Smartphones are dead Part V: How much farther Microsoft? Microsoft: Not far now

In one particular episode, the Smurfs embarked upon a long journey led by their beloved leader, Papa Smurf. At various points during this arduous trek, the Smurfs repeatedly asked, "How much farther Papa Smurf?" To which Papa patiently replied, "Not far now."

As the journey progressed, the Smurfs became increasingly weary of their travels and impatiently pressed Papa Smurf with, "Is it much farther Papa Smurf?" Eventually, Papa's patience expired and in exasperation he snapped, "Yes it is!"

We've heard some very ambitious plans from Microsoft in recent years. A unified platform, cloud management of mobile experiences, a pervasive digital assistant brokering conversations with bots and likely the most desired by fans, a device that is beyond that of the modern smartphone. An ultra-mobile PC perhaps. A category-defining device (not unlike the Surface) that officially transitions us beyond the age of the smartphone. Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella sees the smartphone's dominance as a central hub, like the PC, as a transitory phase in personal computing after all:

…the high volume device is the six-inch phone...But to think that that's what the future is for all time to come would be to make the same mistake we made in the past…Therefore, we have to be on the hunt for what's the next bend in the curve…We're doing that with our innovation in Windows…features like Continuum.

The recently misunderstood Windows Devices Chief, Terry Meyerson had this to add about what we can expect from Microsoft's "phone" division next year:

"We're going to do some cool things with phones…

Microsoft's platform, cloud, communication and device ambitions sound inspiring and encouraging and for many trying to process how this will all work from an everyday user perspective – it can also be a bit confusing. But, more than anything else, to many Microsoft fans, writers, and other industry watchers it seems to be taking a very long time for all of this to come together. Many are asking:

"Is it much farther Microsoft?"

Uncharted territory

Much of the progress toward the fulfillment of the ambitious plans that Microsoft has laid out for itself has been met with disappointment, skepticism, misunderstanding and even anger from fans, writers, developers and well anyone with an opinion. Headlines, comment sections of articles and the venting voices echoing across social media bear this out.

Don't get me wrong there are plenty of folks who can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Again, don't get me wrong, it's a long tunnel. We're looking at at least another year's journey before the hopeful manifestation of one of the most anticipated fruits of Redmond's labors: The Surface "phone." And if you ask me I think Panos Panay really wants to bring this device to market.

Will the rumored Surface Phone be a reimagined Surface Mini

A device that I have contended will not be a phone at all, but a pocketable ultra-mobile Continuum powered pen-focused Surface branded personal computer with telephony. It will be a digital notepad just like Panay's loved – canceled - but still used Surface Mini. It will also occupy the lowest tier in the Surface line below the Surface Book which is a laptop and digital clipboard and Surface which is a tablet and a laptop; again just like the Surface Mini would have done. This analysis is at least my view given the direction of the market and what is evident of Microsoft's mobile strategy.

Panos Panay and Surface Pro 3

Panos Panay and Surface Pro 3 (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

We had hoped this would happen by Q4 of 2016 - "Is it much farther Microsoft?" - but alas Redmond has pushed the Surface "phone" out to Spring of 2017"No, not far now."

"Not far," of course is relative to the big picture, long-term, multi-year, strategy perspective of Microsoft's CEO. A strategy that we are only a mere two years into by the way. For perspective, as long-term plans go, that's not long.

Many have grown tired of the "next-year-everything-will-change-for-Microsoft's-mobile-efforts" mantra.

But like Papa Smurf's weary children for whom assurance that the journey was nearly over offered no further consolation, many have grown tired of the "next-year-everything-will-change-for-Microsoft's-mobile-efforts" mantra. This attitude is despite the promises of the plan toward a unified platform, the goal of a convergent device beyond a smartphone, the flow of the industry toward a "Microsoft-friendly PC in the pocket" model and the progress that has been made toward that end.

The uncertainty of the potential success of this strategy is fueled by Microsoft's past failures, low and, though strategically expected, declining mobile market share and the daunting success of Apple's and Google's mobile platforms. This confluence of factors has coalesced into the simple, concise and frequently echoed mantra: Windows Phone is dead.

Is Windows Phone dead? Despite the cacophony of negativity that bellows from the digital platforms we look to for direction, the answer is no. Can it die? Sure. Anything can. Nations, governments, cultures and corporations have risen and fallen throughout the ages. But put in perspective Microsoft's current mobile position, as we've shared in the past, is not one of death but one of transition. Mobile is a critical part of Microsoft's personal computing strategy, and as a recent email from Terry Myerson revealed they are fully committed for years to come.

Against all odds

That said, Microsoft has communicated a plan that is both bold and unprecedented. What Redmond is doing with the Universal Windows Platform and context-sensitive devices has never been done before, particularly on such a vast and comprehensive scale. This paradigm shift is new territory for the industry of developers, manufacturers, bloggers, investors even Microsoft themselves. So the confusion, the misunderstandings, miscommunications and a host of other frustrations are par for the course. The success of this long-term strategy, I have argued, does position Microsoft in an advantageous position above Apple and Google.

Why Microsoft is positioned beyond the curve, leaving behind Apple and Google

Many of the seeds have only recently (relatively speaking) been planted, however. Naturally we'd love to see the fruition of plans shortly after we become aware of a strategy. A mature unified platform, Bridge converted apps, a Surface "phone" and a host of other anticipated goodies couldn't come too soon. Corporate strategies, however, are complicated forward-looking affairs with goals set five to ten years in advance. Though objectives are scheduled as incremental steps along the path of these multi-year strategies toward a communicated goal, our expectations are best served when aligned with the big picture.

This is new territory for Microsoft themselves.

This view, rather than the imposition of our own desires for immediate results upon the strategy of a multi-billion-dollar corporation competing and repositioning in a multi-billion-dollar industry, is the logical course. Patience, though a hard thing to ask and even harder to give, is required nonetheless.

Dreaming big, core foundation

The patience-invoking course that Microsoft has set upon is complex to be sure. Under the "One Microsoft" banner cross-pollination of departments, strategies, engineering and other resources intricately intertwine the fate of numerous objectives. An observer's focusing on a single effort without looking at other areas where the company is investing in innovation will invariably paint an incomplete picture. We can't get a good picture of Microsoft's goals for mobile, for instance, without thinking about how Microsoft is evolving and nurturing the entire Windows ecosystem. This point even includes how the company is evolving how users will interact with their digital experiences through Conversation Canvases, Cortana, and bots.

Microsoft's bold ambition may seem to be unattainable "pie in the sky" dreams by some. A focus on the company's failures fuels this view. However, I'm sure the largely attained goal of Microsoft's founder's Bill Gates and Paul Allen's "PC on every desk and in every home" seemed to be an ephemeral goal by many as well.

Despite the less than optimistic assessments, every success is born of dreams, forged by careful planning and methodically executed by way of a detailed strategy. On the flip side, lack of forward motion due to fear of repeating failings of the past essentially makes failure inevitable. Our previous interview with Microsoft's Chris Pratley, Mike Tholfsen, and Chris Yu revealed that the company has dispensed of the legacy of fear that hindered the firm's innovation. Redmond is building its future upon this new foundation.

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

Under construction

Let's look at this from a construction point of view. I find it intriguing to watch a building being constructed over time. Of course, the process is not observed in one sitting. It is far too complex an endeavor, involving far too many interdependent variables to accomplish overnight. Thus, the progress that is seen is observed in spurts. Over the period of months, the structure begins to take shape.

One thing that stands out to me, however, is that before any construction begins the area is typically fenced off. And on that fence is usually posted an image of how the new structure is expected to look. It's inspiring but looks nothing like the barren or disrupted space on the other side of that barrier. Remind you of anything?

As observers from the outside looking in, all we see is what looks like disorder. Heavy equipment, tools, materials, steel beams, piles of dirt and stones – a mess - is the view we see just past the image on the fence. We sometimes struggle to reconcile the reality before us with the promised image that is also before us. As laborers work with confidence on assigned tasks to bring that promised vision to fruition, their resolve and certainty can be reassuring even when we can't see how that "thing-a-ma-jig" their fitting into that "doohickey" fits into the big picture. Kind of like how when Gabe Aul announces another build release of Windows 10 Mobile. What's that last count by the way?

See more

Yes, this whole UWP and Windows 10 Mobile thing does look like a big mess at times. But each build release offers some level of assurance that the team is hard at work making that "big picture" come to life.

Each build release offers some level of assurance that the team is hard at work making that "big picture" come to life.

Sometimes our inability to reconcile the apparent disarray before us with the promise ahead of us may cause some to yearn to see the blueprints to the structure. You know, the explicitly detailed plans governing the entire project.

Of course, blueprints, like corporate strategies that take into account not only today's reality but look five years to a decade down the road, are complex things. An observer hoping to satisfy his yearning for an understanding to assuage his short-term vision may be sorely disappointed as those blueprints that are crowded with a complex array of lines and measurements are not meant to be understood from a simple "I want to see results now" perspective.

