurrected by a Surface Phone... but, again, the Surface-thing was started under Ballmer, not Nadella.  Nadella is just taking the credit.  And even if the Surface Phone does succeed, it will be due to the brilliance of Panos Panay... not Nadella (who doesn't even seem committed to it yet).
  • Maybe he will be "mobil first" on any operating system? That is everbody will want to run Microsoft's software instead of Google or Apples software? And at some point in the future, this software may run better on Windows than on IOS or Android?
  • @ cybersaurusrex For Microsoft, the user, not the device, is the hub.......hence Mobile not mobile phones. It's the Ecosystem that Microsoft has concentrated on.......again, the ecosystem is YOU. Apple continues making Macs and they have a tiny % of the worldwide market - on your basis Steve Jobs and Tim Cook have destroyed Mac, simply because it has a tiny market share!
  • First of all, good comment chain this. Always like to see the other side of the argument. Even if Surface, etc. was Ballmer's idea, you have to give credit to Nadella to sustain or in fact accelerate its momentum. You have to give credit to him to bolster XBox in 2015, when most people had written it off in comparison to PS4. As for Windows Phone, it was never in a good position in the first place, for Nadella to worsen it. I agree Windows Mobile has not got the attention it deserved, and it will be on the verge of oblivion soon if things proceed the way they are right now. But I have a feeling 2016 will be the year of Windows Mobile, given the advent of Redstone and various other factors. Since Microsoft executed Surface, Windows 10 and Xbox pretty well, you'd have to say they'll do a good job of Windows 10 Mobile as well, even if things look bleak right now.
  • I see what you're saying your and your point about Microsoft acting out of fear is true (in my opinion), which is why I also feel it was one of the reasons they rushed out Windows 10; which is even more evident with W10m, where they released their flagships with an incomplete OS. ---------------------- I also feel it was one of the main reason to make the preview for developers available for public, because they couldnt afford to release something that ould turn out to be a failure, as that would take years more to recover from.   -------------------- With all that said (obviously just my opinion), I feel their next Big update, is probably what was meant to be the actual release but to wait till 2016 to launch Windows 10 could have proven to be a very bad move, as they would have lost lots of ground, rather than peak consumer interest with all these new products from MS, Lenovo, HP, Dell etc.  Think about it, they released 10 in June, and just from a hardware perspective, we're only just now getting most of these beautiful products, so if they waited till March (or whenever that big update is coming) to release 10, we might have had to wait till October of this year before we saw any of these.  --------------------- Microsoft isn't dumb but they're doing what's necessary to gain ground and not lose anymore ground, so hopefully I'm right in thinking that the upcoming big update, will be the one that puts allows Windows 10 to finally feel more complete and polished, with users not having to look forward to the next bug-fix update but rather a feature update.
  • Just so happens he's exactly tight. Many others are saying the same thing and they're not "fanboys" by any means.
  • There's only one word of import in that whole piece. Execute. All the confidence and endeavour and forward thinking is utterly undone if the execution is poor. Microsoft have released four class leading pieces of hardware in the last few months. For any tech company that is genuinely amazing. After months all still have software issues and are gathering bad press. I've just watched two YouTube videos from respected commentators who both said they couldn't recommend the 950XL to anyone. That's a £500 'flagship' device. Not a preview, a beta or a test piece. I don't understand why enough resources could not be applied to the issues with the 950s, the surface pro 4 and surface book to have them better (ideally 'good'..) at launch or failing that sorted very quickly after. I have faith in the strategy but I'm embarrassed to be a Microsoft evangelist for the first time in 22 years.
  • Vista??
  • Chris, I couldn't have said it better myself! Unfortunately you are right on with your statements. Posted via the Windows Central App for Symbian
  • I think you ment "those aint flagship devices, but more a preview, a beta or a test piece " because thats what win 10 mobile is. And thats microsofts fault. Releasing a unfinished desktop os is okey, fixes are on its way and that's normal. Like that.
