back to article Microsoft: Ditch your phone biz and do crazy hardware experiments

Even if Windows 10 Mobile was flawless, the debate would rage about whether continuing to develop a phone-friendly branch of Windows is the wisest thing Microsoft could do. Microsoft is in a holding pattern while it looks for ways of getting people to write Universal apps. But instead of maintaining a phone platform, there are …

  1. Known Hero

    while it looks for ways of getting people to write Universal apps.

    Well if the Hololens takes off in anyway, Boom job done ! Universal apps will run over *all devices !!

    *In theory :D

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "looks for ways of getting people to write Universal apps"

    Here's a tip : get rid of the 30% fee on revenue.

    Here's another tip : make the bloody Store properly searchable. You know, that Search functionality you've consistently screwed up for the past 30 years ? Look it up in the dictionary. It's time to get it right.

    High time.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: while it looks for ways of getting people to write Universal apps.

      Hehe, nice one! Have an upvote, Known Hero!

      With Hololens, MS apps will run on all devices, even when they are turned off!

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: "looks for ways of getting people to write Universal apps"

      Is that 30% really stopping anyone more writing them? No, it is the fact that there is no one is buying Windows Phones, meaning you will make a pittance whether you collect 70% or 100% of the top line revenue.

      They don't need universal apps for their tablet, because people don't use Surface as a tablet. They use it as a laptop, and run laptop apps on it. Even Google can't get people interested in writing tablet apps for Android, or even making the UI anything more than "same as on the phone, only bigger".

      1. Mark Allread

        Re: "looks for ways of getting people to write Universal apps"

        "Is that 30% really stopping anyone more writing them? No, it is the fact that there is no one is buying Windows Phones, meaning you will make a pittance whether you collect 70% or 100% of the top line revenue"

        You actually make a decent amount because any app you write doesn't have much in the way of competition. Most apps written for Android sink without trace.

        1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: "looks for ways of getting people to write Universal apps"

          > any app you write doesn't have much in the way of competition. Most apps written for Android sink without trace

          They 'sink without trace' because there are much better apps that do more - that is, they are uncompetitive. You are suggesting that uncompetitive 'any apps' would be all that there was in the Windows Mobile store. You are probably right.

  3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    It seems to me

    that there is so much missing from the Windows 10 Mobile core that developing anything else is just a case of

    Fiddling while rome burns

    and/or

    The Emperors new clothes

    Until punters can move to a W10 platform from Android and IOS AND find that stuff they could do and have done for years on their old platform then it is a dead duck.

    The Fanbois are apparently using Apple Pay in ever increasing numbers. Where is the MS Equivalent? One that is as simple to use and as secure? Even Google are struggling to make Google Pay as attractive (apparently)

    Not having the major Apps on their platform will hit them hard.

    It is almost as if Satnad and his team don't really care and are content to be a bit player.

    But then they can say, look at me, I have 'Hololens'.

  4. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    "One reason Windows 10 Mobile is being left behind because it doesn’t talk other devices in your life."

    From my point of view that's actually a big 'pro'.

  5. Spasticus Autisticus

    Yesterday's people

    I typed the title but now can't be bothered to type anymore, why am I wasting time commenting on Microsoft - yesterday's people, bunch of useless counts.

  6. hplasm Silver badge
    Devil

    Universal apps will run over *all devices !!

    Like a car runs over tortoises...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Continuing may not be irrational

    The amount spent on a project can never be recovered: you may as well keep going.

    That isn't quite the Sunk Cost Fallacy; the fallacy only arises if you allow the fact that you've spent so much already to influence your decision on whether to keep going. It's perfectly rational to look at prospective future costs and device to keep going based solely on that.

    Concorde may well be an example of Sunk Cost Fallacy, but there are plenty of examples of making the opposite irrational decision: deciding not to continue just because a project has already cost far more than originally anticipated. Scrapping the Nimrod replacement and later starting an entirely new procurement might be an example of that, as for all I know might be not continuing with Windows 10 Mobile.

