Everything I see is Windows 10, says Microsoft's SatNad
Mobile strategy 101? 'What I mean is...'
Satya Nadella has been hitting the road to undo the damage to perceptions of Microsoft's mobile strategy caused last week by, um… Satya Nadella.
When the Great Communicator "clarified" Microsoft's plans last week, he was so effective that many reporters and analysts assumed Microsoft was giving up on its own mobile platforms, and abandoning Microsoft's "WindowS everywhere" strategy. Further clarifications were rushed out.
But SatNad didn't mean either of those things, he now tells Mary Jo Foley.
Mary Jo got half an hour with the Microsoft chief, and "edited the [interview] transcript for clarity and length" – which we wish somebody at Microsoft would do for their CEO once in a while. But it's still vintage SatNad: a vast cloud of words, from which its hard to make out any clear shapes.
Nadella has taken our advice* and in the interview, liberally sprinkles his waffle with real examples, to illustrate what Microsoft actually is doing on mobile. One is Continuum, which blurs the line between mobile and desktop. You'll be able to plug a monitor and keyboard into a phone and use it as a PC.
The most eye-catching declaration is that if nobody makes Windows phones, Microsoft will make them, as a kind of producer-of-last resort.
"If there are a lot of OEMs, we'll have one strategy. If there are no OEMs, we'll have one strategy. We are committed to having the phones in these three segments", Nadella says. Those segments are "value, flagship and business".
Invited to explain what differentiates a business handset, he offered this:
For business customers, it's about custom apps they want to deploy onto those endpoints with management and security.
That doesn't really answer the question, you'll note, and applies equally to a strategy that involves no Windows handsets at all. Businesses that use Microsoft development tools and want to roll them out on Microsoft platforms have been neglected for the past few years, as Windows Phone chased consumers but failed to land a significant breakthrough. A decade ago, Microsoft actually enjoyed almost 40 per cent market share in the US with the old Windows Mobile platform. This is low-hanging fruit, and now it's called Windows Mobile again, SatNad was keen to talk it up:
The fact that your latest soccer app is not available, or some social networking app is not available is not much of an issue (in business scenarios). What matters to you is identity management, security, protection. The other thing that matters is rapid application development. In our case, we take a Lumia device, you power up Azure App Services, and out come Universal Apps that automate workflows. I think that's unbeatable in terms of a value proposition.
Nadella affirmed that desktop is the bait for for mainstream consumer developers to write Universal Windows apps.
And more facetiously, we learned that things that don't have Windows 10 in them are still Windows 10 devices, even if they don't run Windows 10.
"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 to me is all Windows 10," said Nadella.
Without cheating, dear reader, can you guess which one is the odd one out? ®
*We don't get paid extra for this, in case you were wondering.