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Will Microsoft succeed in the Internet of Things?

Ever since Steve Ballmer stepped down to make room for Satya Nadella as the new CEO of Microsoft, the company has been loudly talking about its mobile first, cloud first strategy and the Internet of Things (IoT).

I think this change in how Microsoft talks about itself makes sense. After all, the desktop and notebook markets are not growth businesses anymore, and Microsoft is actually shrinking here as Windows loses market share to Apple and now Chrome OS. Google is making great strides pushing into the enterprise with Chromebooks and Chrome OS desktop boxes. I think the days of Microsoft dominating the desktop computer space are numbered.

So what are they to do? Focus on the enterprise. Focus on cloud-hosted app suites like Office 365 powered by their own Azure cloud technology. And of course, build infrastructure for other businesses to power their own cloud-hosted apps on Azure while feeding them great analytics to make business decisions.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the new way to talking about what Nortel Networks used to call "hyper-connectivity". The idea is that internet-connected devices won't be limited to what we hold in our hands (our devices), but by what those devices connect to. This is a huge market, obviously. Connectedly exists because of this massive trend.

So the question is … can Microsoft do well here? On one end of the argument I'd like to think they can. The cloud has been around for a while but it's still a new thing when it comes to overall penetration into our lives. Microsoft is late to the party (at least marketing-wise), but they are not too late to be huge. But on the other hand, I feel that Microsoft is too disconnected from the mobile side of the equation. And I wonder if they'll never amount to much in the IoT market.

Look at Google and Apple. Together these companies dominate the vast majority of the world market for mobile device operating systems. Microsoft, BlackBerry and any other competing OS represent what a friend of mine calls "a pimple on the ass of progress." They're insignificant on the global scene.

And because the IoT grows based on entrepreneurs developing new products that connect to our mobile devices, these entrepreneurs focus on iOS and Android when it comes to mobile development. Microsoft is an afterthought.

When it comes to cloud-hosting of apps, I can't help but notice that most entrepreneurs tend to model what already works. Startups are much more acquainted with Amazon AWS versus, say, Azure. Discussion sites where coders hang out, like StackOverflow, are far more populated with references to AWS than Azure.

So I'm curious what Microsoft really plans to do here. Maybe they're looking to generate growth in the Internet of Things that operates in the background, not connecting to our mobile devices and not really connected to the consumer market. I can't see Microsoft mattering when it comes to the home or automobile. But I can see them mattering for cloud-based enterprise-focused solutions whether it be security, factory automation, fleet management, or other "things" that don't really matter to the average consumer.

I guess this just highlights how big the IoT market will be. As consumers we'll just see the front end of it. Behind the scenes there will be a whole lot more that remains invisible to us.

What do you think? Will Microsoft be successful here?

