Digital Transformation Insights

Tue, 20 Oct 2015

Scratch the Surface (Pro) & You See Microsoft’s Got Its Mojo Back

Microsoft Windows 10 Devices Announcement Summary and Implications for You

By Srinivas Balasubramanian, Co-founder and CEO, Photon

Stop everything! Peel yourself off of that story on Kelly Ripa at Starbucks and give yourself leave to skip the broadcast of yet one more primary debate. And pay attention. Microsoft’s back!

Whether it was the soporific launch of .Net and like products or Ballmer’s comical attempts at forcing developer excitement or scraping celebrity dust, Microsoft events of the past typically lacked spunk. The Microsoft Windows 10 devices event on October 6 broke that tradition. In a fun and exciting event held at the historic Skylight at Moynihan Station, Microsoft unveiled a slew of hardware products. The breakthrough innovation and cutting-edge technology in the products and the swagger in the Microsoft executives who came on stage to discuss  them were refreshing to see.

Coming on the heels of news about iPad sales being down 19%, Mac sales down 3.4%, and Azure showing “light years” ahead of other IT vendor cloud businesses in the recent Forrester report on the topic, the Microsoft panache on stage at the event was understandable.

The announcements were either products in new categories or next-gen products in existing categories (i) laptops / tablets (ii) smartphones (iii) wearables (iv) accessories. Microsoft put a lot of effort into highlighting the common thread of Windows 10 across the devices. We summarize the product announcements below.

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Noteworthy among the announcements

  • Surface Book, a powerful laptop with numerous innovations in design and software
  • Lumia smartphones and the fact that, when working with Display Dock, they perform the role both of the phone and of the PC
  • HoloLens, the mixed reality headset, available to developers from Q1 2016
  • Windows 10 across all the devices combined with its “Continuum” capability (that allows Windows 10 to detect device type and get into the right presentation mode for that device) and Universal Windows Platform apps APIs allows developers to present their apps to one app store for all Windows 10 devices.

Microsoft’s strategy appears to be to eschew the pure consumer market (at least temporarily acknowledging the iOS, Android lead there) and go after the professionals to leverage Microsoft’s existing strengths.

  • The Surface Book and Surface Pro features and price are appropriate for professionals.
  • A significant portion of the Lumia smartphones presentation during the event was around the Display Dock and how the combination allows professionals to use the Lumia phone as a PC when needed
  • All HoloLens use cases discussed, with the exception of gaming, were for professionals. This is in contrast to the promotional videos we saw of Google Glass being used by people walking the streets of the city they are vacationing at.
  • The Continuum and Universal Windows Platform apps demos were around apps that professionals use.

Noteworthy quotes from the event

  • “At the end of the 10 weeks since Windows 10 has been rolled out, 110M devices are running windows.”
  • “Surface product family has grown from zero to $3.5B in revenue in 3 years.”
  • “98% of Surface Pro 3 users recommend it to friends and family”. “Competitors are chasing it” (reference to Apple announcement of iPad Pro)
  • “Microsoft is moving towards the goal of getting people from needing Windows to choosing Windows to loving Windows”
  • “Devices come and go, but you persist”. “No device will be hub forever. The hub is you”. ”It’s about the mobility of your experience, not the mobility of the device”
  • “I can be productive like a boss wherever I am now” (while demoing Lumia with Display Dock working as a PC).

Implications for you

  • Mirroring Microsoft’s direction, your consideration of Microsoft Windows 10 and its hardware devices should be focused around employee-facing applications and less on consumer-facing applications.
  • Microsoft Surface line is a category maker already, and the introduction of Surface Book further strengthens its market position in the category. For associate applications, Surface and Windows 10 merit serious consideration.
  • Windows 10 Continuum and the Universal Windows Platform provide significant opportunities for innovation to increase productivity and improve the experience.
  • You should strongly consider putting in the developer application for the $3K HoloLens dev kit and experimenting with it. Photon, keeping with its tradition of assisting you with effective innovation around every new device in the last decade, would love to partner with you on the effort.
  • Microsoft is seriously in the hardware business now with Surface Book laptop entry. You should investigate with your hardware suppliers (Dell, HP, other) how their reactions to Microsoft moves affect you.