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

These were among the closing words from Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella as he concluded Microsoft's highly anticipated, and in my estimation, successful #Windows10Devices event on October 6th, 2015.

Nadella's closing remarks summarized a dynamic event that seemed to resonate with the audience. Beginning with the Xbox and ending with the world's most powerful laptop, the new Surface Book, the event communicated one major theme. Though the day was a means to showcase devices it was the Universal Windows Platform took center stage. High-end first party hardware were simply the stage lights used to illuminate Microsoft's mobility play: their universal device agnostic platform.

The entire range of this family of devices runs on Microsoft's Universal Windows Platform (UWP). And of course, this platform has the users experience at its core.

I shared in, "Microsoft is positioned beyond the mobile curve," that the future of computing is "device-less" and the primary computing device is the cloud. Nadella's summation of the day's events seemed to validate those words. "…The hub is you."

Perfect 10

Terry Myerson opened the event with the staggering stat that in just ten weeks time 110 million devices are now running Windows 10. In less than three months there are more devices running Windows 10 than there are running Apple's OS X.

Microsoft's goal is to reach 1 billion devices running Windows 10 within 2-3 years. This initial pace toward that goal is reassuring. Particularly considering that Windows is a universal platform hosting a family of devices. As such, just as a human family with all the variations among its members shares common genes, the Microsoft family of devices share a common core.

This common core allows developers to target the entire UWP (Universal Windows Platform) with their apps. There are currently a limited number of universal apps available, but the demonstration of core apps like Office reveals the key claim of the platform. Namely the seamless transition of a user's experiences across devices or device states (in the case of Continuum).

Windows 10 adoption has had derivative effects on Microsoft's ecosystem as well. According to Terry Myerson, in the three months since its release there have been 1.25 billion visits to the app store. That translates to a four-time increase in revenue for developers.

Money talks. This growth speaks volumes to the claim by Microsoft that their massive PC install base could be used to bolster the UWP. Now I don't know if it was these numbers or backroom negotiations that have influenced coming partnerships, but it is good to hear that certain popular mainstream apps will be going universal in Windows 10. Facebook's Instagram and Messenger along with Soda Saga and other apps will soon be experienced across users devices as Universal Windows apps.

The additional fact, per Myerson that users are spending more time in apps such as Netflix rather than the website is key to universal apps success. As these and other universal apps carry user's experiences across devices, Nadella's word's echo, "You are the hub."

Gaming

Though Xbox news wasn't at the top of the October 6th event wish list, gaming is core to the Windows experience. The continuity across Microsoft's gaming platform, which encompasses Windows and Xbox, deserves some attention.

PC gaming caters to a vast audience. Hardcore Xbox gamers are also a large demographic. Thus Microsoft, by way of its OS and console is devoted to gaming. Through Windows 10 Redmond has brought those two disparate mediums, console and PC, closer together.

The 120 years of gameplay streamed from the Xbox to Windows 10 devices in less than three months, per Myerson, is a powerful testimony of this universal platform. Windows 10's provisioning of a means to allow hardcore game experiences to follow users through their PC's, tablets, laptops and 2-in-1s to any room in the house has clearly resonated with gamers.

Gamers can play Xbox games, controller and all, from their PCs as if they were playing from the traditional position in front of the television. The device no longer matters. Microsoft is indeed proving that Windows 10 is a universal platform centered around the user's experiences. Gamers, "you are the hub."

Cortana

In the three months since Windows 10 arrived with Cortana in tow (for some regions), the personal assistant "has answered over 1 billion questions," Myerson shared. Users are talking to Cortana. With her cross platform moves to Android and iOS via the Windows 10 companion apps and her inherent position in Windows Phone she will follow users anywhere. With her handy 'Notebook' where everything she knows about users is stored, she will remember interests, appointments, favorite places and more regardless of the device she will assist users from. Cortana users, "You are the hub."

Microsoft HoloLens

HoloLens and Microsoft Windows logo (Image credit: Windows Central)

HoloLens

HoloLens is likely Microsoft's most ambitious product. The device seems like something out of science-fiction. The mixed-reality gaming demonstration where a wearable, form-shifting hologram transformed from a hand borne laser gauntlet to a shield simply reaffirmed that feeling. Yet HoloLens is real. As is Microsoft's virtual reality platform, Windows Holographic. Both present an opportunity for developers and OEM partners.

