Satya Nadella on future Windows phones: 'I'm sure we'll make more'

If you're reading this, you're probably aware that Microsoft has "retrenched" in the mobile hardware space, laying off thousands of engineers it acquired when it purchased Nokia back in 2014.

With Windows 10 Mobile shifted to a "feature2" development branch, away from the main Redstone 3 branch, you'd be forgiven for wondering whether Windows has a future on phones at all. Well, Satya Nadella thinks it will.

In an interview with (via MSPU), Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella reiterated the company's strategy for future phone hardware.

"We make phones today, we have OEMs like HP making phones and others and we picked a very specific area to focus on which is management, security, and this one particular feature that we have called Continuum, which is a phone that can even be a desktop.""We're making sure that all of our software is available on iOS and Android and it's first class, and we're looking for what's the next change in form and function. What we've done with Surface is a good example. No one before us thought of 2-in-1s, and we created that category and made it a successful category to the point where there are more 2-in-1s coming. And that's what we want to do. So when you say we'll make more phones, I'm sure we'll make more phones, but they will not look like phones that are there today."

It's widely expected that Microsoft will leverage the Surface brand in any future phone device, as hinted at by Nadella's above comments. Any future phone from Microsoft has to be disruptive to be noticed, in a world where Redmond has thoroughly earned its reputation for a barren app store.

Windows 10 S, revealed alongside yesterday's Surface Laptop joins Xamarin, Project Centennial and various other initiatives Microsoft are deploying to drive interest both from developers and consumers in the Windows 10 Store, which will be crucial if and when Microsoft decides to re-enter the phone market.

