Thinking About Microsoft’s Mobile Fantasy (Premium)

As Brad noted earlier today, Microsoft is secretly building a new Windows-based mobile platform that may or may not ever come to market. Microsoft, please. Stop squandering your credibility.

Over the past few years, Microsoft executives have publicly admitted that they "missed" the mobile wave, and that the new strategy is to be sure they're poised to ride the next wave. But Microsoft is now in danger of missing that next wave---ambient computing---too, and it's wasting time elsewhere with AR/MR/VR pipe-dreams.

So we're at an inflection point for the software giant. Either it embraces its cloud-focused future. Or it continues to cling to the past and becomes irrelevant.

It's hard, sometimes, to do the right thing. But you know what? The right thing is often very obvious regardless of the difficulty of making that choice.

Outside of Microsoft, some technology enthusiasts still cling to an outdated "Windows only" or "Windows first" mentality, an impossible dream that amounts to fighting the war you've already lost. But it's clear that this mentality still exists inside parts of Microsoft, too. These people need to be stopped.

Consider this example from a story I've told many times: Years ago, during a TechEd pre-con session, an Exchange administrator stood up and asked me the following: "Let me get this straight. You're telling me that my final act as administrator will be to transition my company from on-premises servers to the cloud? Is that right?"

Yes. That is right.

The issue here was that the administrator in question was never going to make the right decision for his employer or the many people he supported. Instead, he was just interested in protecting his job, and the out-of-date technology he understood. What he wasn't doing was learning new skills, evolving.

This is the same situation parts of Microsoft face today. There are still people left who remember what we'll call the "good old days," when Microsoft was a traditional software platforms maker and could enter and formalize new markets at will. They believe that all they have to do is build it and the users will come.

That belief is out of date. And while there are absolutely people outside of Microsoft who would embrace a new Windows mobile platform, a new phone, or whatever, those people are less than a minority. They're not a market.

Put simply, this is about not continually evolving, not moving forward, and not embracing the reality of your situation.

What's weird about this mobile silliness is that Microsoft has actually done a good job of embracing reality elsewhere. At Build 2017, for example, the company took the unprecedented step of announcing major new Windows 10 features that rely on Android or iOS devices too. You can quibble about this strategy all you want, but give Microsoft credit for embracing what its customers are actually doing. That is smart, and it makes Windows 10 more relevant to real people.

But trying again with m...

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