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If Microsoft is the 'platform for everything,' does it really need a phone?

Microsoft Logo at Ignite
Microsoft Logo at Ignite (Image credit: Windows Central)

In a multi-device, multi-OS world, Microsoft is now positioning the cloud, Microsoft Graph, Windows Mixed Reality and quantum computing as the platforms that all other platforms will run on. In simpler times, personal computing, to most people and businesses, meant sitting at a Windows PC using first- and third-party programs to get things done or to be entertained. Other desktop OSes offered little competition to Microsoft's Windows.

Smartphones, the mobile OSes they would popularize, and the app ecosystems they would introduce hadn't yet challenged Microsoft's personal computing hegemony. And the internet, which would become the backbone that would power the mobile OSes that would rival Windows PCs as the nexus of personal computing, had not yet been mainstreamed.

The world was smaller, and the realm of personal computing was Windows - until it wasn't. Many people argue that Microsoft needs a mobile presence to become relevant in the age of mobile computing. Perhaps it does, and there is indeed a place for that. But the company's ambitious cloud and Microsoft Graph platform strategy, which is meant to support the breadth of the industry's apps, systems and devices, is a far grander prize.

Put another way, if you own the ocean, do you really need a boat?

The power of Office 365 and Microsoft Graph

When Microsoft moved Office 365 to the cloud, it moved more than just the workload. The data plane, made up of all the people, their relationships with others, projects, documents, schedules and more, were all brought to this intelligence-enhanced interconnected space. Microsoft's professional and personal, dual-user vision was also addressed through the merging of the authentication parameters of Office 365's Work, School and Personal accounts.

In this intelligent cloud environment Microsoft's services from OneNote, Azure, OneDrive, SharePoint, Outlook, Office, Active Directory, Teams, Cortana and more are all interconnected. The previously siloed infrastructure has been replaced by unified services that act synergistically as one service. And Microsoft is steadily adding more services and capabilities to this space.

Microsoft Graph provides a singular access point to all of this data. Previously the collective information from this conglomerate of services required a developer to target the separate application program interfaces (APIs) for each service. Microsoft Graph provides a single API that provides access to the now unified data.

Cloud is the new Windows

Microsoft, realizing Windows was no longer the center of users, enterprise and developer computing experiences, evolved with the times. Moving its range of interconnected services to the cloud provides a device- and system-agnostic platform for a device- and system-diverse world. Microsoft Graph brings the platform to everyone.

The cloud is a device- and system-agnostic platform for a device- and system-diverse world.

Developers can build custom apps that connect to the Microsoft Graph API and not only access raw data, but traverse across data points, providing insights through the support of the intelligent cloud. Simply put, AI can get to know users based on their profiles, activities and associations, and then provide information based on that user's intent. Business-to-business connections can also be facilitated through the Graph, optimizing integration of data between collaborating systems.

Microsoft's Laura Jones demonstrates an end-to-end interconnected experience that transcends devices.

The user experience facilitated by and founded upon Microsoft's cloud and services is the goal here, much like the user experience was based upon Windows and Win32 programs in the past. The device used is irrelevant in this scenario. Microsoft is striving to remain the world's primary computing platform, just on a much larger, cloud-based scale.

The cloud, IoT and intelligent edge

Microsoft's cloud strategy also encompasses the Internet of Things (IoT) and the range of enterprise and consumer devices it currently and hopes to support on the Intelligent Edge. IoT devices are internet-connected objects (like thermostats, refrigerators, and cars) that can collect and transfer data using embedded sensors.

The intelligent edge represents an area of the cloud where data is analyzed and aggregated close to where data is captured. Processing that would have occurred in the cloud is now relegated to the edge. As the processing power of connected devices continually improves and network speeds increase, AI on the edge becomes more capable and proactive.

Microsoft's cloud and AI strategy is to expand its IoT and intelligent edge footprint to incorporate more devices, businesses and networks. As more devices connect to its edge, run on its cloud, and are powered by its AI services, Microsoft becomes a more pervasive and relevant platform for modern computing.

Cross-platform apps, connecting Microsoft's cloud strategy

Under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has expanded its brand throughout competing ecosystems by providing Microsoft apps on iOS and Android. It even offers a Samsung Galaxy S8 Microsoft edition (infused with Microsoft apps) in the Microsoft Store.

Many Windows phone fans bemoan this strategy, citing Nadella's promise of a best on Windows Microsoft experience that was never fully realized. Windows 10 is vitally important to Microsoft, and provides a nexus for smartphones, as Microsoft Graph integrates Windows and mobile experiences. Still, Microsoft is focused on its cloud-based experiences and services as the primary computing platform, which includes but isn't focused on Windows.

Thus, Microsoft has ensured that all of its apps and services are accessible from the primary platforms: Windows 10, iOS and Android. Ironically, Microsoft neglected to bring some first-party apps to Windows phones (like Sway) or provided versions that are less capable than iOS or Android versions.

Windows Mixed Reality and quantum computing

With Windows 10 Microsoft provides developers and OEMs with the tools to build augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) apps and devices via Windows Mixed Reality.

HoloLens is an aspirational device to inspire OEM-designed AR headsets. We're beginning to see mixed reality VR headsets from various OEMs now. Microsoft hopes to be the industry's platform for holographic computing.

In November of 2016, Microsoft announced its quantum computing strategy. Quantum computing takes advantage of microscopic particles' abilities to exist in two states simultaneously.

In traditional computers, bits, or data, is represented as a 1 or 0. Sequential ordering of these binary instructions tells computers what to do. A quantum bit can exist as both a 1 and 0 simultaneously. This theoretically increases the computational power of quantum computers exponentially.

Microsoft's "do more" vision of quantum computing

This year Microsoft introduced a programming language developers can begin using to develop quantum apps. These apps will run on simulations since the quantum computer Microsoft envisions doesn't exist yet.

Microsoft, as a "do-more" company, is providing the tools and a platform for what it sees as the future of computing. In the future, it hopes to provide companies access to quantum computers to support their systems.

Own the ocean ...

Microsoft is securing its position as the industry's computing platform through the cloud, Microsoft Graph, the intelligent edge, holographic computing and cross-platform apps and is attempting to position itself as the platform for quantum computing as well.