Like blueprints, corporate strategies are multilayered abstract representations of developing concrete realities, that call for particular actions, resources and components at different points in a process. One can't erect the walls of a structure without first laying the foundation after all.

It's difficult to envision that there was ever a time that the space that it occupies was once desolate.

Put another way; Rome wasn't built in a day. Nor is a universal platform and the new type of devices, user experience and user interface structures that will exist within this new reality for that matter. However, when a structure is complete and serving its purpose, it is often difficult to envision that there was ever a time that the space that it occupies was once desolate, or the purpose it serves was previously void.

A smart (phone) foundation

Since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007 consumers, tech leaders and bloggers have at times proudly ascribed the term "computers" to our smartphones. I know that we are all quite impressed with the power these pocketable devices hold. Thus, I contend that when many people proclaim that these "phones" are indeed computers they are giving testimony to their awareness of how far the devices have come technologically rather than possessing a real awareness of the impending shift in the positioning of these devices in the industry.

This is the age of the mini-tablet

In the brief nine years since the iPhone set the consumer space on a course where personal computing is quite literally in the palm of our hands, these devices have evolved tremendously. Still, we are close enough to the beginning of this journey that we can clearly remember when our phones were "not" computers.

Many are being blinded to the pragmatic reality that our "phones" are indeed personal computers.

It is this awareness that positions us to be still in such awe of the devices and what they can do that I think is blinding many to the pragmatic reality that our "phones" are indeed "personal computers" and not merely "smart" phones. As such we are still victims of the iterative spec race that provide relatively minor incremental improvements to our devices on a yearly basis. The iPhone and Android dominated smartphone industry perpetuates this system, though, as we discussed in part two, our personal computing desires are pushing us toward a more comprehensive mobile computing experience. One that a bigger and shinier device does not necessarily accommodate.

We are moving into a stage in smartphone evolution where the spec race is plateauing; device dimensions are reaching their comfortable size limits and virtually everyone who wants a smartphone has or can get one. Smartphones, as it were, are the norm. However, in this reality, we, consumers and developers, have increasing expectations that our "phones" should accommodate ever-increasing demands for more complex mobile personal computing and flexibility. I believe as we continue moving forward in a world where our "phones" are treated as our primary personal computer, we will become less forgiving of "missing" functionality that we find on our PCs.

We will become less forgiving of "missing" functionality that we find on our PCs.

If a phone will indeed be our primary personal computer, a reasonable expectation would be that, in time, most tasks our PC can do, our "phone" should do equally or nearly well. The "phone" should also be able to replace the PC for the majority of desired tasks. Such a scenario, of course, requires an entire ecosystem of support. A platform would have to exist that allows developers to build quality apps that run in both a mobile and PC environment. That same platform would have to exist across all form factors to accommodate user interaction with the same program from a host of different devices.

Microsoft's 'you are the hub' Windows 10 strategy is about us and here's why it matters

There would have to be a comprehensive cloud back-end that facilitates the user's digital experiences across form factors: mobility of experiences as it were. Hardware would have to exist within this ecosystem that could conform to various scenarios. The OS would have to be flexible enough to detect and accommodate a shift in context; transitioning a user seamlessly from static to mobile computing. Tools would arguably have to exist to bring legacy desktop apps to the platform that will power this new type of personal computing paradigm. Finally, personal computer manufacturers would have to see the shift in the industry and introduce hardware into the market that takes advantage of the rich software ecosystem.

This is the ecosystem that the "phone", a device small enough to fit in a pocket, but that is indeed a personal computer, requires. An ecosystem that tears down the barriers between the phone and PC environment's and thereby escapes the quest to accommodate more complex computing through iterative enhancements to phone hardware and software. Such an ecosystem takes time, persistence and commitment to build.

Building on the foundation

This course is the uncharted, transformative and disruptive approach that Microsoft has embarked upon with its Unified Windows Platform and Continuum. This basis is the foundation that has been laid just beyond that "fence" bearing the image showing us how the finished product is going to look. Despite the frustrations, misunderstandings, disappointments and even anger this is the new "mobile personal computing structure" we see taking shape before our eyes.

Like the erecting of a building it's a slow process, and frankly it sometimes looks pretty messy. But Microsoft is committed. If they are successful, they will inevitably offer a device that is beyond the curve in mobile. In time, an ecosystem supported by apps provided by Microsoft's app Bridges will support such a device as well as ultra-mobile PCs inspired partners will bring to market. Combined with a digital assistant that brokers our digital experiences with numerous bots we will likely find it hard to believe that there was a time where the space that that device fills in our lives was once desolate and the purpose it fills was once void. But alas we're not there yet:

"How much farther Microsoft?"

In silent response, Redmond remains focused and on course with its long-term strategy. The firm continues developing its Universal Windows Platform, labors at removing the systemic barriers between the PC and phone and strives to design a device that physically bridges the two. The company persists in its nurturing of relationships with manufacturing partners who will continue to promote the firms Continuum-based context sensitive personal computing ideology pioneered by the Surface and growing category of 2-in-1s.

And as has been the case since Redmond began this journey, albeit with greater assurance since Nadella's revised vision for the company two years ago I envision Microsoft's eventual patient reply: "Not far now."

