Without 'cool factor' Microsoft may never see true consumer success

The company is part of the "background" of many of our lives. That's both a blessing and curse. The blessing is Microsoft's products and services help many of us get things done.

The curse is that Microsoft's presence is often like the white noise used to lull people to sleep.

Conversely, Apple and Google are like hit songs that are intentionally turned on, cranked up, and for which the lyrics are memorized and sung in sync with the artist. These companies are synced with consumers in a way Microsoft is not but needs to be. For instance, Microsoft's premiere product, Office, is the industry's status quo for productivity. It's how we get work done. But for many, it's an uninspiring and boring necessity.

Apple's premiere product, the iPhone, and various phones running Google's Android, however, are fun. They make users feel good and are part of their personal expression. Apple and Google have what many call "cool factor." Microsoft? Well, it's getting there.

Microsoft has money to burn, resources galore and is a globally recognized brand. Microsoft also ranked ninth in the 2016 Top 100 Millennial Brands: Moose Tracker Report. This was above number eleven ranked Google but below number one ranked Apple which is also the most valuable company.

So why can't Microsoft seem to emerge from a position of background noise and leap to the forefront of what consumers want?

The personal computing disconnect

Personal computing is Microsoft's forte, and 88.75 percent of homes and businesses that use PCs use Windows PCs. That fact is a legacy of Microsoft's heyday when the company's PC dominance in the enterprise trickled into the consumer space. Smartphones are now the go-to "computer" for many personal computing tasks.

Smartphones function as an access point to a horde of personal information making them the most personal object most of us carry. They're also the portal to the broader ecosystems of the providers of mobile platforms. This portal has helped Apple and Google, the two companies that dominate the mobile space, cement themselves in the collective minds of the masses.

Daily, billions of users interact with Google's and Apple's ecosystems in ways that feel good and personal, not required and functional, which is often Microsoft's plight. Microsoft isn't oblivious to its poor consumer rapport. It's made multiple, but failed, attempts to bring its enterprise success to the consumer space.

Microsoft flops: Kin, Kinect, Windows Phone and Zune

Here are several areas where Microsoft failed in the consumer space.

Microsoft Kin

After two years of development and a strategic acquisition of Danger Incorporated), Microsoft in 2010 launched the social network-focused Kin smartphone.

It was targeted at the trend-setting 18- to 30-year-old demographic. The phone was only on the market for 48 days when it was unceremoniously discontinued. It briefly returned as a cheaper but also unsuccessful feature phone.

In-fighting within Microsoft resulted in the project falling under different leadership, a change in the original vision and a delay to market, and all of that is blamed for Kin's demise.

Microsoft Zune

Launched in 2006 Microsoft's Zune) was the company's answer to Apple's iPod which launched five years earlier.

Zune HD

Zune HD (Image credit: Windows Central)

Apple's significant lead continued with its 2007 launch of iPod Touch two years before the 2009 Zune HD. In addition to consumer mindshare, Apple garnered developer and other support which supplied Apple's ecosystem with millions of apps and accessories that supported the iPod's market position. Unable to compete, the Zune was discontinued in 2011, five years after its launch.


Microsoft's Kinect, which used a natural user interface of motion-detecting and voice interaction was introduced in 2010 as part of Xbox 360. In 2011, the Kinect SDK was announced as well as the Kinect for Windows program. There was a lot of anticipation as hundreds of companies around the world had shown interest in building apps for Kinect.

Though the Kinect 2.0 received deeper Universal Windows Platform (UWP) integration and Windows Hello capabilities late last year, the initial fervor for the myriad uses of the technology in various industries has significantly diminished. And the consumer-facing gaming aspects for Kinect have all but fizzled out.

Windows Phone

After an enduring presence in the enterprise-focused smartphone space since the early 2000s, Microsoft finally entered the consumer smartphone market three years after the iPhone and two years after Android in 2010.

Windows Phones' fluid and unique OS never caught on with consumers. Limited marketing and distribution, "breaks" in the platform on its way to OneCore, poor developer support, a lack of inspiring flagships, and the buggy Windows 10 Mobile have been the platform's plight.

A reputation for having no apps, the vocal discontent of disenchanted fans and consistently negative press have poisoned the waters for Windows phones among consumers.

Windows phone isn't dead

These flops and a history of early innovation with little to no consumer-facing follow through have hampered Microsoft's consumer success. Microsoft could have beat the iPad and Siri to market, for instance, based on early investments in tablets and AI.

It's not all bad

Microsoft introduced Xbox in 2001, and despite competition from Sony's PlayStation, unrelenting investments made it a consumer success. Similarly, unyielding commitment and drive turned the failing Surface into a category-defining (2-in-1 PCs) billion dollar business and one of the industry's most respected brands.

TV marketing ads, network TV product placements (for example, Black-ish) and corporate partnerships such as the contract with the NFL position Surface beside Xbox in the consumer consciousness. Despite NFL commentators' references to Surface as an iPad, Microsoft is gaining "cool points."

The Surface is still in a battle for "prime time," however. ABC News reporters "use" the Surface, kind of. Throughout the news segments, Surfaces remain untouched on the news desk, behind the iPads that the reporters actively use. Hopefully, Microsoft can get ABC to move from displaying Surfaces to using them on national television.

Still, the brand has expanded to include the college student-focused Surface Laptop, and the Apple's creatives-stealing Surface Studio. The former has yet to be tested in the market, and the latter has piqued the interest of its intended target.

Furthermore, Microsoft has added and will be bringing new features to Windows 10 such as Paint 3D, Mixed Reality, system-wide inking and more, which the company hopes will appeal to consumers. Microsoft's Mixed Reality wearable computer, HoloLens, is arguably the coolest product it has created. If it were ready for the consumer market, the company would doubtlessly be considered cool. Alas, the next iteration of HoloLens has been pushed out to 2019.

Part of pop culture

Despite Microsoft's Xbox and Surface success and potential with Mixed Reality, to the average consumer, the company doesn't occupy the same space as Apple or Google. As the leading search engine, "Google" has become a verb in our dialogue when it's time to, well, Google something.

Apple's former CEO Steve Jobs through vision, standards for quality and marketing genius, imbued the company and its products with an intangible value that the media and consumers "feel" to this day. Additionally, movies about this iconic leader are an expression of the influence he and Apple had on the world.

Microsoft needs to do more with its 'do-more' vision

Microsoft doesn't have the pop culture appeal of Google and Apple. As a "do-more" company, it has focused on providing businesses and individuals with the tools to do more.

Its enterprise-focused legacy has taught the company to exist "in the shadows" as the platform or infrastructure that helps others get things done. This mentality and associated marketing methods don't work in the sensory, in-your-face consumer space.

Myerson Windows 10

Myerson Windows 10 (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Successful consumer-facing companies aggressively tell consumers why they need a product, how it'll improve their lives, and convince them it solves a problem they didn't know they had. Beyond Xbox and Surface, Microsoft lacks the aggression and stamina its rivals have in this regard.

Microsoft leads in innovation but is slow to turn ideas into products, allowing competitors to beat it to market. The One Microsoft initiative was supposed to enable greater nimbleness by restructuring teams. That hasn't fully materialized.

Microsoft's struggling to reach consumers at a point in history when personal computing has never been more consumer influenced. Will Microsoft have the aggression and stamina to market its student-focused Surface Laptop against the MacBook? What about Surface phone or a consumer-focused HoloLens?

Sadly, until Microsoft is ready to "do more," it may always covet that elusive cool factor.