  • Stupid Chrome OS...
  • It's just a Google chrome.. Not a OS at all.. That's sucks !
  • It's only a browser OS. I just can't understand why people buy them. Even Linux is better than that laptop with just a browser installed.
  • "...and Microsoft is actually shrinking here as Windows loses market share to Apple and now Chrome OS."  Chris Umiatowski you are wrong with your analyses as many times on Your claims have nothing with facts.
  • 100% agree with you dolco...  
  • Actually it's an OS built into the browser with FREE google apps like google docs ; In addition, I hope that microsoft makes office free for all windows devices.
  • Microsoft has a really huge opportunity in emerging markets like India where affording an apple device is out of question and the chrome os is not yet popular. They have to bring hype and marketing around their devices and services for people to buy it. I think Microsoft should invest a Lil more on marketing. Microsoft is here to stay with their excellent user experience. I have been around a lot of ecosystems but the winner is Microsoft. They're lacking in apps but that's ok.. We're slowly picking up pace. About cloud computing, there's nobody as experienced as Microsoft when it comes to cloud computing that's why users have a positive opinion about them. Its not to be forgotten that a stable release of iCloud came only earlier this year. Microsoft was a bit late in identifying their talents and strengths. They have a good future and I don't think their leaving the scene anytime soon. Bottom line don't waste your time reading this biased opinion from someone who lives according to the hype rather than experiences with Lil or no knowledge about networking and IT trend..
  • Agreed!
  • "Google is making great strides pushing into the enterprise with Chromebooks and Chrome OS desktop boxes." WTF? Chromebooks has zero traction in the enterprise, at best there is some adoption in the schools. You don't understand the cloud market reading a couple of post in stackoverflow, MS is growing at 150% yoy amazon, google and others at 60% yoy. Microsoft has huge advantages that explain this performance, but I think It's pointless to explain details to an ignorant. Come on, if this declared Microsoft hater is going to write a "Microsoft is doomed" article, please do a decent job, show some data, facts, not your baseless wishes.    
  • He's not saying they're doomed. The article is saying that their importance to the consumer market will decrease, as desktops and laptops become less of 'a thing'. Microsoft can still stay a huge business by focusing on the enterprise; it's just a different business.   See: IBM, Oracle, Salesforce, etc. And it's absolutely true, that in the consumer market, Google and Apple are making strides into wearables (Apple is hiring fashion design executives by the handful) and smart home connectivity (Google buying Nest), while for Microsoft, it doens't even seem to be on their radar.
  • but weareables != enterprise. to say MSFT will not dominate desktop computing implies somebody else will. who? linux? macs? chrome OS? you can't even put a chrome OS in a domain network with proper security and run LOB apps which will not be re-written as cost is too great. plus re-train users? re-do device drivers? all for what to be hip with google? get real.
  • Man the ignorant is heavy here. Posted via the WPC App for Android!
  • No, he said Google are making great strides pushing into enterprise. Google is a pimple on the ass of enterprise. His comments about the consumer market are valid. However, his comment about the enterprise space is BS. Companies routinely spend hundreds more for business grade laptops and computers. You think they will consider a chrome OS device because it costs $300? Businesses care about compatability with their existing software. Chrome OS really doesn't bring much to the table for enterprise companies.  
  • This guy admitted that he doesn't own or use any Microsoft products. I wonder what kind of 'expert' can be when you can't see further than your iPhone or Nexus tablet?
  • Chrome OS sucks it hang out if u use 4 apps at a time
  • Exactly...
  • iOS & Google have a miniscule presence in the enterprise. All the blabbering about them taking over is the regurgitation of the tech blogosphere wannabes, clueless consumers, and Microsoft haters.
  • Agreed.
  • Yup
  • That is some deep thought there.
  • If they kick it into full gear.
    MS must be faster❕
    MS must be the first❕
    MS must claim to be the best❕
    MS must claim to be the coolest❕
    MS must advertise way more❕
    MS must increases it's presence❕
    MS must come on with it❕
    And, honestly..... Mobile is where it's at so MS better start dumping billions, and billions of dollars on two products,, the two products that really mean the most in the 21st century...
    Windows Phone, and Surface❗❗❗❗❗
  • Agreed!
  • You better believe it❕❕❕❕❕
  • What on earth do you mean by Microsoft's days are numbered when it comes to Windows? Are you nuts? Windows 8.1 is much ahead of OSX or Chrome OS. Wtf!
  • I know, some some stupid comments in this article. This guy is the most anti Microsoft person around. He has admitted to not owning anything Microsoft but yet likes to think he is an expert.
  • Double post
  • Great. But personal opinions don't matter: Numbers do, and Microsoft's are starting to drop.