Part I: This is the age of the mini-tablet

Part II: Evolve or die; Microsofts ultra-mobile PC

Part III: Microsoft, Apple and Google prepare for the shift

Part IV: The numbers speak for themselves

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 again for reading folks! The industry is moving in a direction where our experiences are increasingly mobile. Though there is intense competition and the mobile leaders Apple and Google undoubtedly dominate this space, I believe that Microsoft has a solid strategy, that though not assured success, IF successful does position Microsoft as a game changer in the industry. I realize that many regular readers interpret my work as overly optimistic but, though certainly a tech and Microsoft enthusiast as many of you, what I strive to do is outline what I see as Microsoft's strategy and present that with the expected outcomes. There are many readers who may not have the energy, passion nor the time to contemplate and/or research these topics in the manner many of us in the profession do. As such, a broader "big picture" view may sometimes be difficult to see through the haze of reporting that is limited in scope and fails to encapsulate short-term events within the larger context. This is what we try to do here. I believe we are successful in giving a fuller context from which you as readers can then contemplate the more short term activity that makes the headlines. 'The Windows Phone isn't dead" series gave you in six parts focused on specific areas Microsoft's strategy in an: 1. Overview of Microsoft mobile strategy and their retrenched position 2. How they are building the ecosystem 3. A plan for consumers 4. OEM partnerships 5.An interview with Alcatels VP of Communication and Marketing 6. A plan to become a platform for Mobile App development. This series has brought the broader context in which Microsoft mobile strategy fits by giving: 1. A transition from the concept of a "phone" 2.Microsoft's position in this shift with a possible Surface ultra-mobile PC 3. The competitions Apple's and Google's strategy in relation to this shift 4. Recent IDC and Strategy Analytic's data and analyst interpretation regarding this shift and... 5. This candid view of the long challenging journey to the projected and expected end. I hope this context helps to put the intent of these series in a better context. Finally for those who comment before reading, you have much more to contribute than a snarky remark. Many of the great comedians are actually very intelligent people. Their wit is supported by a passion for being informed. Even if your intent is to disparage a piece, do so in an informed manner. Read, then offer intelligent rebuttal. We love a good discussion! Thanks again!
  • I still find it laughable that we are talking about a Surface Phone in the context of Intel completely backpedalling on their mobile processor plans.
    Surface Phone needs Intel. Continuum needs Intel. But Intel have left the building.
    Can't we have an editorial on the implications of Intel's plans instead?! Every other Windows orientated tech website has done some kind of piece on it...yet NOTHING from Windows Central.
  • Well said Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • That's because an Intel phone was never going to work because Intel is just that far behind in meeting the needs of mobile phone users. That dream processor was always 100% speculation and desire on the part of fans and no, Continuum does not need Intel to work. MS has already made it clear that they are going to use virtualization and PC Remote to bring the desktop to the phone, it's the happiest medium instead of waiting for Intel to get off their butt and make a chip that is equivalent to today's ARM processors in a mobile world.
  • x86 architecture is all about brute force computing, it`s an old architecture, 16bit was introduced in '78 .... maybe there isn`t much left to evolve In this, maybe we need something new ... or who knows ... AMD might pull something interesting with Zen but I really really doubt it. Tough I would love to come home, connect my phone to my monitor and start video editing or gaming ... this future is still far away from us, mobile GPUs have nothing against real desktop GPU variants and add in the mix the CPUs ... you can`t yet have that in a mobile factor.
  • What about a continuum dock with GPU? Like what Razer has done. Even without Intel, I do think Surface Phone could be legitimate.
  • The continuum dock needs to be an x86 powered i7 mini shuttle. The phone would offload all the heavy processing to the dock. The actual files would live in the cloud or locally on the phone. The answer is in a better powered dock.
  • why is the phone needed in your scenario?
  • And thats the problem... now its not portable... plus cloud solutions are like citrix and its OK but never a great experience and then theres the comms issues to add a twist. In the end it will be a bunch of devices that can do nearly all the same things but you will have more than one.
  • Point being that a continuum dock needs to be integrated into every Windows 10 PC. The expectations of the phone and dock in a docked scenario needs to be elevated beyond the current device. When you need more power to perform higher end functions, you may want to dock your phone and continue functionality with an actual X86 PC. Where as Adobe Photoshop Express on your phone is a compliment to the full desktop version. Not just being able to run the same phone version on a larger screen. A Continuum dock on a PC needs to be as common as a DVD drive or USB.
  • @Donald Simard1 That`s the point of the article, it`s not a phone anymore, it`s a mobile computer that can do various stuff and phone calls. The term "smartphone" is misused now. I`ve seen an article some time ago that a Galaxy S5 is several times faster than Big Blue, the computer that was able to beat Kasparov at chess back in 97 and it was the size of a big room. We have amazing machines in our pockets and most of the people think of them as Selfie/Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat machines, when in reality they can be very productive trough technologies like Continuum. I don`t want a big bulky computer anymore to do my stuff ... I want something small and powerful.
  • The issue with making an intel powered dock, is you've just turned my desktop computer into a smaller desktop computer, which I still have to bring around with me. That eliminates part of the portability of the phone. The self-contained aspect which seems so appealing.What you are suggesting is to turn the phone into a monitor and turn the dock into the phone.I don't need to pay 800 bucks for a screen and an intel compute stick. I can get that for 300 bucks today.
  • No you can't. And you're scenario involves having a monitor attached to a dock and completely eliminating Workstations. You so funny.
  • Because there has been no evidence that MS was going to even use Intel in smartphones. Any references to such that I have seen have been the dreams of enthusiasts, not an internal leak from MS. MS has already added Snapdragon 830 to the W10M support list. Care to guess what might be powering the Surface Phone? UWP is a far better path for Continuum than legacy x86 on a 1W SOC.
  • The problem with UWP - it just isn't getting the kind of developer attraction expected.
    An Intel powered phone could offer a proper desktop experience via Continuum (running Centennial apps), whilst also running standard UWP apps in mobile config.
    Without Windows back catalogue of apps on continuum, I just think the whole concept is DOA.
    A Surface Phone is definitely not going to appeal to consumers if it requires remote desktops/virtualisation.
    An Arm powered Surface Phone just doesn't have a reason to exist when iOS/Android are so comprehensively doing a better job.
  • What if Microsoft provided a virtual desktop in the cloud where Surface Phone users could buy legacy software install and 'stream' them to the surface while docked? So you would have the power of the Windows desktop while you dont compromise the mobile experience!
  • Aye. At best, everyone's going to have to adapt to completely new programs on UWP to get their desktop work done, which is equivalent to switching from PC to Mac not long ago. Not ideal.
  • @SpinzeroWL, lol, Intel isn't the only company that makes x64 chips.
  • AMD are leagues behind Intel when it comes to performance per watt. If it ain't Intel, it ain't happening.
  • Perhaps, but to just cast them (AMD) aside based on that notion is just silly to be put it politely.
  • It's easy to cast AMD aside. They haven't done anything interesting in mobile processors for years. They are SO far behind Intel in performance per watt that it is really a joke to think AMD are even a consideration for Surface Phone processors.
  • @spinzeroWL, that could be attributed to the spin off of ATI's mobility division to Qualcomm for a cool $65 million. As well as the fact they want to retain socket compatibility through several gens. Unlike Intel :P, it's easier to change design from the ground up to increase efficiency as opposed to retaining a set structure and trying to increase efficiency - there is only much you can squeeze out.
  • Thank you for saying this. We have no clue the availability of chip technology that MS has access to. Has it even occurred to anyone that the cancellation of one chip may be due to the release or improvement of another chip. I feel since MS isn't saying anything specific about any future phones, the most that can be done is have fun speculating about any future phone and be happy with that. Because right now all that anyone, professional, haters, and fans alike, is doing is speculating.
  • If comprehensively better=more apps then why are macs still around? Everyone doesn't need every app ever created. When I was an android guy, the appeal of installing every app and game that came out was addictive until it got down right boring. Today, my 950xl feels so much like any old phone it's not even funny.
  • I think what I found as an Android and even iPhone user was that I downloaded a few apps, but I didn't use most of them. About the only thing I miss is my bank's app, and they are launching one soon. I may not be a typical user, but I do wonder what the attachment rate is on each platform.
  • 80% of users time is within 8 apps - I read somewhere. If Microsoft were planning 10 years ahead to be ahead of the curve then maybe they are already there, but we can't see it, and this new device was/is actually a Surface Pro. Once they have a billion users on W10 then that is one massive market. Don't forget the Xbox too.....soon to be a W10 device.....running Office and Edge and other MS software as well as games. Add to the above the Cloud and really MS are already there?
  • I thought XboxOne was already running Windows 10?
  • I understand it's preview only for now but may be wrong? The Surface Phone could look like this: or or maybe something like the band
  • technically, yes, the xbox one is running windows 10, but windows 10 apps won't run on it until later this year. i think that may be what he's referring to. once xbox one is another target for a continuum app, it'll get even more traction.
  • UWP has been around in it's final form for less than a year- don't you think it's a little early to say that it's not working? That would be just like a startup folding after 10 months of operation because they hadn't seen a return on their investment yet.
  • Lots of non-windows developers (like me) actually thinks that UWP would really make sense. Some app/engine developers already supporting this, some just started investing and some still undecided but they like what they are seeing where MS is going... though there are some that is still stuck in Win32 is more superior kind of dimension.
