A New Microsoft
If you’ve been keeping up with tech news, no doubt you’ve heard about the upcoming release of Microsoft’s latest operating system called Windows 10. I’m pretty excited about this OS because it has a ton of potential to give Microsoft a much needed boost after its Windows 8/8.1 failed to impress and the seeming failure of Windows Phone 8 which hasn’t really cemented itself as a clear alternative to iPhones and Android smartphones with only 3 percent market share. I am really pulling for Microsoft and Windows 10, and under its new CEO Satya Nadella, it has quickly remade itself in terms of direction, innovation, and speed.
CEO Satya Nadella took the helm last year from former CEO Steve Ballmer. From my point of view this Microsoft under Mr. Nadella has quickly changed from its big company, slow moving, corporate stalwart to a nimble, adaptive, creative, almost startup-like entity that seems to clearly know what it’s future will be like – focusing on mobility and cloud first.
Take a look at how Microsoft has taken new approaches to technology. Let’s examine Windows 10. What’s different with this OS from previous ones? Months before its release, Microsoft has given tens of thousands the opportunity to test the OS before it’s ready for prime time. Windows 8 on the other hand was kept under wraps for a long time before it was released and when it finally hit the market, people in general weren’t to receptive to it, or left utterly confused. It was like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde situation. How do I use this stupid computer?!
With Windows 10, ordinary people can download and test the Windows 10 OS and provide feedback. It seems also that Microsoft is listening to its testers and reacting quickly by making changes with each new release that seem to correct some wrongs brought up by users of the beta version of the OS. When Windows 10 hits the market, it’ll be (hopefully) received more warmly than its predecessor.
What about the one OS for all devices approach? Think about it for a moment. From computers, hybrids, tablets, and smartphones to IOT (Internet of Things), to its 84 inch Surface Hub, Windows 10 is designed to run on all those devices. That’s one core OS to run on all things. Coupled with FREE upgrades for current Windows 7/8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices. In addition to this, Microsoft isn’t charging any licensing fees to OEMs for devices 9 inches and smaller. What has happened is OEMs around the world who want to be to Microsoft what Samsung is to Android have started making Windows 10 tablets and smartphones.
Even companies that have Android devices now are porting over Windows 10 to existing hardware designs. Check out Xiaomi’s Mi4 running Windows 10. I’m sure other OEMs that currently make Android devices can do the same very easily. This sort of began with Windows 8.1 in a way with HTC’s One M8 for Windows. It’s the exact same hardware as it’s One M8 Android counterpart but running Windows 8.1. And it’s actually a really nice device. Since Samsung pretty much owns Android on tablets and smartphones, I would imagine a new compelling offering in Windows 10 on millions of tablets and smartphones for $0 is making OEMs see opportunity to gain market share on a new platform.
Developers! Developers! Apps! Apps!
This opens the door wide open for developers to reach millions and millions of devices quickly and relatively inexpensively. Why? Because with Windows 10, they need to only develop one app, theoretically, and only make tweaks to the UI/UX based on the form factor of the device it’s running on which Windows “knows” about even with convertible hybrid laptops. Supposedly Windows 10 knows how it’s being used on a hybrid like the Microsoft Surface or a Lenovo Yoga – with a keyboard and trackpad/mouse or as a touchscreen tablet-like device. So as a developer, you can take your base code and apply settings to tailor the UI/UX to the device it may potentially run on.
The tweaks for an app to operate optimally depending on what device is used are supposedly easy to make. I’m not a developer but it sounds like a developer has a grand opportunity to reach millions of devices very quickly once Windows 10 is released. Write one app, publish it to run on computers, tablets, and phones or whatever combination of devices you wish. They don’t have to code 3 different apps, just one plus some UI/UX configuration. And startup or struggling developers have an opportunity to launch in a relatively uncrowded marketplace – Windows Store – and get in on the ground floor of something that may explode. The Windows Store’s lower number of apps compared to Apple’s App Store or Google Play may work out to its benefit allowing new innovative apps to flourish where they might have sat idle or die out in a crowded iTunes App Store or Google Play store.
