Microsofts is entering forbidden terrain
Microsoft is currently surprising friend and foe by producing their own hardware in the form an expensive laptop. The firm is more flexible than everyone expected.
Windows, Office and Outlook, those are the products that we know Microsoft of. These are all software products, but since Microsoft is now manufacturing its own, super fast laptop, the whole business model changes.
Microsoft is from now on a hardware manufacturer with its own game consoles (XBOX), phones, tablets and smart watches. Two weeks ago, a laptop got introduced into the wide array of products that Microsoft produces.
Nobody could’ve seen it coming since the innovational focus was no longer on Microsoft. Microsoft was considered a big and inert company with no ability to innovate in a disruptive way, and therefore, it could develop the Surface Book without the hassle of prying eyes of competitors. Microsoft was considers inert because the corporate software they are developing is considered dull and in the technological revolution that we currently live in, giant players like Apple and Google dominate the market.
However, the Microsoft Surface is not completely new. It got introduced back in 2012 as a substitute for tablets and laptops, since it amalgamated both products’ characteristic into one, ersome tablet with a keyboard that just didn’t work properly. However, it gained some popularity in the corporate sector because of the mobility of the machine.
The Microsoft Surface can cumbbe called some sort of niche, but in 2012, it gained a revenue of roughly 2 billion dollars. This is a revenue that has not been completely unnoticed; Apple is now entering this niche with the iPad pro which has a significantly larger screen, a stylus and an optional keyboard, which is integrated in a cover. When Apple is imitating you, it is a good sign.
Microsoft is now extending its Surface-line with a ‘tabtop’ that is able to lie on your lap, just like a laptop does. However, it remains an amalgamation of a keyboard and a tablet, since both are disconnectable.
The Sufrace Book is entering the market with a very high price. This is an indicator that Microsoft is trying to distinguish itself by delivering high quality products like, for example, Apple. It therefore competes with the MacBook Pro, but also with some cheaper competitors like Lenovo, Acer, HP and Dell. These companies will not be happy that their biggest softwarepartner is now a competitor in the computer hardware side of business.
The traditional divisions between hardware developers, software developers and online services are now diminishing and Microsoft is now increasing its stakes in premium gadgets. Windows is thereby an aid and not a goal in itself. The operating system is now deployed in order to lure users in towards Microsoft’s (online) services, like OneDrive, Office 365 etcetera.
This is from now on the financial substantiation that CEO Satya Nadella is implementing rapidly. However, this did not come without any sacrifice; Microsoft had to layoff over 17000 of its employees in order to habilitate this strategic change.
The overall strategy is to escape the dull image that Microsoft has by showing the world that it is still able to innovate. Therefore, Microsoft’s structure will consist of three pillars from now on: 1) Windows and Hardware (XBOX, Surface, Phones etc.) will be now one entirety under the name: ‘Personal Computing’ 2) ‘Intelligent Cloud’ and 3) ‘Productivity and Business’ (Office and other corporate software).
An overall shift within Microsoft as you can see, but will this be the shift that will enable Microsoft to compete with its biggest rival Apple?
Hijink, M. (2015), Microsoft’s Buigzame Karakter, NRC Next
Microsoft seems to not only be following in the footsteps of Apple’s success, but is trying to take it to the next level. Apple has been a very popular and successful brand, which apart from quality, has resulted from their innovative way of linking different Apple devices with one another through iCloud. iCloud allows users to send and receive messages, and use apps and tasks across all their Apple devices at the same time. Microsoft, however, is adding onto their competitor’s strategy and provides the ability to link Windows 10 PCs with devices of other brands and operating systems as well, significantly enlarging their target market.
The Phone Companion app links your Windows 10 PC with your other mobile devices, regardless of whether they have a Windows operating system or not.  They allow accessibility to iOS and android users as well, and offer compatible apps for each system, linking users’ devices in the same way iCloud does, without forcing users to buy all their smart products of a single brand.
After Microsoft failed to grab a share in the operation systems market, by lagging behind in the app revolution , they are now working hard to gain a good position and obtain a share of the market. In order to take some steps in the right direction, Microsoft has made some acquisitions in recent years, including Sunrise and Acompli; two apps that are compatible with both iOS and Android operating systems. . The release of Phone Companion will take this development to a new level and offers positive prospects for Microsoft in this volatile market.
