Joe Belfiore Returns To Microsoft, Will Drive Windows 10 Consumer Shell Initiatives

Posted on November 30, 2016 by Brad Sams in Windows 10 with 61 Comments

Here Comes Continuum for Phones

It was many moons ago that Joe Belfiore left Microsoft to take some time off and travel the globe. The day after Belfiore left, the questions started popping up about if he would return and when he did, what would he be doing.

I have known for a few weeks that Belfiore had returned and now we know what he is doing. Joe will be running the consumer-focused Windows Shell and will be reporting to Terry Myerson; his objective will be to find new ways to make money with Windows 10 as the traditional licensing model of the OS goes away, especially in the lower-priced segment.

There will be other responsibilities under his belt but this is the high-level objective and it may not sit well with some users. It’s not hard to figure out that this could be a way to introduce more advertising directly into Windows either with native advertisements or other ‘sponsored’ content. We know Microsoft is not shy about doing this and it’s clear that they have no intention removing that content from the OS.

I pinged Microsoft about Joe’s return and his new role, the company declined to comment.

So, for those who have been asking week-in and week-out about what Joe has been doing since his return to Microsoft, here’s your answer.

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  1. 1 | Reply
    Simard57 Alpha Member #631 - 1 month ago

    what is the Windows 10 Consumer Shell Initiative?

    I have never heard of it!

    1. 0 | Reply
      Vuppe Alpha Member #1076 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Simard57:

      Apparently the group that's injecting ads into Windows, which they're going to be doing more of? Only ad-sponsored OS in the world, I guess.

    2. 1 | Reply
      Simard57 Alpha Member #631 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Vuppe:

      a shell game!

    3. 0 | Reply
      AnOldAmigaUser Alpha Member #2478 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Vuppe:

      One could argue that Android was the first ad-sponsored OS in the world. As has already been mentioned, nothing of value is given away for free.

  2. 1 | Reply
    darkgrayknight Alpha Member #2285 - 1 month ago

    Finding new ways to make money isn't exactly equal to advertisements only. Though I can see the obvious potential that they can't find anything else other than "sponsored content"/advertising.

  3. 1 | Reply
    jimchamplin - 1 month ago

    As long as I can pay some small amount of money to eliminate these ads, I'm fine with it.

    The $100 charge for Windows 10 Pro isn't what I mean, but I can see where that would be a reasonable cutoff. No ads in Pro, Education and Enterprise.

    Oh. And welcome back Joe!

    1. 2 | Reply
      Lopan Alpha Member #468 - 1 month ago
      In reply to jimchamplin:

      Your comment and acceptance of possibly increased ads in Windows and willingness to pay to remove them makes me sad.

    2. 2 | Reply
      the_zeni - 1 month ago
      In reply to Lopan:

      Why? Noting of value is free.


      I too would pay some money (maybe not 100 bucks...) to have the ad free version. But then it really must be no ads. Not even a single cortana or edge pop-up.

    3. 0 | Reply
      Narg Alpha Member #420 - 1 month ago
      In reply to the_zeni:

      You guys do realize you are talking about a yearly subscription to Windows, right?  Every platform has gone that route in some form or fashion.  Yes, even smartphones, the "yearly fee" (or bi yearly or close to) is in the form of a smartphone upgrade.  Usually created in the case of a weak battery from too many charges.

      I currently pay yearly for Xbox services, and for Office 365 and all the good it brings.  I wouldn't be too put off to have an "all in" license for a reasonable cost...

    4. 0 | Reply
      jimchamplin - 1 month ago
      In reply to Narg:

      Oh no. Not this again. While there may be a subscription version of Windows eventually, I have a feeling that there's going to be "F2P" Windows at the very low end. Like I said, some kind of Starter Edition. You can either subscribe or see ads.


      Or you can get Windows Pro and its good old Windows. No limitations, no subscription, no ads.

    5. 0 | Reply
      jimchamplin - 1 month ago
      In reply to Lopan:

      Look man, I'll call good ol' Jack Burton and the two of you can have it out!

      Seriously though. The flip side to this is Microsoft probably investigating a gratis SKU. Windows 10 Starter? Locked into tablet mode with most of the desktop tools gone? I have old hardware that I'd run that on, and if I have to see a little banner in the Weather app sometimes, whatever. If it means it will bug me if I use non-default apps? Oh well, I use the pack-in apps anyway so no big deal to me.