One point Microsoft was certain to stress is that HoloLens is a full, tetherless, wearable computer. Though the presentation focused on gaming, HoloLens has potentially profound applications in other areas as well. Science, healthcare, education, architecture and more can benefit from the connected mixed-reality environment HoloLens provides. The infinite malleability of a virtual environment is digital clay that can be molded by the creative imaginations of developers. The possibilities seem endless. After the release of the HoloLens Developer Kit in Q1 2016 for $3000, we will begin to see the vast imaginations of developers pushing creativity to the limits with the platform.

Additionally because HoloLens runs on Window 10, a user's experience will follow them to this device as well.

"In my case I have a Band. I have my phone. I have my Surface. I have my Surface Hub, and I'll have a HoloLens. And that ...is all Windows 10. And I'll seamlessly move between all of these. I want the notifications....data and apps to flow between all of these things."-Nadella

You are the hub.

Productive like a boss

With an infectious, "I'm just being me" presentation style Bryan Roper{.nofollow} talked to us about how the 5.2" Lumia 950 and 5.7" 950 XL could make us more productive. Productive like a boss to be exact. Since these devices are packing 808 hexacore and 810 octacore chipsets respectively, keeping them cool with the liquid cooling system akin to that found in the Surface is important.

The specs on both these devices are comparable to what rivals have in the market. But as I shared in Highs and Lows Part V: Continuum, high-end specs is just the price of admission. They simply get Microsoft a seat at the table. Windows phones needed a differentiator and Continuum is it. Nadella described these devices as the most productive phones on the planet and asserted that they could be a user's only computing device.

Bryan demonstrated this point effectively. He gave the most practical and comprehensive demonstration of Continuum we've seen to date. With a simple connection to the Microsoft Display Dock (though wireless connection is supported), which connected the device to a larger screen, keyboard and mouse, the Lumia seamlessly transformed into a PC-like experience.

From the Start menu, multitasking, shortcut keys, taskbar, high-speed USB file transfer and more the experience was very much that of a familiar PC. Even an astute onlooker could have easily mistaken the UI on screen as the recently released Windows 10 OS.

Additionally, the ability to continue to use the phone as a phone and as an independent second screen fortifies the experience. This functionality is something similar tech like that found in the Motorola Atrix was not capable of doing.

Finally, the power of Universal apps allows apps to scale appropriately to fit any screen through Continuum. This capability places the Continuum enabled device in the "background" while pulling the users experience forward, allowing the user to work seamlessly without fussing over hardware. Lumia users, "You are the hub."

On the Bandwagon

Nadella described the Microsoft Band as a platform of sensors and a cloud service. This description conveys how the Band fits within Microsoft's ecosystem. It's not just hardware. By contrast, Apple's positioning of the Apple Watch is laser-focused on its physical design as seen in an early 12-page spread in Vogue. The Band, however, embodies the vast scope of Microsoft's Health platform.

As I wrote in the past, the potential licensing of the now 11 sensors to new and old partner OEMs allows Microsoft technology to permeate the industry. Microsoft can effectively become the platform that empowers partner OEM wearable devices. Additionally the cross-platform compatibility of the Band and Microsoft's Health platform allows users to monitor and track their health from any ecosystem and across any device. You are the hub.

Best Laptop Between $1500 and $2000

Best Laptop Between $1500 and $2000

Surface, nurture the rhythm

As the tablet that can replace your laptop, the Surface line began Microsoft's introduction of hybrid devices that conform to a user's needs. The event appropriately ended with that line of devices. The new Surface Pro 4, among other things, has a better display, keyboard, pen and is faster than its predecessor. Panos Panay asserted that it is the tablet that will replace your laptop.

Microsoft then introduced what they've dubbed the ultimate laptop, their new Surface Book. Panay shared that this laptop is the thinnest most powerful PC ever built. He then played a clip where the screen of this laptop was removed from the base. To the surprise and delight of onlookers, the Surface Book was also a tablet. Nadella later referred to this device as a clipboard that becomes a laptop. The ability for the world's most powerful laptop to become the world's most powerful tablet provides great opportunities for versatility for power users. A user need not switch devices to accomplish various tasks. The device transitions with the need. Surface users, "You are the hub."

You

As devices come and go, you persist...What matters most is the mobility of experiences not the mobility of a single device.–Nadella

Without question, the simplest quantifiable number is one. When complex issues are simplified by reducing the number of variables any challenge is usually more easily managed. Ironically Apple has recently increased its number of Operating Systems with the addition of tvOS to iOS, OS X, and watchOS. Google is struggling with Android and Chrome.