  • Where is the evidence? Windows market share has gone UP. OSX was at 5% and now its at like 4.6%. Linux still controls 1.5%. I don't care one way or another, but I just want evidence, which I haven't seen.
  • So that means their days are numbered? Logic fail.
  • Never said that. But they need to take action now, before they're on the brink of extinction.
  • MS is sitting on an absolute mountain of cash, they are far, far, far from the brink of extinction.
  • People just won't move over to Windows 8. So yes, Microsoft's share is decreasing in the desktop space.
  • Except that their share is NOT descreasing.  Factually, it is not decreasing.  Your feelings and predictions about Windows 8 are completely irrelevant given that fact.
  • Everybody I know has moved to windows 8 or 8.1. I won't ever consider chrome a viable option and I don't like apples controls. I know to little about Linux although they would be my second choice.
  • Blackberry 10.3 will be thread to windows phone.
  • How so? Please elaborate.
  • Os 10.3 is very impressive but wp8.1 is far better n reliable than bb
  • Why?
  • I see lots of people saying BB 10.3 is better than WP8.1 vice versa. The fact is BB is going down. Although they are fighting hard to grow still not enough traction to gain the third place. But they do have the advantage of QNX being the OS for many tools and hardware like Hospital tools or home equipment etc. I think MSFT needs to approach them and maybe acquire BB for the sake of internet of things.
  • I will buy surface 4. It will be same price with higher spec. Maybe much thinner
  • ^ and that's what a Tourist Coment looks like
  • "Google is making great strides pushing into the enterprise with Chromebooks and Chrome OS desktop boxes. I think the days of Microsoft dominating the desktop computer space are numbered."   Proof to back up your bias? I think not. Remember you are talking about the Enterprise here.
  • Chromebook makes Windows Phone look like a big seller.
  • He is from Crackeberry. So, it is no surprise thathe is wrong as his analysies about BB success...
  • Maybe its not numbered. But Microsoft jhad to begin looking at other business ventures to remain Microsoft.
  • They always did multiple things.
  • Nice write up Umi! Nice to see you outside of CB. :)
  • After identifying the problem. The solution is not far away to achieve the object to be the dominent leader. As the way they slides in the market similary they will require to push their resources with tremendous force to retain the position in the market. Microsoft weakness is google and apple' strength... Let see how will they do...
  • "A pimple on the ass of progress" That's some solid journalism right there...
  • This article explains very succintly why you won't be seeing future phones with SD cards coming from Microsoft.  They want you to use skydrive. They've sold their shareholders on the 'internet of things' and as a result, they need to drive that traffic to the cloud.  By limiting your device storage, you'll put more of your files on onedrive.  And by 'giving' you more storage for limited times, they'll in turn lock you into purchasing premium subscriptions to keep that space.  Don't blame them for this, they're doing what their shareholders require of them after spending millions on the cloud.  But don't be surprised when that financial decision limits your devices.
  • Pretty much, but that also goes for Google.  The OEMs are adding local storage to Android devices, but Google Nexus devices have at most 16gb of storage, and everything else gets pushed to their 'cloud'. Apple is pretty much the only one who offers local storage options in devices ranging from 16 gb to 128 gb of flash memory (though no SD card support).
  • I think Microsoft will gradually increase its marketshare, as more and more products are introduced and as they branch out each category of products into more territories. But, they also have to be more aggressive with marketing. And, they have to give people more of what they want. It wouldn't hurt to introduce more unconventional products as well, just to get people talking about them.
  • I think they have everything necessary already in place with their Azure platform and their existing cloud services in order to be successful in the IoT. And they are headed in the right direction (finally) with the integration we are just starting to see between mobile and desktop OS, and the hardware (particularly tablets and phones) are just starting to become really compelling alternatives to the entrenched competition in the mobile space. But is it too little too late? It might be. Their only real shot is some major "Hail Mary" style marketing pushes, especially with a focus on what WP 8.1/Windows 8.1 bring to the table in terms of features and integration with each other and their existing cloud services. It really is becoming a complete package now. But not enough people know about it. I will always be one of the loyal consumer-end users of WP, but their real future is enterprise. And I think they can be huge, but it will take a lot of work building awareness... Time will tell, ultimately.
  • I guess we shall see
  • "I can't see Microsoft mattering when it comes to the home" That's a good one. Ever heard of XBox? of course not, you don't buy anything from Microsoft. This is what I hate about the internet, these so called experts talking about things they have no experience with. It's like those people who write blogs and articles about how to raise kids when they don't even have kids.