Windows may not be where most personal computing occurs anymore, but Microsoft is striving to provide the platforms that support computing everywhere it occurs.

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!

121 Comments
  • So basically as many have said, with no real volume consumer presence, becoming the next IBM......
  • Everything includes mobile devices that send text messages, make phone calls, and fit in your pocket.... Yes, MS needs some type of "phone"...
    ..............
    Jason!!!! We're still human. We still have to rely on the laws of physics that were handed to us so that we can interact with the world around us.. "Hardware" used to interface humans with data isn't going anywhere for the foreseeable future. Without sight, smell, touch, emotion, hearing, time, perception,,, we are basically oblivious to the world.. Devices are our connection point. Devices are just as big a part of the puzzle as the most intelligent cloud,, at least until information is beamed right into our heads.. But, realistically, MS has to have an EXCLUSIVE outlet to reach people, an outlet they control, independent of others mobile platforms... How is MS supposed to reach people if all of their work, ideas, progress, and data, are confined to servers, hidden away from the consumer who need it most?... More severely, more than ever, with each passing day, mobile computing is quintessential! Yet, with each passing day MS's "Graph" has no uber mobile device to be FEATURED on...
    MS can build whatever they want, as great as they want, but if nobody significant knows about it it's like a redwood falling in the forest with nobody around.
  • Agreed!  Microsoft needs a Phone!  If not a phone directly from Microsoft they need a phone OS that some other manufacture can use.  I'm good either way!
  • MS has to have some kind of device that certain types of people will want to carry as their main personal computing device, and will keep them connected to the world around them, all the live long day...
    Suddenly the word "Phone" is figurative, if not arbitrary..
    Yes, MS needs a damn "Phone"🙄
  • @rodneyej; Thank you for your comment of which I agree... 
  • You're welcome!!!😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎
    Ignore dem trolls.
  • Windows is dead...
  • Do tell what replaced the windows PC? Mobile touchscreen app based systems may be good enough for some, but you still can't get real work done on them.
  • The hell you can't. Lots of people get real work done on their phones. There are people who make deals, check stocks, transfer money, buy inventory....all sorts of real work. Things that they would have been stuck at a desk to do less than a decade ago. But why does it have to be about work. People do tons of stuff they want to do on their phones. Lots of things they used to be chained to a desk to do less than a decade ago. There are a hell of a lot of people who only need a PC once in a while and the one they bought 5-7 years ago does that just fine. Those people get a new phone every year. When they do need to replace that desktop/laptop, they are going to look at their phone and think about a Mac or a Chromebook.  Granted there are clearly those who still need a Powerful PC, but they are not the majority, by far. 
  • Well, technically most real heavy computing is still done using laptops, and desktops, running Windows... But, you're right. Smartphones are pretty damn smart, and Ultramoble devices will be even smarter, in a sense.. So, you can perform relatively serious task on a smartphone.. I do with my 920 everyday.
  • Not yet, and not for the neareer foreseeable future, at least...
    But, it's definitely possible to Imagine so, if MS remains the company of dreams, or perceived to be that way...
    As it stand to the average consumer, Windows is still Windows; the same Windows with a more modern look. Supposedly MS is interested in changing the idea of Windows, but without HUGE tangible progress, that AVERAGE CONSUMERS can put their hands on, 10-20 years from now your comment might be general knowledge.
  • Roughly 90% of all PC Internet data come from a Windows PC. Even Windows XP has more Market share then the others OS combined , Apple's included. So Study a little more, small padawan. Windows is anything but dead.In fact, Windows is King.
  • Really, because earlier this year is was reported that Android surpassed Windows. https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/03/statcounter-android-windows/
  • "Even Windows XP has more Market share then the others OS combined , Apple's included." I would like to have a few bags of whatever it is you are smoking.  
  • Check out just about any grade school in the country and you will see little of King Microsoft present. Few of the students are being exposed to MS at all and will have no loyalty whatsoever.
  • In the long term - MS knows this. That's why they've been trying to re-invent Windows to try and stave off this end goal. Windows 8, Windows 10, Project Andromeda etc. Microsoft just cannot keep up let alone compete with Google or Apple though, which is why MS are effectively falling back to their core business - the Enterprise. That's a market they do understand, and they're milking it for all it's worth. Their goal now is to essentially force businesses into their cloud services, as MS will slowly wind down their on-premise offerings, making it incredibly difficult for companies to say no. It's a risky gamble though, but seemingly one they're prepared to try.
  • Yes, they need a phone, it needs to run Android apps, and full windows, that's the only way a phone from MS will be considered by consumers......... I'd buy a Galaxy Note 8 that ran Windows and Android....
  • Why would consumers want to run full Windows on their phone?
  • Pls define "Full Windows" and "Phone".
  • Easy....... As connectivity and wireless connections and streaming quality gets better, and phone hardware gets more powerful, a phone could connect to monitors and run full software....... Which is where Continuum and CShell come in handy. The biggest issue, and this is where Windows Mobile 10 failed, is that developers didn't jump on board, meaning there is a necessity for Android applications. If my Lumia 950 Ran Android apps, I would not have changed to a Galaxy S8.
  • Same here,  If MS pushed 10 mobile to my 1020 offically,  and ported android apps useage onto 10 mobile.  I will still be a full MS user.   The 1020 was the best windows mobile device.  Size was perfect,  the device itself was ultra premium,  and the camera is still the best for taking IMAGES.  However,  Nadella wanted to shitcan the entire thing from the beginning.  Im gone!
  • When their PC dies, most consumers will move to their phone. When their phone dies, they will buy a new phone with the ability to connect to a monitor (like Continuum or Dex). When these tools get better, most consumers won't need a PC. Monitor manufacturers will include a USB3 / Thunderbolt hub in their screens allowing users to drop their device into a dock at the base of the screen then lift it out to move about the house. Windows will slowly die as a consumer OS and it will be traced back to the fact that Microsoft left the mobile space. iOS and Android will become the dominant consumer OS with Windows staying firmly in the Enterprise - probably as a cloud based OS.
  • What you are describing is already happening.