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: Continuing may not be irrational

      "Scrapping the Nimrod replacement and later starting an entirely new procurement might be an example of that, as for all I know might be not continuing with Windows 10 Mobile."

      "not continuing with Windows 6 - 7 - 8 - 10 Mobile."

      It seems MS already has plenty of practice with sunk costs, and are determined to keep going until they get it... Wronger?

  8. m0rt Silver badge

    Cortana. Cortana is the key, here.

    Out of all the 'AI' cortana comes across as the most easy to interact with. I used it on a Windows Phone^W Mobile^W Device that happens to also be a phone, and it was the first time that I enjoyed the interaction.

    Yeah, I am not a fan of the security implications, but I am a fan of my childhood wishing for my own AI Robot/Chatty computer.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      When Cortana was introduced, MS made play of the fact that the privacy settings were under granular user control - in a bid to differentiate themselves from Android.

      I don't know what the policy is now.

  9. m0rt Silver badge

    @Andrew -

    If someone else was considering the 950, would you recommend it after using it for a while? Or are their too many irritations for day to day use still?

    1. The Original Steve

      Re: @Andrew -

      If you're heavy app user forget it.

      Otherwise its an excellent device. I know a few people with one and they seem equally impressed - as long as they aren't big on social apps and niche stuff. Core apps are all on it (Barclays, spotify, RDP, iPlayer, Just Eat, WhatsApp as an example of what's on mine)

      For 'basic' (grandparents, managers etc) users I think its the best. Very easy to use, ideal for business. For teens / millennials forget it.

      Production builds seems stable to me.

    2. sysconfig

      Re: @Andrew -

      I don't have a 950, but the brand new 650, which comes with Win 10 out of the box. As an anti-MS guy for more than 10 years, I've got to admit that it's a very good phone considering its price, and the complaints in many reviews (CPU too weak etc) are mostly misunderstanding that the phone isn't meant to play the latest games. Everything else works just fine without lag or any other problems, to be honest.

      Sure, there's a shortage of niche apps. The only really annoying bit I have encountered is the lack of browser alternatives. But Edge is good enough for basic internet use, which is about all I personally do on occasion on a phone.

      Much more important for me is the integration with Exchange and that works very well - as can be expected, occasional twitter use (the built-in client is good enough for me), some browsing (see above), parking apps, tube/public transport planner, a bit of music on the go. That's all there and working well.

      Also, to quote the article: "Windows phones don’t talk nicely to cars." Don't know which cars we're talking about here, but I have no problem in mine with the phone (2012 Audi A6 with the standard multimedia equipment).

      I think the choice of phone depends on the purpose, and the lack of apps can be a bit of a red herring, unless you really need an app for bloody everything.

      (Again, this comes from somebody who has been violently hating MS for well over a decade! Windows 10 is actually not bad at all -- neither on a PC/Laptop nor on a phone.)

      EDIT to add: Neither the phone nor any apps have crashed on me yet. Maybe the upgrade builds for Win 8 phones are less stable than Win 10 on phones which are delivered with it. No idea.

  10. Steve Channell
    Unhappy

    Continuum'd

    While there is precious little money to be made in Mobile Phones (except for Apple.. for now), there are good reasons why Microsoft will not walk away from the market

    1) Small devices are moving into the PC area. MS needs to compete in mobile to slow down Android/ChromeOS.

    2) Continuum's desktop shell is the foundation for the future desktop terminals that will protect Windows Server. Only MS can hook RemoteFX to a small device for PC like experience

    3) Embedded windows for Internet-of-things needs phone like hardware integration.

    4) Even now, less than 50% of the potential market actually has a mobile phone.

    5) One day people will wakeup to the Apple tax, and realise each generation is more expensive and less reliable than the last.. as soon as battery life exceeds replacement cycle Apple's appeal will drop

    6) Advertising started as a cheaper way to communicate with customers than word-of-mouth; social communication will mean even Google has to make real money eventually.