Ally vs Alienate
In the pre-Nadella days of Microsoft, the company was closed in that it was like our way or the highway in respects to it’s software. What I mean by that, for example, is if you wanted to run Microsoft Office, you had to run it on a Windows device. But with its new mobile-cloud first strategy, Microsoft released Office for iOS and Android and for FREE! Gone are the days, it appears, of the old Microsoft that forced people to use their OS to get the benefits of running the number one office productivity suite in the world. Even Samsung and Microsoft have agreed that Samsung will be loading Microsoft Apps on their Android devices. Something that would have seemed like a far fetched idea not too long ago is becoming more characteristic of this new Microsoft – make allies and don’t alienate. This puts mobility front and center and ties into their new vision. Why not get huge market share in the productivity apps business by providing the mobile version of Office for FREE on iOS and Android tablets and smartphones. Boom! Just like that, the potential to get millions to experience Microsoft productivity on their beloved Galaxy and iPhone/iPad devices.
With Office apps being top downloaded apps in both iTunes and Google Play, what’s next? Cloud-first! Office 365 is Microsoft’s answer to Google Apps. By many accounts it is a better solution. I won’t go into it here but something as simple as syncing email to Microsoft Outlook which used to be great with Google Apps has become full of problems. Sure Office 365 has not always been the better of the two but Microsoft has a way to reinvent and adapt and still be relevant and Office 365 is now a solid product. Its current offering is a cohesive suite that just works for businesses. And guess what? Outlook paired to Office 365 Exchange just works.
So with millions of Office users on their iPads and Galaxy Smartphones and tablets using Microsoft Office that just works with Office 365, the potential millions of Windows 10 upgrades on existing Windows 7/8 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices, you can see how the mobility and cloud first is beginning to take shape. Microsoft is also churning out really good apps for mobile devices. It’s newly released Outlook app is a 4 start app in both iTunes and Google Play stores and has a really good UI/UX and this was a result of it’s recent purchase of Accompli. This just shows the aggressiveness and how serious Microsoft is taking mobility first. Not wasting time developing a great email client but putting money where their mouth is and buying a company that already had a great app. More to follow with its recent purchases of Sunrise that makes a great calendar app, LiveLoop, a developer of collaboration software. As its products continue to receive good ratings and as people begin to get more exposure to Microsoft, it stands to reason that some percentage will begin to use Microsoft’s cloud services such as Office 365. AND some of those will be willing to pay for the ability to use great apps that work with a great cloud service.
The old mentality of use our stuff from our stuff is no longer viable in today’s environment and Microsoft seems to have embraced that. People love their iPhones and Galaxy devices. They may not want to switch to Windows 10 for phone or to a Surface, but that’s no longer the drive behind the innovation and new open feel of this new Microsoft. It’s mobility and cloud first. OS? Maybe second? Maybe.
But they might want to move over to Microsoft Windows 10, won’t they? If the Microsoft apps are good and the Microsoft cloud offering is good and the experience is good on iOS and Android, maybe the experience on the Microsoft Windows 10 OS is good. Wouldn’t it make sense that some non-Windows users of Office and Office 365 may find it compelling to switch to Windows 10 if they feel the experience would be good as well?
If Windows 10 is well received by the market, if it’s adopted by the millions of Windows 7 consumers and business users, then, if developers start making top notch apps for Windows 10 as a result, then it may become one of the best OS’s to be released by any software company. And this will further Microsoft’s mobility and cloud first vision. And if it doesn’t, it is no longer a stumbling block on the road to the future for Microsoft – MOBILITY AND CLOUD FIRST.
I’m long on Microsoft and so is Wells Fargo who just recently rated MSFT stock as “OUTPERFORM”. I’m excited about this new era of computing and the future of Microsoft.