      I'd never use such a thing on my prime machines but I'd run it on my old lappy for sure.

  4. 1 | Reply
    ponsaelius Alpha Member #1328 - 1 month ago

    Sounds like the statement OEMs make when you buy a PC. They add software to "enhance" your experience. What is called crapware.

    it sounds like the role is to add crapware into Windows to make money.

  5. 1 | Reply
    Patrick3D Alpha Member #994 - 1 month ago

    IMHO, they should release a free version of Windows 10 that only runs software from the Store app, and then offer a "Pro" upgrade option for the ability to run desktop apps. At the very least it should help improve app variety and selection in the store. Pass the savings on to OEM's as well so they can sell systems without a Pro license and charge extra for one. They just need to avoid doing something stupid like limiting how much memory or what processor class a machine can have. There are too many netbooks on the market with 32GB of eMMC storage, 4GB of RAM, and a Celeron class processor.

  6. 0 | Reply
    red.radar Alpha Member #2526 - 1 month ago

    Oh.... this can't be good.  A double down on advertising.  My blood is already boiling thinking about it.

    Its not worth getting upset over just time to leave.

  7. 0 | Reply
    Narg Alpha Member #420 - 1 month ago

    Make more money with Windows 10?  Easy.  Get more developers to the UWP platform.  Anyway, Welcome back Joe!!!  Glad to have some more level-headed-ness on the platform build.

    1. 0 | Reply
      Waethorn Alpha Member #2235 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Narg:

      How is that easy?  They're spending boatloads of money on really stupid advertising, and it's not paying off with developer attraction.

  8. 0 | Reply
    dcdevito Alpha Member #220 - 1 month ago

    Man I just came back to the Windows platform last year after 15 years on Linux and OS X, please don't put ads in my OS Microsoft! Hell I paid for the Pro upgrade, can I get that waived?!

  9. 0 | Reply
    bleeman Alpha Member #196 - 1 month ago

    Quite frankly I don't care if Joe is back or not.  I may be "killing the messenger" so to speak, but I equate him with the "Wait until the next version..." bull we kept hearing during the Windows Phone era.  I've always been accused of being a Microsoft fan boy by all of my counterparts over the years and truth be told I was.  However, after my Zune, Zune music, Windows Phone, Microsoft Band, and Windows 8 all being unceremoniously dumped, that feeling has changed. I still have our two Surface Pro 3's and our Xbox One S and Xbox One and like them both.  The difference is I no longer trust Microsoft nor do I expect much from them anymore.  I'll enjoy my SP's and Xbox's for as long as I can, but I no longer look at them as long term investments.  This year, I won't be renewing my Groove music pass as I get more out of my Amazon Prime music pass and can use it on more devices.  I'm still renewing my Xbox annual pass, but I've even considered pulling the plug on that.  Maybe next year.

    As for Windows 10, I've gotten used to it, but having been in the IT field for 40+ years, I don't need Microsoft telling me when I have to install updates.  I can still make those decisions for myself.  Considering the issues I've had with several of their automatic updates, I wish I could find a way to turn that functionality off.

  10. 0 | Reply
    pwrof3 - 1 month ago

    Little did he know when he left, the company he worked for is no longer there. 
    I wonder what phone he's using. :)

  11. 0 | Reply
    Lewk Alpha Member #958 - 1 month ago

    My immediate thought after reading this is that he must be the one behind the new "Theme Packs" coming to the creators update.

  12. 0 | Reply
    dcdevito Alpha Member #220 - 1 month ago

    Will this push pro users to the $7/month Enterprise SKU?? 

  13. 0 | Reply
    Siv Alpha Member #451 - 1 month ago

    Can anyone tell me what Joe B did that warrants such adulation?

  14. 0 | Reply
    SherlockHolmes Alpha Member #2041 - 1 month ago

    And this kind of shit is keeping me away from Windows 10

  15. 0 | Reply
    leonzandman Alpha Member #461 - 1 month ago

    Weird that this is kept quiet. Feels like a demotion...

  16. 0 | Reply
    zorb56 Alpha Member #2215 - 1 month ago

    Welcome back, Joe!


    By far one of the greatest comments on the internet was posted in his absence.  I want to give an award to whoever wrote this.  This was a review of Microsoft's AppComparison Android app:


    Joe Belfiore - 20 November 2015

    Amazing Work

    37 apps installed on my Lagdroid and it matched 3 of them.  Things like "camera", "contacts and "gallery were matched without effort.