    6) All current devices are primitive compared to what we'll use in the future, Hololens might be the closer to the future than an iPhone 6s

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Continuum'd

      I've been saying that Apple should do something like Continuum for about four years now. I'm sure they've looked at it, and maybe they have been developing it but are still polishing it, but I think that's the future for casual users and especially the third world.

      So I think Microsoft should continue with their Windows Phone effort they just need to modify it somewhat. First off, announce an end of support for ARM based Windows Phones, go x86 only. That way they can run a real Windows GUI with real Windows apps when connected to a monitor and keyboard/mouse, and you don't need to bother with the stupid 'universal apps' no one wants. That's why the Surface is popular - no one liked it as a Microsoft tablet that runs universal apps but they do like it as a very light Windows laptop that runs regular Windows apps.

      That's how they need to position Continuum. Then people can buy a Windows phone instead of a Windows PC, and keep people in the Windows world. Otherwise they'll risk having them leave Windows behind with an iPad (which is totally fine if you mostly just browse and email, and aren't doing stuff like writing term papers or editing spreadsheets) Or leaving them behind if/when Apple comes up with Continuum like support to run OS X apps on your phone, or Google makes a 'good enough' version of Linux the average person is willing to tolerate to do the same with Android.

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: Continuum'd

        > Then people can buy a Windows phone instead of a Windows PC, and keep people in the Windows world.

        Microsoft needs revenue growth because that is the basis of its business plan. Suggesting that MS would be happy with selling just a phone instead of a PC (plus a phone) goes against their needs. Currently they are selling phones at a loss, Nokia phone division did not make a profit in any quarter selling WP in spite of getting a $billion a year from MS. Phones are highly competitive. MS/Nokia has tried high-end, low-end, middle and corporate and still not made a profit.

        > iPad (which is totally fine if you mostly just browse and email, and aren't doing stuff like writing term papers or editing spreadsheets)

        I don't know why you think that iPad (or Android tablets) aren't good for writing or spreadsheets or everything else. Is it just dogma or are you unaware of what is available and what people are actually doing on these devices? Do you think that bluetooth keyboards don't exist? Do you think that apps on iOS and Android and just limited little toys?

  11. Mikel

    They can't give up, and they can't win.

    1.8 Billion mobile computers were sold last year. They can't give up on that because they would rapidly become irrelevant. And they can't win, the others are too far ahead.

    In my mind that is the perfect situation for them to be in. Now let's watch them wiggle on the spike.

  12. Pig Dog Bay
    Thumb Up

    Sunken Cost Fallacy

    This is what I like about the reg, I looked it up and learnt something new about economics. I can now sound clever in meetings about projects that refuse to die but won't because too much money has been invested :)

  13. ColonelClaw

    "One reason Windows 10 Mobile is being left behind because it doesn’t talk other devices in your life."

    Another reason is that a lot of people (majority? dunno), just straight-up don't like using Windows as much as it's rival mobile platforms; which is borne out by Android/iOS evolving into the dominant systems on a new category of device.

  14. LDS Silver badge

    In Italy I have two Sky apps for Windows Phone

    One with program schedules and set top box programming (Sky TV Guide), and another (Sky GO) to watch programs. Were they developed for the Italian market only, without telling anything to the mothership? There's also a Sky GO Windows 8/10 app.

  15. Halfmad Silver badge

    Give MS all the stick you want..

    I still think their joysticks back in the day were awesome, sidewinder force feedback anyone?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Really?

    "One reason Windows 10 Mobile is being left behind because it doesn’t talk other devices in your life"

    Works with laptops - Check

    Works with Car Audio - Check

    Works with headphone - Check

    Works with headset - check

    Works with Printer - check...

    Only thing I didn't get it to work with is some cheap ass FitBit (which it works with) clone. From the reviews I read later, it seemed hit and miss with other kit as well.

    I've had more issue getting android stuff to talk than Win mobile.

    It may be the case I don't give a damn about Internet of Shit stuff that I haven't found these issue, But then again, I'm able to press the white thing on the wall to get my lights to come on.