Jason Ward

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 for reading folks! Apple and Google have what Microsoft needs, 'cool factor!' And though there are cool things going on in Microsoft, most consumers just don't see them yet. Hopefully since personal computing is more consumer influenced than ever, Microsoft will get that need cool factor 😎 and build that rapport with consumers it so desperately needs. Well LET'S TALK!!!!
  • windows 10 fluid design system and the surface line up is a great step in that direction and I love it..but the thing that bugs me every single time no matter what is that they don't market their as efficiently as the other big names like google or apple...for instance in my country a non enthusiast unlike us is aware of an iPhone (and unbelievably some also know a google pixel) and they buy just for "cool factor" as jason...but the same people never even heard there is something called a surface line up...i donno what is this thing with the marketing division of microsoft but they should seriously change... I don't think they lack much in 'cool factor'(Right now) but I seriously feel they lack the show off that the other companies do
  • Microsoft has to many different brands too. Also, as a brand "Microsoft" has more syllables than Apple and Google, very inconvenient.
  • That's why most people just refer to it as MS -_- 
  • I don't know anyone who refers to it as "MS."  Even its stock ticker is longer:  "MSFT"
  • Like Windows 10 mobile. Not cool!
  • W10 Mobile is GREAT!
  • Microsoft should split off their consumer OS and rename name it surfOS. Still pronounced Surface, but it's an OS? Get it? The WIndows name is old and lame and makes people think about work and boredom.
  • @SenorGravy Been saying that for years!  Microsoft naming of their phone OS did them in.  Very few people want to use a Microsoft device because it reminds them of WORK!  Word!  Excel!  PowerPoint!  It doesn't conjure up anything COOL!  It doesn't.  I might see past those things but the regular Joe and Jane does not.  It's really that simple.
  • I agree with you on this. They have enough cool stuff specially in recent they have gotten pretty cool. Its their lack of proper communication with layman target audience and proper marketing. They tried to do it with Windows 8 when I remeber even in India it was launched with funky songs and dance numbers in ad and people loved it but the product was not very impressive there. MS has a traditional problem of living in techie's bubble. We love them for this because that's a company where engineers handle everything and as a Computer Engineer I like that notion but that breaks things with other common people. But I would say; I have observed that they also feel it. Probably they should just go to big firm such as Wieden+Kennedy which did "Where do you wanna go next" for them and that campaign is the most succesful campaign for MS as of now. Proper communication is what's needed for MS. 
  • Microsoft still relies way too much on the "Windows" brand.  It's an old brand associated with "your job"... and carries A LOT of "baggage." Whatever the next iteration of Windows Mobile/Phone is... it should not be called "Windows"... even if it is strongly related to Windows and Office.  There's nothing wrong with highlighting the synchronicities... but the "Windows" brand is tarnished.
  • Totally agree.
    To the masses Windows means viruses on the PC, blue screens and tiny work cubicles. Windows should be by association only and not the headline act.
  • Agree.... I've been saying this for years.
  • Thanks Jason... This has always been Microsoft's problem. The Xbox did well because there is a huge gamer community and it's one of those things, you make good games, that are fun and show quality, the gamers will come. Windows has always been known (from Win 95/98 days) for gaming, so it was fairly easy for them to go this way. The Xbox was known as the DirectX box (Microsofts internal name for it)before they took the name of Xbox... It's a Windows core with DirectX in a nutshel. As for Mobile devices, the KIN failed because of a lot of Microsoft's politics but, one of the other big issues was Verizon wireless. They were exclusive on the KIN/KIN2  but, they insisted that it was a smartphone and put a mandatory $29.99 a month data plan, it got out of the range of most yonger people.  It was dead on arival because of this. If Windows was NOT a needed thing for PCs (If you read the story of how Bill Gates started Microsoft, you would know he was smart but, he was in the right place at the right time...), and another company created "Windows" Microsoft would be a low volume, or even failed company in a competive market. No matter the billions they spend on Marketing, they really have no clue on how to hit the "hip" consumers, they have always have lost this anagle. I think just the name "Microsoft" is not cool to young people because of what they do for the business world. It's why Windows Phone is pretty much dead, They had to climb over the "hip" hill but, they gave up before they hit that market.
  • Cool factor, schmool factor.  You hit on the real answer in your article.  The products that Microsoft creates and then continues to invest in, support, market, and refine generally find success (Windows, XBOX, Surface, Office).  The ones that they barely support, rename several times to confuse any consumers, and then abandon mystified by their lack of success, don't succeed (Zune-XBOX Music-Groove, Windows phone or mobile or whatever, RT).
  • Windows 10 mobile is not for normal people it's for business class people.....but on the other hand Android and iOS are for all.....do they really know that business class people are less in number comparing with non business class people...even Microsoft employee use iPhone because it's not as buggy as windows 10 mobile.....less features high price ........and poor app......poor developer support.....even poor support from Microsoft....they also push their user either to iOS and Android eco system....so it's better to stick with iOS and android.....why do I care for windows 10 mobile when they only care for business people....I have Ubuntu so no use of windows 10 neither any problem of wanna cry???????  
  • Do you ever get tired of shilling for Google and Apple? Why anyone hire you to write for this site I'll never know. Every article you writer is the worse than the last.
  • Hi Hhammack I'm sorry you're not pleased with the content. Of course you don't have to read it if that's your desire. There are many other writers or topics here you might prefer. Just let the title of the piece and author by line be your guide if that’s what you wish. :-) Now I noticed your discontent with this and other pieces revolves around the erroneous notion that I am shilling for Apple and Google. Please review the dozens of articles I've written since I began writing for the site in 2015 www.windowscentral.com/author/jason-ward where you will clearly see that is not the case. One of the things that makes writing analysis for any company helpful is viewing that company within the larger context in which it exists. No company, not even Microsoft, exists in a box. Decisions made by other companies, consumer behavior, market forces, trends, technological advances, laws, government actions (remember the DOJ ruling against Microsoft?) and more affect the success and failure of a company's endeavors, even Microsoft's. For example Microsoft was in the mobile phone business long before Apple or Google. It had even achieved over 40% market share at one point. Clearly that level of market dominance is no longer the case. Why? Did Microsoft suddenly stop offering its mobile OS in 2007 or was there a force outside of Microsoft that began to affect its position in the mobile space? Of course we know that the latter is true. Apple introduced the consumer-facing iPhone which turned Microsoft's enterprise-focused efforts on its head. Microsoft had to scramble in response to what Apple and subsequently Google, via Android, brought to the market. Hhammack you can't tell one story without including (at least in part) the other. The same applies in various areas where Microsoft competes with other companies. Whether its offering a Music service - Groove vs Apple Music vs Google vs Spotify, Browsers: Edge vs Chrome vs Safari, OSes: Windows vs MacOS vs Chrome vs Android, productivity suites, cloud services, digital assistants, the list goes on. Talking about what the competition is doing provides context as to WHY Microsoft is doing WHAT it is doing and what is may do next and why. Rest assured, Microsoft is certainly taking about what rivals are doing behind the hallowed walls of Redmond. :-) So no I'm not shilling. :-) I'm telling the story as it should be told, by intelligently including information that provides context to the focus of the content. For any analysis and its communication to be most effective you have to look at the broader context not only the content, or subject that is the focus. I hope that helps you understand why I include information about what other companies are doing and why Windows Central hired me to write for the site. :-)
  • MS continually makes one huge mistake in my not so humble opinion. It announces what appears to be cool stuff and then leaves the actual delivery date until 6 or months later. By this time what was cool 6 months ago is ho hum now. For heaven's sake, can someone tell Nutella that when he announces cool stuff and he has our interest that is the time to close the sale, not 6 months later because we have switched off by then.
  • A bit rough calling Kinect a failure, it just ran out of steam as many products do with changing technology but was a massive success early on for several years and in the process entered the Guinness book of records for being the fastest selling consumer device on the planet !
    I wouldn't mind a couple of failures like kinect.