    Combined with my Continuum dock and my Lumia 950, I'l be productive like a BAWS when I return to work from my sabbatical, which should be soon™.  For now, my job at Burker King will do, anyone for ketchup?

  17. 0 | Reply
    glenn8878 Alpha Member #2387 - 1 month ago

    Traditional licensing should NOT go away. There's nothing else it can sell as a bundle like Groove or Xbox gaming or Office. Besides, Microsoft shouldn't be pushing extra cheap hardware, which gives users a bad experience. Windows 10 has lately become rather bloated with 1607. The installation process is the worst I've seen. Taking hours to download and complete. It just isn't going to be a pleasant experience for most people. If Windows should have a base licensing fee like $25 and recommended minimum hardware requirements, then it should aim for Tablets, Convertibles, and PCs that start at $399. No more $199 crap, which I bought into and regret. The Android approach won't work unless Windows is Open Sourced, which might be a good idea to convince Amazon to build its hardware upon. A big late, but should be done.

    1. 0 | Reply
      jimchamplin - 1 month ago
      In reply to glenn8878:

      What on earth? I can go from ISO to installed system in roughly 45 minutes. Only transferring the files to the USB stick takes much time.

      Are you installing on a PDP-11?

    2. 0 | Reply
      glenn8878 Alpha Member #2387 - 1 month ago
      In reply to jimchamplin:

      I don't believe it took just 45 minutes to install. Did you count the time it installed after restart? 

      I just had it installed on a 5 year old i5 PC and a 3 year old Windows Tablet. Took several hours to complete installation of 1607. I didn't time it from start to finish. I allowed it to install and walked away. I came back and it told me to restart. Then waited another few hours.

    3. 0 | Reply
      Siv Alpha Member #451 - 1 month ago
      In reply to glenn8878:

      I think they may be comparing a clean install and you are talking about an upgrade from a previous Windows O/S.  I can get 10 installed on a newish PC with an SSD as main drive in about 15 to 20 minutes. Upgrading from an existing O/S like Windows 7 or 8.1 varies depending on how much user data is on the old install.

    4. 0 | Reply
      Narg Alpha Member #420 - 1 month ago
      In reply to jimchamplin:

      45 mins?  How old are your computers?  10 to 15 mins tops for the machines I build these days...  :)  Just kidding.  Yes, this is so easy.  Especially with Windows 10 and it's hardware bound licensing.

  18. 0 | Reply
    navarac Alpha Member #375 - 1 month ago

    Sounds like I need to pay for the Enterprise SKU :(

  19. 0 | Reply
    Awhispersecho Alpha Member #1649 - 1 month ago

    This company honestly makes me sick at this point. What a change over the last 18 months or so. Years of support and 10's of thousands of dollars spent on their products and I'm left searching for somewhere else to go. Can't be Google or Apple so that leaves Linux which just doesn't do it. I just hope some startup releases a new OS at some point soon.

    MS has given me nothing left that I can support other than Xbox. Their handling of Windows, Windows phone, their update policies, their complete almost contempt for the average consumer, their epic incompetence. The list is endless. They have become everything they railed against just a few years ago and everything that I always hated about Google.

    Their decisions have forced them into this position and this position will come back to haunt them. At this point I wish they would just speed up their transition to enterprise only, sell off the Xbox side and get things over with. Instead, they will keep their consumers hanging on while giving them vague promises and false hope while abusing them and deserting them at every turn. Only to leave them all behind in a few short years. They should be ashamed and Joe should bow out while he still has the respect of MS fans.

    on a side note. People need to stop with the whole nothing of value is free crap. That's a lame, sheepish excuse to give for a company that no longer cares about you and all of us that supported and promoted them for years.MS is a better company than this, at least they used to be and there is no reason we should all of a sudden accept less from them.

    1. 0 | Reply
      Narg Alpha Member #420 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Awhispersecho:

      Apparently not sick enough...  Why are you here if you are so put off?  Oh, and yes, nothing of value is free.  Sorry, that's the rules.  You know, the "Golden rule" - he who has the Gold makes the rules...  Your lack of acceptance does not negate the rules.

    2. 0 | Reply
      SherlockHolmes Alpha Member #2041 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Narg:

      The real question about this is: What about those people who bought Windows 10? Do they need to "enjoy" the "ads" as well? At this point: They do.

  20. -1 | Reply
    RonH Alpha Member #149 - 1 month ago

    Paul warned us about this....