  • i'm seeing more and more continuum-compatible apps though. its actually getting a *lot* of attraction. a very large portion of the apps on my phone are now compatible with continuum. i think its catching on more than you actually believe. there may be a few big apps that didn't do it, but developers are realling aiming for that "Built for Windows 10" tag as there are many users that specifically want continuum apps. Moreover, ARM *can* run x86 code. Doesn't anyone remember the hacked Surface RT that could run any x86 app? Yeah, it was rough around the edges and some apps would crash, but that was the work of one guy. Considering Microsoft literally had a job posting for folks with experience of getting x86 on ARM, i feel like having an x86 chip inside the surface phone was never really a thing.
  • Yes supposed to use cancelled Intel chips..
  • Actually no, that article says they were working closely with Intel and exploring different hardware possibilities but nothing was definitive. In other words, they looked into it but it was always subject to change due to "technical problems" they would have to solve with Intel's offering.
  • @ladydias, I imagine what happened was Intel realised their current or previously planned mobile offerings were not upto par with ARM so have decided to go back to the drawing board. Intel however hasn't completely scrapped the atom line. Therefore in my opinion they will be back around when 5G starts floating around for testing / hits the rumor mill. However it's more than likely they have multitude of projects happening to make their mobile offerings superscede ARM on all levels.
  • I don't doubt that Intel has projects that they are working on and I want them to continue to compete, they just aren't there yet. However, just as I never count MS out of anything, I feel the same for Intel. These companies haven't survived as long as that have by doing the "nothing" that people constantly accuse them of.
  • 100% agree. Seems like a lot of companies are doing a whole bunch of nothing these days, or so one might conclude by reading this comment board.
  • Intel said that Soc are gone for good. They also said they will be making 5G modems. Well perhaps there is a profitable niche in standalone modems, who knows. Usually road from SoC to modems has ended in tears, last example being Ericsson.
  • Intel decided not to continue development of chips for phone that 6 people would end up buying.  
  • Since when do we know the exact parts of this still mythical device that we can make any sort of conclusion about its future and how Intel's decisions will affect it?
  • Surface Phone is not necessarily be based on Intel's x86 SoC. Might be MS and Intel's research proved it to be a NO-GO and they canceled it. MS's idea may be same like Apple's , stick with Intel's processors for Mac OS, (Windows 10; 2 in 1s,PCs and Servers)  and ARM's architecture for iOS ( Windows Mobile, for phone and IOT, etc). MS is not a trend setter or controller of these techs anymore in the ever growing fierce competition and in saturated and fragmented market( right from closed and open ecosystems to iOS, Windows, Linux, Android,etc). A lot of transactions took place thru websites on A browser once, now all apps!! If you want x86 arch, carry a Surface Pro at least and accomplish more!! That's what MS will come out and say in near future! And, that's what seems practical going forward, when the phones are shrinking to wristwatches.
  • Then there's the fact that custom chips are never part of any roadmap for any company. And they abide by non-disclosure. MY best guess would be a partnership with Nvidia or Qualcomm to put custom features into chips using Microsoft massive R&D budget. Heck even a partnership with both. Qualcomm powering the mobile portion and in continuum NVidia. Plus for gaming directX 12 can use both gpu's. There's a lot they can do. It will be a nice surprise like the Surface book was. MS is taking more chances with their R&D now. Think about how popular Samsung got. They overtook Apple. It's because they were constantly flooding different ideas, a lot of them didn't workout for them but eventually they pinned it down to something the market reacted to. You have to take big strides to get good results.
  • Custom chips are still possible, take apples A series custom made with motion processor integrated, samsung's Exynos, huawei Kirin, etc. all based on ARM. But they all stick to ARM based  SoCs in smart phone and smart watches. Intel tried to push its arch in mobile phones /tablets and only Asus and Lenovo (may be some more) came forward and they couldn't make any again. So how MS planed 2 in 1s like Surface Pro for PC's (laptops and Towers) replacement and its success even really shocked apple and Google, MS must plan something for Windows Mobile. That's what could really make any impact. X86 arch will not help MS on mobile end, this is my opinion. I like your idea of partnering with Qualcomm / Nvidia, but we should not forget there is something called Hololens :)
  • The article is about the future yet you keep putting current tech into your views and that's what limits you. Do you imagine a huge company like Microsoft had no idea of intel's plans? The companies are so intertwined they even had a Wintel name for their partnership. If the future is UWP and cloud then these limitations you speak of are very easily removed. Intel is not the only company producing chips. And MS has massive R&D budget to partner with many companies that do produce chips. MS may not produce them themselves but they can work with companies to create custom chipsets. Many companies do this with Consoles and even the surface book had a custom nvidia chip. So here you have Intel, AMD, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Samsung, Apple and many other chip companies that MS can partner with. Nvidia has been putting some insane R&D into their own mobile efforts which have been advancing rapidly. Especially notable given the GPU powers the continuum screen. Given that gaming is the biggest seller as well. Then there's Qualcomm who could produce the next Snapdragon in partnership with MS to put features into the chip that will allow them to do things maybe you didn't think possible due to your tunnel vision. Intel Atom was never going to be in these mobile pc's. Stop believing it. Do you imagine the conversation goes like this? "Hey Intel when will your atom be ready for our new devices". Intel: "Oh right.. we cancelled that". "Gee wiz, what are we gonna do now". Even MS is adding support for an unreleased snapdragon 830 chip. Obviously this means they are working with Qualcomm. In fact, they work with every company to add support for chipsets before they are released. They aren't average consumers who wait around for press conferences.
  • When I stated that earlier someone went offensive
  • That's not bad news for the Surface Phone. They're not ending their mobile chip business, we still have Core M, Atom and what not. This may delay the Surface Phone, but I frankly see it as good news. I don't want just another Windows Phone with a Surface branding, I want an x86 mobile chipset capable of matching or exceeding my Surface Pro's CPU/GPU performance. The technology for shrinking and cooling such SOC isn't there yet, but it will eventually get there. Acer's Fanless i7U 2-in-1 and HP's Elite X3 are slowly paving the way to that future. That's when I want a Surface Phone. TLDR, no rush.
  • I've been wondering this as well. In spite of having a MS slant they never avoided the big issues facing MS in the past. I'm hoping they're waiting to make sure they get it right otherwise they've lost a lot of credibility. This is huge and doesn't just affect phones but cheap tablets and low cost laptops as well. Regardless of profitability retreating from these markets makes MS far less relevant. Chrombooks can always swap in an arm chip and no one will notice.
  • Well so far Continuum seems to be working just fine without Intel and HP seems to be running x86 apps on a phone just fine without Intel. So it seems to be obvious at this point that the Surface Phone will proceed as planned.
  • Except HP is not running those apps on the phone. What HP is doing could be done on a 5$ Raspberry Pi instead of a $500 phone.
  • Good for you! You got the point! Intel is not needed for virtualization, so what exactly would be the benefit of having an Intel chip?
  • About the same as having Continuum, I guess.
  • No, neither a Surface Phone, nor Windows needs Intel. WinRT did port a couple of Win32 binaries. It was the Win-division of msft, that arbitrarily decided, that it must be a new development model. .NET could've easily made available on WinRT.
  • I hope people at least read Jason's comment if not the article before commenting
  • Good joke, this is the internet
  • Nicely written and very forward thinking. I know it's been a very long trip but as someone who's been watching Microsoft's unification efforts for many years, we have come so far. From the pocket/PC, Zune, and all the incarnations of Windows Phone there has been so much progress and seeing the phone closer to the desktop than ever is super exciting. Thanks as always for keeping things in perspective and for the clever building analogy as it certainly does fit this situation. I still think MS is going to hit everything hard on the advertising front by next year when they have ALL of their dominoes lined up and we just might see some interesting developments.
  • They were already unified. .NET was all about unification and decoupling. It was and still is feature complete, while UWP is not. The two cash-cow divisions @MSFT decided to ignore .NET, the haters are right in this respect. We could've had .NET core years ago, native compilation years ago, cross-device Silverlight years ago, aso. No reason, why sandboxes and the store couldn't be made available on W7. Or a WindowsPhone-widget, which would have translated this useless feature into something disruptive. Instead, UWP formerly known as Windows Runtime creates just another dead-end.
  • Any how would this have all fit within the scope of putting Windows on all devices?  How would it work with Microsoft's efforts to move across platforms?  How would it have performed on Windows 7 versus 10?  I'm not going to pretend to have all of the answers since programming is not my forte and neither of us work for MS but I will say that I don't think Windows 7 was nearly as agile as Windows 10 is, both in resource use and how quickly problems get fixed, updates made, and features added.  Also, I don't think a store on Windows would have worked years ago because the general populace had not been trained to only get their programs through a central portal yet, see the failure of WinRT.  I think that the current saturation of smartphones is such that MS is in a stronger position to revisit what they were trying to accomplish with RT while still offering powerusers what they want.  In other words, I think this sistuation is not the same as it was in 2012 and it's too early to call it a dead-end.
  • ARM CPU industry is now advancing much faster than Intel, so the dream to have a Windows Mobile running Intel chip is over, however there might be some light at end of the tunnel, thanks to what Mediatek, Qualcomm, Apple and Samsung are developing every year. By 2017, ARM chips may be able to support 8GB RAM with speeds/performance comparable to Intel Core i5 2nd generation ( Sandy Bridge) What does this mean for Windows fans? Virtualization. I'm sure Microsoft is preparing a Virtual machine that can run inside Windows Mobile OS that can emulate x86 architecture. This will be possible thanks to devices having 128GB fast flash storage + 8GB of RAM + Very well designed ARM chip This is huge, since it will enable to run x86 software on a phone, and with Continuum, our dream to have 1 device to rule it all will come to reality. Just my 2 cents.