Jez Corden
Managing Editor

Jez Corden is the Managing Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • 😲 how Lucky we are , smile at least give fans wide smile
  • It's good to know there will be more phone devices running windows at some point. But a blow to fans to know there will be no Microsoft phone to upgrade to for 950 and 950 XL users. I'd say the next thing to wait for (other than to see what happens with Redstone 3) is to see whether HP go ahead with a new Elite X3, I would imagine they have some sort of inside-knowledge on what is happening and wouldn't push ahead with a new phone if there was doubt in their mind.
  • If you want a "phone" go to HP, Lenovo, WileyFox or WhartonBrooks. If you want a "mobile device" wait for what Panos thinks that should be.
  • And if your on Verizon, get an iPhone or Android.
  • If you're on any carrier in Canada get an iPhone or Android device because no one carries W10M devices, and if you manage to make it to the Microsoft store in Toronto there is 1 W10M device hidden at the back of the store on a shelf. In other words, might as well jump ship, as much as I hate saying it. W10M as we know it now is dead. What Microsoft turns it into will be it's replacement.
  • Europe detto
  • Or, you can order an unlocked phone online and make your carrier use it. Which I did and is easy.
  • Most unlocked phones are GSM and don't work on Verizon or Sprint in the US.
  • An exception is the ZTE Axon 7 which is unlocked and runs beautifully on Verizon.  I bought one, took the nano sim out of my Lumia Icon, popped it in and voila.
  • The problem is that Verizon--the largest carrier in the U.S.--uses CDMA, not GSM, and no knew Windows phone since the Lumia 735 has had CDMA capabilities. Anyone on Verizon hasn't been able to buy a flagship Windows phone since the Icon launched more than 3 years ago. As for switching carriers, it's not an easy option for most people, whether it be business contracts for enterprises or consumers engulfed in family plans (which would require getting the entire family to switch or, leaving the plan and paying exorbitant increases in monthly rates).
  • Glad to know we don't have such issues here in India. We never have to worry about our carrier while deciding which phone to buy, Android or windows or iPhone. Moreover we prefer dual SIM phones for the same reason so that we can use two Sims from two operators with two different plans like one company giving better 4g data such as Reliance jio and other company giving better talktime/coverage such as Airtel. But iphones and Google pixels won't let you do that since they are single SIM device.
  • Good point
  • Hopefully, once Verizon Wireless gets its next generation network into production and closes off the existing CDMA network, Windows mobile OEMs will start to produce devices for interested VZW users. The devices could be made available through vendors like Best Buy and Microsoft for those of us who don't want to endure VZW sales associates trying to discourage you from buying a Windows mobile device.   Sadly, Verizon Wireless is still a year or two away from completing the new network.
  • Don't the carriers compete for clients in the US? I thought it was the nation of free markets? What about virtual operators? CDMA is oldtech, pones are not locked in Europe anymore because there are no subsidies. I don't see what the problem is unless US phone companies still run a monopoly business.
  • This is what I've done for years. Here in Australia we were always lagging behind in what comes to our shores. I used to buy a device every 6mths to find what I wanted in a phone. Up till the Lumia 1020 (which had an untimely exit), my new 1520 actually stopped my compulsory purchasing every 6mths or sooner. I had that phone for ages, then got my 950XL and still have it today. All you need to do is to check the 3G/4G band that your carrier uses and buy accordingly. Easy. Plus you don't need to pay for the phone ongoing.
  • There's a third option.  Leave big red.
  • Tried to leave Big Red for T-Mobile over winter, their coverage isn't good enough. Lack of Windows phones on Verizon is the primary reason I've never owned one. Won't switch to an inferior network to use a phone that lacks the apps I like.
  • Depends on where you live I guess.
  • AT&T is the only real alternative.
  • AT&T needs to change their horrendous customer service issues..Contacting the Better Business Bureau was my only solution with them.  Beware if you have anything to do with AT&T.
  • Tweet @TMobile and give them your zip code. I did and just a few months later I had blanket 700MHz 4G LTE coverage. Not sure if it was all due to my tweeting, but I let them know there was a problem and it was fixed.
  • You mean there is still people on Verizon? 
  • This is exactly what my line of thinking is. When you really think about it, we don't really use mobile phones as phones anymore.  We use them as mini computers that can make a call if need be.  Why not have a more flexible device that could just a make the occasional call?
  • Sure but these things still need to fit in our pocket, and for the average consumer needs the apps they are used to; People here forget way too often that they are not the average user. I'm not saying more mobile computing devices won't be successful, there is definitely potential in business particularly.
  • That's why I think the 'pocket display' is more important than 'pocket PC' for Surface mobile device to succeed.  The foldable screen would be the crucial component of Surface Mobile.  It would provide adequate screen real estate to run W10 and web apps (or progressive web apps).  The web apps (progressive web apps specifically) could be the solution for the app-gap problem the WP has. All the services will be available instantly via web apps.  My credit union will never release a WP app, but it has a superb web app I can use.  I would much rather use the Amazon web app than the WP version.  The dual screens can give you a 8" display and the triple screens would give you a 10" display.  The foldable screen would change everything for Windows mobile.
  • Actually, I'm referring to the average user. The average mobile phone users don't even spend 1/3 of their device usage time on phone calls. My observation is that most people spend their smart "phone" time holding the device in front of them with their thumb(s) in action.