    But a phone os HAS TO BE DAMN FINSIHED AND NOT JUST POLISHED till a degree where the devs can say " yeah ehm. Sure its not finished but its a service and we polished it. So shut up "
  • A little setback. When 950 was annonced it was September. They where confident everthing will be solved to end of November. But then they got some unforseen problem, and have to ship Lumias with "not quit ready" operating system. Or maybe they don't care so much aboat bad press. Lumia is dead anyway. And this is the final proof of it. And then come a new thing that will surprice everyone?  
  • Apple may be dead too.....they rely totally on iPhone sales and the news is bad: We have seen Motorola, Nokia and Blackberry suffer the same scenario because concentrated on the phone and not an evolved and varied ecosystem.
  • Apple is no where near death haha. Their news of their demise are old it goes back years. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Reminiscent of the Blackberry and Nokia commenters living in denial haha. Wall Street is awash with knowledgeable people stating that Apples success hangs on iPhone sales, whilst iPad sales decrease quarter after quarter. Nokia and Blackberry relied on phone sales and look what happened. See the facts or just keep laughing like a fool.
  • I certainly don't recommend the 950 to anyone.  I was the biggest reason why quite a few of my friends have a 920, 1020 or 1520.  I'm now telling them either hold onto their current device and NOT load Windows 10 on it (they'll lose apps, featues and performance) or just switch to iPhone or Android if they absolutely have to buy a new device.  This sickens me since I have long been a Microsoft fan.
  • Sure
  • I think that Microsoft has wiped out Android from tablets. It's a big achievement. Numbers will show up in a year. Next target should be smartphones.
  • Not really. The tablet market simply shifted and the shift benefited Microsoft. The fact is, when tablets came up, they were meant as just larger screens for your entertainment consumption. But the problem is that smartphones started to get bigger and bigger. And with smartphones today going almost all of them beyond the reasonable 5" mark, tablets started losing purpose. If I have a phone the size of a mini-diner tray in my pocket already, I won't need a tablet anymore. The Surface on the other hand created the concept of a productivity tablet (which is why the RT platform flopped but the Pro line thrived). Now when you go look into a tablet, you search for something that does more than just play videos or games. And obviously, if you have a tablet that is basically a slim Windows computer...the choice is obvious. That's where Microsoft hit the gold. They didn't wiped Android or iOS tablets. The market itself turned towards Microsoft's vision. That's why you know have those clone attempts that are the iPad Pro and the Pixel C.   On smartphones however, it will be very very difficult (if not really impossible) for Microsoft to do the same.
  • You're right, 2 in 1 devices are more popular than tablets today, If Samsung decided to put Windows 10 on their Galaxy Tab Pro of 2016 is because it comes with a keyboard and that is how tablets can have a bright future.  But if you think OEMs are going to build devices like Nvidia Shield its not going to succeed since people want to do more productivity tasks as they can in a 2 in 1. If I read correctly, Gartner is predicting a very good year for 2 in 1 as the PC category that will grow the most in 2016.
  • Yes, analyes from Gartner is allways correct. Right?
  • I refuse to consider "2-in-1" devices any different than tablets.  They're tablets.  Tablets with detachable keyboards.
  • You are out of your mind.
  • He/She does have a point. There hasn't been any Android tablets annouced whatsoever except the Huawei tablet at CES 2016,  Android tablets are pretty much dead in the high end/ mid range market and increasingly in the low end market
  • Windows tablets are only useful if one also has an external keyboard. My Windows tablet is in a drawer, since I can't type on it without WordFlow or another alternative keyboard that has swipe gestures. I use my Android tablet, since I am able to type on it using SwiftKey. Why didn't Microsoft add the WordFlow keyboard from Windows 10 Mobile to its Windows 10 tablets? Posted from my Moto X Pure Edition via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Your statement is only true if it's got Windows 10, which is a piece of garbage, especially no touch devices.  I LOVE Windows 8.1 on touch devices especially.  I don't need a keyboard.  But W10 absolutely needs a keyboard and, in fact, all you HEAR about are stupid keyboard shortcuts to get anything substantive DONE using W10.