I find it particularly smart that they reach out to all smart phone users, and that the app isn’t limited to just those few who use a Windows phone. Forcing your users to limit themselves to a single brand, like Apple does, can possibly hurt their sales, as users have to make significant investments in several new devices of the same brand, in order for them to reap the benefits of the linking systems of said brand. In that sense I highly prefer Microsoft’s tactic in this matter, as I can keep using my existing mobile devices, and the initial investment to start enjoying the possibilities Phone Companion offers is limited to only a single purchase.
Of course the question remains whether it is not too late for Microsoft to try and conquer a market already so well established. And then there is also the matter of their competitors, who will most definitely not sit by idly and watch as Microsoft eats away from their market share. However, an intelligent move like that of Microsoft will certainly bring about one beneficial change; the mobile market will become more and more user friendly as the different companies, like Apple and Microsoft, battle each other for the satisfaction of their users.
 Sawers, P. (May 26, 2015), ‘Microsoft Announces Phone Companion App for Windows 10 And Teases Cortana for Android and iOs’, retrieved from http://venturebeat.com
 Bajarin, B. (May 17, 2013), ‘Microsoft is Missing Apps the Same Way They Missed the Early Internet’, retrieved from https://techpinions.com
 Finneran, M. (June 2, 2015), ‘Microsoft Gets a Whole Lot More Mobile Friendly’, retrieved from http://www.nojitter.com/
By the time of this writing it’s been 2 hours since Microsoft announced their new product durring a press event in San Francisco. Everyone was expecting a demo and details about Windows 9. However, Microsoft decided to surpise the public with the announcement of Windows 10.
Yes, you read this right – 10! They decided to skip 9 and jump directly to 10.
Microsoft have stated more than once that they have teams working on the next Windows version even before the previous one is released. The point is to release new versions and upgrade the OS as fast as possible. Despite this, they decided to skip a whole version on which a dedicated team has been working for who knows how long and focus on the one after that. No one gives explanations why they did so but the 10th version is already being called “The best Windows yet”
In the live event when asked about the naming difference they answered:
Q: Can you talk about the name? Seems weird going from Windows 8 toWindows 10.
A: This product, when you see the product in your fullness I think you’ll agree with us that it’s a more appropriate name.
They even released a small introduction video showing some of the changes in the new OS. Windows 10 will reintroduce an enchanced version of the old start menu that we all loved before Windows 8 removed it. They are also distancing the product from the Metro style which was by and large optimised for Mobile devices. However, according to Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s executive VP of operating systems, the OS is designed to run on even more devices than the previous version.
I am sure in the following days and weeks we’ll get a tone of information about the new Windows. Meanwhile, I found this interesting article dating from 1st of April last year. The author, Pete Babb, jokes about Microsoft skipping a version of Windows and goind directly to 10. Is this a an inside information that no one saw comming or is it just a very lucky guess? 🙂
What do you, dear readers think? Is reintroducing old features going a step backwards or is it just a clever marketing strategy? Express your feelings in the comments below!
Slowly but steadily they have been infiltrating all aspects of our lives, wanting to be a part of everything you do, almost like that annoying friend we all have had once. Yet I’m not talking about a friendship here, I’m aiming a little higher. Apple, Google and Microsoft high that is.
Everyone these days has a smartphone, and almost all of them are either iPhones, Android phones or Windows Phones. Laptops and computers is also a commodity we all have these days, preferably more than one. Here we meet the same competitors again; Apple, Google and Microsoft. Tablet industry; same story. And that’s not even the end of it, all of three companies are continuously expanding their reach, all for one reason: to get you into their ecosystem.
First off, we have Apple. The company that became immensely popular overnight because of the iPhone. This popularity had an influence on all of their other products they sell as well. Macbooks, iPads, Apple TV’s, for all of them sales rose incredibly. And so, the first form of an ecosystem was born. Every device you had could be an Apple, and it wasn’t long before there were people everywhere who didn’t want to touch anything not produced by Apple. These days Apple’s reputation is starting to show some cracks and dents. Competitors have caught up and the same quality products are now available, but for a lower price than Apple products. Apple has to step up their game to stay on top.