  • Server side VM (HP Elite X3)
  • Well the x86 software would only run in continuum. Putting actual w32 applications into a phone screen would be a usability nightmare. This is why they need to be really careful with implementation if they allow something like that to happen. The thing is they are moving away from w32 so it's not necessarily a step for the future. My guess is virtualization would be a temporary transitional method while more developers use UWP apis to create applications. It's a very capable api. It's evolving quickly to be on par with w32 plus more. And the best part is that it compiles for any architecture. So technically something like photoshop could be moved over eventually, while it would only be published to Desktop and continuum, it would be quite a feat. I think if you want to really prove your point about UWP, you want to partner with Adobe to move their stuff over. These are probably some of the most complex Apps on windows today.
  • If they can emulate Win32, why would they need virtualization? Also, how did Office work on RT-tablets?
  • Windows RT was a full featured Windows 8 including all the Win32 and .Net/CLI subsytem. You just had to recompile Win32 apps in order to make them run on the Surface RT. Thats precisely what Microsoft did, they just compiled Office 2013, Outlook, Paint, IE etc. for ARM. There is no emulation involved. Win32 Apps were running natively on ARM with Windows RT.
  • while they may have recompiled, that wasn't even completely necessary. with a few edits here and there, you could get any app to at least launch on windows rt. granted, the stability was in question, but considering that was based on windows rt and the work of one guy, i'm sure they can get win32 apps to run natively on ARM with a decent amount of stability to cover a large enough portion of legacy apps.
  • The more i use the 950 xl, the easier it seems to understand Microsoft's strategy.
    Hard to accept but UWP is the way to go... Towards a phone/pc unified experience.
    Will it succeed? hopes are higher than ever, but consumer need / want / greed is always a game..
    And the foundation is of course Windows 10, so the time taken though painful to wait, is understandable.
    Thanks Jason.
    Hope you are invited to the MS architectural vision meetings.. ;)
  • "First comment I've ever made" but a very long time reader. I must say Jason Ward. You have some very interesting articles and you put a lot of thought and hypothesizes/predictions into your articles also. I love to see things manifest in the form of a "Chess Match." But I was just think about the name of the future surface device. I like the Ultra Mobile PC name for the future of our evolved phones. But do think maybe it would be better off as "The Surface Mobile Computer" | "The Surface Mobile PC" or something in that nature? Because it seems as though Microsoft would be kinda contradicting themselves by calling it a Surface "Phone" right? This is just my analyses for the name. But great, great articles. I'm sure things will turn out just as you predict. Thank you.......and appreciate you for the articles!
  • Agree somewhat about the naming. If next MS mobile device has the word "Phone" as part of its name, they failed.
  • It has already failed. If it is just running Windows 10 then there is no chance for it. People have already showed no interest in buying devices with that UI. Microsoft needs something just as revolutionary as the iPhone was in 2007, otherwise they have no chance. Sales will be well below 1% by the time this phone will launch, apps will still be non-existent and getting developers will be impossible at that point. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Yeah they probably won't call it surface phone. There's definitely going to be a Surface brand along with a word like Surface Note (notepad), Surface Skin (Moleskin) or just Surface 6/Mini. We really don't know.
  • Great write up! I get what you mean to say, and it's very much what I've been saying for the past few years all this while, but I wouldn't consider it as "SmartPhones are Dead". It's more like, SmartPhones, Tablets, Laptops, and Desktops, are all just form-factors of a PC (Personal Computer), they barely define the functionality of the device as most seem to think today (thanks to apple's marketing). That is mostly done by the OS (Operating System). Also, Mobile/Desktop OS just refers to the form-factor for which the OS was designed/optimized to be run on. It has NOTHING to do with how functional/bastardized the OS is as most keep thinking and implying today. That is why we can have bastardized Desktop OSs like Chrome OS on Chromebooks, and versatile Mobile OSs like Windows 8.1.1/10 (both of which are 2-in-1 OSs) on Tablets like the Surface (with keyboard detached). To make a true (non-bastardized) 2-in-1, requires both a versatile 2-in-1 OS and versatile 2-in-1/3-in-1 Hardware. Which is what is offered by the Surface Pro line. It being extremely versatile doesn't make it any less of a Tablet (with the keyboard detached) or Laptop (with the keyboard attached) or Desktop (when docked with the docking station). In fact, it's technically also a Digitizer Drawing Board (when in the Tablet form) with it's added support for digitizer styli. A true Surface Phone, will just be adding the SmartPhone form-factor to the mix (making it a 3-in-1 or even 5-in-1 when you consider Digtiizer Drawing Board and Desktop as another aspect) and the OS will need to evolve into a 3-in-1 OS, who's UI shifts and is optimized according to the form-factor. That's what Continuum is shaping up to be, and that's my SmartPhone wish. ASUS' Padfone, Acer's Switch Alpha Fanless Intel Core i7U 2-in-1, and HP's Elite X3 are all paving the way to that future, and Windows is currently the only platform practically set for this evolution to 1 computing device being practically suitable for ALL computing tasks. No matter how advanced iOS or Android seem to be getting, they practically only remain as companion devices to my Surface Pro 2. A true Surface Phone on the other hand, will replace all my needs of my OnePlus One and Surface Pro 2, just like the Surface Pro replaced all my needs of a separate Tablet (never bought an ARM tablet), Laptop, Desktop, Digtizer Drawing Board, and 1000s of paper worth of documents/handouts/notebooks/etc.
  • They could start with fixing all the bugs in W10 first,no?
  • They're adding a whole bunch of features making it versatile and customizable like Android at the moment. You current Windows Phone users are like the construction workers: It's a disastrous compromise at the moment, like living in an unfinished building without any roof, so, I'm just renting a next door Android apartment in the mean time. However, once complete, it'll be like like comparing a castle/mansion to a 1 bedroom apartment, and I for sure would much rather live in such mansion.
  • Being a carpenter by trade, I can appreciate the value of sticking around while the building is completed, so for the moment, I'll stick with my roofless Windows Mobile apartment. ;)
  • Oh, stop it already. Your sycophantic gargling of Microsoft's balls is tiresome, witless and one-note. Everything you write is the same cheap trash, one pathetic attempt after another to justify Microsoft's failure to meaningfully impact mobile. You are clueless.
  • & I think I'll u turn back to w7
  • Hay sorry guys for the long and hypnotic article. Here is a first comment that is equally long.... #NotFarNow
  • People want apps on their phones that's all they care about. Apple is the qtip of phones and will stay that way. They are forced to use crappy Microsoft computers at their jobs.... They don't want a Microsoft phone and never will. You're over thinking things. It's the little things people think about Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Don't forget about iOS Bridge, its still under development with huge gaps, like the need to recompile iOS frameworks not available on Microsoft's developer platform, but once these gaps are fixed, the same iOS app will be ported to Windows Mobile in seconds, and thats when OEMs and carriers will start building Windows Mobile devices again.
  • App developers won't spend a penny to support mobile platform with no users. Fool me once..
  • Count one BILLION Universal Windows Platform users
    One less fool developer to worry about when you stay away from *MY* precioussss money $$$
  • 1 - There aren't 1 billion Windows 10 users. 2 - Even if Microsoft achieves that number (which isn't impossible) as it has been explain ad nauseam it doesn't translate into UWP apps. Developers will have to want to waste money recompiling their programs into Windows apps through Centennial (and they most likely won't) and to make those programms work on things like mobile, re-code the programs when not rebuild them from scratch (and that is sure as hell not going to happen because there's zero benefits in that).
  • it's already happening - even before the first billion users,
    but ... nice trolling attempt anyway, DJC-BS
  • Switching to W10 is happening. But nothing else. No matter how hard you try to lie to yourself, mate. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Lol at djcbs, did u forget that an entire windows community rejected windows without a start button???? If uwp was so bad, there are 300M windows 10 users that disagree with u.
  • @Akira X you're confusing Windows 10 with the UWP. Just because Windows 10 supports the new UWP, it doesn't mean users give a sh*t about Windows apps or even know what on earth is the UWP. Users are switching to Windows 10 because: 1 - It's free; 2 - Microsoft is literally spamming their PCs to update; 3 - Windows 8 was the crap version that always comes after a great version of Windows.
    None of these things assures the success of the UWP idea. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • WOW! A Samung phone? No way Jose! After all the stuff you've said about Sammy. The Nerve! Ah apps. It's hard to know what you're missing if you've never been out of WP. In theory, it all sounds swell, but in practice... it's been a year and 300  Million strong, still without even being able to Watch NBA Games on WATCH TNT app or anything live on it for that matter. In other words, it's looking pretty bleak, unless you plan on using your phone as a regular PC with semi-usable apps.
  • 300 million, lol. A miniscule fraction of which actually use the Windows Store, and a fraction of that fraction who are on Windows Mobile devices.
  • ROFLOL - you should be the CEO of Microsoft!! /s
  • I'd be surprised if 1% of Windows 10 users have bought anything from the stupid Windows store.  
  • Over 5 billion(!) visits to the Windows Store equals to you a 'minuscule' fraction? User interaction with the Windows Store has never been this high and it's all tanks to the new implementation of the store in Windows 10!
  • 5 billion pageviews doesn't mean an awful lot. Tell me how many unique users that is.
  • 5 billion page views from 309 million people actually is quite small and proves people don't use the app store on Windows. Why would they? They have been using the browser to find and install apps for years and all the apps in the store are nearly useless. They are so bad. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Except they DO spend money, tinew and effort, plus millions is far from "no users".
  • Re: Vhyr,
    I get your point, but do you really have to promote your negative philosophy with such an extreme exaggeration? May I ask, what is the point of claiming there are "no users"?
    Best Wishes.
  • 0.6% of smartphones sold during Q1 were Windows phones and momentum is negative. That's what I meant by "no users".