  • Yup totally agree, Kinect was pretty successful and Google is far from Cool...
  • I would have to disagree with you on that. I think google is cool. Microsoft not so much.
  • Google is far from cool
  • Ms needs to lower prices on consumer products.
  • Guess, in the price department the title should say: "Don't be Apple!", lol. I see where things are going that Surface is too much of a premium to even get access (esp. outside U.S.)--to the point of diminishing returns. Surface is innovating, yet some of its components are questionable, like: Storage/RAM on devices in terms of price & value Surface Studio still using fusion drives (low SSD/big HDD)--when Apple devices like MBP/Mac Pro (quit using fusion drives since 2014, and stayed for PCIe/NVMe) Surface Pro/Book/Laptop (check MS STORE) with the round-up, everytime you upgrade +128/8Gb you add $300, on top of upgrading i5 --> i7 extra $200/300... is getting astronomically ridiculous; +accessories Pen/Keyboard/Dock of your choice Most of that drives/forces us to the middle-ground choice, where it is slightly affordable (i5/256/8gb)--which we usually spend $1300-1600 for Surface. Wish MS would consider their pricing, or at least setup a decent price bar because other OEMs follow-suit (with lower pricing, but less reliability). If it doesn't happen, I guess we'll be seeing articles like this more on Windows Central, :) https://www.windowscentral.com/how-add-cheap-storage-microsoft-surface-book
  • Wow!! Just wow!! Respect for you sir. Amazing article.
  • I honestly think one of the other areas where Microsoft falls behind in is globalisation. Microsoft is a very US-centric company and anyone would be forgiven for thinking Microsoft forgets that the rest of the world exists a lot of the time. After all Zune never made it outside of US; Microsoft Stores only just barely have recently escaped the states (from what I remember & even then not for the big players like England, Germany, and France), We're still waiting on Microsoft Pay too, as well as a lot services being subpar in comparison (We can't even use Jen Taylor on our phones without switching regions!), and we've only -just- received Microsoft Rewards (aka Bing rewards). All of this and I'm sure so much more too (such as lack of advertising).
  • Microsoft desperately needs a mobile platform.  It made a terrible decision to dump the Nokia line. The shrinking of the PC to a small portable package a.k.a. Mobile has changed the consumer and business world forever.  These devices are becoming crucial to society and the lack of developer support for Windows will cripple MS for generations.   MS will win in business PC, compete in cloud and gaming, but losing in consumer mobile also means losing in Auto, Business, Payments and Financial, Home Automation, etc.  As an example, his week I had a business trip and a family members high school graduation.  I used my iPhone to check in on my flight, board my plane, open the door on my hotel, and navigate to my meetings with CarPlay.  Later I withdrew funds from an ATM with my phone, ordered pizzas for kids, and bought a coffee to keep me going.  The next day I purchased movie tickets and scanned in at the theater.   With my old Lumia 950 with Win 10 mobile I would've only been able to do 40% of this and it would have been a crappy experience.   MS should buy LG, Spotify and rebrand Sync with Cortana and a UWP experience.  
  • For me it's simple. Love. Google and Apple love mobile. They understand its the primary user platform in the consumer space now on which their vibrant consumer ecosystem links to it. With Microsoft it's a mere device category. The enthusiasm launching the Lumia 950 could not have been less. Having launched it they managed to make sure almost no one at Microsoft ever used it again. If they really loved the offer instead of seeing it merely as a necessary offer they might get somewhere. Do remember things like Zune and Kin were US only. Another problem for Microsoft is they need to morph into a global company. Apple and Google have done that. Microsoft not so much. With double figure Lumia sales in Europe during 2015 they abandoned their best selling markets first. 
  • taint
  • Great article yet again. I have been saying this for a while now. That picture for this article says it all. The most uncoolest thing possible is in that picture. They look so freaking stupid and no one at MS seems to care.
  • do they look stupid...for me nope ...but yeah for somebody who doesn't give a damn about VR and AR..it may look...BTW if you keep the HoloLens and the present vr headsets like HTC vive, the vr headsets looks way more stupid because of the wire from the back and all the sensors surrounding us
  • No one is talking about AR VR. I menat they, They look dweeby in the picutre, that picture of Terry, Joe and Alex was painful. Anything Joe Belfiore's face and hair is involved in hurts Microsoft's chances profoundly. You dont have to agree with me for it to be true. It is true. People I know look at MS and they look at that stupid picture and I can not convince them anymore how cool HoloLens is, how great Windows Mobile was. I cant!!! I have tried but the super dorkyness and cornyness of the Stupid Ninja Cat, makes them a Joke!!!
  • You are exactly right, sir. Since when is looking androgyn or hermaphrodite cool?
  • Mick Jagger's done pretty well, as have Michael Jackson, Prince and David Bowie, just to name a few...
  • Thankfully, one man's cool is another man's bull... That's what makes the world spin; for better or worse. I for once, find silly droid can or bit off fruit much dorkier. Remember, MS logo is pertinent to it's arguably most successful product. The ninja cat is just that...sarcastic middle finger to the former two ;).cheers!
  • SIGH... I think I need to begin learning a different language. Obviously No one seems to understand what I am saying even though it's crystal clear.
  • It is crystal clear and you're 100% right.  Those guys look like dorks, and they should not be the ones promoting products.  Simple.
  • How many normal users do you think knows who Belfiore is, or have ever seen that picture? It's likely something like 1 in a million...!
  • Totally agree!  Not a cool picture at all!  Now Brian "Like a Boss" Roper was cool!
  • Timing is everything, it's not just the cool factor. Just 2-3 years ago, Microsoft was too slow to give us consumer products. Windows Phone was too late. Zune was too late. Groove was too late. Kinect was just a flop, same as hololens. Now the Cortana speaker (yes, Microsoft has nothing to do with manufacturing) with it's fall launch is too late again. Everything Microsoft does for consumers, is always too late. Surface line is an exception because Surface is a premium product and always has something "new". Windows Phone didn't help with 6 months gaps between introduction and "shipment".
  • Sadly late or canceled...
  • To me, that's one of the biggest differences to Microsoft and Google. At Build 2017, Microsoft unveiled an incredible amount on new features. And their coming out towards the end of this year. However, at Google IO 2017, some of the features that they announced have already come out, in just 2-3 weeks! That's much better that what I have ever seen Microsoft do.
  • That's because Google is the #1 company that people want to work for. Google has poached many talented MS enginers over the years and that's why they can deliver features fast and Microsoft takes forever. They simply don't have enough talented engineers left.
  • Tell this to Nadella who fired many good engineers. Not all went to Google and others on their own will you know...Take for example ex Nokia engineers, the ones that actually knew something about movile phones, were fired, and you(not you you) expect MS to succeed when they have zero people with high experience in phones??
  • I don't get this flop idea.  How was Xbox Music a flop?  It wasn't.  It was the best music service money could buy.  Just because Microsoft didn't promote it widely doesn't mean it was a flop it just means people didn't know about it and therefore people didn't sign-up.  Tell me which other music service let you download 10 songs per month for you to keep for life?  That was Xbox Music aka Zune.  Even though the monthly fee was $14.99 if you downloaded your 10 songs at $1.29 per song the plan was actually $2.09 per month.  And you could still stream as many songs as your heart desired.  This was a no brainer!  It was not a flop.  It was a failure with Microsoft not promoting their system properly.  And for some consumers who didn't do the simple math to realize this was the best package out there.  All other plans that cost you $9.99 per month with NOTHING to keep can't touch Xbox Music aka Zune at all. Same with Kinect.  My main TVs (three in total) that has an Xbox attached all have Kinect.  And Kinect works flawlessly for me.  It's no flop to me.  Again, just because Microsoft gets lazy and refuses to market their products wisely doesn't mean the products are flops.  It's the selling and promoting of the products is where the issue lies.  Windows Phone which should have been named something else IMO, was hampered by the name itself.  WP was at 10% in some countries and seem to be gaining ground until Microsoft decided to abandon all that was good with WP OS.  They got rid of the ME tile.  Rooms.  Panoramic Photo Hub.  Zune Music.  Kids Corner.  Reduction in integration of social sites in the People Hub.  Leader of the Camera in a cell phone.  And finally instead of leading they incorporated those useless Hamburger menus removing the ease of the ... ellipsis.  These things worked well!  They weren't flops!  They just won't marketed correctly IMHO.
  • It's true.  You can't rightfully call something a flop if it isn't marketed at all.  I guess you could say the promotion of the product was a flop, even if the product itself was brilliant.