Microsoft committed to creating one core for a family of devices. A single OS for developers to target and for user's computing experiences to exist within. This transition met with hiccups as some Windows Phone 7 users were left hanging at Windows Phone 7.8. Microsoft was mocked as they made UI missteps with Window 8/8.1.

Through corporate restructuring with the "One Microsoft" theme underpinning their efforts, Microsoft ultimately succeeded in simplifying a complex issue. They have pioneered a single OS vision across all devices. A Universal Windows Platform with the users experiences at its core.

Windows 10 is about us, the users. It succeeds like no other platform with providing truly personal computing. It is an evolving service. Nadella's cloud-first, mobile-first ambition reduces the sea of devices to a single "device-less platform", where the primary computing "device" is the cloud.

And indeed Nadella confirmed this earlier assessment in his closing to the historic #Windows10Devices event when he told us - "we are the hub."

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!

232 Comments
  • Hey Windows and Windows Central fans!!! Thanks for reading! Well October 6th has come and gone and has left EXCITEMENT, optimism and great devices in its wake! If you've read this in the app please don't miss this great Sway which contains a collection of our hands on videos and links to all of our extensive coverage of all of Microsoft's new goodies! Sway: https://sway.com/cIRAtle1cqPADzqj I'm sure most of you would agree that we have a lot be excited about. So please as usual share this article (and our all of our content) with the included social media buttons. Please also share the Sway as it contains concise access to all of our coverage of these exciting new devices! Now, let's talk! :-)
  • "Without question, the simplest quantifiable number is one. When complex issues are simplified by reducing the number of variables any challenge is usually more easily managed. Ironically Apple has recently increased its number of Operating Systems "... When I read that I couldn't help but think of Tim Cook's famous quote: "You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not going to be pleasing to the user."... that I believe will ultimately become his Steve Ballmer moment of mocking the iPhone.
  • Lol. But good point there bro.
  • Definitely a tight ecosystem going forward.
  • Except those people who have a Surface RT or Surface 2. You are stuck with no universal apps and no Windows 10. So for me, the number is 2.
  • Actually, they would get access to universal apps. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • nope, no access to UWP apps. Just a lookalike start menu
  • What an interesting comment...Surface 2 can download Win10....I just did it....so I do get the universal apps...
  • I'd be very very interested to know how ?
  • Surface Pro 2, yes
    Surface 2, no
  • I know. Same was with wp7 when wp8 came. But the point is, that was the 'mistake' time. Now, either they had complete liberty over their new OS, or a restriction of covering all previous devices by limiting OS core functionalities. I know it's not good for devices which can't be updated, but they HAD to reboot everything for the future, as Eventually everyone will be using new devices.
  • How do you know this is not a mistake time and there won't be another reboot in another 3 years?? What if the UWA do not pick up?
  • Well, I still love my RT.  It has had the quazi Windows 10 on it for awhile now and I really like it.  I think it is serving me well enough to get to the next genreation of tablets now, especially if it will run universal apps.Plus I have the $500 I saved on not buying the Pro version, to buy the next product when I need to!!  Five year life these days is good management, even as the better and better specs are tempting. I will be splurging on  the 950XL though!!
  • But at the sametime their porting osx to arm I hear
  • They've said the opposite, they have no intention of combining iOS and OS X at all. So no OS X on ARM.
  • So far, Tim Cook is right.  It doesn't matter if Microsoft eventually gets it.  What matters is that they've put off enough people NOW from their Software and Services that they've basically given Apple and Google a default win in Mobile, which is what where the issue really is. The issue is that they've wasted 3 years with Windows 8 and even with Windows 10, there are still whole swaths of functionality (like SMS/Call Relay, Integrated Skype Experience, etc.) that are unfinished.  Microsoft has basically given Google and Apple free reign in the Mobile Market by being too damn slow and choosing a bad strategy (making Windows an "everything" OS). No one said it was impossible for Microsoft to do what they want to do.  Apple could have chose to adapt OS X to Touch Screens and Mobile Devices.  But, the fact remains that these devices are largely used for different tasks and the only attractive point of Windows on a 2-in-one or tablet is the fact that it can run Legacy [Win32] Software. Apple's strategy is different.  They are keeping their platforms seperate, but they are integrating them where it count.  