    The heavy talkers have now become the exception.
  • That's true, and that is where phablets were good because you could make the occasional call, however had a much bigger real estate screen for the main functions for the smartphone user from reading sites, articles, editing photos, sharing, keeping up to date with their calendar, making/taking/watching videos, etc. But the large footprint to hold such a useful screen size desired by few and thought 'ridiculously big' by a good portion of smartphone users, especially when you watch someone with a phablet take a call and this behemoth of a device gets placed to your ear... just looks funny. I had a 1520 and loved it, but I received a lot of comments on the size of it. Now if the ultimate device would enter the field either using folding tech or scroll tech, perhaps even an earpiece that docks within the device (taking it out to place on the ear to talk, if desired), with BT/OTA connection with a monitor/peripherals to use Continuum without plugging it in, this device would have a lot going for it.  
  • We have. It's called mobile smartphones. (And they are not running Windows anymore.)
  • WhartonBrooks.   Good luck with that..  You will have better luck getting a phone signed by jesus.  
  • so all 950/xl or HPx3 users will be f* in the ass I hope all 3 phones will be sold at max retail price 99USD, with a dead OS.. its not worth any cent more
  • Wait...So does this mean that the rumored Surface phone is dead?
  • lol... MS never spoke about it. and he's clear on which path hes company is following, 2-1 are now a main thing for MS and smartphones clearly NOT. they are also going to concentrate on making quality apps for iOS and android.
  • My guess is that all of those phones will continue to work even after Microsoft finally decides which way they are going with mobile.
  • Why Pappale? How is this bad news? I got my 950XL a year ago and I'm saving up for the next flagship. I didn't think I'd have the 950XL forever. Surely it will last another year. Maybe the 4 Continuum docks I bought for $34 each will work with the next device, who knows. I don't see how this is bad? Who cares what the OS is, as long as its Microsoft and it syncs with our i7's running Creators and the Microsoft Cloud.
  • HP will indeed be comming with a new X3, a PRO for sure an Elite not know at the moment.
    The pro will have a little less specs and also be cheaper (and the camera would be better/faster)
  • There IS an upgrade path for 950/XL users: Samsung Galaxy S8/+. Seriously, if it wasn't a great device, why is Microsoft selling it at their stores? Why did they have a "Microsoft Edition" of the S8/+? When you think about it, it has everything that Lumia phones have had for years: wireless charging, high-quality cameras with OIS, beautiful design, always on display (glance screen), micro SD card support, iris scanner.... this phone is literally a marriage of the 1520 & 950 XL.
  • But seriously I don't want a HoloLens-like or VR phone. I want just want a solid candy bar form factor.
  • Whatever they release needs to work and feel like a phone when it's being used as a phone - Just being innovative isn't enough. People don't buy tech based on which is the most innovative or has the newest ideas. Like you, many will want to replace their phone with another phone and probably from the same company - Just having something new and different won't make people start buying a new windows device over the new iPhone
  • Yes, unless some [like myself] really are looking forward to finally have a true PC in their pockets, instead of a phone. The phones on the market today are [for me at least] nothing more that a bridge that fills the gap until that ultimate device arrives. And when it does, I will be one of the first ones to buy one.
  • Sure but isn't the reason people say W10M has failed is because nobody uses it? If only the WP fans (or a % of them) end up buying the new device then it's in the same boat isn't it? Plus the app gap (which is no issue for me personally) will be the same or worse with the new device anyway. A 5-6" screen needs a phone UI still and apps need to look good on it and scale correctly (I.e need to be UWP rather than older desktop apps)
  • "isn't the reason people say W10M has failed is because nobody uses it" - Sure. That is why that new device will most likely run W10S instead of W10M. Surface Laptop w/W10S paves the way for that. "app gap (which is no issue for me personally) will be the same or worse with the new device anyway" - not really, since it runs W10S, not W10M. "A 5-6" screen needs a phone UI still and apps need to look good on it and scale correctly" - MS is surely aware of that and is preparing for that. "I.e need to be UWP rather than older desktop apps" - That is rather obvious.
  • Windows 10 S is normal Windows, just restricted to the Store. When it first leaked as Windows 10 Cloud, a guy managed to circumvent the restriction within a day. Full Windows on a phone doesn't make sense. People are moving away from complicated devices like computers to simple, streamlined ones like phones and tablets. Putting a full-blown desktop OS on a phone would be a major bag of hurt.
  • If you haven't followed the development of Windows 10 (RS3/CShell), then it does indeed make no sense.
    I'm sorry, but I strongly disagree to everything you just said. The reason I sold my (top if the line) iPad Air 2 was its limiting use-case (the iPad Pro being no different whatsoever). I will never buy another iPad or any other tablet for that matter, unless it can act as a full-blown PC (=Surface Pro) as well. For some, a simple, fool-proof OS/tablet/phone might be the way to go. Not for me. In fact, the day Apple announced the iPhone together with the App Store, I really hated the idea. Why? Because now, we have thousands of (mostly useless) apps for tasks that actually the OS (or bots?) should do for us. That is why the "lack of apps" never bothered me, nor do I even care. Full-blown programs that are actually useful? Now that is a completely different story. And those programs will never run on a phone OS, be it W10M, iOS or Android. That is why I am so happy to see Microsoft taking the lead here and I am very looking forward to the Surface Phone whenever it is released.