  • + about a billion there... Use what's there for a while and gain enough experience to actually form an opinion.
  • Who the hell is this guy anyway ?
  • I think the author was referring to home automation, not a gaming console.
  • Even if Chris meant "home automation" instead of home, that still doesn't change the fact that they ARE investing in it, I mean, unless you forgot about this ( ) that happened literally less than a week ago. It's like Chris doesn't even read WPCentral before writing articles about the stuff that he's talking about. It would at least be nice if he could text Daniel "hey, has Microsoft done anything in home automation before?" or something like that.
  • Microsoft has the tech, its just companies are trying to cut costs instead of increase profits, and one way is to cut expenditures such as having to pay licensing fees to Microsoft. They'll realize soon enough that what they're spending now its getting them no where. It'll be a classic "you get what you pay for." If you want cheap then go with that other stuff, if you need quality service then pay for it.
  • Didn't Nortel go bankrupt?  Who cares what they called anything.
  • In my experience, Windows products are really making headway. I can barely turn a corner in the office without hearing an MS notify sound. Loads on the bus and in friends' hands. No chance of seeing a Chrome device anywhere. I get the impression that this article is prolly just about the US. Perhaps MS should start to move focus away from the US a bit more, maybe think about shifting the bulk of their company closer to their customers rather than all the way over in the US where they seem widely disliked. Perhaps open up a store outside of America maybe? If they start the move now, in a few years they could move their HQ to EU or India and leave the US to Apple. Perhaps then China wouldn't play politics with MS so much, as a bonus. The US is not such a big market for MS any more. Time to move on to where the customers are and their money is.
  • I've never actually seen a chromebook before
  • I think the days of Microsoft dominating the desktop computer space are numbered.
    except billions of dollars in LOB apps will not be re-written for ipads and chrome OS. this is just a silly thing to say. Even as chrome OS is below linux marketshare levels and OSX is well, dead.
  • iOS & Google have a miniscule presence in the enterprise. All the blabbering about them taking over is the regurgitation of the tech blogosphere wannabes, clueless consumers, and MS haters.
  • It's obvious that he writes this here because he expects you all to rant and rave. Fact of the matter is that not one A-list company uses Google Chrome for their computing needs and 90% of the pc's at home run Windows operating systems. The crazy notion that mobile devices will replace desktops and laptops in the near future is ridiculous. So all he is doing is trying to gain some attention. And you are all giving him way too much attention, this is his second article here but just check his publications round the internet. If you conclude that by what he has written so far his opinion should be taken serious than by all means let him know what you think about it. But as far as I'm concerned he's entitled to have whatever opinion he believes in. I just think that he is full of shyte, but that's just an opinion.
  • I think the article is excessively peppered with buzzwords, but the fact that desktop and laptop sales are very quickly declining whereas mobile device sales are increasing cannot be ignored.  What you are suggesting will not happen is exactly what seems to be happening.
  • Did you see the stats for last month. Posted via the WPC App for Android!
  • No, I didn't see the stats for last week or the last hour either.  Year over year, PC and laptop sales will continue to decline while sales of the smaller, more portable devices will increase.  The sales figures have indicated this for several years now, and everyone I know from my boss to my grandma has purchasing trends showing the same thing.
  • If you ever developed in c#, c++, or anything .net related you'll find it easier to get answers from msdn rather than stackoverflow... But great research there pal, a good ol' buch of self thought and no data to show.
  • The only problem with Microsoft I see is its home sickness...
    Step out of USA will you!
  • Microsoft surely can succeed. It just has to improve its smartphone OS. Windows Phone is a very nice, strong, mature, and good-looking platform but it lacks many features as compared to its competitors.
    Just take Android for example. It is one ugly, cartoonish OS that doesn't even have the one accent and design language. You would notice that it is different everywhere in every option and app. But it is very feature rich. It is has unlimited customization. It is open to OEMs to differentiate themselves from the competitors by modifying the UI and change the user experience.
    When we come to WP, we would notice that it has a great visual appeal, great design language. It cries from miles that it is WP. But it lacks in features. For example; it has just introduced rotation lock with WP8 GDR3 update a few months ago. It doesn't have USB on-the-go to date. It doesn't have the level of customization that Android has. The user experience is same across all the devices and OEMs except for camera and the size of the screen.
    WP is just lagging behind in features.