    The only one I'd say you have a really good chance of getting everything talking well is the iPhone.

  17. big_D Silver badge

    Windows phones don’t talk nicely to cars. Windows phones don’t work with wearables, except for Fitbit and Microsoft’s own Band. There is no Windows phone payment infrastructure.

    Good, I have a FitBit Charge HR, but it works very nicely with my 950 (Band 2 is not available here and Amazon UK and Microsoft UK refuse to deliver to mainland Europe).

    But my 1020 and now my 950 both work well with my car. Connected to my 2012 Citroen, it plays audio and reads SMS and I can dictate SMS back to it and give it voice commands. It works nicely with all of my bluetooth kit as well, including my bluetooth mouse!

    Give up on Windows for mobile devices? I hope not. Having been through iOS and Android, Windows Phone 8.1 / Windows 10 Mobile is the best of a bad bunch, IMHO.

  18. Simon Rockman

    What Windows 10 does do nicely on a phone is talk to other Windows 8.1/10 devices. So I can move from my laptop to my desktop, to my phone and Surface using exchange server and one drive and it all just works.

    Yes, I've sold out to Microsoft but you only get the reliable integration if you sell out to one platform, be it Apple, Google or Microsoft. Only one of those three makes Office so that's the decider for me.

    Simon

  19. The Original Steve

    "One reason Windows 10 Mobile is being left behind because it doesn’t talk other devices in your life."

    Works in my motor fine (texts, calls, music etc). Also seems ok with my £50 Band, and it seems the next big milestone has integration with Windows 10 such as battery life and rejecting calls etc. Currently shows my missed calls on my desktop as well as reminders / time to leave integrated.

    Payment is non existent, although personally I don't want to bang a £500 bit of glass and electronics when a free bit of plastic from the bank does the same job.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft

    are quite good at repeating their mistakes. When Elop announced the 'burning platform' that knocked Symbian into a hole, he simultaneously managed to stamp on Winphone 7, AND 8. 7 because its days were now numbered, 8 because there were no devices available to buy.

    Now Microsoft have announced that the future is Windows 10 phone, and there are perishing few devices to buy. However eagerly Winphone fans are waiting for 10 and the 950xl, this isn't iphone fever. With serious speculation about the future of the phone platform, would you commit development resources to windows phone apps?

    1. arctic_haze Silver badge

      waiting for the 950xl

      Hasn't it been released in November?

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft

      My old Lumia 1020 has been running W10 since the summer. Most x30 and above devices should get W10 as well, along with some x20 devices, althouhg the 520 probably won't, due to memory and storage restrictions.

      The nice thing about Windows, as opposed to Android and iPhone, is that anyone can decide to take part in the preview programme and get the latest version.

      And I've had my 950 since it was release back in November.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sunken cost fallacy... fallacy

    You only know something is not a profitable venture looking backwards, but not forwards. Think if Google would have given up on search as a sunken cost before it started to roll (Yahoo is established, you're wasting your time with a similar product)... Point being that you can always declare something dead and that you are just throwing good money after bad, but there is always the possibility that you can turn it around and obtain an ROI. It is only a lost cause if you decide it is a lost cause. Not simple at all.

    On Windows mobile, I think MS has a solid path forward here. Surface and the universal app, continuum strategy sounds sensible to me. I think it could work. Apple is struggling and people like, but are not thrilled, with Android. It is far from over.... I think Microsoft also remembers what happened to IBM when they decided to just quit OS/2 and hand over the market to Microsoft. IBM did alright with side lines (similar to your Echo idea) but never regained their importance in the tech world after quitting the primary end user platform. It is smart of MS not to throw in the towel.... The mobile game is far from decided.

  22. MT Field

    Quote "One reason Windows 10 Mobile is being left behind"

    It isn't being left behind so much as it turned up late with a sick note, a runny nose, two left feet and no kit.

    Microsoft should have been split up in the mid-90's.

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