  • They may have been technically sound, but they were all market failures. That's the point:  for Microsoft to be successful in the consumer market, they need to be more than just technically proficient.  Just because you build a product that works, doesn't mean that it will find a successful market. All these products found limited success in the marketplace, but none of them met Microsoft's own expectations of success.  Thus, they were failures.
  • Smack on about Windows Phone! A basically great product slowly getting dumbed down and ignored by it's own company...
  • Hololens wasn't a flop, it was never released to consumers. As for the Cortana speaker, I don't think they're late. Apple is rumored to be releasing a Siri speaker later this year. Is Apple too late and Siri going to be a flop?
  • Also seems that the stuff that is released is either buggy or too expensive or both. I was interested in a Surface laptop until I saw the price and read about the bugs. I owned a couple of Windows phones and thought they were great, but Microsoft should have basically been giving the things away dirt cheap to gulp market share. 
  • I still dont get why Microsoft didnt release the Zune HD as a phone.  That hardware was awesome.
  • People who used both the iPOD and the Zune HD thought the Zune was far better but, Apple had too much control on the market.  It's one thing Apple had down hip marketing
  • The Zune HD was a beautiful device and all MS had to do was stretch it out to the size of a phone.
  • Agree on that! They should have built a phone over it.
  • Nutella is doing his best to turn MS into another IBM. It's a good thing he didn't have his way with the XBox division.
  • Largely, every example was Microsoft's "Me, too!" approach.  And even when they really did bring something new to the table they did almost nothing to exploit or otherwise enhance it.  Personally, I don't agree at all with the assertion that iPhone and Android are "fun".  I think they're ugly and stupid, and I have a very low opinion of people who insist they are anything but.  But that's me. I've long been in a tiny minority.  Microsoft has not only been slow to respond to trends (worse, with exception of the Surface Pro devices, have never been a trend-SETTER), they chase so many rabbit trails and then reboot their efforts there's no confidence in long-term sustainability.  I think we're about to witness it again with mobile.  Microsoft is the Incredible Hulk/Spiderman of the tech industry...so many retries at something, with a lot of money wasted and squandered consumer support.
  • I agree that there is nothing "fun" about an iPhone or Android phone, or really any phone for that matter.  It's the marketing that builds the perception of fun and that is what sells the devices.
  • not only marketing, applications are very important for the huge amount of average users, next group are geeks who want to see the newest HW so for both groups the only options are iPhones and Androids. Microsoft failed in every category from app till HW except the camera
  • Even their camera technology has gone, after Nokia acquisition, they rescued a company from going bankrupt with Elop on charge, but Microsoft never acquired intelectual property for Nokia camera technology so this still belongs to Nokia
  • I'd go one further and say Android phones are a PIA compared to my Windows phones, which never broke, everything ran perfectly, predictably and smoothly. And the biggest plus, I never had to wait for updates, like my dumb Motorola Moto X Pure Edition, which got only 1 security update in the last year and still doesn't have Nougat despite Motorola's promises we'd get it last year.
  • True for the past but really perception nowadays. Now we have Surface, HoloLens, Hub and upcoming Scorpio but seems people still think more about what failed like WM which is certainly big. Engadget even said the other day that other brands including Apple did copy from Surface Pro. That certainly must mean something. That said I'd agree that consistency is not there for all of their products. Apple has been very slow to response last couple of years for their entire portfolio. I'd argue it's worse now but it still pays off due to their (past) image. I'm not sure people see Google HW devices as that cool. Typically it's rather seen as good quality/value proposition and very different image. Certainly if you look back at the reactions on their Pixel phone.
  • That kin UI was pretty cool looking. Kin, Zune, Windows Phone 7/8. Microsoft was innovating with some fantastic and beautiful user interface designs. I hope that they don't cower from innovation in the future. Windows 10 is increasingly using very tiny text instead of the visually stunning use of typefaces in Zune / Windows Phone. I've read rumours that the next mobile reboot might use boring icons like iOS and Android. Why is the general public so set in 25 year old UI design? It's time to evolve! I always used to say that Windows 8 / Windows Phone was like Marty McFly playing 80's heavy metal guitar in 1955. Unfortunately, people weren't ready for it yet. :( Don't conform to the generic status quo, Microsoft. Keep innovating in UI, but finally back it up with unprecedented marketing.
  • I agree about Pink, the Kin UI.  I had that device and it made an outstanding feature phone, but unimpressive smartphone.  The concept was great, but people weren't ready for it. I think Microsoft is successful in designing ideas for software.  Back when they came out with the Metro design language, both Apple and Google adopted these concepts into their own iOS and Android UIs.  Personally, I loved the simplicity of Metro and felt most people just didn't give it a chance.  Now, it's everywhere.
  • Because Windows 95 was a huge consumer success, and pretty much defined what a personal computer UI should look like. It was not cool, it was definitive. Not even mentioned in this article.
  • This.
  • As I see it, Microsoft's biggest issues are being slow to market and lack of commitment (which includes marketing). Examples; Slow to market -  Just about everything except possibly 2-1 devices.  Lack of commitment: Zune HD was much more superior than the iPod but in typical MS style it was never really hyped and MS didn't try very hard and they gave up too soon.  It's truly amaizing that the Xbox didnt crash under the weight of Microsoft's lack of marketing and commitment.
  • The Zune was featured again in the recent Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 movie and that was probably more marketing than Microsoft ever did for the Zune themselves.
  • Jason - nail it. Now, I think Microsoft has an opportunity for success. The true barrier they need to break is mobile. And I think gaming could be the way to break that barrier. Today they focus on the "business users" with their failed attempts at the"consumer" base. I think that if they also added a focus on the "gaming" crowd, by building the first ever gaming phone, they could finally on board the right people to achieve that "Cool Factor" that you so cleverly explain on this article. You could start slow, low key, with a killer piece of hardware (their ultimate mobile device), with the ability to play your current library of games - real games: Forza, Halo 5, etc. - on the go. Take your phone, your xbox controller (via bluetooh) and game on with your friends. These gamers will pave the way for the broader market to jump on. 
  • https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xperia_Play
  • Microsoft is cool but they just need to figure out how to convey it. They also need to be able to take a product through multiple lifecycles and not just abandon them after first or second version.  Microsoft needs to take their ideas and nurture them, support them and give them a fighting chance.  Here's a great TV commercial from GE that shows how they love new ideas even if they seem unfriendly to everyone else.  It made me think GE is cool. https://www.ispot.tv/ad/7CyJ/general-electric-ideas-are-scary?autoplay=1
  • I still use Kinect almost every day with voice commands.
  • Oh, you're the one
  • My Xbox One came with the Kinect and I really only use it for voice commands as well like turning on and off. But I also use it for facial recognition to sign into Xbox Live. Most importantly though, the Kinect voice commands is the fastest way to record gameclips with the GameDVR which is important for me because I run a sizeable YouTube channel and I always have a lot of content I need to upload and the Kinect is just really helpful to me.
  • I disagree with lack of "coolness" that microsoft presumably doesn't have. I think microsoft has plenty of cool. The problem I see is that microsoft seems to lack perseverance to follow through. They come uo with cool innovative ideas and solutions. There seems to be a relatively short term progression and climax, and then wonderously loses momentum in aquiet fashion. I think tjere needs to be a cultural change with this aspect of their roadmaps. It's been going on for years like this. This leaves the impression of half baked products and features, instaed following through and deluvering what the announced or demoed.
  • Surface is a runaway success. And let's be honest. It will be Samsung that makes Windows 10 on ARM successful. They will jump on that like a fat kid on a cupcake.
  • Surface has done fine, but it is isn't a "runaway" success in any stretch of the imagination. Just look at the last earnings numbers.
  • Bleached,  don't mind richard,  he's as big a MS fanboy as there is.   In his eyes MS does NO wrong.   Surface was not successful until the pro 3,  and they are just plugging along make a tidy profit....it's not like it's barn busters or anything.  
  • Don't flatter yourself...Samsung has other important things to do for their success rate rather than messing up with windows arm. Yeah, they have a 2in1 hybrid going with full windows that looks very nice but that's it, a 2in1. Tablet experience on windows is simply pathetic.
