Last week we had Apple. This week it seems to be all Microsoft. I’m sure next week will be 24×7 Google with it’s I/O conference. With that said, the announcement of Windows Phone 8 is important for the industry. It is also nicely timed by Microsoft right after the flash and pomp of the Surface tablet announcement and the preview of Windows 8 and RT solutions on purpose built hardware. The company has done a good job controlling the media cycle and has largely received complimentary reviews of its announcements and strategy. Clearly good news for Microsoft.
Merging 3 Device Layers
Windows Phone 8 is part of Microsoft’s grand strategy to unify the desktop, tablet and phone on a single platform. EdgeLens Guru @johnkelvie gave his take on this approach in a two part series this week. We reviewed recently whether or not people really need three devices and how each is optimized for certain tasks. The fact is that people are carrying around three devices today and that has led to OS fragmentation.
While there are some Apple stalwarts who are using OSX on the desktop and iOS on iPads and iPhones, most people are still using Microsoft Windows on the desktop / laptop – particularly in the enterprise. That means these users are navigating common computing tasks across at least two operating systems (OS). While it may be easier today to compute across OSes today than in the past (I am using three – see more on my experiment here), it clearly would be easier if there were a single, unified environment. This is Microsoft’s strategy, leverage its more than 1 billion desktop user base as a wedge to get into tablets and phones. It appears to be a good asset to leverage. A report by VisionMobile shows that 57% of developers plan to support Windows Phone going forward.
The Basics of the Windows Phone 8 Release
There are just a few things you need to know about Windows Phone 8 today. First, you won’t see products with this OS until later this year. Second, current devices operating on Windows Phone 7 will not be able to upgrade to the new version. They are being offered the consolation prize of Windows Phone 7.8 which will be an improvement, but it won’t run Windows Phone 8 apps. The OS kernal is different and not backward compatible. Microsoft is the king of backward compatibility, but it had to make a clean break with the past to introduce a truly unified platform.
This is a disappointing development for current Nokia Lumina users, but will have very little impact on the enterprise. InformationWeek along with some others did highlight some more important enterprise-related developments. These include upcoming on-device encryption (a major security hole in previous releases) and support for Mobile Device Management (MDM). With corporate bring your own device (BYOD) programs expanding rapidly this is an essential feature for Microsoft to be competitive.
Do you think Windows Phone 8 and the Microsoft unified device strategy will succeed? Comment below.