  • But C-Shell can not suddenly make a traditional desktop app (even if it's packaged for the store) suddenly display correctly on a 5-6" screen, it can only make the shell display correctly on those devices - It gets it to a single OS but doesn't suddenly make older apps suitable for a phone size screen (UWP does do this of course, so apps still needed)
  • no, and nobody said so either. But when you run it on a big screen trough continuum...
  • @ronaldlangley - "The reason I sold my (top if the line) iPad Air 2 was its limiting use-case (the iPad Pro being no different whatsoever). I will never buy another iPad or any other tablet for that matter, unless it can act as a full-blown PC (=Surface Pro) as well" That is the exact reason I left the iPad in the dust, and it is the exact reason a lot of the former iPad users at work rarely use them any longer.  The thing is a magnificent device, but it's in a box.  Believe me, the app fad will slowly go away.  Companies would be foolish to keep a development team for mobile app development for some of this simple stuff. Retire the app and point the users to the website.  Some of the simple tools should be baked into the OS.
  • 99% of the work I do on my phone uses the built in apps - I need a PC for my "real work" which is writing code a lot of the time. I couldn't live on an iPad or similar device full time - Some people like Sinofsky are really pushing the benefits of an iPad Pro but that's because his job mostly involves creating documents, sending emails etc. For a lot of jobs and businesses an iPad pro won't cut it
  • I use Quickbooks, as I believe millions of people do everyday.  I run a business.  I am often in my vehicle.  Would love to leave the laptop behind.  Too big and clunky to work with in a car/work van.  But would love to use quickbboks on my phone.  But what does Intuit do?  Ignore the win32 program and put all their resources into a subscription based, cloud based, inferior product.  To me all this means is that Quickbooks is now just a web page.  Thanks a bunch Intuit. I would love for Microosft to resurect Money as a UWP that I can deploy to my windows 10 laptop, SP4, SP3, and 950 to give me greater control over my accounting.  I would also like to think BofA would sync effortlessly with my accounting system. But no.  What do we have?  Nadelle saying we will make sure all our programs work on iOS and Android.
  • Is the data format from MS Money an open format? If there was demand I'm sure somebody would build an app like that, but it would still need to run on Android and iOS too I think - You'd also exclude people on
  • exactly,why would i want full blown desktop on my phone, perfect continuum and get developers to do apps
  • Even if it can run a Win32 app from the store (Like Spotify will work on Windows 10S) that isn't going to work well on a 5-6" screen
  • I like to think of it this way. CShell will enable full Windows 10 (or S, or whatever) to scale down to a W10M-like interface, where we can use apps on the 5-6" screen. If we need to run any centennial apps like Spotify, we just unfold/expand the thing (or whatever it's going to do) enabled by Continuum to give us the bigger display and access to full programs/apps on the go. I suppose a flaw with this plan is that you might not want a tablet-sized device playing Spotify or whatever in your car, on the train, etc. Just my two cents.
  • You still have the app gap with W10S. The main apps that non W10M user use just aren't there. Without those apps you are not going to get people to migrate, so you are still only going to get W10M users. Thus Microsoft will still have sub 1% marketshare.  Sure they may pick of a buisness user or 2, who don't use many consumer apps on their mobile device. But the rest of the consumer world will probalby stick with the mobile platform that provides them with the apps they want and use.  
  • Could you please name a few must-have apps that non-W10M users use? Thanks.
  • W10m doesn't have my banking apps. Web isnt a user friendly replacement especially coz mobile sites for now are less functional then apps and u may blame the devs but the fact remains that apps are popular. It doesnt have foodpanda, again i can order from web but app is more functional it has tracking built in a feature not available on web. A bunch of cab apps, like grab taxi for ex. A lot of corporate and company apps. Mall apps. My metro(train) app. And a hell lot of others which have no replacement.
  • All depends on the individual. I have a UWP banking app but if I didn't that would be a big negative
  • Web isnt a user friendly replacement especially coz mobile sites for now are less functional then apps and u may blame the devs but the fact remains that apps are popular. 
    That's not true. Websites are more robust than every and there's a slow push towards web apps. The one area where you see a much bigger emphasis on standalone apps is social media, but even there it's not universal. Banking websites offer all the functionality you could possibly need from them and often offer more functionality than their mobile apps. However, user experience continues to be less than ideal on mobile for a variety of reasons and good mobile apps generally offer a smoother user experience. So there are compelling reasons why consumers continue to favor mobile apps by a large margin. But less functionality is definitely not one of those reasons.
  • And why would you use the mobile sites if you can use the full-blown websites on your WP browser?
  • Yeah, I have Bank of America in Continuum, love it. The nearest bank is 40 miles away, so its nice to be able to deposit checks with the camera.
  • Following the crowd isn't always a very good idea.
  • I agree.
  • The S8 is not a Windows PC, but it is a true PC in your pocket.
  • Does it run Photoshop? No. Does it run full Office? No. There you have it. Therefore, the S8 is NOT a true PC. BTW: The point is not how fast a Surface Phone (or any other phone) could run those app, but whether it can run them or not. Speed will increase as ARM CPUs are getting faster and faster. Nevertheless, the SD820 in the demo ran acceptably in my opinion. And an SD835 will run even better. And that is just the beginning.
  • S8 is definitely not a true PC. Other than the apps being windowed I honestly don't think its better than Continuum
  • So, you're saying that