  • Oh Lord, spare us from the "cool" nonsense.  Cool is fine if you want to be in the fashion business.  Follow that if you want to see how fickle it is.  Every time Microsoft tries to be "cool" they do it by copying, including copying the *worst* aspects of the others.  And when they change their existing products to be more "cool" they inevitably make them worse and, somehow, more buggy than what they started with. At work, I want to be productive and efficient, not cool.  Windows 7 was excellent at that.  The original Windows 8 screwed that up entirely.  Windows 10 if finally getting back to where they were with Windows 7. At home, I'm probably playing games, so it has to work and be fast.   Or I might doing something like photo and video downloads and edits, where again I want to be productive.  If I'm paying bills or other home chores, I'm likely just using a browser.  It just has to work, on whatever device.  Initially, about half of the time Edge didn't work.  Now it is worse: for some sites Edge fails, for others IE fails, so I have to use both, and try to remember which one to use for any given site. Windows Phone 7 was brilliant with it's hub idea--since abandoned.  But they also copied the worst aspect of iPhone in that you had to tether it to the Zune app, just like iPhone / iTunes, which everyone hates.  Stupid.  Zune HD was outstanding, as was the Zune player on Windows Phone 7, just too late.  And with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 the replacement media playing environment was truly horrible; it would have been an embarrasment even as an intro college project.  How on earth did they go from something quite good to that?  With Groove they are finally getting back to what they had 5 years ago. When I'm mobile I'm trying to get something done; other than phone calls, it might be email, messaging, photos and photo sharing, social media, etc.  I just needs to work, without fights and reboots.  5 years ago it just worked.  Today it doesn't.  No fashion statement makes up for something simply not working.  
  • This!!! Stop trying to be "cool" and just make a great device.  Also, people can tell genuine "cool" from contrived "cool." Microsoft keeps trying to fake "cool" and it just isn't working.  Make a high quality device that works well and is priced resonably and people will notice.  
  • Yet Google Chrome works for EVERY site I use/visit, MS ahs given me nothing with Edge that makes we need to switch browsers
  • i agree with almost everything you said. however, i'm still using windows 7, and windows phone 7.8, and i had a zuneHD. i still use the ZUNE program to manage my music all the time, it is one of the best programs out there, miles better than itunes. so, in that sense you're wrong. later -1
  • It is going to be nearly impossible to make anything appear cool with the Windows brand attached. That is an uphill battle. They need to reboot every thing if appearing cool is their goal.
  • I don't think there's anything wrong with the Windows brand. I think it's the hardware. The Surface brand proved that impressive hardware is what you need to be successful. I'm pretty sure people buy phones for impressive hardware too like the iPhone was back in the day or the now leading Galaxy line from Samsung. Should Microsoft make a Windows phone with impressive hardware like they did with Surface, it'd probably get a lot more attention.
  • Thats why I think Microsoft should continue building smartphones but with an Android cloned OS, smartphones aren't going to dissapear anyrime soon. I hate Gogle and love Microsoft but their mobile strategy has fallen, its time to start a new era where Android developers put their app on a rival Google play store, Amazon already does this with their Fire OS tablets. And Amazon is now a very friendly company to consumers Jusr my 2 cents
  • Google is "cool?"  I've heard them called a lot of things, but never cool.  I don't think they need that image to dominate. Apple, on the other hand, was a genius company in marketing and appearing "cool."  How they are able to get people into their ecosystem is amazing.  They focus on exclusives that people want, like iMessage (that only works on their devices) and sit back and watch their customers flock to them. Microsoft has tried for a long time to get users from all platforms.  They did the "it works on all devices but is best on Windows!" but didn't stick it out.  I think that's their problem.  Constantly here, and on other sites, we see people who are disinfranchised with them.  Especially "Windows fans" who really want to stay with them, but no longer have a choice.  Slowly, I'm running out of choices to stay with Microsoft.  And it's all their fault.
  • Another great articale, Jason! The cool factor comes from marketing, plain and simple. I bought theSurface RT when it first came out. I was so excited to get it. When I showed it to people I almost always got the same question: "Is that one that has the keyboard that clicks on?" Now, why would I get that questions? It s simply because of the commercial where the kids danced around and click the keyboard ontop the Surface. That was considered "cool." It was cool because of marketing. It created the buzz. The buzz is what established the cool factot. This is contrary to the belief that products can sell themselves. If that were true there would be no need for advertsiing.
  • The cool factor and the buzz only gets people in the door. The device and experience then needs to deliver to keep them there and grow further. This is where Microsoft has really stumbled. The Surface RT is a prime example. What a terrible experience to own one of those.
  • Jason failed to mention Windows Media Center, a product that was well ahead of its time.  It and Tivo were essentially the only Cable Labs-certified offerings on the market, which allowed you to record encrypted cable TV offerings.  To this day, it continues to have a cult following in spite of Microsoft's having completely abandoned it with the advent of Windows10.  If you had it in use on your Win7 or Win8 box and took advanage of the free Win10 upgrade, it was physically removed as part of the upgrade.  Just another example of Microsoft screwing the pooch in the consumer space. 
  • I loved Media Centre on Windows 7! MS should have kept it for Windows 10, even if it was a reasonably priced addition
  • Another thing : step outside the US and even the Xbox gets removed from that equation since it's presence in places like Europe is almost irrelevant next to the power of Sony's PlayStation.
  • Not at all, Xbox is still a strong brand outside of the US. Just because it's not beating PlayStation doesn't mean it's failing. It's still ahead of Nintendo in most countries and even Nintendo isn't considered a failure for being in 3rd place. The only place where you could call Xbox a failure is in Japan.
  • I agree especially with the last 3 paragraphs!
  • Microsoft for many people triggers the feeling of sw that takes half an hour to start up and crashes in the middle of something important. And for me MS triggers the feeling of a company that abandoned mobile even though there was plenty potential there. Lots of people only use MS products because there is no decent alternative, but they would switch in a heartbeat if Apple or Samsung came with an acceptable alternative.
  • That is unfortunate. My XPS 27 starts in something like thirty seconds (to W10 desktop.)  
  • I'd like to add to Jason's welldone article and bring some more historical perspective, which I think is important. Apple
    While Apple is wildly successful today with it's iPhone-based platform, this wasn't always the case. Today's success for Apple started with the iPod, which took them 25 years to "discover". For Apple's first 25 years of existence, it was just a niche computer maker that struggled to be relevant. Even to this day, Apple's original core product, the Mac, has struggled to make much headway, holding the same single digit market share that it has held for decades. The iPod morphed into the iPod Touch, which morphed into the iPhone, then the iPad. Today, Apple's primary product is the iPhone. The iPad is slowly fading away, just as the iPod has. Without the iPhone, Apple would again be a niche computer maker struggling to be relevant because I would argue most of its Mac sales today are due to the success of the iPhone. Take the iPhone away and Apple again becomes irrelevant. Google
    Google is an advertising company. Roughly 90% of its revenue comes from selling advertising. Every product that Google creates is geared towards collecting user data to be sold. In 2007, Google purchased Android, which it subsequently allowed developers to use for free. This is the only reason Android became successful. It didn't become successful because it was originally good. Originally it was crap. The iPhone was originally crap as well. And I would argue up until the last few years it was crap. But it was free, which allowed every low rent device maker to turn out cheap, crap devices that most people could afford and that carriers could make massive profits on. And that was great for Google, because it gave them a massive platform from which to collect even more user data to sell. But to this day, the only device maker that makes any meaningful profit at all on Android is Samsung. There is profit for the carriers and app/service sales, but not in the devices themselves. Microsoft