  • Excellent piece Jason.  I agree with most of what you said, though I'm still skeptical about the long term viavility of some of their strategies.  Paticular mobile and the overall store front.  With the current segregation of of PC/Mobile and Xbox (inherently missing out on the buy onces play all for gamers) the bridges for web wrapping and iOS porting have been available and we are still not seeing the tracktion, atleast IMO, they were looking for.  Big example of this would be why do we not have a Windows 10 port of iOS Facebook? The most complete and best web-replacement.  Or even MS's own iOS Skype App which is 1000x better on iOS than it is in either Mobile or Xbox.  Last is the fact what the Xbox game store is still seperate from Windows.  To this there is nothing simpler than pointing out that RotTR fixing to come out here in the short for PC yet it should of just been for all intented purposes an UWA.  What are your thoughs on that particular aspect of the Windows 10 Vision?
  • And don't be afraid to spend more money and get your creative folks on Marketing! Show us what you got!
  • Fearlessly pushing uninspired and mediocre phones that MS itself is too embarrassed to promote, a music app with even fewer features than before, a once leading messaging service that doesn't work and is now irrelevant....
  • If a tree (950/XL) falls in a forest and there's no one (Verizon) to hear it, does it make a noise? Not out of the mobile forest by any means. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Awesome! Really epic.
  • Is so back that for MS is a problem changing my defective MS wireless display adapter
    (a 70 euro device...)
    Of course my device is still in warranty and never worked properly since the first day (just like my 950XL)
    Every day more disappointed by ms
  • Another outstanding post, Jason. It really begs the question, "What's in the wings?"
  • Excellent post Mr. Ward!!!
    Happy new year!!!
    Go microbrave!!!
  • Great story. A lot of what you've written has appeared in other articles but only in bits and pieces and not always in complete form. I for one enjoyed reading it, and renews my faith that the Windows 10 phones will make a impact getting more people on board. Bravo!!
  • Great read. Really looking forward to Microsoft 2016.
  • Am I crazy to feel something akin to love towards a company? I love MS because they gave us Windows, .Net and Visual Studio.
  • Yep, you are nuts.
  • Love is an all encompassing emotion and can be applied to pebbles collected on the beach, the car we buy, our friends, lovers and partners. Even religious concepts, exercise, places and animals etc etc. On that basis maybe your comment applies more to yourself than Lumiator......
  • Wow crazy much Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Yes you are crazy and need help Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Keep posting the same comment you might believe you are sane - no one else does though lol
  • My last hope for rescuing the Windows Mobile platform in 2016 with Surface phone, is to have it run Intel Core M5 CPU and have a hacker load Bluestacks, this way we can enjoy Android apps by sideloading them.  If that ain't happening, as I said in 2015, I'm switching to Android on my smartphone (looking for a chinese device with 21Megapixel camera + Snapdragon 820 and 4GB of RAM) I will disable all Google services since I don't like Google and will use Microsoft services (Outlook, OneDrive, Skype, Cortana, Bing, Office, Xbox Music)  For Continuum, I'm not missing anything since I have Microsoft Wireless display adapter and I can mirror my phone screen into a larger TV or monitor.
  • The Surface Phone will be the one killing Windows Mobile. Mark my words. The moment you can have full blown Windows 10 running on a phone - a Surface Phone - Windows Mobile becomes as useful as Windows RT. And gets discontinued.   If you're waiting for Windows Mobile to survive or Android apps to be side-loadable unto any Windows Mobile device, you better start looking for Androids. And based on your specification requirements...I guess the HTC One M10 will have that sort of specs. Or something by Asus. But if you want a Communist China device, then maybe the 2016 flagship from Lenovorola (whatever it may end up being called...Moto, Vibe, whatever). Also, you will NOT disable all Google services or the phone won't run. Not to mention you don't need to disable them to use Microsoft services. I haven't disabled anything and I still use all the Microsoft services on my Android devices.
  • Sideloading Android apps hasn't helped BlackBerry 10. That isn't the answer, especially since many popular Android apps require Google Play Services. Posted from my Moto X Pure Edition via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Same . But i only get it when it has 6" and looks like a upgraded and metal 1520. #edgesareimportant
  • "I will disable all Google services since I don't like Google and will use Microsoft services (Outlook, OneDrive, Skype, Cortana, Bing, Office, Xbox Music) " I will not be surpriced if many othere will follow your plan.