They're sharing APIs across them where it matters, etc. This is why I actually thought Windows RT was a good bet, but they killed it by putting a desktop and Desktop applications on there, along with sub-par 1st party software (even on Windows 10, the build in apps are terrible).  The whole think was just begging for users to be confused, befuddled, and disappointed.  Windows Mobile should be Tablets and Phones.  Windows should just be for Desktops. Honestly, you get a way better mobile-first user experince using a Fire HDX than a Surface Pro 3.  Windows is bad on Tablets.  They need to decide which market they want to be in.  I personally don't want a device that rides the fence, because you never know what a software update will do to one side or the other.  Many Windows Tablet users found out the hard way (myself included). I like Apple's strategy better.  It makes sense.  Tablet software has no point on my desktop PC (iMac) or Laptop (W10).  It just needs to do what it needs to do, without the software getting in the way and making thing more confusing than they need to be. There are people trying to trade their PCs on Craigslist here, because they upgraded to Windows 10 and are confused by it, for machines running older versions of users.  Step into the real world for a bit.  Mobile Nations, Engadget, The Verge, and whatever other tech blog we visit to flex our egos are not reality.  
  • But, the fact remains that these devices are largely used for different tasks and the only attractive point of Windows on a 2-in-one or tablet is the fact that it can run Legacy [Win32] Software.
    Nope. That's one attractive point. The other is that moving forward it can use the new Universal apps as well as the Legacy software. And that means that it can run all the software be it legacy or new laptop or new tablet or new phone software. That is a big deal.  
  • Apple doesn't have any legacy [Win32] software to support. A touch OSX will fail.
  • Sure, Apple doesn't have Win32 apps, mainly because that's a Windows only thing (which is why it's called Win32). They do have plenty of legacy software writting for their platform, Cocoa.    As far as touch on OSX.  Win32 apps don't really work well with touch on Windows 8/10 anyway. Sure, it's convinient for scrolling or tapping buttons but in many apps the UI is too small for touch. Apple could add touch to OSX and it will make some things better and for other things you'll still have to use a mouse, just like you do with Windows 10.  Apple doesn't want to take the extra effort to make the OS itself support touch (for system menus, etc.). They don't plan on releasing OSX devices in a tablet form factor. 
  • Actually, you are both right and wrong: they do not want to adjust system menus for touch. But, in El Capitan 10.11 they added more full screen and split view functionalities, while for the first time you can hide the system menus automatically, until the user moves the mouse cursor at the top. This tells me that Apple is indeed under way to make OS X touch friendly given a year or two. The fact that the next iOS will be iOS 10 is in itself interesting as far as their timing goes. At that point, they will have OS "ten" and iOS "ten". Also, here is the thing: XCode 7 got rid of XIB/NIB files (!), the very key elements in GUI programming on their operating systems. Why? To create resizable apps that works across Watch, iPad and iPhone. But, even Mac apps use this same feature (!) and same focus on getting people to transition over to their scripting language Swift. The last piece of the puzzle: Apple Developer Program. They now have one program, not one for Mac and one for iOS. So yeah ... something tells me that Apple is going to try a universal app strategy starting next year.
  • Apple could have.  Apple could have.  Apple could have.  Boring.  Apple didn't.  The end.
  • Using a Surface Pro 3 and NEVER used a mouse. I use the Pen, Touch and the Precision Keypad only.
  • By Precision Keypad do you mean the touchpad mouse replacement thingy that comes on notebooks and the type cover for the surface? I had a Surface 3 and the device was great. However, I didn't buy a keyboard for it, because I wanted a tablet. The touch experience was far less good than my windows phone. It worked ok, sure, but it wasn't great. It made me wish I could trade the touchscreen for a keyboard. On the other hand, I've never wanted to plug a keyboard into my WP. If MS wants this whole Windows-on-everything-everywhere to work, they will have to make it good on everything. He's right that most people want their tablet to work as a tablet, and desktop to work as a desktop, and phone.. you get the point. I'm not saying MS won't get there some day. But they weren't there when I last tried a Windows tablet.
  • I have owned the Surface RT, Surface 2 and Surface Pro3. To be honest the Touch/Tablet experience on W8.1 was, in my opinion, the best ever tablet experience. With the Pro3 and W10 I have disliked some changes from 8.1 but overall I am loving the experience now and would not go back to 8.1. I have not had an issues with using any model as a touch screen only, even in Word and Excel - though my main use does occur through the Surface Type keyboard. The touchpad or as I could have said, Precision Touchpad keyboard, I find really easy to use and apart from MS needing to update the software to work better, swipe pages in Edge for example, it is my first choice now - with the numerous finger taps and swipes, it's just brilliant. I will be buying the new Surface 4 Keyboard for the better typing experience and larger touchpad, the add an SP4 later. But I 100% agree that for Windows everywhere to work it has to be amazing due to the competition.