    As Jason pointed out, Microsoft's history has been in the enterprise, and it will remain so. Neither Apple nor Google have any meaningful presence in the enterprise, other than iPhones and Android phones, and likely never will. The enterprise is a much more complex market than the consumer market. Enterprises demand much more robust systems, security, backwards compatibility, integration, etc., all things that neither Apple nor Google can provide at enterprise scale. Apple's success is the iPhone. Google's is advertising. Microsoft's is Windows, Office, Visual Studio, MS SQL Server, Intune, Xbox, Azure, and a host of other products, none of which Apple or Google have competitors for, and again likely never will. Microsoft has struggled in the consumer space because up until recently it has never been a consumer company. From day one both Apple and Android were consumer companies. They have decades of experience in the consumer, consumption market. They have little to no experience in the enterprise and productivity markets. Microsoft is just the reverse. So how does Microsoft become cool? I'm not sure it should. The idea that the iPhone and Android will remain the successes they are today is I think foolhardy. Looking back at the history of consumer electronics there are very few succcess of the day that even exist today. Things will change, and I think Microsoft is driving that change, but it is a longer term game. You might say, well Windows has been successful all these years, so perhaps Windows will become irrelevant at some point. Perhaps, but I don't think so, because unlike OSX, for example, Microsoft has spent the last few years completely re-writing Windows, completely changing its usability, its scalability. Windows can now run on desktops, laptops, tablets, Xbox, mobile, IoT, HoloLens, Surface Hub. OSX can run on Macs. It takes a completely separate operating system to run on the iPhone, and yet another to run on the iPad. Same goes for Google. Convergence is the future. The lines of what we call a "computer" continue to become blurred. Microsoft is leading the way with this convergence. Will it ever become cool? I don't know. But what I do know is that cool tends to be a fad. Fads don't last.
  • So Microsoft is 42 years in and can't get their first iPod. Also I fully expect iPhone & Android to be the dominant mobile OSes for the rest of my life.
  • Well, you could also say 42 years in and Apple can't get their first a lot of things. Apple is doing great a the moment, but it's only because of the iPhone. Should the tides turn at some point (not saying they will), and the iPhone becomes out of favor, Apple has nothing to fall back on. Google has its ad business, and Microsoft has a whole host of businesses. Apple is almost completely reliant on the iPhone. One trick ponies tend to lose their edge at some point.
  • On the contrary, you could also say Apple is 42 years in and still couldn't successfully break into the laptop and desktop market. They're still less than 10% market share of desktops and laptops while Microsoft still maintains over 90% marketshare with Windows.
  • Wow...Kinect, Zune, Windows Phone. All dear and near to my heart. I've since moved on to Android and streaming music but I still hold on to my Kinect, both on my (currently shelved) XBOX 360 and my XBOX One. I like the Kinect. I still use it for voice commands and the FEW XBOX One games. Really wish they would port ONE game over - Kinect Party, Truly fun game for groups of kids.
  • What is the whole point of this article. With Windows PCs in 89% of all homes and businesses, what more does Microsoft need to do - face facts, the hipster/rich-folk/cool kids all drive Mercedes, BMW, and Lexus - the rest of the world, and auto industry, lives from Toyota, Ford, Chevy, Honda, etc.- that is Microsoft's play and it will be there for the DISTANT future. Turning into a hip marketing company at this point would kill the goose that (keeps) laying the golden egg.
  • This is, sadly, so true..
  • You forgot to mention the MIcrosoft Band/Band 2
  • "...Windows Phones' fluid and unique OS never caught on with consumers....." - It was catching on but was then tossed away by MS. Will MS never see this?
  • Location, location, location. Today that's mindshare, mindshare, mindshare. Apple & Google are 1 and 2 with respect to mindshare in this space, and yet their level of advertising dwarfs Microsoft. Their quality of advertising/marketing is also far superior. Their agencies know how to touch the consumer, grab them, and make that emotional connection so desperately needed in the Consumer world. They have a solid, well crafted and cultivated brand presence, brand promise, and brand identity. Microsoft does not. Microsoft needs to decide who they are, and start acing like that entity. They have no time for brand schizophrenia.
  • I miss Zune so much 😪
  • True dat
  • me too.  I have 3 sitting in my desk drawer.
  • It's ridiculous and embarrassing for MS that their GUI, UX and hardware design is so frikken inconsistent and bad/unusable, apart from the surface hardware ☹
  • MARKETING! They still suck at it
  • It's just not the "cool factor" in their tech that's lacking, look at the human models in that cover photo. The least 'cool' bunch of people sporting HoloLens(?) is case in point.
  • They look like three guys grabbing an AR ball sack!  ha ha  plus the hololens is silly looking...
  • those three there look more like they are advertising porn for ladies...playing with some balls in AR :)))))
  • Cool ?  What was the reaction to Windows Phone by consumers ?  "Wow" was the response I got when showing what it could do, but then that changed when people started asking "Can I do my banking on it ?" and numerous other day to day tasks they can do on Apple or Android.  Microsoft simply never took the app gap seriously.  If they had, sales would have been good.  I had long discussions with Verizon on why they didn't put more muscle behind the Windows phones.  The answers was blunt:  "We don't believe Microsoft has the committment to the devices" and they were right.   How about another "cool" product you left off ... The Band.  SERIOUSLY ... nothing on the market even today could match what it had to offer.  Where is it ?  Simply dumped.  Why ?  Yeah, they had some manufacturing quality control issues, but those could have been resolved.  A few refinements would have helped, but they were also doable.  The problem ?  Microsoft had them in the stores and a few other places, but basically, unless you went searching for them, they were a secret.  I've had most of the alternatives, and NOTHING comes close to what the Band could do.   Perhaps the biggest problem is the marketing department doesn't get it.  Surface does not need to be compared to Apple products.  Trying to one up Apple is a waste of time.  Sell it on it's uniqueness, and what it does.  The Surface Pro is unlike any other device when you look at ALL it can do ... so why compare it ?  Focus on what it does best !   The biggest problem I see with Microsoft right now is they are letting down their existing client base, especially in the corporate world.  Everything is focused on change, and creativity, but companies large and small want to make transitions slowly and without everything falling apart.  I constantly get calls from clients with problems caused by periodic OS updates .. when something that worked perfectly ( ie. networking ) suddenly has major problems ... and no one at MSFT is providing any quality answers on how to resolve them.  Consumers are also employees ( and employers ), and they will look first at what they use at work for their personal needs ... and if it is creating headaches on the job, they look elsewhere.   What does Microsoft need to do ?  They need to get into the real world of semi-technical consumers, and see what people really want on a daily basis, and focus on that rather than all the creative stuff that some of us love, but is beyond the majority of those who have money to purchase these devices.
  • is it just me or does the guy in the middle always look like a creepy evil version of Joe Belfoire
  • Listen to Panos describe the Surface Laptop. He used the word "proud" in owning the device. Clearly, they are not just advertising it as do more, work only device.
  • If Panos would have been in charge of the phone hw division years ago, maybe things would have been different. This is the only guy at MS that I trully like and I see that he has passion. The rest of them...a bunch of zeros
  • Um.. put someone hip to present these things... Terry is horrible at this. Joe? He's awesome.
  • Forget Coolness. coolness only works if you have a product. Microsoft biggest problem even with the enterprise is communication.  You cannot get a team at Microsoft to come out with a clear explanation for anything. as a consumer when i buy a product i want to know what i can do with it right now, not what i could probably do with it. This is Microsoft fault this also seeps into their marketing. People, in general, are not educated on what Microsoft products can do, Microsoft then gives the communication portion to its fans and its partners.    Why did the xbox one not be a roaring success like the playstation, the exact same reason horrible communication and then horrible follow-ups to questions asked.    One additional thing that Microsoft needs to address is to show users why they want their product. needing a product and having to use a product are two very different things, one is out of love and the other is out of desperation. Microsoft is in the desperation camp. no one really needs a Microsoft product and Microsoft is doing its best to not want people to love them. even after the so called phone reboot, they will have lost the war and the followers and there will be no reason to want their product. 
  • As long as that moron is in charge, nothing will ever change. We will continue to receive mediocre quality, lies and zero respect and commitment towards customers. But then again, delusional fanboys will continue to kiss MS's @$$ and dream in their fantasy world. MS was and will always be too late because they do not care and do not have a true leader.