Google has always be a company which is active in a hundred different industries. It has taken them a couple of years, but they have now also moved into position to offer a full Google ecosystem. Android phones, Chromebooks and tablets manufactured by Google gives customers a viable alternative to Apple. Android has even taken over Apple as market leader, although this is also because of the sheer volume of mobile phone producers using the Android OS. The approach Google has is a bit different than Apple’s. Where the Apple ecosystem is really closed, but therefore fine-tuned to provide ultimate user satisfaction, Google has a really open system with a lot of producers and different products. Google’s motive is also a bit different, because they always have their mighty search engine in mind. For this reason they want as many people possible to have access to their products so they can track their behavior online. They are the most active with “side-projects” though. Google Glass is a completely new way of interacting with the digital world and they have also developed self-driving cars. You never know what Google comes up with next!
Then there is Microsoft. The former giant of the digital age who couldn’t keep up with the mobile market. But while many people have already written them off they are actually stepping up their game. With the introduction of the new Windows 8, the start of their own production line of Tablets (Surface) and their takeover of Nokia’s mobile department they are all set to provide users with a complete Microsoft experience. And they have the power to make a very swift comeback. What a lot of people are forgetting is that almost the complete business world is still using Windows and almost everyone uses some form of Offices. If Microsoft gives them the option to combine their long trusted Windows machine with a tablet and phone, a lot of people will be interested.
It’s very interesting to see these three companies clash with each other, recently Google has blocked Microsoft out of their services for example, but perhaps it isn’t necessary that one of them comes out of the smoke as victor? Maybe they can all exist next to each other?
Personally, my money is on Microsoft, but what do you guys think? Who has your vote as the best ecosystem around?
A lot has been written about the Apple TV, and many had expected it already. Now there are many other forms of set-up boxes that you can use to stream media onto your TV. I have build a FreeNAS server very easily from which I can stream media content across my house. You can stream it through your television, if it has that functionality (check this BIM post), through your Blu-ray/DVD player (again if…), or through set-up boxes like the Xtreamer, or from Eminent for example. Google also has launched their Google TV. (See post by jordydebruijn) Now Apple has their Apple TV already for quite some while, and they state it is more of a hobby project than serious business, but is it? Everyone who can still remember the VCR players that were a pain the bottom to set-up might know the feeling that the current solutions are just not it. Steve Jobs has said in his biography that he cracked the code, meaning he found the next best thing for television.
But there is more in your home entertainment system besides your TV and Media-player. You might have an Playstation 3 or Xbox360. The latter has come up with Xbox SmartGlass, your interactive remote control: (source with video!: Gizmodo)
As Steve Balmer wrote in the annual shareholder letter: “There will be times when we build specific devices for specific purposes, as we have chosen to do with Xbox and the recently announced Microsoft Surface,“
David Zax, journalist for the MIT Technology Review, is pointing out that Microsoft is going Apple. We are also seeing that Google is going Apple, although still licensing other manufacturers to build the Nexus 7 tablet. Is the way Apple is doing it the right way? Does the customer benefit from a closed ecosystem? The user experience might be better, but the user is “locked-in” by the manufacturer.
What are your opinions on this move in the industry?
Microsoft is soon getting its own film studio in Hllywood, with the purpose of distributing prototype video material through the XBOX Live service. The “boss” of the studio will be Nancy Tellem, a former CBS executive. Nancy Tellem has taken part in the past, in the creation of successful TV series like “CSI” and “Two and A Half Men”.
As Tellem stated at her interview at Los Angeles Times, the studio is built from scratch. So many predict that the studio won’t be complete until late 2013. She also referred to the movies and series that are going to be produced and said that they will be similar to those playing on TV. Microsoft will also produce interactive material.
Microsoft is hoping that with that move, they can give a clearly advantage to their console, and transform it from a game console to a complete entertainment machine. Already, in USA, XBOX users can watch movies and series from “online video clubs” such as Netflix.
Meanwhile, they hope making more attractive both the computers that are using Windows 8 and the smartphones with Windows 8 operation system, as both have XBOX Live integrated. Microsoft has not yet made clear if the material will be free of charge or not, and if it will be ad-free or not.
It isn’t also clear how the players in TV market are going to react, as Microsoft can be a potential competitor. The more time people will spent watching Microsoft productions, the less spectacularity the competitors will get.
Finally, Tellem stated that, Microsoft will cooperate with Hollywood producing companies and that there will be deals with TV companies, so that their products will be available through XBOX Live.
How do you think will Sony and Nintendo, the main competitors of XBOX, will react?
And what impact you think will the Microsoft productions have on consumers?