    It seems like Microsoft is playing catching up with Android and iOS. Microsoft is still strong in desktop and with the addition of Surface Pro 3, I think it will gain strength in tablet market too.
    MS just has to quit playing catching up and lagging behind in features. I bet it will succeed and beat the competition. Damn sure!
  • Here's what I don't get... Why is it that the shops produced by same developers give such a poor performance on WP... Viber, whatsapp and Skype for example... Is WP that difficult to code for?
  • It's just different.  That's the basic problem here, the three platforms (iOS, Android, and Windows) are annoyingly different to program for.
  • "After all, the desktop and notebook markets are not growth businesses anymore, and Microsoft is actually shrinking here as Windows loses market share to Apple and now Chrome OS" WTF is wrong wid u man..!!
  • Only person that thinks ChromeOS is going anywhere is the author of this story.  However, what does makes sense is the sluggish and almost anemic response in which MS is going after mobile is writing its own epitaph. I don't know what Satya's plans are for MS going forward but I hope to see a laser sharp focus on mobile, especially laptops and tablets or its going to be "Microsoft Cloud Computing for here on out.
  • LMAO Chrome OS gaining traction? That is a good laugh, thanks Chris. Chrome OS has no hope, and will be a passing fad like netbooks. It's a horrible closed off version of Linux, and anyone in enterprise worth their salt would use a reliable Linux distro instead. 
  • Sir, You are Scroogled!
  • As someone that is currently working on an embedded device project using MS technology, I was really excited to see an article about the "Internet of Things" on WPCentral.  Then I read the article and now my brain done gone all stupid on account of read'n this no-nothing-idiot's thoughts about gadgets and the interwebs.
  • Every article Chris writes no matter what site it's on is troll bait filled with anecdotal garbage. This article is no exception. Womp womp.  
  • I think there is a long time before the PC market totally tanks.  The tablet market has slowed also.  Everyone I know has a computer and a tablet (even a friend of mine who has a Surface and a computer for gaming and work at home). Computers are selling slower because people are keeping them longer.  My computer is about 4 years old, I gave my old computer to my father and he still uses it.  Laptops are lasting longer (you may have to buy a new battery before you give up your laptop).  Tablets, well people are keeping their Android tablets least for 2-3 years.  apple people still mainly get their tablets once every year when apple makes a new one, but thats nothing new, they're trained to do that.  Even phones, people are keeping them for the life of their contract.  So growth is slowing, its just the way it is.  Doesn't mean the death of the PC. If the PC does die it will be when technology slows on tablets. Thats when people stopped buying a PC every 2-3 years and started waiting 3-5+ years.  Also battery life has to get better and I don't just mean the lengh it can keep a charge when you're using it but the battery will have to stop loosing charge the more you charge it over the life of the unit (or at least loose it a lot slower than it does now).  I think thats one of the big things because since you can't replace the battery of a tablet (like most smart phones), the life of the battery is part of the life of the tablet.  Once processing and graphics power growth start slowing down (or they make modular tablets like we're hearing about modular phones), and the life of the battery gets a lot better the PC won't die.  Even then there will be gamers who will want a PC unless tablets can run games like Crysis 3 at 60FPS with high settings...or at least contend with today's consoles. So don't put up the grave stone for the PC yet, its got a lot of life yet in it.  
  • About tablets vs PC... Ibuse my surface Pro as a tablet most of the time, but there are times when anything but a full on mouse and keyboard experience doesn't cut it... E.g., RDP to an older box, doing serious work on spreadsheets and documents etc. In short, I think MS got it right in fusing touch and click together... That is the way to go.
  • Microsoft thinks only about US and few other markets. Google & Samsung go everywhere, in my country (Croatia) Samsung is everywhere and to buy a surface you need to import it yourself. And WP is really rare hear, why dont they use the potential, Nokia was great here but now no one knows they produce phones anymore. And MS even has an office hear, use it for sth
  • Oh man, I laughed so hard. Chromebook, that pathetic browser O.S. Super Hipsters will get tired of using a half-functioning O.S and go back to Windows 8 soon enough.
  • Dear Cris,
    You're better off WPC. You're better in iMore. Just bad journalism if your topic is Microsoft.
  • Bottom line it is an easier and faster no nosense OS. For me it has a great plus and that is best sync with my home office and full compatibility with my customers. Apple is not for business and Android is not private. Better still. .!. It's getting better very quickly. I am sure a lot of people like me are just waiting for it. My next phone will be the 930. Already my 520 ( second phone when overseas) is faster and more reliable than my S3. Dropped a Mac Air for a Sony Duo because of compatibility and ease of work. Posted via the WPC App for Android!