  • Hmmm.....Maybe the narrative to duel-boot phones, would work, and entice some people? Instead of using the basic ideas of Continuum/DEX/etc. You could have phones that ran android, while normally mobile, but when docked (and it charges phone) it would run a full Windows 10 desktop. Like an IPhone that ran IOS, but when docked (also charges phone) to an IMAC ran full OSX. You would still need seemless communication possible while docked, though (like text messages/phone calls,etc.) It would also have to be seemless. Docking it Android should save your work, and should shut down, and boot up Windows, and vice-versa while disconnecting, all without users having to manually do it. Storage would also have to be bigger, on average, too. Also, if the phone is hosting a person's main Windows installation it should still be able to see things like GPU's, external RAM, CPU, external HDD's, etc. basically letting the dock connect to a potential desktop, as well, and letting the case's hardware takeover...if that's at all possible.
  • They are on the right track if I talk about the money and money only. They are definitely going to earn hell lot of money from this because in the coming 5 years everything will be running on the cloud even your windows pc just like chromebook. They are trying to get the hold of entire cloud computing from programming language to storage solutions just like tesla is going to rule the electric cars at least in terms of advancement if not with sales.
  • Yes it does.
  • I would think yes they need a phone. As for the casual consumer, most everything now days begins with your phone.
  • Microsoft for everything?! What's this.. 90's? Microsoft has lost more than just Mobile. They missed Server market, and are missing the devs market. And startups uses Apple computers, not Windows. Servers that run Windows, are almost only and exclusively for a domain setup, or running Virtual Machines (which runs Linux based OS, usually). The mass majority (possiby 99% of them) of the server market runs Linux. I won't be surpised that this veryt web site runs on Linux. The internet, your SMS/MMS that you are sending on your phone, all goes through Linux based servers. Microsoft is also missing devs. More and more devs switch to Macs. Why? 'cause they get Unix. Mass number of companies develope mobile apps. And installing the needed infrastruture on a Windows PC is a pain, assuming it even works due to complete lack of support for Windows. Now, they ARE making big efforts in fixing this (Visual Studio Community, Visual Studio Code, Linux subsystem in Windows 10, Visual Studio updated for mobile app develement, Xamarin, etc.) but there is still a lot of more work that needs to be done. As for startups using Macs over Windows. Beside the fact that the trend is to have a mobile app, and so needs Unix/Linux, and so MacOS offers this, due to its back-end, IT is not needed. Well... There is this image that buying a Mac you don't have viruses or malware, it is seen still as "hip and cool", and IT is not required, something that most startup can't afford. Microsoft needs to work on that image. Surface is a great start. But mass amount of work needs to continue to be done. They are getting there. But they can't stop or reduce steam.  
  • Ummmm....the mass majority ( 99%) run Linux servers?  You're delusional.  Maybe in monstrous companies, but I azure you ( see what I did there) that lots of companies still use Windows Servers.
  • Yes, for the domain joining of their Windows PCs or run VM software like Hyper-V amongst many other server/enterprise VM solutions. But all or most of these VMs run on Linux, and most of teh web servers, research purposes servers, simulation servers, cloud, and more runs on Linux.
  • I don't disagree with some of your sentiment... but Windows lost the server market? Linux 99%?  No, not even close. The reality is Windows Server makes up about 49%, Linux 40%, the other 10% is AIX, HPUX, Solaris, z/OS, etc. The trend has been an increase of Linux, let's even say it's like 45/45% even split now, but you won't be seeing any major shift beyond that anytime soon; Windows Server is hugely important for many things, not just running AD.  Even in the web world, where one would rightly expect *NIX OS's to utterly dominate, Windows is running something like 30% of web servers.  Not sure why you mention virtualization hosts, kind of irrelavent; Hyper-V on Windows has made some gains, but most are running dedicated custom OS's like ESX (the market leader) or Xen.. what's running on them is the same split of Windows/Linux.   As for the client side, Macs and Windows.  I don't know why it feels like Macs are more prevalent than they are, but the reality is Windows PC's in a year sold just a bit over 280 million units, whereas Macs, 20 million - just 7%.  Things are  bit more skewed in the developer world, but even there Windows is still the majority preferred platform (if you go by some developer surveys, a bit over 50% want Windows, the rest split between Mac and Linux).  
  • Um yes it does, I still use my Lumia 950XL alot more than any other device. Well I use my gaming PC and Xbox One S alot as well.
  • Yep.
  • Do they own the Ocean, aren't there other players? So why on earth would a company that owns this ocean, but doesn't have a mobile presence because it's not important, then carry on building Xbox, Surface and many other bits and bobs, surely they should drop all of those as well as mobile. I am sure MS will develop something in the "Small screened and much more mobile than a Surface Pro with built in telephony (Not a mobile) that uses Windows. And in doing so capture maybe 90% of the "Small screened and much more mobile than a Surface Pro with built in telephony market that uses Windows" market, but have zero % of the mobile phone market because they aren't competing in that direction. If they don't then the future is bleak for Windows and eventually MS as others snaffle the Ocean as well has having all of the mobile/desktop/OS/games console markets and then MS will become as others have mentioned a cash rich group that the shareholders can rape at their leisure.      
  • Jason isn't saying that they own the Ocean, yet, will, or ever will... Jason is asking; IF MS SEEKS to have Windows everywhere, then do they need to be so focused on one particular aspect?....
    ......
    The kicker is that the very aspect that the article is suggesting to belittle is infact the most important part of the puzzle for now, and the foreseeable future, at least..
    That question literally answers itself, and Jason obviously, and intentionally, is suggesting just that...
    Honestly, I think Jason's point is that if MS says they want to be everywhere how can they ignore the biggest part of everywhere, which is mobile....
    Jason has intentionally, and indirectly, taken a shot at MS, and I think I might be the only one here who sees that. Lol
  • Lets put it this way Jason, if you own the ocean - how would you traverse it without a boat? Similiarly how would a user interact with Microsoft's cloud and be mobile without any means of connecting to it? Cloud = ocean, boat = phone, oars / motors = apps. By perscribing to the mantra that the world doesn't need a third ecosystem is fundamentally naive - the entire reason for a core version of Windows and modularity is well ... undermined. All that work to create the one core, the universal app platform, core windows is thrown in the trash and becomes a waste of time. As Windows is an ecosystem (the third ecosystem). Microsoft must embrace the third ecosystem mantra along with consumers if they are to stay relevant. Infrastructure does not win mindshare.    
