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

Posted on November 30, 2016 by Brad Sams in Windows 10 with 57 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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Comments (61)

61 responses to “Joe Belfiore Returns To Microsoft, Will Drive Windows 10 Consumer Shell Initiatives”

  1. Avatar

    7112

    I just can't see Belfiore relegated to pushing ads on consumers. He's a technical UI guy.

    If MSFT wants to make money off the Windows Store then they need to reduce their cut from 30% down to 10%.

    • Avatar

      5592

      In reply to doofus2:

      Exactly. Joe's strengths aren't "let's copy Google and make everything ad based". And, of course, that's NOT what the statement said. It's just the conclusion everyone seems to jump to since they can't think of other ways to monetize a product.

      What JoeBe IS good at is coming up with NEW solutions to problems rather than just copying competitors and if he weren't seen as good at that press statement would include "changed his mind about coming back so he can spend time with his family".

  2. Avatar

    8774

    Oh, the irony.  The company that created Signature Edition PC's to rid them of cash-grabbing ads and crapware installed by equipment manufacturers is now building the it into Windows themselves.

  3. Avatar

    661

    what is the Windows 10 Consumer Shell Initiative?

    I have never heard of it!

  4. Avatar

    1043

    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.

  5. Avatar

    8665

    Great piece written by Awhispersecho under the premium comments section.  Wholeheartedly agree. You voiced some of the concerns of the regular consumer user well. 

  6. Avatar

    5294

    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.

  7. Avatar

    1792

    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.

  8. Avatar

    6019

    More important question: how is his hair looking nowadays?

  9. Avatar

    5664

    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!

    • Avatar

      490

      In reply to jimchamplin:

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

      • Avatar

        3098

        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.

        • Avatar

          442

          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...

          • Avatar

            5664

            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.

      • Avatar

        5664

        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.

  10. Avatar

    217

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

  11. Avatar

    996

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

  12. Avatar

    8068

    For the love of testicles, they seriously need to give people an avenue to have windows and microsoft experiences/apps/services without ads.

  13. Avatar

    442

    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.

  14. Avatar

    217

    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?!

  15. Avatar

    7178

    In reply to Awhispersecho:
    If "some startup" is going to release a new OS, it will be yet another Linux-distro.

     

  16. Avatar

    5456

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

  17. Avatar

    6593

    I think they will bundle "some" crap ware, but it will be a MS certified version for the collection and sale of your data. And because you are using a free version of Windows you won't have the ability to disable it.

  18. Avatar

    483

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

  19. Avatar

    5215

    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?

  20. Avatar

    473

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

  21. Avatar

    5639

    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.

  22. Avatar

    218

    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.

  23. Avatar

    5394

    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.

    • Avatar

      5664

      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?

      • Avatar

        5394

        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.

        • Avatar

          473

          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.

      • Avatar

        442

        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.

  24. Avatar

    5554

    The swishy iPhone-loving MS exec with the boyband hairdo is back?  

    God help us all.  Microsoft's consumer efforts have officially hit rock bottom .. and started digging.

  25. Avatar

    8665

    What is the consumer-focused Windows Shell?  Surely Joe has more to add to Microsoft than just initiatives for more advertising for W10 profits...I mean it isn't like Microsoft is financially sinking.   Just seems like such a waste for his talent, and working under Terry Myerson...seems like a demotion, imho.

    Why not put Joe in charge of Cortana cube home device? That would make more sense to me.

    When I first saw that title I was hoping that meant he was going to be in charge of consumer software, since Myerson clearly doesn't understand the concept of "consumer"...especially since Myerson thinks being in the consumer space equals the NFL, smdh!  Feel sad for Joe!

  26. Avatar

    5530

    If they are serious about shifting the revenue model for Windows, they need to treating the Windows Store with some actual importance like their future depended on it. Because it does. Ads don't make money. It's why stuff like Thurrott Premium(tm) exists.

    The bar to meet for app stores is the Google Play store. But Microsoft needs to go further than just emulating other successful app stores. They need to re-think and elevate the app store to the next level for PC apps. Successful app stores generate most revenue from games. That isn't viable on the PC unless they want to take on Steam, which will take like a decade after Microsoft burned their relationship with PC gamers with Games For Windows – LIVE (seriously what the fuck).

    We also now know that it's not just Windows, but the Mac App store is full of junk too. Worse, there are actual scams in there that somehow got through Apple's fine-toothed comb (/s). Microsoft needs to start thinking about the store differently for the PC because it's clear that the current uprooted model from mobile will not work. 0.99cent apps may work on mobile (even then >90% of revenue are from games), but on PC, people sink hundreds or even thousdands of dollars into software from Autodesk, Adobe, and god knows what else. The Windows Store needs to become the go-to place to get and manage these wares on the PC. Maybe WinRAR could finally get a buyer.

    • Avatar

      1294

      In reply to FalseAgent:

      Talking about Thurrott Premium, that's not a bad idea, open up the store not only for apps, but also services.  Just imagine Paul being able to offer his premium service from within the windows store...  then again, I guess it would be the same as making a web jacket app, and offering the service as an in-app purchase.

      They just need to make their store matter.  I get, there is no windows phones in the wild anybody, but everybody and their mother has a windows PC, there is no reason why I keep seeing every single damn add for apps available in the App Store and Google store.  Microsoft needs to push their Windows Store, that's all they need to do

       

  27. Avatar

    5394

    There's another approach. Microsoft needs to sell more Signature accessories to make Windows 10 work as expected with their new technologies like Cortana, Hello, Skype, and Metro. Sell Cortana microphones, Skype and Hello Kinect webcam, Metro Kinect to control Windows. Surface touch monitors with Kinect and microphone built in, Windows wireless keyboard/mouse with biometric sensor pad and built-in Cortana microphone, or a Xbox/Windows wireless headphone/microphone combo. There's many ways to profit from Windows if they make the effort. Bundle packaging might work. Bundling with Office or Xbox games or Groove Music. Bundling with 4G LTE data package and 4G hardware built into Windows Tablets and Notebooks.  Since this is too logical, they won't do it.

    • Avatar

      1294

      In reply to glenn8878:

      I think after their Band I got scared of future hardware releases.  From what I read online, for every single Band sold MS had to fork out two or three replacements.

      • Avatar

        5394

        In reply to Mestiphal:

        Microsoft is selling plenty of hardware. They just introduced a new keyboard, mouse, and dial to go with their Surface Studio. They are selling a biometric fingerprint reader for Hello. They are selling Kinect, but it's not tailored to work with Windows 10 controls, and you need to buy a $40 adapter to work with a desktop PC. They aren't making things easy for the Windows consumer. The PC feels like a kit and not designed for the typical consumer. It's just a big lost opportunity.

  28. Avatar

    3272

    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.

    • Avatar

      442

      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.

  29. Avatar

    397

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

  30. Avatar

    1377

    New ways to monetize Windows.

    BOHICA.

  31. Avatar

    1243

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

  32. Avatar

    165

    Paul warned us about this....

    https://www.thurrott.com/windows/windows-10/85341/microsoft-cheapens-windows-10-ads

     

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