  • Coolness is in the eye of the beholder. What's cool to some is foolish to others. The real problem is that Microsoft has gotten such a bad reputation because of its past business practices, that it's spawned an entire movement of "free" software and anything that pretended to be part of it (or just wasn't Microsoft), garnered a following. Who in their right mind thinks browser-based software is good? Yet, because it hurt Microsoft to run things in a browser instead of in Windows specifically, it became "cool". Developers bent over backwards just to get even the most menial things to work and people marveled at it. The things we had to accept for this (poor performance, obtrusive window refreshes, poor workflow, etc.) would have been laughed at back when quality software mattered. Oh well, I guess it's always been true that he who controls the ignorant heard controls the market.
  • As a teenager, I can attest to the fact that Microsoft is not cool. I have been mocked for having a positive opinion of Microsoft and especially for my use of Lumias. I wish I had just bought a Galaxy as my first smartphone. It would have saved me from a lot of disappointment with my 950 XL and Windows 10 Mobile.
  • Neah, chill. It was not your fault. As many of us, you have tried something different and got burned by it's pathetic maker. The important thing is for you and the sake of your pocket, to have learned the lesson and avoid this kind of mistakes.
  • Its pretty simple really...release a product...advertise the product, realize its a marathon; not a sprint, and then follow through and support the product for the long haul.
  • I think the company needs new blood
    And minds open to the market and what needs there is a problem must be resolved as soon as possible.
  • Microsoft as a consumer brand, to the 'normals' out there, just screams uncool. Getting up on stage and waffling on about 'delighting' users and 'soul' is just...ugh...cringe-worthy. No one talks like that. What they should probably think about is keeping 'Microsoft' as the Enterprise side of things, and then come up with a new name for purely hardware and consumer offerings. It doesn't take long to build up a good reputation there if you put out a high quality product.
  • finally a non click baity title :D
  • They need to have a seperate consumer marketing division, Remember the windows weekly posted by WC few months back, with windows marketing chief and that dude had no idea that hololens had lost consumer mindshare. He was surprised when asked this question and gave examples of how enterprises were showing interest in it
  • Spot on Jason. I also think that's Microsoft problem. Like alphabet, 95% of consumers don't know that's the parent company name of Google.
    Microsoft can do the same with Xbox but not for other businesses yet. Xbox has never been Microsoft Xbox, but it's still Microsoft Surface. This kind of strategy had to be made clear of how they're doing it.
    Alphabet had one brand and that's Google. They uses it in everything they do and the consumers are more than okay with it. Microsoft need to go to that route and promote heavily using only the recognised cool name like Surface.
  • I said this back when they bought Nokia. Rebrand their phones along the lines of the Xbox. Make it an Xphone so that the word "Windows" is nowhere to be seen. The drag of calling them Windows phones surely did them no favors.
  • Windows 10 mobile was doa because it was a pile of bugs and still is a pile of crap. A mediocre joke that even business users avoid.How MS managed to launch such a pathetic OS is beyond me...WP8.1 was 10 times better, it was getting there, until Nutella fired all experienced engineers and started to work cheap, and windows 10 is the result: mediocre quality! both mobile and desktop
  • I agree.  I think the L950 is in the running for worst smartphone of all time due almost entirely to the OS it was saddled with (although it was a pretty shoddily made device, too).  As soon as I got one, I knew the Windows Phone run was over.
  • I did not mind the all plastic design at all. As a phone I liked both 950 and the XL, but it was useless without a working OS. If it had shipped with WP8.1...well that would have been another story, much better experienced than that plagued 10 mobile
  • MacOSx is uncool iOS is cool   ChromeOS is uncool Android is cool   Windows is uncool which is reflecting on consumer space   Enterprise and Consumer platforms should be forked separately Let Enterprise use Windows and Azure Let Consumers use Cortana OS, Halo OS something like that Windows = work something else = fun
  • Sorry to get distracted, but I just HAVE to say this.
    Can't ANYBODY use the word 'disconnection'?
    Disconnect is a verb peeps. Use it as a noun and you just sound daft...except to others who do it too ;)
    Ironically MOST journos do it.
  • Chuzz,  let it slide......at least they are not using phrases like "this is how you should computer"!
  • Steve, you are right, I shouldn't care and nobody can spell on the internet( including me- I'm a typo tragic) so what does it matter? It is just that Jason is no dummy and that particular phrasing just winds me up... silly really. Oh I don't actually mind 'this is how you should computer', it's kinda' cute.  :D
  • Yeah....Samsung put out a commercial "this is how I fridge"  WTF....everytime I read or here a similar phrase it drives me BONKERS.   The general public is turning into a bunch of idiots.   REALLY.
  • Hi Chuzz: "Disconnect" is both a verb and a noun: dis·con·nect
    [ˌdiskəˈnekt] VERB
    break the connection of or between:
    "take all violence out of television drama and you disconnect it from reality"
    synonyms: detach · disengage · uncouple · [more]
    a discrepancy or lack of connection:
    "there can be a disconnect between boardrooms and IT departments when it comes to technology"
  • Hey Jason,
    Thanks for the answer, I don't mean to be a trouble maker, this forum is after all about windows not grammar. ... However ;)
    That noun example is just as daft as any other.
    The noun is 'disconnection' no amount of US dictionaries will convince me otherwise.
    I have found examples too which disagree and state. Which is correct?
    BYOD policies often illustrate a significant ________ between administrators and employees. a. disconnect
    b. disconnection Answer: b. Explanation: The only good reason to use disconnect in this sentence would be to annoy people opposed to nouning (usually, the same ones opposed to verbing).
    Just think about it..eh? :)
  • Are you saying disconnect can't be a noun, because every Engligh language dictionary I've checked would seem to disagree: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/disconnect https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disconnect https://www.bing.com/search?q=define+disconnect
  • http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/disconnect https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/disconnect and https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/disconnection OF course these are ENGLISH dictionaries, you probably looked in 'Merican' dictionaries ;) Of course collins is printed in Glasgow which is perfectly respectable in 'print'... I had a Glaswegian flatmate once he sounded like he was talking underwater. Of course you can say whatever you like; there are words in dictionaries that would get me be banned for using them on this site. Moreover if I used them I would look like a dick. Anyway... back to real topic.... There seems to be a tragic irony in the whole premise of responding to this article...Cool? Come on my nerdy brothers and sisters, what the *disconnect* are you all talking about? No matter how good your tattoos are ( or how long your beard is) just talking about this is 'probably' NOT cool. This is just a guess, mind you, as I just lost all cred by participating at Windows Central. OMG I just turned into a troll....lol. OK then, just to join in.... Surface is cool, Windows 10 is getting there, but is too disfunctional ( get it together). Mac/Apple was never as cool as the nerds who bought it thought. Google not cool. Linux you must be joking.
  •  "a lack of inspiring flagships" What?!? The flagship Lumias all towered above the competition! Top notch hardware and unique design...!
  • But they didn't inspire😉 Also there were spans of time where fans clamored for flagships while the focus remained on the low end.
  • The 1020 was the only flagship windows phone in the true sense.   830,930, 950s.   Did not come close to the perfect design of the 1020.  
  • I would also call the 1520 a flagship.  Different goals than the 1020, but still my all time favorite phone.  I think it was also the biggest thing out there until the Galaxy Notes came out.
  • The 1520 was big but damn, was it simply gorgeous! Especially the yellow one.
  • With Satya we have no chances, hopefully next CEO, it it won't be too late...
  • Agree! Have said for years keep Joe B AWAY from the public.
    That pompous asshatt is a detriment to Windows mobile
  • I also partially blame it on Microsoft focusing on the wrong market locations. For example with Windows Phone, instead of going for the premium phone market like the US, they instead made a bunch of cheap low end phones and tried to push those in developing nations while in the US, they stopped producing flagship phones for awhile which was perceived as a lack of commitment from Microsoft. And when they did finally produce a flagship phone like the Lumia 950, they carrier locked it to AT&T. The same problem also happened to Intel Atom smartphones. Instead of including a 4G modem and selling Intel powered phones in the US and other 1st world markets, they once again try to focus on developing markets. We all know what happened to Intel Atom smartphones after that. Never caught on and failed to the point where Intel completely dropped it's mobile efforts. Apple didn't succeed by first targeting iPhones towards developing markets. Android didn't succeed with cheap phone's either. It was the big flagships like Samsung's Galaxy line that put it on the radar. Microsoft, and Intel too, should've focused on the high-end premium flagship phone market in the US first.