  • Apple is the qtip of phones? I doubt Apple will appreciate being associated with a product used to fish ear wax from dirty ears and to clean parts of baby butts.
  • As a person who calls every product by it's generic name anyways, Apple being the cotton-swab of phones doesn't carry a lot of weight for me. In fact, I'm not sure that's even a complement. Kinda like calling virus programs the facial tissue of OSs.
  • Crappy microsoft computers? Guess you've never used the latest MacBook?
  • Today doesn't equal tomorrow. GM would never lose it's dominant #1 position, right? Apple should be be forgotten in bankruptcy, right? IBM would always sell the most PC's, right? Let'***** up the permanent fixture, Blockbuster and pick up a movie...on VHS. Things change, all the time. That's about the only thing we know, for sure.
  • Yep, times change, which is why MS is losing relevance by the day.  
  • I'll support that opinion if you support my opinion that Apple is doing exactly the same thing.
  • I'm not sure that Microsoft as a company is "losing relevance by the day", with popular products like Office, Windows, XBox, Surface, Azure, Hololens, etc.  Even if that is your perspective, that doesn't negate the fact that this trend can be halted/reversed with the next big release.  
  • "...People want apps on their phones that's all they care about..."
    To innovate companies need to think further than giving people what they ask for. When people only knew horse carriagies they only asked for better horse carriages.
  •   It is articles like this that make Windows Central more than a click bait blog site.  Very informative and shows how much depth there is to the roadmap the Microsoft sees for it's future.  I have studied roadmaps of the various companies, some that are mentioned in this article, and have come to the conclusion that very few are as complete as Microsoft's.  When you look at a consumer company now saying they have enterprise asperiations but yet they partner with companies that have lost the enterprise you know it's a short term roadmap trying to make inroads that will not be sucessful.  Or you have a company without a cohesive strategy for that each project must obfiscate who their real customers are at the expense of consumers and are just data brokers. I would say the only other company that has as much of a roadmap in this new modern era of computing is Amazon and it will be a great fight between Amanon and Microsoft.
  • You do realize that companies normally let on very little of what's actually discussed in the board and strategy meetings? What's made public is what the company wants people to know. Future products and roadmaps are as hazy as ever at the top firms.
  • Actaully if you read their annual filing with the SEC on form 10-K the roadmaps are documented there and on varoius other SEC documents.  It pays to be on the quarterly calls for investors, review public doucments, and one's mind opens to what is happening in board rooms.  Oh and in this case the first page of results when searching will not give you the short answer to any one direction of a company.
  • I'm a big fan and wish this were so, but sorry, this article smacks of an unholy marriage between marijuana and desperation. This theory has more holes than a block of Swiss cheese.
  • @n m Thanks for the response. Rather than an insult however, an intellectual rebuttal filling this those "holes" as you put it would be a much more powerful argument. As it stands now, you offer no alternative perspective as to what Microsoft's strategy is or the expected out come as was laid out in this piece. Please read the initial comment I placed opening rhea thread and feel free, within context, offer more. Thanks!
  • Hi Jas, apologies if I came off as flippant, I want nothing more than for MS to succeed, but your theory relies on google in particular, rolling over and playing dead.
    Add to that, the masses that have all ready bought into the android space aren't going to switch sides unless the is something very compelling to do so, I don't see this as very compelling for the dirty herd. I think there's as much chance of this happening as Chrome Books dominating the PC market, not going to happen....thank God. Very happy for you to prove me wrong however, but as good as your theory is, it only allows, IMO, for MS to get some viable traction which would be great, but there is nothing there to suggest MS is going to dominate and to suggest they are ahead of the game is only pure speculation.
    Sadly, we all know, MS has a tendency to cut and run, plan poorly and not deliver and they have burnt so many in the process, especially Devs, I only see a pipe dream here. To add, i know its all next year, been that way since about 2009, but MS not supporting the mobile market currently is nothing short of lunacy. 2017, IMHO, is too late to be entering a market you plan to dominate.
  • They dont need to dominate thats the error in logic here. In phones they need a piece of the pie But really this all hinges on UWP and its growth.  People still focus on phones as a separate thing in Ms's solution ... everything is intended to come along for the ride obviously PC is the driver for dev adoption. This needs to happen then you have a case for phones being a growth area not before.
  • I don't disagree.
    I think UWPS have a future and maybe, just maybe, WP or whatever it might then be called could then end up with say 10-15% market share. Still a positive and viable result but not market domination, not going to happen, MS aren't smart enough in this space.
  • Such as?
  • Great now we need to know how are they going to be sold that is the question, What carriers? Verizon going to be left out again, this is what we all need to hear NOW not a year from now that this carrier and that carrier its going to work. Be there done that with the 950! Big let down from Microsoft and Verizon.
  • Even in 2016 the US still has the carrier thing..... It's great to live outside the US: No carrier locks.
  • Carrier locks aren't the problem, Hoekie. Two of the 4 major US carriers still use obsolete CDMA technology. Verizon has announced intentions to migrate to GSM, but as far as I know, they still insist that you can only BYOD if the device was originally sold by Big V, flashed with their CDMA codes. I quit Sprint back in 2012 because they lacked a WP offering and their network would only accept phones flashed with their CDMA code. Big V didn't get my business for the same reason. And T-Mo? With T-Mo, I had to go outside to make a call even though I live in metropolitan Southern Calif. Tech issues aside, Big V subscribers want Verizon to supply their phones so they can buy with easy monthly payments instead of shelling out several hundred in a single day.
  • Myself I buy all my device's outright, I need their great coverage in my area if it weren't for that they would have been history.
  • Same reason I left Verizon. CDMA should have died long ago. I'm back on America Movil BYOP (specifically Straight Talk) and realizing how great their GSM network is compared to ATT and TMobile.
  • Look it in this way, Apple's and Samsung's strength is their smartphone market, while Microsoft's strength is their PC market. 250 million PC's with Windows can be sell every year, but a fraction of about 1% of those devices come with 4G radio's, that's why carriers don't care about Windows. If Microsoft wants to have better relationship with carriers, it needs to unite OEMs and carriers so that the 100% of the built devices come with 4G Radio's. It's not impossible, but it requires a lot of investment and work with the FCC to include these radio's and get them certified so they work on mobile 4G networks
  • There were sold 450 million smartphomes this quarter only.
    PCs are not so important any more, people went mobile.
  • That was a good analogy of using building construction
  • Elephant in the room.. Intel canceled mobile chips. What chips will this mini-surface use now?
  • Pretty much a retorical question listening to what Terry Meyerson said: Let me be very clear: We are committed to deliver Windows 10 on mobile devices with small screen running ARM processors.
  • Yep. No mini-tablets on horizon.
  • So continue with their failed platform that consumers and developers by and large rejected long ago...
  • Snapdragon Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  •  Who says the chip has to be on the phone? Why not on the dock, same class as stick PC or NUC? Same idea as the Surface Book - the GPU is on the keyboard but isn't essential to using the device - only when "docked." We know MS has been doing lots of interesting things with projection, as well - XBox on PC, phone on PC, PC on TV, etc. So there's no reason Win32 apps couldn't be streamed through the phone but run resident on the dock. Current display dock is $99, "Pro" dock could be $199 and enable Win32.
  • so why do I need a 600-800$ phone when I can have a 99$ PC stick do the same job.   Having chip on dock would dampen all teh hype around PC in pocket statement
  • how about a display dock that's a keyboard combo with mouse, built in battery, ports, GPU and processor? I would rather get that than a square gadget with just ports.
  • Add screen and you have mobile computer known as laptop. Its really great concept, no need to rely on external screens and works everywhere.
  • you are missing an important concept. without relying on internet, you could have the same data on your "laptop" as your phone, with a seamless transition between the two. undock the phone and you still have everything you worked on moments ago. moreover, i feel like a chip dock will *maybe* be an option for increased performance possibly, but definitely not a requirement. again, i don't see why people are ignoring the very real possibility of getting x86 to run on a different architecture.
  • Who cares? Internet is everywhere. This product cannot rely on the 2% of the time when you don't have internet. The offline experience isn't the future. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Even without internet all you would need is a usb cable to get everything you need from your phone. Besides, when you have a laptop, you barely ever need anything from your phone in the first place.
  • Yeah, the 2% doesn't matter. Kindof like... well, Windows Mobile?
  • Pink elephant in the room... Intel chips currently and for the immediate future suck at mobile. Why are people still clinging to the idea that they were going to be used for the first Surface Phone?
  • did you pay attention during surface rt? when a kid hacked it to launch any x86 app you put on it? granted, it was fairly unstable, but it was never meant to be at the time. put a team behind it to up its compatibility and you could definitely get x86 running on ARM.
  • The thing is, MSFTs plan for universal apps is not working, as it ignores the market. Yes, a couple of big names will jump. But the cool things will continue to happen on Android, and to a lesser and lesser extent on iOS. The mass of the markets is ruled by Android via Youtube and Gmaps. And while Bing Maps is competitive, its data is not MSFTs. MSFT has no stake in the digitalized content market. Yes, they are a reseller for current big ticket companies, but if YouTube continues to take over classic distribution channels, they will be finally out. The same goes for eBooks. And this "is it much farther"-question is still largely unanswered. No, the question is even not being asked.
    Instead, we see a development model for Windows, which requires... full Windows. A step too far for a lot of devs, having been burned in the past.
  • 300 million windows 10 users disagree.
  • Very very few of which care about universal apps.