  • I agree MS needs a mobile device as much of my work points out. I make brief reference to that belief in the opening.: "Many people argue that Microsoft needs a mobile presence to become relevant in the age of mobile computing. Perhaps it does, and there is indeed a place for that." In my mind with this piece i was not dismissing that need, but laying out the broader scope of Microsoft's personal computing platform vision which now extends beyond Windows to include al devices and platforms.
  • Jason, I think you succeeded with your article exactly what you set out to do. Stimulate good conversation with multiple reasons why MS not only needs and mobile device but absolutely needs one. Think about it; for a few months earlier this year it was clear to all of us pundits that MS had gotten out of the consumer mobile business. Along comes news that HP has worked with Verizon to introduce a phone that work on all carriers now. Important to commerce; yes but also to the consumer market. Now MS has said that they plan to support WM through 2018. And; and it's a big and, MS will be the sole source for x3? consumer sales. I, for one, will buy the new X3. Not because of where WM mobile is but what I see HP forcing MS to make it in the next year. Most stimulating discussion I've seen on WC in many months.
  • @Jason Ward, I wasn't saying you were dismissing the need for a mobile device. I was merely saying it's an inevitable requirement as no matter how you look at it. Infrastructure only works if it is being utilised through interaction and in the case of Microsoft's cloud platform the enterprise sector has a limited number of interactions compared to the consumer market. Enterprise users are very slow to upgrade and roll out hardware whereas the upgrade cadence in the consumer space is much higher, not to mention the scope of interactions in the consumer space is virtually limitless. In that space, a smartphone has achieved the balance between portability and extensibility. Until of course we find a way to shrink everything down into a smartwatch but even then a person wouldn't be watching a movie on small smartwatch screen for example. That makes more sense on smartphones and tablets.
  • Yes. Yes it does. It really really does. Every month, quarter and year that Microsoft don't have a mobile footprint is another month, quarter and year that they'll slide further out of the consumer space. If you'd stopped someone on a busy street in a major city 40 years ago and asked them who IBM is, the answer would probably have been "those are the computer guys who look after that big machine in the basement and all of the machines in the rest of the building somehow plug into it." Ask a 20 something year old who IBM is today and he's be hard pressed to even know that such a company exists. That's Microsofts future if they don't figure out how to make a mobile windows solution. They have the brains, the money and the tools.  What they lack is any semblance of credible marketing solution. They're the only company I know of who build nice things and crap on them with a shoddy marketing campaign. "Look everybody, it's the new surface phone!! It takes pictures...click, click...and does excel...tap, tap...and erm, sms and, err, erm....stuff....hold my beer while I check to see if it makes calls. BUY IT TODAY......but only from the one Microsoft store we've released it to in the wilderness of Alaska...." That's a typical Microsoft marketing campaign They ought to be firing whoever calls himself the marketing guy and hitting up someone who has a proven track record of nailing technology related marketing campaigns.        
  • I agree.  Look at voice assistants.  Does the average person know what Cortana is? No.  It's all about Google, Siri or Alexa.  The consumer space. Microsoft is barely in the consumer space.  Look at the top app downloads on iOS... find the first Microsoft consumer app...  These are the Google apps ahead of a Microsoft one: Youtube (2), Gmail (9), Maps (10), Docs (13), Drive (19), Chrome (20), Waze (23), Photos (24), Google (29), Classroom (31) Finally at #32 we have Outlook. Then Google Translate (35), Slides (39)...   Where is Microsoft?  Nowhere.  By ignoring the consumer space they are virtually already IBM in our modern mobile based world.  Does it look like the 'cloud first' strategy is working?
  • Here's the part I don't get......Microsoft clearly suck harder than a jet engine when it comes to marketing in the consumer space, to the point where you could legitimately argue that they have zero interest in consumer facing hardware and services....so why are they still bothering with TV & Films and Groove, which are decidedly consumer facing products?? Surely they're not throwing $Millions at those services just to gain a few users on Xbox. Why not just kill off Groove and Films and hand it over to Netflix, Apple, Spotify and others to sell music and movies in the Windows/Xbox store. They're decision making is erratic. Kill consumer confidence one phone at a time but keep throwing money at Groove....wtf Do you ever get the feeling that Microsoft isn't actually managed by people?? That maybe bots actually make all the business decisions....really, really badly programmed business bots that make that racist one on twitter look like a freakin genius
  • Isn't that the same feeling we had when Windows Phone 8.1 came out? That no one really knew if they are serious about competing in the mobile market? I mean, if you are really really serious you make absolutely sure you're on the cutting edge of features and hardware. How much did we have to wait for support for basic things as dual core CPUs and even separate volume controls? Did the Xbox Music "updates" update anything? I've come to the conclusion that with Microsoft it's always about incompetence in the middle and higher management. No one really cares about it. They may decide one thing in a month, and throw it away to months later. It's always incomplete with these people. Honestly I don't agree that the problem is with marketing, as in just ads. Even if they get the product completely right - that rarely happens (like Zune) - They have a faulty supply chain that ends with faulty marketing. While Apple released phones worldwide in great numbers, we were never sure if we could get our hands on the devices we wanted because there never seemed to be complete committment to the mobile strategy.
  • While I don't think they are bot-managed, I wonder if they have reams of telemetry that tell them everything is a-okay. Like, they look at Groove's usage numbers, megabytes streamed, count of daily actives, count of paying daily actives, and maybe those numbers justify the cost. Why else would  they continue to invest in it?  Or maybe it makes/loses so little, it's not even on Satya's radar?
  • man, are you a diviner?
  • Well said.
  • Look, an intelligent comment...
  • Whether you call it a 'phone' or not, it is imperative to have an 'always connected' pocket device to access everything.  MS failed the mobile.  There is no need to justify it.