  • I hope that there is a plan to get rid of the legacy apps and to get the developers of the important legacy applications to upgrade to the universal platform. Overall, I think that most of the legacy applications have subpar usability (although great functionality). Windows will improve in security, performance, and in usability if the day comes when all apps are developed using the modern universal framework.
  • I agree with you that Microsoft is too slow on the mobile phone arena. I disagree completely with you on the Windows 10 tablet & desktop strategy. When you say tablet software has no point on you desktop, why? Do these windows apps magically pop up on your screen and obscure your desktop apps? If you don't want to use these windows apps, you can make it completely disappear on your desktop and your start menu. My desktop looks exactly like my Windows 7 desktop except the Cortana search box. Actually I question whether you have used Windows 10 at all. I myself use quite a bit of the apps on the desktop, especially the mail client. What Windows 10 provides is flexibiltiy; flexibility that Apple OSX does not provide. Why is Windows 10 bad on tablet? I have used both an iPad and a Dell Venue 11 Pro (upgraded to Windows 10). In terms of use, both iOS and Windows 10 provide the same ease of use. There is no good or bad about either OS. I hate the iPad because of its hardware limitation. There are much more hardware choice and capability in the Windows tablet market. Your last paragraph just showed how much you were grasping at straw. There are always people trying to sell their ware on Craiglist for whatever BS reasons. I am sure there were people selling their PC's because they were confused after upgrading to Windows 98, Windows XP, WIndows Vista etc. LOL, you are using this as evidence of Windows 10 failure. I would agree with you if a million PC's traded on Craiglist after they were upgraded to Windows 10. Did you see a million? I would ask you one question. If you have need of desktop apps and a tablet, what would you carry with you on the road. Are you telling me you carry both a tablet and a laptop? I would be carrying my surface pro 4 and be done with it. What would be the answer for most people? No one yet know if Microsoft's strategy is indeed superior to Apple's or Google's strategy. It is still early in the game. But I'll come back and laugh at you when Apple copies Microsoft's strategy.
  • I have a Surface Pro 3 and it is barely usable as a tablet. All the apps are terrible, truly terrible, making the start screen almost useless because you don't want to bother with any of the available apps. Even Microsoft first party apps are complete garbage. The desktop kinda works with touch, but it is no where near ideal. Without a touchpad or mouse, x86 apps are tedious. They need to focus on one or the other. Mediocre performance for both isn't going to get them anywhere. The competition is too good these days. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I mostly agree with you. The experience on a Surface without a keyboard and mouse is subpar. To be successful Microsoft must get a flood of universal apps. Their store must have the quality and breadth of the Android and iOS stores. Windows Central have their heads in the sands. They have totally dropped the ball on covering the real Windows Phone story in the US. The only US carrier Microsoft offered their new phones to was AT&T. Even AT&T says Microsoft is not fully behind the phones. Microsoft was too slow to fire Stephen Elop. They were too slow to fold the mobile division in to their Windows group. The rumoured Surface phone will come too late to save them.
  • Sure, the fact that Microsoft isn't supporting Verizon is a very big deal. According to the latest adduplex stats Verizon has 12.4% of the US WP market share. The Lumia 928 has 3% of the US market share (the Icon doesn't have enough users to get it's own category, so it's less than 3%). That means in flagships they have 5% of the US market where WP is just 3% of the total market.  AT&T and Cricket (owned by AT&T) together have more than 50% of the US WP market. T-Mobile and MetroPCS (owned by T-Mobile)  together have 22%. While only AT&T will be selling the Lumia 950 at the moment, it's not exclusive and both new Lumias will be available unocked directly from Microsoft. So they're covering 72% of their current market with phones that are targeting, according to Microsoft, their fans and customers. How is only selling the phone through the biggest WP carrier in the US dropping the ball?
  • bravo!
  • Now why are you going around spreading facts....and statistics. Gee, at a time like this?!
    Nobody wants to hear this reality stuff. We need more speculation, misinformation. How about a new rumor?
    But I really do appreciate this. I've been doing some serious reading this morning, just to reinforce what I think about this situation. And y