  • Though the store having centennial changes that. Then they have a store with app or w32. And thats a easy sell... get it from the MS store first as its safer and easier.  
  • Source? 300 million Windows 10 users disagree with what exactly?
  • There were hundreds of millions of Windows 8 users too. They didn't use the app store and develops never bothered making apps. Windows 10 has no way to change that. The app store just isn't part of the use case for most people. That isn't how people use Windows. Even Microsoft doesn't push the store that hard. They are doing the bare minimum to get people using it. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Big fan here, wish this were so, but I just cant see that somehow MS is ahead of the game when compared with Apple and Google. I think it's very naive to even think this is possible, those 2 mega powers aren't going down without firing their own massive shots. Google is ruthless, there is no way they are going down quietly and giving up 90% market share and Apple can buy their way out of any situation. Best we can hope for is Continuum grabs the corporate world by the nuts and MS ends with a 10% market share, dreaming any bigger than that is self delusional IMHO. I don't see anything compelling enough here to stampede the dirty herd away from Android and towards MS, Google most definitely will counter with their own products very aggresivley and they won't get caught with their pants down like MS constanly is, the big G is far too shrewd for that. Sorry, this is all most laughable, but I'm very happy to be proven wrong.
  • While I somewhat agree Google has already been cought with their pants down a couple of times. And do not forget EU ruling.
  • My impression is that MS is aiming for Business/Enterprise and not.consumer on phones. Hence I have ordered am iPhone 6s which is being delivered tomorrow. That's after being WP for years. MS could prove me wrong and temp me to return. But, after they walked away from Windows RT I think I'm right....
  • I'm just curious who you felt the 950/950XL was targeted at. I didn't feel like those were phones for enterprise personally.
  • Nothing wrong with 10% share even if that is the worst case scenario. That's almost as good as Apple is doing right now.
  • do you even read your comments? your statement literally says that Microsoft will tie with Apple. If Google has 90% share, even if you ignore every other OS, that leaves 10% for Apple. You then say Microsoft will reach 10% market share. So, that would mean both Google and Apple start losing, with Apple falling into third. And considering what the industry looked like when Android first started catching on (no one though Android could bypass Apple, it was simply unthinkable), I don't see why people are so confident that it can't happen again.
  • Smartphones aren't dead--Microsoft is. Is anyone foolish enough to believe that Apple and Android are just going to stand still and wait for Microsoft to out-innovate them?  No. Duh. By the time the incompetent Nadella gets around to introducing phones again, Apple and Android--KNOWING MICROSOFTS STRATEGY--will have something new, gorgeous, or otherwise exciting that will overshadow Microlimp --which has no customers anyway, and the company will be relegated to writing software for ATM's and soft drink machines. The very best thing Microsoft could do is CAN Nadella ASAP. In the meantime, will the last person leaving Redmond turn out the lights! Seriously, Microsoft has laid off HUNDREDS of thousands of workers, and they cant even GIVE their new unorganized MESS of an operating system away for FREE! They are offering it for FREE, and even then people are sticking with the older versions. Got microsoft stock? SELL! They will not survive Nadella's reign of incompetence!  
  • Lol well said friend.. :)
  • They haven't laid off hundreds of thousands of workers, they mostly laid off the tens of thousands of extra people they acquired from Nokia. MS already had 90,000 employees and that decision effectively doubled it. Did anyone really believe there wouldn't be any overlap? Also, MS has made it clear that they don't want to manufacture on the same scale as Nokia. As for no one wanting Windows 10 and it being a mess, it's growing faster than any of the previous other versions of Windows. 300 million is nothing to sneeze at and I think you are completely overestimating the number of regular people who will update immediately just because it's free. People will do what people always do, which is wait until the absolute last minute to make a change then complain if they miss the opportunity. Hate Nadella all you want but he's hardly bringing about the apocalypse by tackling the problem of apps from a different angle.
  • You have a strange definition of 'dead.' Irrelevant in the consumer space, mostly, but far from dead. As for Windows 10 adoption everyone (except you) knows that most consumers don't do in-place OS upgrades. They get the new OS when/if they buy a new computer. MS's problem is that more and more consumers are not buying new computers.
  • What's OS X marketshare? 5-6% or something like that? It's been that way for years? Is OS X dead?
  • That's 10 times Windows phones market share of Q1.
  • Not to mention it is the best part of the market, the highly profitable part. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Yep, same reason iOS is still the priority platform despite low market share. WP tieing with iOS on market share only matters when a. the actual install base ties as well, and b. that install base has as much disposable income.
  • Don't forget C, the ability to sell mid-range phones for $700.
  • Well written article, we shall see how MS ling term plays out. I'm liming forward to it. -950XL
  • Lol.. Is there still a hope for Microsoft?? Lol.. What say nadella?.. You will release surface phone (version 1) in april 2017 ? Or 2020 might till then these so called lumia or other windows 10 mobile will not be successful compared to android or iphone..( you Microsoftdint even bother to fix lumia 930 mic issue).. By the time you come up with surface phone or if so.. There will be lot many improvements done for android and iPhone with respect to software and hardware.. Why do you waste time and money .. You only successful in one software that is.. OFFICE(word,excel,outlook and power point) even onedrive is not popular enough compared to google drive nothing else.. You have to shut down the mobile division... ... :( sad to say this but this is the truth....
  • IPhone hasn't changed in any meaningful way in years. Tim Cook is no tech visionary. It is quite possible they could be destroyed as they continue to stagnate.
  • And i believe it should trigger soon
  • Here's the thing I've been wondering: does the core experience need to change? The reason people use smartphones as their main (sometimes only) device is it already does everything those people need. Trying to merge desktop and mobile experiences isn't going to benefit those consumers in any way. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • They dont want consumers money, they are out of race for consumer phones already
  • yeah. that's a good idea for progress. "Don't worry, everybody. No one needs to innovate anymore. Everything is good enough. Lets pack up and go home."
  • 3D Touch maybe a game changer.
  • Even then, that's still adding features to an already great core experience that fully suits customers. 
  • There is no hope for continuum, whatsoever. Don't bet on it ever grabbing the enterprise market for a simple reason:
    The enterprise market would need to use the legacy programs that now run on their desktop PC-s on your continuum. And that means an x86/64 compatible OS or architecture. And based on the information available MS has no intention of ever making an x86/64 compatible mobile device. So no, enterprise markets are not a possible solution for the continuum. As for Home markets: The current continuum is about 10 years too early to be used by an almost illiterate home user with no real IT knowledge. It is unstable, slow and you have no apps for it. And no new apps are being written for it, as MS keeps arbitrarily adding and removing to the available functionality. So big names simply abandon the platform instead of rewrriting the whole code from scratch every 1-2 years. And there you have it. No, a Surface phone is not an answer at this point...
  • I guess you haven't heard of HP's virtualization for Continuum. I'm not going to try to predict whether it will be successful in the market, but it most definitely has potential
  • Sure, but the whole thin client -thing doesn't really need Continuum. It is actually more hindered by it as Continuum requires extra steps compared to your regular thin clients. Most companies largely moved away from that concept in the late 90's. edit: Continuum needs a clear value proposition for it to make any sense, and I'm not sure it can ever have that
  • I guess you also haven't heard of VDI? It is very popular in business currently.
  • I was thinking same then I remembered when I got an iPhone the original. I took it to a mates house and they all said it's to complicated why would you need email what's the point. Now everyone has one or a smartphone of some form so that was that. I think where MS always fall down isn't the product it's the marketing of it. They make great stuff they just don't tell anyone in a clear and simple way or at all and expect the average user to understand it's existence or purpose.
  • No. Where MS always falls down on the Mobile market is DEFINITELY the product. Namely: the OS itself. They bought NOKIA. Nokia was known to make the most resource-optimized phones on the market for ages. Look at the WP7 phones. In terms of hardware they were ****, but they still gave the big brand phones a fair fight in their own category. It all died due to MS, as the OS was only promising, but it never became full-fledged. What users were asking for was denied, and what they liked was modified. Then 2 years later we finally had a good, stable and fast WP 7.5. What did MS do? They made everyone roll out the new generation flagship phones, and about a month later they announced WP8 that is NOT compatible with any phones on the market - Including the new flagship phones for that fiscal year. Their faithful buyers were dumbfounded: The phones they bought BECAUSE MS promised compatibility with WP8 were not WP8 compatible, and if they wanted to buy a phone that is not running a dead OS they had to buy the mid-range ones that came with WP8. I (among with many others) were among those fans. We just bought a new Lumia 9xx a few months earlier due to the MS promise of upgradeability for a friend of mine, and I was planning on getting one for myself too. Due to this OS problem I bought a NOKIA Lumia 720 with the WP8. Then, I had to wait almost 2 years to get every single function that was present on the WP 7.8 in my WP8 phone.