  • I still can't help but feel that Nadela is putting all the ducks in a row to turn MS into the next IBM, and just look at what a pathetic shell of their previous self that company has become.
  • Really? source please.  Microsoft is a hardware + devices + services company, its not a software/professional services consultancy company/server hardware like IBM
  • Um true does he know the relationship MS had with IBM and why they would never become that.
  • You didn't get the memo... Microsoft as a Devices and Services company is no more. It ended with Ballmer. Microsoft is back in its rightful place: as a software and services company. They produce hardware but it's neither their main business nor their aim to become an OEM.
  • Tdlr both post and comments. Why not try a simple thing like things are looking up or good do highlight then link to full post if necessary. We all here wanna Microsoft to succeed would be better read
  • I love these well researched, comprehensive, well written articles. I remember these past events for Msft.
    I feel Microsoft and Google are pursuing very different future directions at large. Nothing on robotics and autonomous driving vehicles from Msft. I wonder what is Apple's direction. I wouldn't be surprised if Msft has to fear more Facebook and Asian internet service companies when it is about consumers. Msft has a stronghold with business (people) for a long time to come, I would say.
  • "Nothing on robotics and autonomous driving vehicles from Msft." I'm not so sure on this. The fact that we do not hear about it, does not mean they are not working on it.
  • You are right, one never knows. HoloLens was a great positieve surprise to me. It is going to make high impact in many areas.
  • When? I bet the answer is soon. That being said, I'd like HoloLens to come true.
  • @Joscelin Thanks for the support:-)
  • Well, makes a nice change from the clickbait Microsoft bashing (which sadly still seems to be 'cool') that i've come across a lot lately. Seems a lot of tech bloggers and the like still think it's Microsoft from the 1990's and love having a dig at Redmond no matter what they do.    
  • ^agreed.
  • @Jupast Thanks for the support and for that salient point. :-)
  • Look at MS Research. You will be surprised what they are doing although not so much in media but don't think MS are standing still.think IoT and you pretty much cover this, oh and who has machine learning for you to hold tune and use for anything. Hmm that be Microsoft then. Stay positive look more than media posts if you are interested
  • I am loving the new MS and before long we will be cool again I don't see the innovation MS are doing and putting into commercial products from any othe company. Go MS!
  • Ambitious I don't think so I have an idea the would turn the electronics would upside down I'm talking the Surface the laptop the Xbox 1 and the Surface Phone and they won't even give me an email address to show them what I'm talking about. .guess I'll try Sony .... Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Depending on the EULA, we buy the right to use software; a perpetual lease, not to own it outright. The option still exists to obtain software via the traditional method, but the subscription model provides both payment and upgrade flexibility. Do you own cable service plan or do you lease it. Did you buy your phone outright or are you on contract? The point being you're going to pay for services if you don't create/own them. We've been doing it for a VERY long time.
  • Always enjoy reading your articles
  • Coming soon™: Microsoft finally starts what they says. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Brilliant article this! Didn't skip a word! :) Posted via the Windows Central App for Android because the one on my Lumia 550 sucks! :)
  • Nice article... Jason
  • Great read!
  • Your way of comparing things sometimes get really-really boring to read. You don't need to write thousands of words every time to express your thoughts. Maybe next time try smaller but precise articles, no unwanted comparisons here and there.
  • Everything in this fast paced world doesn't have to be twitter soundbites. Besides, most articles here ARE fast food prepared and served. Jason is the one cook at Windows Central that serves a complete sit down and relax full course. Sometimes I would like to chew.
