Microsoft’s vision for the mobile industry has taken quite a few forms over the years. It’s hard to ignore that there is a distinct separation of time and place: Before the iPhone, and after. Before the iPhone arrived, Microsoft’s Windows Mobile was a pretty big name when it came to smartphones, with a variety of choices, platform support, and a brand name in the mobile space that wasn’t immediately questioned.
After the iPhone, though, Microsoft shifted its focus. It even dropped Windows Mobile, adopted Windows Phone (Series), and tried to bring its own desktop feel to its lineup of mobile devices. Windows Phone saw the implementation of Live Tiles, which, I’ll admit, I absolutely fell in love with back when Microsoft first unveiled it. The only other mobile operating system that was even remotely interesting to me back then was webOS, and Microsoft did a good job of stealing away that attention for the most part.
But honestly, the major feature that Microsoft won me over with back then was their vision. What they had planned for Windows Phone and their Windows desktop all sounded really, really nice. I wanted that, and as the years ticked by, and it never arrived, my interest in Windows Phone slackened.
But then Windows 10 came around and Microsoft was back on stage trumpeting that same vision, where an app could run on a Windows 10 machine, and you could use that same app, in a universal design, on your smartphone, too. To do this, Microsoft even went back to Windows Mobile with the adoption of Windows 10 Mobile for its mobile platform, and expanded the vision to include the Xbox One, too, which now runs on Windows 10, too.
Microsoft finally has a universal app platform. Companies like Facebook, Dropbox, and others are already showing their support for it, and adoption by developers, at least on the desktop side of things, is probably not all that unlikely anymore. Windows 10 is already installed on millions of devices around the world, with that number growing, so it’s not a platform that devs are ignoring — at least, not at the level they used to be.
I don’t think Windows 10 Mobile is something that should be ignored, like Windows Phone 8 was. Moreover, if Windows 10 continues to be a success for Microsoft, and since this is the “last Windows,” and so it’s the operating system that will see them well into the future, the adoption by consumers will continue to rise. Windows 10 Mobile could be successful in the long run simply because Windows 10 is successful, but that’s not a bad thing.
There were some Op-Ed's not too long ago that cried out the death of Windows Phone, and considering the sales numbers for Lumia devices, well, they aren’t wrong. Windows Phone is dead, so Microsoft has to keep looking forward. They need to release a stable and a ready-for-the-masses version of Windows 10 Mobile on its current 950 and 950 XL handsets, and release a truly standout flagship smartphone under the Surface brand in 2016, and at the same time announce even more developer/company partnerships that show off apps coming down the line for its mobile devices.
I think Microsoft can do that. A Surface Phone has been rumored for awhile now, and I think Microsoft plans on announcing that device soon enough. And with its universal app platform, I think the company can win over developers, in a way that wasn’t possible with Windows Phone 7 or 8.
It’s not going to turn things around for Microsoft in the mobile space over night, and probably not any time soon, either. But Microsoft has always played at its own pace, the turtle in the race against rabbits, so the long game has always been in their sights. Even if that vision has shifted over the years, and strategies have had to change.
Maybe Windows 10 Mobile can simply outlast the competition.