  • Oh boy. I feel that you really need a new job or you will just fabricate basically the same article over and over again about Microsoft mobile strategy.
  • Did you read the article. There is no mention of their mobile strategy a in the text.
  • You miss the most important point here, why would the devs embrace the intelligent edge or cloud or whatever it is, it will be seen as part of MS mobile strategy and devs have no confidence on that especially when MS has not clarified its vision, so obviously everyone would be releuctant, no one wants to embrace the intelligent cloud full on, only to be screwed by MS later. So no MS doesnt own the ocean, it is far from owning the ocean.
  • Pathetic......
  • Simple Answer. YES!!!! They friggin' need a phone and there are no amount of apologies that can make up for it.
  • They need to have a better mobile presence for consumers, but I think they are too content with enterprise. They need to look beyond enterprise and NFL. Every small business seems to use iPads etc for transactions. I just think they are missing opportunities.
  • Jason you might as well ask if Microsoft needs any presence in the consumer hardware, or even software. They could go and focus on back-end services and be done with it, just like IBM did.
  • I think the real question is if the majority of phone users need Microsoft any longer.
  • Good point
  • Everyone already has know the answer to that for 10 years. No they don't....
    Jason's question is more to ponder about.
  • Well I'm here at Microsoft Ignite, which just ended, and it was a fabulous conference. Microsoft made their strategey and vision clear from the first keynote all the way through every single session to the end. Cloud, cloud, cloud. Microsoft supports all hardware, operating systems, frameworks, and technologies, they just want you to put it in Azure and run it. They dont care if you are running Mac OS, Linux, Windows, whatever you can get it done with their tools.  Everything is open source and community based. There is no vision for a "phone" per se, heck the vision is platform and device agnositc. I attended a lot of sessions and every single one was jam packed except 2 sessions.  Guess what those sessions were?  UWP app sessions.   Its never been more clear than now how much Microsoft is struggling to get developers interested in UWP app development. Azure, web, office 365, and Xamarin sessions?  Packed to the gills. I know there are those here that refuse to accept it but Windows Phone is dead.  Microsoft has moved far beyond thinking about phone especially when it comes to hardware.  
  • Yes - What is a Product Evangelist (they used to have those) to do at Microsoft these days?  We've been seeing a renewed and pretty heavy push by our software providers and product manufacturers for broken out-feature specific IOS/Android apps.  Essentially, it appears to me that the devs in my industry (automotive) are pushing front facing features out of monolithic application packages into "mobile" forms, leaving behind a smaller but purely back office focused data entry/processing core on Windows. If its not mobile focused, its web, specifically Chrome, targetted.   I just get the sense Microsoft is gravitating towards being a pure services provider. Office/Microsoft 365. Azure.  Not sure where XBox will fit in, but it would not surprise me to see it broken out sooner rather than later.  
  • I agree: at some point the Xbox division either gets spun off, or sold off completely--- with Microsoft keeping a stake---to an LG, Samsung or Lenovo.   Xbox as a consumer facing brand, doesn't fit at all, in Satya Nadella's-back-end-services vision for Microsoft.
  • Yet I don't even know that Azure is. And while obviously not on the enterprise side, I still consider me too be a tech savvy guy...
  • But Microsoft DO have a mobile presence - their apps on Android and Apple allow users to connect to MS services. Just because they don't have an actual physical device doesn't mean no one can use their services
  • "If Microsoft is the 'platform for everything,' does it really need a phone?" - The answer is already in the question. Whether you call it phone or something else is not important to me.
  • That's exactly what I said...
  • Where is Edge for Android?
  • Good question, to my knowledge I still can't sync bookmarks between Android and Edge, which results in me almost never using Edge.
  • Non existent, and for a good reason. Mobile Edge is sluggish unstable garbage which keeps refreshing pages for no reason and forgets your open tabs. We don't want it on Windows phones, so why would anyone in their right mind want this trash on Android. You can just get Firefox, at least it's gonna have an adblocker and will be stable.
  • I have used nothing but Edge for a couple of years now, it works fine for me. It had some issues early-on, but it's improved a lot, and for me is perfectly stable on our PCs and W10M phones (running strictly Produciton builds).
  • Unstable for you.
  • http://www.tomshardware.com/news/pwn2own-2017-microsoft-edge-hacked,3394... Stable doesn't mean secure. Edge seems to be very insecure along with Windows 10!
  • No, they don't really need a phone, but they need to actually be everywhere. Amazon's Alexa/Echo lineup is exactly what MS should be doing. I'm likely never going to own or even use a hololens. Maybe a Mixed Reality device when they are cheap as dirt, but I'm also not terrbily interested in what Facebook looks like in VR.  My point is, being on Xbox, PC, and Hololens isn't enough. I need to see some IoT, some MS Echos, better Cortana intergration across devices, including my non-Windows phones.
  • Cortana on other platforms is going to be the big issue moving forward.  I rarely use it on my S8, mainly because being outside of the US its pretty useless.  It is installed to provide text messaging access on my PC.  Everything else is Google Assistant - the Home is a big hit in our house.  What happened to bots?  I still remember that Skype demo with the cortana bot helping out in the conversation.  What happened to that?  Microsoft have partially conceded consumer AI already, with their partnership with Amazon in that space (again, US only).  If Google make a background app for Windows that provides Google Assistant, Cortana will be relegated to the enterprise space.
  • Cortana works extremely well for me (in the US). It beats the pants off of Siri on my wife's iPhone, having done several side-by-side comparisons over the past couple of years. Cortana's integration is quite good in the Windows 10 ecosystem, and for safely and efficiently handling texting, setting reminders, making calls, etc. via Bluetooth headset voice commands while driving, Google still doesn't touch Cortana, nor does iOS. I haven't used Google for a single thing for about three years now, strictly Windows (Windows 10 PC, WIndows 10 Mobile, Edge broswer, Cortana, Microsoft maps), and use strictly DuckDuckGo ("DDG") for searches. I use DDG all day every day at work, lots of searches for technical info, suppliers, etc., and have noticed no deficit whatsoever compared to using Google for search. In other words, one can live quite happily, productively, efficiently, and far more securely, using Microsoft and DuckDuckGo, never touching either the Google or Apple worlds. All of them (Microsoft, Google, Apple) all do a lot of things very well, none of them do everything right and anyone who tries even just a little bit can make do very well with any of those three "ecosystems". But your implication that only Google Assistant is viable, is inaccurate, at least in the US. Microsoft tries to let everybody play, regardless of their OS/ecosystem of choice. Apple is completely closed. Android/Google play on Windows and iOS striclty where it suits them, strategic bits here and there only because they can gain themselves from it by being parasites, sucking juice out of the Microsoft user base. Microsoft overall is far more open and inclusive than Google/Android/iOS.