  • @Arvind200911 Thanks for the feedback.;-)
  • In concept, Nadella's vision of Microsoft is really good, no doubt. Venturing into roads less traveled and all that. But at the end of the day, while looking wide they seemed to have achieved a lot, unfortunately, that's where it all ended.  What we get with Windows 10 sounds good on paper -- convergent OS, one store to rule them all, productive stuff etc. But as a user, I think Windows 10 is the most unpolished/confused Windows there is. Inconsistent UI, buggy first party apps.. The little things that users should take for granted have issues. I like that they look into the big picture, but I believe that they should have not rushed things, or maybe added polish for every feature they can commit to before releasing and added less features. Heck, even Windows Updates today ring alarms - it seems for every Windows Update pushed to users, issues also come out.  Then there's the Lumia line has lost the most of the things that made it unique. First party devices also have issues. I really wanted to like Windows 10, and Microsoft for that matter. But I feel that Windows and Windows Phone 8.1 worked better than what we got with Windows 10. They can't even get their services globally. One such example is Cortana. They expect people to love her, your digital assistant, and then plot twist - only a handful of countries could get it. Why not their team work on globalizing their services first before developing them? If I were in a third world country who has a phone set to English I still don't get Cortana even if I am expecting that she may only understand good English. People who wanted her go the extra mile of changing their region to the supported ones just to get her, and there is no difference to just offer her services, albeit in a stipped-down version than not bringing her in at all. Not to mention that confused UI that was previously called Metro. Some people really appreciate that Google/Alphabet actually has published a user-facing document of how Material Design works. Metro might have even predated Material. But what is Metro today? Some bunch of tecnical terms that are not memorable. They don't even let users see the concepts behind this unknown UI. All we know is that back then it was about pivots, fast animation, buttons on bottom, tiles, live tiles, blacks and whites, and now Hamburger menus, etc. How can people appreciate the UI without knowing what it truly is then?  I just hope Microsoft pours more resources into those little things too without losing sight of the bigger things. 
  • Yeah, windows 10 was amazing on paper , one os across all the platforms and devices. What the potential wasn't reached at all. We go universal apps that do exactly the same then the apps before that, only buggier. No ability to use your phone to remotecontroll your pc, or cortana , no ability to synch bing search on pc with phone and buggs, small issues, and glitches. Its decently polished at its best and rushed after only one year of development. And the mobile version is even still a beta that got too much polishing and now is out there on phones already, ready to deliver nothing but a buggy experience.
    I think Microsoft should have waited with windows 10 till th1 update on desktop. And on phone till its really finished and every device would work. Its sad that it has lost so much of the stuff that made windows phone 8/.1 so amazing. But that Microsoft they better it to the worst...
  • "But I feel that Windows and Windows Phone 8.1 worked better than what we got with Windows 10." As far as I know, Windows 10 for mobil is not released yet? At least my Lumia still runs on WP 8.1 (and are stable and good - I may add). On Windows 10 for desktop, laptop or 2-1 it works great, I think most are agrre on that.
  • Microsoft is fun again. Almost like its pioneer days. Most of yaw were not alive yet, so you won't believe me. And I'm not saying they were the only one. They weren't. But I promise Bill and Microsoft were NOT the "suits". Believe me.     Fearless is the adjective Jason built his thesis on. I could try to be clever and argue some synonyms that might be more acceptable for the naysayers, but they would likely just stay naysayers. Regardless, this is not the Microsoft that got rather boring while I gratefully raised my family on the back of their software. (IT)  The kids are all grown though and life is less serious now. And there's a bit of Microsoft dejavu for me. I welcome a bit of "No guts no glory" from Redmond.   Nice read Jason. :<)  I changed my mind and frothed some milk for my shot of espresso. A cuppochino last longer while I relaxed.  I enjoyed both.    
  • Haaah. Tell that to Microsoft Lumia 650. Posted via my Samsung Galaxy S3 Neo which isn't as much abandoned as any Windows Phone on the Windows Central App for Android
  • Daredevil was a horrible movie. Thats all i am saying
  • The article refers to the Netflix series, which is awesome!
  • LOL :-) Actually @Joel my references were more toward the comic book(though the Netflix deries was also in mind). I started collecting comics over 30 years ago though I fell off somewhere around '04.:-) But agreed the Netfilx series awesome.
    Hopefully we will see a Microsoft, in 2016, that executes as well as I believe that series was executed.:-)
  • Great Article  
  • If ambition means they'll put all available LTE bands even in carrier locked phones, then I believe. Their "unlocked" phones only run on 3g... 3g!
  • Really great article well done
  • @Ronit thank you for the support:-)
  • Love is in the air.. :P Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Thanks Jason... I look forward to each one of your pieces. Wonderful read. Thought provoking.
