Microsoft Is Kicking Ass with Their Phones

It looks like Microsoft is kicking ass with their mobile phone division:

Microsoft is cutting 2,850 more jobs beyond the 1,850 that the company announced would be eliminated earlier this year. The new cuts will hit phone hardware and sales.

The entire computer world has moved to mobile, with everyone on either iOS or Android, while Microsoft is at the gate after the flight has taken off. They began efforts to reboot Windows Phone a few years after the iPhone came out (2008-ish), but as we can see by their job cuts in mobile, it has not been successful. If you look at any chart of mobile market share they rarely come up.

This failure in Microsoft’s mobile hardware efforts is interesting in light of the 300 million active devices that are (supposedly) running Windows 10 as of this past May.

Meanwhile, today is your last chance to get Windows 10 for free, because, you know, it’s that great that people will want to buy it tomorrow.

Windows Phone Ghost Town

Let’s see how things go for Microsoft with Windows 10, but right now, Windows Phone is still a fucking mess:

While the app gap has always been a problem, Windows Phone is now five years old and it’s still facing new challenges. Over the past year developers haven’t flocked to Microsoft’s platform to improve its app situation. Instead, more and more high-profile apps have actually disappeared. Mint’s removal this week is the latest, angering Windows Phone fans, but it’s not the first, nor will it be the last.

American Airlines, Chase Bank, Bank of America, NBC, Pinterest, and Kabam have all discontinued their Windows Phone apps in the past year. These huge apps have simply disappeared or will no longer be updated. Some companies have cited a lack of Windows Phone users, and others have remained silent, but each removal has put Microsoft another step behind in the mobile race.

And on Microsoft’s constant rebooting of the OS:

It’s easy to blame the lack of apps on developers, but they’ve been saddled with a platform that is constantly rebooting. Windows Phone 7 launched as a Windows Mobile reboot back in October 2010. Windows Phone 8 then launched two years later in October 2012 and existing handsets couldn’t upgrade, and apps needed to be heavily updated. Windows Phone 8.1 arrived last year, finally bringing many features lacking from Microsoft’s platform. Now, Microsoft is on the verge of rebooting once again with Windows 10 Mobile.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I think what Microsoft presented at their Windows 10 Devices Event looks great, but who’s to say they don’t just reboot Windows 10 like Windows 7 & 8?

Microsoft had a very short window to respond to the iPhone six years ago, but Google beat them to it with Android. Since then, they’ve simultaneously been revising their strategy AND competing with Google and Apple (hence the schizophrenic behavior).

The Continuing Decline of Windows

Alex Wilhelm at TechCrunch on Windows 10:

A few questions: Will Windows 10’s release lead to lift in PC sales, even if temporary? If that is the case, did the release of Windows 10 come too late in the quarter to make much of an impact? If that is not the case, then it seems that Windows 10 will not drive an increase in PC sales.

The very first blog post I wrote for The Next Web — where I worked before coming to TechCrunch — had the following headline: “No Windows 7 PC Sales Bump Coming.” And that was Windows 7, mind, one of most popular versions of Windows ever.

I don’t recall Windows 8 doing the PC market many favors, either, at its debut. So we have at least some historical precedent that new builds of Windows are not key drivers of new unit volume.

My question is, why should a new version of Windows ever help sales of PCs?

This isn’t the launch of Windows 95. Those days are over. Microsoft knows this and I think it’s the impetus behind their cloning of Apple’s business model, despite the fact that they can’t duplicate said business model because they have OEMs they license Windows to.

It’s all about great, integrated hardware/software products and now that Microsoft has gotten a taste of the power that comes with controlling the whole stack they could give a fuck about OEMs.

Of course they won’t say that but it’s true. If they could sell Apple levels of Surface tablets and Windows Phones with Apple profit margins they’d be loving life.

They’re just still too scared to rip off that band-aid.

Microsoft Sells By Paying

Sam Byford, at the Verge, on Microsoft’s limited time trade-in program:

Microsoft has launched a promotion called Easy Trade Up designed to get people to switch to new Windows 10 machines. If you buy a qualifying computer from the Microsoft Store for over $599 until October 20th, the company will give you a rebate after you send in your old laptop or all-in-one — you’ll get $200 for a Windows computer, and $300 for a MacBook. Your trade-in computer has to be under six years old and in working order with a minimum display size of 11.6 inches. The offer is running in the US, UK, Canada, India, Brazil, France, Germany, and Taiwan.