  • Yes, as long as there is a user base for phones there is a requirement for Windows on phones. Improvisations with merging other mobile OS devices with Windows ecosystem will never be optimal solution. It's that simple! App gap is just BS and can be bridged easily. Windows 10 Mobile is mature enough and already runs very, very good, and it's "insider preview".
  • Problem is, Microsoft is slowing down with mobile development and when they reenter, they probably are as far away as they were with windows phone 7. Additional lost trust, bad support AND this app gap will make it so much harder than ever. But I guess they will just try another "hit refresh" then. Windows 10 Phone for ARM™ support only OnePlatform™ apps. Yay, could be best move ever!
  • What this article - and many of the comments - make clear, is that Windows Phone as we knew it is dead.   As in, Its Dead Jim.   The only way forward for Microsoft now is, fortunately, the strategy they are pursuing. That is, being a complete back end services provider for all apps.  Mobile, Windows desktop, laptop, Mac, iOS, Android.   Whatever.   Instead of chasing consumers, they are going after the (admittedly less glamorous but extremely lucrative) back end stuff.   This is the stuff that makes your every interaction with your device "just work".   Complain and cry all you want, but Nadella is doing his job.   He is going to keep Microsoft relevant - even thriving and profitable - for the NEXT 20 years.  Microsoft is in serious danger of becoming the next Polaroid: failing to see the changes that are happening in an industry you once dominated.  Worse than that, doing nothing.  By the time Polaroid woke up, the instant photography market was gone, completely replaced by digital.   Yes, Microsoft WAS very late to wake up, and thus they completely failed in the phone market.  However, they are not a one trick pony, as Polaroid was.   
  • Was fantastic having all devices syncing my information when I was using all Microsoft products. Now I am on Android phone it's not quite the same finding myself relying on my Android tablet more and using my SP4 less.
  • See, that's what's sad... MS had something with great Lumia devices.. Obviously was loosing more than they were gaining, but that was because of poor focus on MS'S part.
  • Maybe the products just weren't great. How does someone without focus make a great product?
  • Are you in a wheelchair?
  • What does that mean?
  • Just because he liked it, that means it was good. He refuses to acknowledge that Microsoft just didn't have a good product for the mobile market.
  • In like tarter tots😐
  • You'll get used to it.  On iOS devices, you can see all web pages open on all your devices.   You can grab a page from your phone and continue using it on your iPad Pro.   Or vice versa. Now THAT'S integration.  
  • Correct Naddy,  Apple has integration LOCKED DOWN.   it's awesome.  i cannot get used to macOS tho.  Never will use it unless they incorporate new technoligies like touchscreen etc into their desktop and laptop computers.
  • they spent billions on mobile and failed. I don't think we see a surface phone. if you want to use your MS apps on the go its time to get Android or iOS. Why would Microsoft spend millions on producing a expensive Surface phone if a handful of ppl will buy it. I think what they did with the Samsung MS edition is what you can probably expect from now on instead of a mobile OS answer from MS. The author of this article is trying to convince everyone here that mobile phones as we know it are on the way out and somehow in a few years MS will have the magical answer for the next big thing. When has MS been on the forefront of anything. They are a reactionary company and usually their efforts are average at best.
  • It's not just the apps, it's the user interface, security, openness. iOS is good, but the interface is so dead & boring it's a joke compared to WP8.1 or W10M, and iOS is so closed, it's difficult to deal with compared to Windows or Android. Android is good, and open, but it's user-interface is also very limited and boring, and security is an absolute nightmare. WP8.1 and W10M are limited in apps and hardware availability, but the user interface is vastly superior to Android & iOS, Windows is fairly open (connectivity, easy to deal with files, etc.), and WP8.1/W10M are far more secure. Although there are many fewer apps available on WP8.1/W10M, and of course that is a non-starter for many who need local banking apps or other specialized apps not available on WP8.1/W10M, speaking just for myself,  it is a definite PLUS that the Windows Store has fewer apps. Who wants to wade through tens or hundreds of apps for the same thing on Android or iOS? It is a proven fact of human psychology (and therefor a fact of marketing) that too much choice is a net negative for consumers - too much info to process, so they either walk away or shut down and ignore it. So, although an Android or iOS device with Microsoft apps may be a good choice for some, it is NOT the same as a device running either WP8.1 or W10M.
  • "it is a definite PLUS that the Windows Store has fewer apps". Do you get dizzy from spinning so Fast?   No apps is NOT a benefit.  The "app gap" is reason #17 why windows phone failed.  
  • Don't be such a prick, I clearly stated that I was speaking strictly for myself, and I clearly allowed that for people who need specific apps for  their banking, or for their jobs or whatever, and those apps are not available, then Windows 10 Mobile ("W10M") is not for them. Also, try not to make totally false statements  in support of your own opinion. There are not "no apps" (your words) in the Windows Store. There are tens of thousands of apps, and you'll note that a few million people around the globe have found them more than adequate. A lot of people do care about apps, a lot of people don't care that much about them - not everyone is like you. For many people, a handful of high-quality, secure apps to choose from in a given category is a better deal than having to search through tens or hundreds of sketchy, not-secure apps that all do basically the same thing. I had Android for years before giving WP and W10M a try, and for me the WP/W10M experience and ecosystem are vastly superior to what Android had to offer. After two years on WP8.1, then W10M, I have only 1.4 GB worth of apps on my W10M phone, and I feel absolutely no "app gap". And like most people, of that 1.4 GB worth of apps, I only use probalby 10% of them regularly, the rest infrequently or haven't touched them after the first week or two after downloading them. In other words, for those who need specific apps that are available only on one mobile platform, the choice for them is clear and that's that, no further pondering or discussion is necessary. But to make a mobile platform decision based only on comparing the total number of apps available, is just plain illogical, if not  idiotic.