  • If I ever saw those 3 dudes in the photo I'd run as fast as I could in the opposite direction, so they can start with that.
  • Folks Microaoft's bread and butter money comes from and still comes from it's  Buisiness/Enterprise services software. Ballmer failed to deliver mobile smartphones that sold well but Left Microsoft's Businees / Enterprise money making machine intact and it is growing in some area's such as it's cloud services. Microsoft itself seems to be going back to the Days of Windows phone 7 and 8 where it just made the softwre for Windows smart phones but it's OEM partners made the physical smartphones it appears for now Microsoft wil not make a classic shaped smart phone. it's OEM partner will do that. I think Microsoft's Mobile's Surface Mobile devices= The Surface laptop. Surface Book laptop/Tablet Hybrid and Surface Pro Tablet/Laptop Hybrids are where Microsoft will continuie to be successful. the Surface brand devices are a Billion dollar plus successful business for them. I think Microsoft will indeed produce a  2 screen Surface Mini Tablet / Smartphone hybrid. Indications are Microsoft has a special division of Windows 10 mobile to make it's interface design and Apps. I think this will be Microsoft's last new Hybrid device. I predict Microsoft will market them on a multi nation level like it did with the new Surface Laptop and new 2017 Surface Pro and sell enough of them on a World wide basis to make a profit. This device will not be for everyone but will sell well enough to survive because a lot of people world wide want a smart good Windows Tablet. I hope how they market this new 2 screen Mini tablet smart phone hybrid as a small fun filled consumer Music/Video media player, Mini Busisness production Tablet & Smartphone 3 in one device. It will be a Challenge for Microsoft to make Apps for this 2 screen Mini Tablet How ever it will Run full Windows 10 Desktop OS or Windows 10 on ARMS CPU  OS and ether way be able to run UWP Apps and  run Millions of titles of Full Win 32 X86 Desktop PC Programs. This Means if a person buys one they wont have a USELESS device. The Windows desktop PC Win32 X86 Desktop PC programs in the beginning will be it's main source of Apps and there are Millions of PC Programs for it to use untill enough UWP Apps are in it's store.  
  • Spacing...
  • As has been noted here by a lot of people, the Microsoft and Windows brands are so heavily stigmatised by decades of allowing people to have the impression that the company's only goals were to turn us all into worker drones, and to make us use comparatively ugly interfaces with now iconic crash issues.  What Microsoft is doing these days is great stuff, but it needs to do some dramatic marketing and PR to really get people over the line. I'm really not sure MS can ever match Apple for cool factor, to be honest. After all, Jobs was considered a genius, and even though he was a **** person, he gave off this aura of utter coolness and driven focus. He had an exceptional aesthetic, and so much of Apple's history is steeped in the importance of consumer appeal. Microsoft has only started understanding that in the past 10 years at best.  Compare Jobs with the likes of Gates and Ballmer... yeah, Gates has proven to be one of the most incredibly respectable and thoroughly thoughtful people of his generation, but that doesn't change the fact that for decades he was seen as a bit of a knob.  Ballmer was a maniac, enough said there.  So, yeah. I don't know what Microsoft can do to win more fans, but... as much as "Apple is amazing omfg!" is ingrained in a generation of consumers, so is "eeeww Microsoft is for geeks". Not an easy thing to overcome.   
  • Probably the best article I've read from Jason! Learned quite a lot about Microsoft I didn't know before and favourite parts of the article were Windows Phone's lack of success summarised in two paragraphs (been trying to find an explanation like that for ages) and mentioning Microsoft is ahead in innovation but lack of timely innovation implementation in their products and marketing lets them down. I agree: if Microsoft took some cues from Apple and Google, they could have been more successful. The article overall? Mind...blown!
  • Wait did you imply people who buy apple are cool?, and not twats?
  • I would disagree about Windows phone not catching on with consumers, sure the gains in market share was slow but that's what happens when you cut off users and oems.
    Wp7->Wp8 kernel switch from CE. Wp8->WM10 loss of features that made Windows phone a joy to use. Plus US carriers didn't help the situation. Every where else Windows phone was gaining alot of momentum until Microsoft swung that massive axe to Nokia's D & S acquisition. Lastly, XES that was the gateway in making Microsoft "cool". But again lack of foresight and unwillingness to take risks by the management speaks volumes imo. Ballmer didn't bat and eye when he spent money maintaining consumers who had faulty xbox consoles (RRoD). Unrelenting investments is what made Bing, Xbox and Surface into what it is. They could have done the same with Windows Phones and XES. Hearts and minds, hearts and minds.
  • Nice article. Microsoft is not consumer centered
  • The Microsoft Band 2.0 is a really cool little device. Apple Watch looks like a giant nerd watch by comparison, seriously I'm embarrassed whenever I see people wearing an Apple Watch. It just gives me flashbacks to calculator watches. The Microsoft Band is way better than a cheap looking Fitbit or Garmin fitness band too. Surface Studio is also cool, I just wish I could afford it. HoloLens isn't cool looking yet, but they are way ahead of the AR competition in design. If they switch HoloLens over to Snapdragon and can shrink it down to something more stylish they could have a major success on their hands. Much of the acceptance and cool factor of devices comes down to marketing. Surface Pro was sort of borderline in terms of design, but Microsoft's enormous $500M 5-year marketing budget and partnership with the NFL pushed Surface Pro into mainstream acceptance. If they get HoloLens into a more stylish design and convince the NFL to start using HoloLens on the sidelines you have a serious opportunity for Microsoft to mainstream another mobile computing product.
  • I'm not sure "cool factor" will do it.  Maybe "a clue" would!  MSFT doesn't get the consumer at all and does not cater to them.  Taking an Azure ad out in Business Weekly is what MSFT understands.  They don't understand how an "influencer" might be able to bring people into their fold much less have a strategic marketing campaign.  They have tried and some of their efforts have been very interesting but they don't stick with it.  Maybe a "set of cajones" might be needed more than "cool factor".
  • Middle-aged Microsoft employees prancing around trying to be cool, is not cool. Millenials see Microsoft as a dinosaur. Just llke the PC revolution overtook old school IBM, the mobile generation has eclipsed the Windows generation at the consumer level. Kids use Chromebooks and Apple products at school, Android phones and iPhones. Students can bunde and over-priced Macbook into their student loans and over pay over time for their shiny fashion accessory. Xbox gets a pass because it isn't regarded as Windows to the console crowd, Windows means mom and dad doing their taxes or grandma on Facebook. Most of all Windows is associated with business and work, ugh, no one young and cool likes that.
  • HoloLens abilities are a lot cooler than any smartphone's. I don't care how much Samsung curves their display, what HoloLens can do is way cooler. In a few years the smartphone will start feeling like a dinosaur product.
  • yeah, keep dreaming fanboy
  • They had something special with WP8X, the app gap just killed us.
  • iOS is/was very good but stale and its first cousin Android can be a better OS but its crippled by carriers and OEM's. There's nothing really cool about either other than being market share dominant.
  • "Successful consumer-facing companies aggressively tell consumers why they need a product, how it'll improve their lives, and convince them it solves a problem they didn't know they had."
      Edward Bernays, is that you?  This is what religions do, too.  But you already know that, don't you, preacher?
  • Nice article. Let's expand on it. You want cool and lifestyle? You need games onboard. I have mentioned this before but noone seem to have picked up on it. One of the things few publications mention is, while Google and Apple whole-heartedly embrace game developers, Microsoft has been VERY unsupportive of games on Windows Phone since the beginning. Look back at the interviews done with many indie game developers in the Windows 7/8 Desktop & Phone and you see a disturbing trend. Microsoft has been unresponsive to developer requests, withheld or delayed payments, didn't open up crucial APIs for games and supports VERY few game engine. Why? XBOX. MS protection of XBOX and XBOX Live revenue directly led to less resources for WP7/8 in a period where growth is paramount. Let's be honest. Why do people want an IOS or Android device? It's all about the apps and by apps, I mean games. The MOST social apps and the one thing that people ask if WP has is games and lifestyle apps. There are few lifestyle apps but games, people LOVE these things during down-time. And people get bored with the game in a month or less, so they switch to another game their friends are playing. Without the game on your platform, you're seen as an outsider, you aren't cool. And how many current games does WP or WM has now? ZERO! Maybe THIS is the way MS wants, full on productivity without any distractions. But if they want their mobile devices to sell, they NEED to get game developers on board by hook or by crook! Losing Project Astoria was a huge blow to game developers! Hopefully the IOS bridge is enhanced further to make it even more seemless for IOS devs to move to UWP.