    At least my WP8 was a stable piece of ****. Since the WP7 apps did not work on WP8 I had almost no apps, but I still did not regret buying the phone for the HERE maps offline navigation. I decided to get a new phone in 2015 after I came back to Hungary, as my 2013 may Lumia 720 no longer had any service support ( we are talking about not being able to buy a replacement battery for a 2 year old phone! ). Since MS assured everyone that the WP8 phones WILL be upgradeable to WP10 I was in no hurry to buy a new one - been there, seen this before. Also in the mean time HERE maps was sold to Daimler Benz, and it became available on other platforms too. So I now have it on my iPhone 5S. Problem solved, I can wait a bit longer for a good phone. Lo and behold: WP10 came out, and it was NOT compatible with WP8 phones. MS also announced, that they have absolutely no intention of making an upgrade happen in the near future. If you want WP10 buy a NEW middle proced phone, as they do not intend to market a flagship phone for at least half a year. And when the new flagship phone came out MS decided, that they do not like the fact, that SOME WP8 applications can still run on WP10, so they arbitrarily decided to change the OS - HERE maps is no longer available, as (like many large software companies) the maker announced: they do not intend to revrite the whole application from scratch for a few WP10 users. So there we are now. It is 2016, and MS is no longer trying to make an Intel based phone. This comes as no surprise, as they never made a phone with a full-fledged desktop OS on it. All we had was a watered down version of the castrated Win8-RT. And this is my problem: As a programmer I do not see a way in wich writing a universal app could be profitable. It takes a huge amount of time and money to write one. Even if you are only making a HTML5 application with Phone-gap you have to decide: Android and iOS, OR WP only. Yes, yes - we have a promise, that we can convert an APK to a WP10 Universal app with a magical MS tool that will make it run on rainbow-colored unicorn fart. Now, the magic sentence is this: "developers can upload their Android app to the Windows Dev Center so it can automatically check it and see how much of its code can be reused, and how much needs to be changed so it can work on Windows 10."
    So there is no way to easily do a conversion. And since MS has no market share and they change available functions in the phones without any concern you can be sure, that your converted app will not run in about 2 years. So, why shoud one bother with them, if an Android 2.3 app will most likely run on the latest versions with only minor modifications (not talking about rewriting it from scratch). MS is going to dig the phone platform deeper and deeper underground every time they force developpers to rewrite their complete codebase from scratch...
  • You lied so many times that I do NOT believe that you have ever been a developer on any platform.
  • Re: CyberAngel_777,
  • +++++
  • Basing this article on fiction maybe isn't such a good choice. In the real world Papa Smurf would've been eaten by the cat in the first episode.
  • Haha Azrael! Lol
  • Great read. I guess we will have to wait until next summer to see a more complete picture.
  • So is it worth to wait with all struggles and hopes or just back again later when microsoft ready?
  • If your needs are met by the current ecosystem, stay. If not, switch and check back later.
  • Smart phones are not dead and buried but surely they are stagnated and even in growing economy like India people are continually slowing down buying smart phones and this will increase by the period.
    Its not your bread and butter so buy daily or even clothes which be buy on a regular basis
  • And yet I still can't see my windows phone from my tablet or xbox as a network device for the purposes of file transfer or playback over wifi.
  •   I read and read and read about how windows is going to do this then they do that it's time we tell it how it is iOS is it for me goggle not for me I fought over the years saying windows does  and it does it better then boom you go put skype on iOS ok is face time on windows no so why would I get a windows phone what does it have or do updates nice job on that one 810 M8 promise update got none windows phone is dead Xbox one dead what the **** are you doing as a company Microsoft needs real people to tell them how it is how about commercials??????????? How can you sell a phone if you don't advertise at all next to go Surface why get it over everything else? Clearly no one wants to work with you t mobile att Verizon sprint boost walmart cricket won't sell a phone for you cause you don't advertise it people need to know what there selling and how it works hit the ground running Xbox one said to be the one ok the one with less graphics more expensive the best part Xbox Kinect what happened to the people who bought one cause we had no choice **** them **** on them no games no new updates to it now what why did I spend an extra $100 for we don't need it what was the point I can go on for days point is stop selling us dreams if you your self don't believe  
  • Punctuation and grammar. Please re-read what you typed and apply these two things because it doesn't make sense.
  • Re: Bebe Pereia,
    Unintelligible. Why post, if it isn't important to you to communicate?
  • I just wish MS would explicitly say Windows mobile. And not just mobile. Cause that could mean anything. Like more apps and programs made for Ios and android.
  • Even this guys comments are TL;DR
  • Hi Jason. Wonderful article. By the way, I have an idea about your articles. If you can supplement your articles with a short video giving the summary and the main points, it will be really awesome! Keep up the good work!
  • That was a lot of hype. Let me summrize: Surface Phone, delayed to spring of 2017, will try to make up for a massive defecit in apps, by selling a pocket PC with telephony in it. Also, pen support. My conclusion: The UI will not be able to make desktop apps usable on a small screen, so the only people who will want the Surface Phone are business employees who have monitors w/ docks on their desks. But they will still need laptops! Not making sense to me.
  • I for one want a surface phone-a pocket pc with telephony, camera and stylus
  • It's called a galaxy note.
  • What is your definition of a pocket PC? Can it run W32 apps? Does it have continuum?
  • why would they still need laptops?
  • Because carrying around a keyboard, mouse and screen for your phone doesn't make sense. A laptop is much more efficient, powerful and useful. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Let's hope it won't take 40 years like the other Papa Smurf.
  • Part V?!? Holy hell... :D Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • >>"A device that I have contended will not be a phone at all, but a pocketable ultra-mobile Continuum powered pen-focused Surface branded personal computer with telephony. It will be a digital notepad just like Panay's loved – canceled - but still used Surface Mini. It will also occupy the lowest tier in the Surface line... To me the question is: If there's a real market for it... Today there are plenty of lower cost tablets, optionally with cellular capability. One thing that's missing is the pen, the capability to use at least a fairly precise stylus. Lower cost tablets tend to have less precise touch sensing too, so the absence of a pen might be a factor of cost, a general lack of demand, or a combo of both. Today there's also a trend towards lower powered PCs & laptops. The main advantage of these lower cost PCs/laptops compared to lower cost tablets is mainly bigger screens & more local storage, & that increased storage may not mean much given the cloud. Continuum makes sense when there's more to gain than screen real estate -- otherwise it's simpler, easier, cheaper to get your tablet screen mirrored on a larger monitor/TV. Microsoft & others might release whatever sorts of hardware, but to be successful with Any product requires figuring out what the market might want, designing it to work competently in the target price range you feel the market will pay, then promoting it so the market will buy it. In a nutshell that's how Apple's done it, & they've done fairly well. For Microsoft to succeed with a new tablet, phone, or hybrid, they have to determine a feature set that would be in demand, then design something competent in their target price range, & then do a better job promoting it than they have in the past, ideally in unison with major carriers if it's going to include a cellular modem. While Windows phones were arguably competent in the way the hardware worked &/or works, that's pretty much it... There was never a big demand -- never a reason for someone that wasn't a big fan of Windows to want or need a Windows phone. The minimum feature set would have to include apps to compete, which they hoped for but couldn't deliver. They did not get much in the way of carrier or manufacturer promotion, & did little themselves. Microsoft has figured much of that out, though they've still not reached a purely consumer oriented focus [& yes, corp IT is a consumer]. If nothing else they, like Intel are more pragmatic. Intel's banking on future demand for 5G when it's available, planning to be there at the start -- that's the 1st step, & now they're in the design & development stage, figuring out how to deliver the target feature set for the target price. Microsoft is figuring out [or maybe has already figured out] what will be in demand that they can deliver. Like Intel, they'll build on what they have already. To get a good hint of what they might consider, ask the kind & knowledgeable folks over at Android Central. If it's going to be in demand, & thus successful, it will be something that they can't have today, but want, badly.
  • 2017 is going to be great for windows mobile. It will be MS priority.
  • 2016 was announced to be a great year for Windows Mobile. Does not happen. Why should we believe 2017?
  • Who announced that? Please post a link.
  • According to Myerson:"We're going to do some cool things with phones, but this year phones are an important part of our family but not the tip of the spear."
    So no, 2016 is NOT going to be a great year for the windows mobile platform... Link
  • Yet another great article, Jason. I enjoyed your comparisons, and whole-heartedly agree with the building site analogy. One point I do have issues with though, is the mention of a PC on Every desk. We have to remember when Bill and Co used that tag line, PC's were a rare beast in their infancy. Mobile devices are at a point where the market is drowning in devices that, as a form factor, have stagnated. Microsoft know that's not going to happen. Your Smurf comment made me feel old! But, although the impatients of the 'mini' Smurfs, Papa would have major issues these days, and would probably snap in a fraction of the time. Why? People these days have succumbed to the "I want it, and I want it now!" Mentality. Along with the "If I can't have it now, I'll get it elsewhere!" Then along come the "scream and scream, until I'm sick!" Mentality. I thought patience was a virtue? You can see how impatient some are when Apple release a new device, or Samsung release a new Galaxy. Apple stores are swamped, for what? A mild improvement over the previous generation. In the UK, some people seem to be wising up. iPhone 5 is still one of the best sellers. There is a huge subculture these days that these big players have jumped on. 'Phone snobbery'. I've seen parents in Carphone warehouse, when I go for a cuppa with my mate, tying themselves in financial knots, just so their little darling doesn't get ridiculed at school. And therein lies the problem for MSFT. They aren't cool, they have an app issue, especially if all you do at school with your phone, is play COC. MSFT, by 'retrenching', or basically, taking a back seat to decide where the heck they are heading, for some, is an admission of defeat. Many large organisations have a period of re-evaluation. It gives them time to freshen up, to see where they have failed and to see where they are going. As for Windows Phone, I hope it's dead. It is a huge dead weight for MSFT. The deserve to be ridiculed for that mess. How many devices so you need? How many variants of a device do you need? One with 512mb, one with 1gb (635) and others. Samsung have stuck with the galaxy tag for most of their devices, and people are familiar with that. Apple, likewise, have a successful brand name that the 'cool' people want to be seen with. MSFT?? Loads of different models, various specs and total confusion. So, I hope WP is dead. Luckily, I'm a patient type. Perhaps it comes with ag