  • @Mary Beth Thank so much for the kind words.:-)
  • Great article, Jason! This article has triggered some great conversation and debate in the comments, which I hope Mr. Capossela is reading and taking notes from :)
  • @Joel Thanks Joel. Yeah, it would be cool if Capossela read this piece since it was inspired by the interview he did with Windows Weekly on Dec 23, 2015 ;-)
  • "Amiable" should be used in place of "amicable".
  • Great article. I love it when people take the time to pay attention to detail. Too many rush to judgement on impulse. Jason, your ideas expressed here have vision. Don't let the naysayers with short attention spans deter you.
  • @ryankelsey Thanks for thoe word and for the support:-)
  • Great article, thanks!
  • @HaloDust Thanks so much. I'm glad you enjoyed it:-)
  • Great read. Thank you.
  • @KMF79 Thank you. Glad you liked the piece.:-)
  • I can see where the author is coming from and I'm sure that it aligns with Microsoft's ambitions but the reality of the situation is very, very different. Let me illustrate it with two products, one from Ballmer's time and another from the "new" Microsoft. FIrst, Zune. It took a few swings and misses but by the time they released ZuneHD, Microsoft had the undisputed best music ecosystem going. They had more music available than iTunes and a subscription based music streaming service years before anyone had ever heard of Spotify. The Zune software felt like something crafted by people who loved music as much as I do, rather than a spreadsheet appliction for oroganising files. It was the ONLY reason I stopped listening to CDs and started ripping them to my PC. And it was a one-stop shop where I coudl rip CDs, buy mp3s, edit all my metadata and sync both my ZuneHD and Windows Phone. ZuneHD itself was a masrterful piece of design and engineering. Mine is more than five years old and still works flawlessly, despit eliving on a yacht in the harbour, where it is exposed to salty air 24/7. It also sported an OLED display when no-one had ever heard of OLED. Colleagues where I was working when I got mine prounced it's image quality suprior to the then brand new iPh9one 4's Retina Display, afte rlooking at a series of photos on each. And the UI was stunning, so intuitive that it was almost impossible not to overthink it ("it couldn't possibly be that easy?" kind of intuitive). It was the first and purest incarnation of their Metro design language and it worked brilliantly All of this happened under the old, fearful Microsoft - brilliant hardware matched by even better software, both on the device and on the PC creating an unmatched user experience.It was something that almost single-handedly completely changed my perception of Microsoft (along with the original Arc Mouse). So, having created something so unbelievably amazing under the old Microsoft, what did the new Microsoft do with it? They dismantled it piece by piece until there was nothing left and nothing to replace it. As a consequence I now spend my $100 a month buying music elsewhere. Now let's take a look at my new Surface Book, which is easily the worst PC I have ever owned. Sure, it has tonnes of potential but somehow the "new" Microsoft has managed to completely screw the pooch. Already today it has lost the keyboard/trackpad twice, requiring me to detach and re-attach the Clipboard, and the display driver has crashed once. That's using Firefox, which I had to install because neither Edge nor IE could go ten minutes without crashing (and IE takes the whole system down with it). Thats more trouble in 90 minutes than my Dell M3800 gave me in a year of hard use. Of course, it's not just the hardware or drivers, a lot of the problems are with Windows 10 itself. Try using Mail - it is every bit as bad as it was on Windows 8. That's three years, probably much longer, to get it to do what it is supposed to do, yet it still won't look for mail on it's own. And don't even start me on how completely and utterly useless Tablet Mode is. Suffice to say that my Thinkpad 8 will NEVER see Windows 10. My Surface Book nightmare experience, along with the fate of Zune, has now changed my mind back - Microsoft is every bit as useless as I always thought they were. I've realised it's just that with such a big company, doing so many different things, they are bound to get something right now and again. That they don't see it when they do shows that they haven't really changed at all.
  • Jason, you really have writing talent. This was such a good read. Thanks for contributing
  • @SuperflyDK I appreciate that. Thank you very much.:-)
  • Hey Jason, thanks for your keen-insight, always-welcome, morale-building essays. Love to read anything you've got to say. Keep up the good efforts. Sincerely, R. Garcia, Win-Surface-Lumia fan from Honduras