  • Even Jason Ward is not optimistic anymore about Windows on mobile. This is the end.
  • phone factor defines the main present mobile device, but not necessarily the near future.  To prepare for the disruptive form factors, Microsoft has done the following preparations: Making Windows modular and adaptable to these future form factors: Internally this is called WCOs or Windows Core OS but externally is known as Andromeda OS Making Windows UI adaptable to these form factors: CShell. Making WCOs lean and energy efficient: Surface Pro experiment Making WCOs extension always connected with Gigabit LTE and e-SIM: Surface Pro LTE experiment Making WCOs run on diverse hardware beyond Intel & AMD: ARM, WinRT and subsequently 32bits W10M on ARM experiments and soon beyond 4 GB Ram through 64bits W10A. Progress reports for WCOs at Build 2018: WCOs IoT: Replace W10 IoT Core  WCOs ARM: Replace W10M with W10A version 2 WCOs MR: Replace W10 version running in HoloLens which is more energy and 3D AI efficient for 2019 consumer HoloLens. WCOs SDK: .NetCore 3.x, .Net Standard 3.x &  Xaml Standard 2.x WCOs is inevitable to bring cloud platform and AI to both business clients and consumer devices. WCOs is key to Microsoft Mobility First strategy!
  • It was the end when they hired Nadella as CEO.   Called it!  
  • If you want to win a war you must control the high ground. This used to be hill tops and is now the air. The high ground for computing devices is the OS. It controls which applications can play or how seamlessly they play together with others. Microsoft does not need to produce their own hardware but they need a solution which is compelling enough that those who do produce hardware choose to run a Microsoft solution on their best hardware. The most often used computing device today is refered to as a "phone" and so, yes, Microsoft needs to have a major presence there. Whatever the form factor, people put up with the many comprimises of todays "phones" because they offer a high value bundle replacing; former phones, GPS devices, cameras, calendars, net books, gaming devices, etc. It is easy to come up with better form factors for each of these individual uses, but challenging to come up with one which better meets the combined needs of this high value bundle. Until someone does, Microsoft needs to have a solution which offers a chance to win the high ground in the "phone" market.
  • Mobile is practically an near infinite entity therefore it's not of any necessity to control it as a business but to get your slice/cut of the pie. As strong as Android is on the market right now it's only or I should say mainly because Windows is absent.  Nadella is wrong the Mobile market is not that finite of an entity and can take as many players who has a strong enough product. Microsoft can solve the app gap when it decide to give the developers the tools to use like those bridges and I believe there will be no shortage of devices once Windows on ARMs is released in the OEM's licenced possession. To an OEM a new product mean cash $ and one other point Android is at the point of outpricing the market for many consumers this is the area where Windows on ARM can grow rather quickly.
  • You gotta be kidding. No clue.
  • They do not need a phone.  We need a "device" that runs Windows 10 it can fit in your pocket, and be taken away from where you work (desk, office, etc.) act as a mobile device taking  calls, email, text, with other procuctivitiy while away.  Then when you need it is docked/paired/synced to your work area/desk/Monitor/TV etc.  Sound familiar?  Continuum and any device that can run it is almost that.  Except the platform/OS/Apps are not ready for these devices yet. Hurry Microsoft, but make it a great one. Thanks Jason for sharing this. 
  • The "device" you just described is a phone.   I am already doing all of that with a company-issued Samsung S7 Edge.   I wish now I had asked for an iPhone.   O well, next year.   Live and learn. I get all my company emails, can edit documents in Word and Excel.  I have access to the internal company chat (Microsoft Lync).  I don't need - or want - Windows 10 to do all of this.   Neither does the company want to support a 3rd phone.  Plus, no one is going to ask for a Windows phone when they can have an iPhone or a Samsung.  
  • It is not the same if it is not running native Windows 10 OS.
  • Of course it's not the same.   It's better.  
  • Jason, I recently posted this on AAWP, but thought you might be interested in the Satya interview on podcast episode of "Corner Office" by Marketplace, so posting here as well: Check out recent podcast (link below) of "Corner Office" by Marketplace (host Kai Ryssdal), episode dated 2017-09-27 and titled "Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella hits refresh". Ryssdal travels to Satya's office to conduct a fairly probing interview prompted by Satya's new book "Hit Refresh". At minute marks 20:24 to 21:40 Nadella gives the by-now-tired-answer "we missed mobile, but we are looking to the next thing, where we hopefully will be able to compete". However, at minute mark 24:45 to 27:12, Satya could be interpreted to be admitting that he knows he made a mistake by abandoning mobile (i.e. the part about customers already choosing to follow them, but they recently abandoned the customer by going off on a tangent to a shiny new object). Just my take on it, purely speculation because Satya is not specific in his mea culpa, but interesting nonetheless.
    Website: https://www.marketplace.org/2017/09/27/world/microsoft-ceo-satya-nadella-hits-refresh
  • Wow that was quite candid. I believe Mobile was one of those instances he is referring to, but not the main one. I don't know how he would help customers "move on"? It seems like he had this specific instance in mind. I can see this in probably deprioritizing some non-cloud enterprise stuff and focusing all on the Azure platform.
  • Not necessarily a phone but something mobile enough that has phone capabilities
  • IOW, a phone.  It will just be called some silly new name like "cellular PC".   It is going to walk and quack.  Let's just call it a duck, OK?
  • Duck is fine
  • Stop
  • May I ask a question?. If my phone is running Onedrive, Outlook, Skype, OneNote, Facebook and a few more apps I need, what kind of phone is it? Lumia, iPhone or Samsung Galaxy? I bet you can't guess. It could be any one of the above. Basically what do we want? a phone made by a particular manufacturer or running a specific OS or running the apps we need?  Why is the make of the phone important, rather than the service it delivers. The answers by the way is a Lumia 1520, so I am a Windows fan (or should that be Microsoft)  but I can see the bigger picture, it's more the eco system and the application that interest me rather than who makes the phone or OS after all most of the others are based on Linux anyway. I'm sure Microsoft are up to something in the mobile arena but it may not be a phone as such, because we can already use their applications on every other manufacturers phones. I think it will be another device category and they will leave phones to Apple, Samsung, HTC and the others.
  • Oh it's more likely Microsoft on Mobile rather than Windows on Mobile.
  • Windows 10 mobile is a hodgepodge and I know from being a beta tester for a couple years. I'm glad Nadella killed that reputation ruining poc
