The Microsoft Mobile Story Unfolds

Microsoft has certainly had a lot to say about mobile computing in 2013 and looks to be a watershed year for them.  Let’s take a closer look at their story.

Smartphones

Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android have dominated the market, causing Microsoft to move away from their Windows Mobile platform in favor of starting anew.  As we all know now, what’s good for the desktop is not necessarily good for the handheld.  Microsoft took a ground-up approach with Windows Phone 7 launching in 2010 resulting in some innovative features such as a hub-oriented UI approach (versus an app-oriented approach), Live Tiles and Panorama control.  My guess is you’ll start to see some of these design features integrated into other platforms, much like the iPhone’s Notification Center may remind us of Android’s notification pull-down bar.

That hasn’t yet translated to sales in the handset market.  Windows Phone’s market share in 2Q12 is only 3.2% according to research firm Canalys.  LG and (of course) Google’s Motorola have decided not to make any Windows Phone devices.

Windows Phone 8/Apollo has been announced and will include some enterprise-friendly features, including increased security capabilities such as device encryption and remote management.  However, it will not be compatible with any existing Windows Phone devices, opting to create a compatible upgrade named Windows 7.8.

The good news is at least three analyst firms (Gartner, IDC, and iSuppi) are picking Windows Phone to be the number 2 smartphone OS by 2015.

Media Tablets

In the past two years, the media tablet market has been exploding, giving further rise to the ‘post-PC’ era.  Apple invented the market with the iPad and continues to dominate against rivals Android and BlackBerry/QNX.  Enter Microsoft Surface.  It includes two Microsoft-branded products, Surface for Windows Pro running Windows 8 Pro (Intel-based) and Surface for Windows RT running Windows RT (ARM-based).  The hardware looks impressive but not many have not had a chance to experience it yet.  Microsoft is a bit late to the game, as Apple has launched three media tablet versions (maybe four with the rumored 7” iPad announcement coming in September 2012) and has made significant inroads in the enterprise.  Some are concerned that Microsoft’s OEM partners will look upon this as direct competition with them.  They’re going to have to pay an OS licensing cost that may put them at a cost disadvantage.  Still, enterprises really want media tablet features (long battery life, lightweight, instant-on) but also compatibility with existing Microsoft applications, and Microsoft is in an optimal position to deliver that.

Bringing it All Together

Windows 8, Microsoft’s next desktop operating system, along with Surface Pro is scheduled to launch on October 26.  The new OS borrows much from Windows Phone with its touchable panels but still has much of the familiar Windows parts (sans the ’‘start’ button).  It did borrow the “Metro” name from its smaller cousin as well but now that name is out.

Although launching in 2012, it may take many enterprises the better part of 2013 before deciding on next steps with Windows 8.  Key factors like application compatibility can take some time to evaluate.  It also takes time to roll out possibly thousands of OS updates, usually with a hardware update in tow.   Many are currently in the middle of Windows XP to Windows 7 upgrades (having skipped Vista) which could impact adoption levels.  Rumors indicate that some organizations may even skip Windows 8 and HP has announced it won’t be offering Windows 8 RT tablets (at least for now).

Microsoft still dominates the desktop and has strong ties with the enterprise.  Because of the consumerization of IT trend, they will have to produce mobile products that consumers want in order to be successful in the enterprise market.  Strange, but true.

With Windows Phone 8/Apollo, Surface, and Windows 8 all launching in the same time frame, it’s promising to be an interesting fall to watch the Microsoft mobile story unfold.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Android, iOS, iPad, Media Tablet, MIcrosoft, Motorola, PlayBook, QNX, RIM, Windows 8, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7

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One Comment on “The Microsoft Mobile Story Unfolds”

  1. Richard Zablocki Says:

    Will Microsoft ever make a take over attempt on RIM ? Does MS require their patents and good will in the business sector ?


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