Forget the device, it’s about mobility and the experience, so said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at Ignite, the company’s gargantuan user conference in Chicago earlier this month.
“When we say mobile first, it is not the mobility of a single device that matters. In fact, it is the most irrelevant thing,” he told the crowd during the opening keynote. “What matters is the mobility of the experience across all of the computing devices in our lives."
The “experience” that Nadella was referring to, there’s reason to believe, is Windows 10. He wants Windows to remain your window to the world — regardless of who made the device you’re staring at, the screen you’re looking through or the “thing” through which you experience the world.
And while Microsoft might have preferred to be the purveyor of our mobile devices, we seem to favor iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tablets. So what’s Microsoft to do? Change the game, of course.
Microsoft is going to invade the devices that we choose to use. Not without our permission mind you, but with our help.
Yesterday, Joe Belfiore, Corporate Vice President, Operating Systems Group at Microsoft, penned a blog post, “Your Windows 10 PC Will Love All of the Devices that You Own.”
This “love” will manifest itself via a common, seamless experience between your PC and your smartphone. If all works as planned, it will be consummated via a Windows 10 Phone Companion app which connects your PC to your phone. Whether it’s a Windows phone, an Android phone or iPhone.
While Windows phone users don’t have to do a thing to gain connectivity to their Windows 10 PCs, Android phone and iPhone users will have to take a few extra steps which some might find well worthwhile because it makes moving between the devices in your life so very simple, especially because we move between PC’s and smartphone an average of three to five per day.
Belfiore said that after installing the Phone Companion app:
- Your photos, your music and your docs will move effortlessly between your devices. You won’t have to do a thing.
- Your updated Xbox Music app on Android and iPhone will enable free playback of your music files and playlists from OneDrive, so all your music is available wherever you are. Not only that, but it can also automatically back-up the pictures on your phone to your PC.
- Android phone and iPhone users will gain access to Cortana (Windows phone users already have it), Microsoft’s personal digital assistant who can buzz you with reminders from your PC or your phone, tell you to take an umbrella while you’re heading across town to see a client, answer your questions, be your personal helper, alert you to news you care about and so on…
Now while it’s certainly true that you can put your files in the cloud so that you can access them from your phone, use Siri or “Ok Google” instead of Cortana; Dropbox instead of OneDrive and so on … Microsoft’s big sell is that you can move from PC to Mobile without signing up for a bunch of independent services or taking any extra steps.
First the Consumer, Then the Enterprise
The line between consumer apps and enterprise apps isn’t just blurred, in many cases, it’s disappearing. While vendors and IT departments can try to establish which apps should be used, employees do what they want. And they usually opt for frictionless, especially when it comes to productivity apps. This could give Microsoft a huge opportunity if Windows 10 is embraced.
Yesterday Microsoft also announced that LG, Xperia and many other tablet vendors would soon come pre-installed with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype. Add that to the many Office components that are already installed on smartphones and tablets. Microsoft has a quickly growing mobile presence.
So here's the question: Will Microsoft be the force behind your time on your iOS or Android devices?
Though it might seem a little far-fetched at the moment, it’s worth asking whether some of us will end up owning devices run largely by Windows, even though that’s not what we bought. A contiguous, simple experience is an attractive option for the non-geeks of the world who just want things to work.