Can Microsoft Succeed in the Mobile / Tablet markets?

Firstly lets define succeed, this doesn’t mean to become the biggest market share holder, but to take a significant chunk of the market – be a major player. This isn’t like Mac vs. PC or Betamax vs. VHS where there can only be one winner, its different this time, there is room for 3, and it’s very possible for there to be three or more major players and for the consumer it is essential that there are more than two major players to keep competition alive.

The big difference this time is that Microsoft cannot use its old tried and proven method of breaking in to market – sell it cheaper, let it run on anything and everything, and profit through volume. It worked for Microsoft with Windows, and IE, But Google has already taken this strategy and taken it to the extreme, Microsoft cannot undercut free. Microsoft has its back up against the wall.

So they need a new strategy, one similar to what they did with the Xbox which overtime, was very successful, even though it had initial problems, tough competition, and it was in a market, where the game was considered over.

A lot of people I have discussed this with, have said that its game over in these markets, and it’s too late for Microsoft to make an entrance (hopefully some of the above should distil that) but, these are new markets relatively, and the markets are far too young, and too fast changing to say that the game is over. Android is still making considerable progress against iOS in the smartphone market across the world, and the Tablet market is hardly developed and still has a lot of expansion and growth to go under. A market cannot be in a position where a winner can be declared, while there is such rapid growth and market share changes. There is all still to play for!

So what is Microsoft’s Strategy?

Firstly, they are going to try and match their competitors’ prices (maybe even slightly undercut it initially). This has to be done, to get consumers on-board.

Secondly strike at the enterprise. This will be easy for Microsoft, integration with their existing services and manageability tools means Microsoft can win this hands down, and this will expose the devices to a large number of consumers who are likely to then buy the devices at home (comfort, familiarity, etc.).

Finally and this is the key part of Microsoft’s strategy – is that Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, offer something unique and different, to a market that is very polarised. At one end you have Apple’s completely closed ecosystem, limited or no choice in hardware, or services. At the other you have Android, where you have a multitude of devices from the very good to the absolutely terrible, where there are any number of services you can use, and a very open ecosystem.

What Microsoft is going to do is to provide a middle ground. A limited number of very good quality devices, across a number of price points. Along with a restricted set of services (this is needed to solve malware issues that android suffers from) which users can trust. They are going to try and provide the best of both worlds, choice and quality.

  • Everything so far is just Microsoft’s attempt to catch up and compete. Microsoft has also provided a number of new and innovative bits of functionality (not all of these apply to both markets).
  • A Unique User Interface. (Weirdly this also take a middle ground between Apples icons only – and Androids unlimited widgets, but providing something like widgets but within a consistent UI)
  • True Multitasking (on the tablet, it is possible to have two apps on the screen at once)
  • As mentioned previously – Cracking Enterprise Support
  • A common UI across multiple devices
  • A brilliant development environment, with lots of choices.
  • Xbox Integration
  • Office

I think all of the above means that Microsoft has a good chance of becoming a major player in these markets over time, as long as they don’t allow long periods without updates (they need to move to a yearly release cycle for Windows in my opinion), it’s far too early to rule them out!

Windows Phone 8 Annoucement

What a hell of a week it has been for Microsoft, they went from a sleeping giant to the most exciting company in the industry. They did not get it perfect though and there were some bad bits – a lot of which was due to the lack of details, and in a way rush announcements.

Why did they decide to do a WP8 announcement this week, just giving us a platform update, and a few features, but no tooling or SDK for us to start developing for the new platform, it does not make sense and again they left more questions that needed answering than there were before. When we will find out more? When will there be an SDK? When is the release date?

The Disappointment

Lets start with the disappointing – yet already known fact- that existing devices will not be able to upgrade to WP8.

This SUCKS, but is understandable for the following reasons:

  • WP8 requires UEFI booting which I doubt any existing device would support
  • Even if the above was not true, it would be an incredible struggle to get the OEM’s to rewrite all of their drivers and to publish the update

So yes it sucks, but it is understandable. I hope (wish) MS comes out with something closer to release to make it up to us early adopters – free credit to the market place, or subsidised upgrades.

The WP7.8 update is a bit of a reprieve though, but it will really depend how much is back-ported to it, to decide if it is acceptable.

The Awesome

MS unvield a whole host of new features, and promised that there would be more to come which they are not announcing yet.

Enterprise Features

Microsoft has really put the nail in the lid of RIM’s Coffin here, and will mean MS will lead enterprise adoption of smartphones.


MS has the most complete and broadest implementation of NFC that I have yet to see in any device. In android it seems to be limited to just payments, but MS have embedded it into everything it seems, so you can send and receive many types of data, and it will be a great companion to Windows 8.

I cannot wait to see the innovative ways developers use it.

Native Code

As a developer this feature does not really interest me, but it does mean there will be a much wider selection of games to play, as it will be easier for developers to port across platforms.


It seems MS has finally decided what its development environment is, after years of WPF, Silverlight, and other technologies. Now WP8 apps will be able to be developed in the same way as Windows 8 apps.

New Start Screen

A much needed improvement. Having smaller tiles will be great. I have a number of apps I use daily, but I just don’t need them taking up so much room on the screen.

VoIP Integration

This looks to be the deepest any platform has integrated such a feature, and will hopefully create a new bred of devices and carriers, where all you need is a data plan.


As MS is doing with Windows 8, what they with originally did with WP. They combine the best of both worlds. iOS is boring with its pain icon start screen. Androids start screen is a mess of uncontrolled resource eating widgets. WP gives flexibility, creativity, and a widget like experience, but in a controlled manor to protect resources and usability. And MS does this across the whole OS, and then adds more.

A great solid, set of updates to an already solid platform. I just hope the lack of an upgrade path, does not destroy the ecosystem, but this is make or break time for MS and the platform.

iOS/iPhone took off with its second major iteration.

Android took off with its second major iteration.

WP8 is the second major iteration, will it take off? (I sure hope so, its the best mobile OS out there)