​EXCLUSIVE: Why Windows 10 is vital in correcting Microsoft’s mobile misconceptions

“In terms of capability we’re in great shape.”

Joe Belfiore - Corporate Vice President of PC, Tablet and Phone, Microsoft

Joe Belfiore - Corporate Vice President of PC, Tablet and Phone, Microsoft

A US$7.6 billion write-off, a high-profile departure in Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and a stagnant market share - hardly the foundations for smartphone success.

But for those quick to - if they haven’t already - consign Microsoft’s mobile venture to the annals of tech history, pass on the Windows 10 Mobile funeral procession just for now, a resurrection is on the cards.

So says Joe Belfiore, Corporate Vice President of PC, Tablet and Phone, Microsoft, who remains confident that Redmond’s bold ambitions to place Windows 10 on over one billion devices will trigger a revival in the company’s flagging smartphone sales.

The Windows Phone name may have died, but Belfiore claims Windows 10 Mobile is here for the long haul.

“The most impactful thing we can do for Windows 10 Mobile is to make Windows 10 successful on the PC,” says Belfiore, speaking to Computerworld New Zealand when visiting New Zealand as the keynote for Microsoft’s Ignite NZ 2015 conference in Auckland.

As Belfiore points out, Windows 10 for Windows 10 Mobile has yet to hit the market, with Microsoft recently confirming that Windows 10 Mobile will be available as an update to existing devices in December 2015, but will come first on two new flagship Lumia handsets out in November.

Furthermore, the line between PCs and handheld gadgets continue to blur, with Microsoft’s new range of Lumia smartphones designed to double as desktop computers.

Confirming the tech giant’s quest to unify PC and mobile devices with a universal interface, while desktop and notebook computers running Windows 10 can behave like tablets, Microsoft's new flagship Lumia smartphones running Windows 10 Mobile can also behave like desktop computers.

Applications

And when the time does come, Belfiore believes Microsoft’s mobile segment will have been boosted further by the rise of applications on the platform, with over 500,000 modern-based apps in both its Windows 10 Mobile Store and Windows Store.

Recent stats coming out of Redmond back this up, claiming that Windows Store for Windows 10 has seen six times more app downloads per device than Windows 8.

“The biggest impact Windows 10 will have on Windows 10 Mobile is the introduction of more apps,” Belfiore adds. “One of the design goals of Windows 10 was to build a core operating system that works the same across all devices.

“This means a developer can write an app safe in the knowledge that it’ll run across all platforms, whether that be a PC, Windows 10 Mobile, Xbox or Holo-Lens.”

Belfiore admits however that for those keen to be at the forefront of app releases, Windows 10 Mobile is the platform that essentially comes last, ahead of Android and Apple’s iOS platform.

At present, Net Market Share has Android leading the way in operating system mobile market share, at 52.14 percent, ahead of iOS on 40.82 percent and Windows 10 Mobile on 2.6 percent.

“For a lot of people that’s not a problem,” Belfiore adds. “Windows 10 Mobile has all the core apps and we’re seeing a lot of enterprises delaying Windows 10 Mobile to employees because of its cross device capabilities.

“We believe end-users are getting a better deal on a Windows 10 Mobile, through Cortana and a range of other unique features - if this is what you care about as opposed to just apps, then Windows 10 Mobile is a sound choice.”

Perhaps Belfiore was referring to the expected launch of universal apps, including Office, on mobile, or refreshed design, or its hardware portfolio.

Misconceptions

Recently, Microsoft revealed the first smartphones set to upgrade first to Windows 10, on the company’s official Windows 10 Mobile preview website

They are; Lumia 430, Lumia 435, Lumia 532, Lumia 540, Lumia 640, Lumia 640XL, Lumia 735, Lumia 830, and Lumia 930, not forgetting Microsoft’s upcoming flagship devices, the Lumia 950 and 950XL.

“Right now we know that the majority of consumers are not looking at Windows Phone as a primary choice,” acknowledges Belfiore, conscious of Microsoft’s small market share.

“But the real miss in consumer perception is the belief by some that Microsoft smartphones aren’t as functional - they are.

“In terms of capability we’re in great shape.”

Unveiled earlier this month at a Windows 10 devices launch, the two new Lumia smartphones mark the latest reboot of Microsoft’s mobile efforts - built around a strong new operating system and fashionable design.

Despite the recent removal of Lumia 950XL prototype devices from stores from stores during the past week, Redmond should feel confident they have a credible alternative to a market dominated by Apple and Samsung.

As Nokia’s legacy lives on, now is the time to acknowledge that when it comes to mobile, Microsoft is making waves.

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