  • First off I always laugh when I see you've written an atticle and sometimes I'll glance through it. It does seem you are for sure a Windows Phone fan boy and that's ok. As for me I'm all done with any hopes of a WP and even if they do come up with something they don't know how to market it. Why should they even worry about it since all their apps are on Android and Apple anyway. Microsoft was is and always will be a software company. 
  • Hi Steadydon I'm not sure if you read the article but is FAR less about a phone (having just mentioned it in the intro and affirming a need for one) and more about explaining Microsoft's broader platform strategy beyond Windows. Windows used to be Microsoft's primary platform, it is now just a part of it platform strategy which includes cloud computing,Office/Microsoft 365, the Microsoft Graph, Windows Mixed Reality, Quantum Computing, cross-platform apps, the intelligent edge and IoT. Hopefully, if you haven't read the piece you'll go back and do so soon. There's helpful information there for anyone who wants to understand what Microsoft is pushing as its platform strategy, as a platform company (though we want a mobile device and they need one) whether you agree with that platform strategy or not.
  • Yes, yes, yes, we understand that.  But you presume we, as CUSTOMERS, necessarily CARE about any other that.  We dont' WORK for Microsoft.  I don't really care about their business strategy as long as they are producing things I, as a CUSTOMER, actually WANT.  Which is becoming LESS the case these days for me.  And, yes, I said 'for me'.  Because, as a customer, I do not care what the other customers want.  I'm not buying things for them, I'm buying them for ME, I'm investing in an ecosystem for ME.  Sadly, I'm in a minority within a minority.
  • I admit I didn't read it just kinda glanced through. It's nice to see a positive look at something compaired to alot of stuff out there these days. I guess I've grown tired of what could be, might be, and will be. I think I'm going to just enjoy what is and let what might be take care of itself. 
  • Ok I read through most and see what you're getting at.
  • Are we Windows fans or Microsoft fans? are we OS fans or Apps fans? are we hardware fans or just get it done Application fans? Microsoft Apps already run on any platform so why do we need a new mobile. Does it make good business sense for MS to develop a new phone when 99.5% of phones out there are by others and run MS Apps, where's the market going to come from? If an Android or iPhone does what I want, with the Apps I need and it links to my Windows 10 desktop experience where is the market for anything else. MS should concentrate on providing the overall software application experirence rather than gaining 0.5% of the market.
  • I don't work for Microsoft.  I am a CONSUMER.  I am a CUSTOMER.  I hate Apple, Google and Android.  I LOVED Windows and Windows phones.  That, as a CUSTOMER, is what I want.  The problem is that Windows phone fans didn't grow fast enough to become a heavy enough influence among ALL Microsoft customers.  So, Microsoft is placating everyone else and saying "screw you" to us.  
  • Normally, I like your articles and they make sense. This one does not. And your "analogy" of "if you own the ocean do you need a boat" makes the least sense.  The ocean is a medium.  A boat is a method to travel ON that medium.  Owniing the ocean is absolutely useless if you have no method of moving across it.  Let's look at laughable space program.  Once we killed the shuttle we found ourselves having to HITCH A RIDE TO SPACE, where we practically DID own it, on a RUSSIAN spacecraft.  Now, private industry is picking up the slack.  And there are different kinds of boats, as well.  I HATE THE BOATS BY APPLE AND ANDROID.  
  • Correct Scuba, the ocean (Microsoft's various platforms) is/are the medium, or the platforms over which Microsoft is aiming (as the article points out) ALL devices including PCs, smartphones of any plaform, IoT devices, smart devices, (and more) and platforms (iOS, Android, Linux) are to travel on. Though I believe MS is working on a mobile device, their strategy is not device-centric. They want it all. Devices AND the medium over which the devices travel. Apple isn't doing that. Google is attempting to, bit not to the extent MS is. Cloud computing with office 365 centralizes MS services and provides a single Graph API to give developers apps access to those services. Intelligent edge extends Azure which is second only to Amazon to embrace billions of devices and networks and push more more computing power closer to users (even moreso when 5G becomes widely implemented.) Cross platform apps puts Microsoft's brand and servicess on the devices (iPhones and Android phones) that are traveling on that ocean right now. So devices imbued with MS services are traveling on an ocean/platforms of Microsoft's making, and some third party apps on tha same devices are supported by a back end run by Azure as well. Do we want Windows devices. Absolutely. But the reality is they're diminishing until MS brings something else to the party. In the meantime, folks might not like their strategy, but this is what they're doing. My goal is to explain what they are doing. I'm not sayig to like it or dislike it, just,"here it is." :-) Finally, quantum computing is being positioned as yet anothe platform that they will provide to entities that will use MS Quantum computers and their programming language if it all comes to fruition. Now, ideally as they build out these platforms that other devices are already traveling on, they'll get a Windows-based mobile device out sooner than later that will join those devices on the ocean Microsoft is trying own.
  • Microsoft is not the platform for everything and yes it needs a phone....quantum computers decades away from reality!
  • While I think we can all understand and agree on the importance of AI & cloud computing, Nadella is ignoring the fact that the user interface to them is equally important.  To me, using the article's analogy of the boats vs. the ocean.... which craft do you want to use on the ocean?  A belly boat?  A dinghy?  A kayak?  A canoe?  Or something specifically designed to traverse the ocean?  How would you want to experience sailing across the ocean from NYC to London or even an around the world tour? I recently helped a family member replace her old Windows phone with a new mobile phone, and since there weren't any new Windows phones available for her, she went with an Android.  (She actually wanted a Windows device.)  I did install all the Microsoft apps on it (including Cortana,) but they're absolutely terrible on Android compared to Windows.  It reminds me of the old emulators. I recently read an article on smartphone security (Windows Mobile wasn't even mentioned) and what I found most interesting was a mention that the average person uses their mobile device an average of five hours per day!  Nadella is purposefully ignoring the opportunity to have a Microsoft device in our hands for so much of our day.  And in my opinion, if Microsoft wants to get rid of the device most people use so much, then why even have Windows?  If I have to move to Android or Apple, should I also dump all of my Windows PCs and install Linux (since Android is based on Linux) or buy high-priced Macs?
  • I miss Steve Ballmer.