​INSIGHT: Microsoft nails it as device extravaganza defines new era of hardware

"Microsoft has come a long way from its software pedigree."

The Surface Book received centre stage at the event, but other product introductions showed Microsoft's dedication to constant category improvement.

Microsoft's new tablet, the Surface Pro 4, and its new Microsoft Band 2 wearable were clear indications of its long-term dedication to the respective device categories.

The introduction of a developer edition of Microsoft's HoloLens augmented reality device is part of its commitment to a futuristic product that's unlikely to scale for several years.

Microsoft continues to look for a pivot point in smartphones to offer serious volume competition to Apple and Google.

Lumia

The company introduced three new Windows 10 phones yesterday: the Lumia 550, 950 and 950 XL.

The devices range in screen size from 5.7 inches for the Lumia 950XL - now essentially a market standard for flagships - to the 4.7-inch 550.

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The phones lack fingerprint sensors, which is somewhat surprising as competing devices on the market have established such scanners as part of the user experience.

However, the Windows 10 phones do support Microsoft's Windows Hello facial recognition biometric authentication.

Microsoft's Continuum was demonstrated by using a Lumia 950 XL as a PC substitute, with a docking accessory to connect a full display, keyboard and mouse.

Applications that scaled to the big screen to offer a desktop Windows experience were an impressive fruition of the company's vision, though it's too early to say if this is truly the start of something big or a feature that comes a little too late to matter.

The near-religious devotion to Android and iOS among consumers and developers is an obstacle that Microsoft has been unable to overcome.

At US$650, the Lumia 950 XL is priced in line with other flagships, but offers little compensation to consumers in exchange for a narrower ecosystem.

The new Lumia phones are unlikely to do much to boost Microsoft's smartphone market share in an increasingly competitive environment unless the PC replacement facility can be established as a key selling point.

Microsoft is successfully fusing together its software and services with innovative hardware, and it's clear that the company has as much vision as any other device maker on the market.

It's now capturing the audience's imagination with current and future products, and has cemented its brand as a designer of devices.

By Peter Bryer - Research Analyst, CCS Insight

This article was originally published on CCS Insight

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