Paying people to buy their new products. Has Apple ever had to do this? (No they, haven’t)

Microsoft likes paying people to use their stuff. Most recently, they paid the NFL $400 million to use their Surface tablets.


This kind of promotion is a tactic Microsoft uses pretty frequently when it wants to juice sales.

PC sales have been plunging and Microsoft’s mobile marketshare hasn’t moved much.

So much for “juicing”.

Microsoft: We Finally Get It

I finally got around to watching Microsoft’s Windows 10 Devices Event (nope, they’ve haven’t shaken their addiction to long names). What i saw is a company just discovering all the amazing things that that are possible when you design hardware and software together. The presenters seemed drunk giddy with excitement showing off all their products. And why shouldn’t they?! Proudness is what happens when a team comes together and makes something great. Check us out. We made this. Together. And it’s awesome.

The Only Way Out Is Through

I wonder how many current and former Microsoftians are kicking themselves for not owning the full hardware/software stack sooner, like Apple. You know what? Scratch that. Probably very few. Hindsight is 20/20.

The truth is Microsoft had to go through this journey of licensing a powerful yet tasteless and derivative operating system, and robust office suite, to corporations for decades—leveraging their weight and muscle when necessary—until the day they realized they were not equipped to make truly “personal” and mobile computing experiences people would love to use inside and outside the office.

Once Microsoft had this realization—this is after Ballmer dismissed the original iPhone as a threat—Apple’s iPhone and iPad trojan horses had already infiltrated corporate America. I saw it firsthand as a design consultant for Bloomberg in Manhattan in 2008-9. I watched senior VPs roll into meeting with iPads on their laps while we presented our work. In the past (pre-iPhone) corporate IT departments could shoo off the occasional request for pesky Mac assistance, but you can’t pull that shit when C-suite men and women are ordering you to, “get my iPad and iPhone on our network. NOW.”

Hey Guys, They Get It!

It’s taken Microsoft 40 years to realize the true potential of their software. They’re not turning a blind eye and hoping OEMs make the best hardware they can possibly make.

Microsoft now understands why Apple has been spending all these years monkeying with stupid bezels, clickwheels, and aluminum finishes, and designing not just thoughtful but beautiful software experiences. Microsoft now wants to make their own multitouch screens and keyboard cases and styli that communicate and integrate seemlessly with their operating system. If I had to give Microsoft a new tagline it would be: We Finally Get It (hat tip to The Motherfucking Editor).

Panos Panay did a great job as the main presenter. You could feel how genuinely proud he was of all the hard work that went into their Bands, Lumias and Surfaces and the how well the software was integrated into the hardware. Seeing him on stage bragging about the thinness of the new Surface and the feel of the new keyboard covers, I felt as though I was watching a company graduating from Apple Boot Camp. He showed off their new ads throughout the presentation, just like Apple has been doing for decades. He held up his Lumia phone to the audience. When he handed out Surface Pros, I was reminded of Steve Jobs handing out empty, unibody MacBook Pro shells in 2008 (jump to the 24:50 mark).

I don’t follow sports but I but shamelessly consider myself on Team Apple and I indulge in any and all Microsoft schadenfreude I can get. I despise the old, 800-pound gorilla version of Microsoft but I am slowly coming around as I see them taking product design seriously and not muscling their way into market segments just because they can.

It feels good to see your team on a winning streak, but it’s even better to see them up against a worthy opponent who gives them a run for their money. 

We’re seeing a glimpse of that with the new Microsoft.

Sometimes Enough Is Not Enough

Despite all the huge strides Microsoft has made in the last few years to reinvent itself and adapt to the changing tech landscape I’m not convinced it’s enough get what they want.

Actually, what do they want?

Do they want to regain the size and influence they once had in the software world? Highly unlikely. The world was much smaller when Microsoft ruled to the roost. There was no Google, no Apple and none of the numerous small-to-medium size technology companies all over the world creating amazing hardware and software. Can and will they continue to contribute? Absolutely.

If they’ve come to terms with the fact that they’ll never be the giant they once were, are they truly committed to building amazing, integrated software and hardware experiences, potentially at the expense of unit sales?

This last question is tricky to answer because although they’ve graduated from Apple Boot Camp and fancy themselves newly minted product design Jedis, they don’t live in Apple’s world. They’re still licensing Windows to OEMs like Dell, Lenovo and HP.

This is akin to Porsche building the best cars they can possible make and also licensing their engines and name to Kia, Hyundai and Toyota. 

This last, very minor point around Windows licensing tells me Microsoft hasn’t pushed all its chips in.

Microsoft finally gets it.

Or do they?