Not a single mention. That’s what we had at the Build 2016 keynote from Microsoft a few minutes ago when we tried to get some news from the Windows 10 Mobile operating system.
We’ve got lots of other news: the promising rise of the conversational bot (either with voice or with text), the transformation of the Xbox One into a PC, and the surprising arrival of a Linux console natively in Windows 10.
But again, nothing about Windows on phones. We saw some Lumias on the stage for the demos, yes, but what about new apps, or developer tools, or games for that platform? Nothing was mentioned, and that is the biggest disappointment of a conference that should have followed the ‘Mobile first, cloud first‘ mantra.
It certainly could follow that first part, but not with Windows 10 Mobile, that’s for sure. With a late final version of the OS that isn’t even available on every Windows phone, a diminishing software catalog, an inmature (that’s sad but undertandable given the maturity of the project) Continuum and a worrying lack of devices, the platform has big shadows over it.
#WhereIsWindows10Mobile, Microsoft? Where?
The Windows Bridge for Android (Project Astoria) is dead. Microsoft has announced that on a new post on the Windows blog in which they explain that apparently the feedback from developers was critical to this decision
We also announced the Windows Bridge for Android (project “Astoria”) at Build last year, and some of you have asked about its status. We received a lot of feedback that having two Bridge technologies to bring code from mobile operating systems to Windows was unnecessary, and the choice between them could be confusing. We have carefully considered this feedback and decided that we would focus our efforts on the Windows Bridge for iOS and make it the single Bridge option for bringing mobile code to all Windows 10 devices, including Xbox and PCs. For those developers who spent time investigating the Android Bridge, we strongly encourage you to take a look at the iOS Bridge and Xamarin as great solutions.
Previous information showed that there was other reasons far more logical to kill this project. Technical problems have supposedly arose in the first few months of life of Astoria, which led their responsibles to delay it. Saying nothing about these problems and the silence on other channels -such as the developer forums- is not a good sign from Microsoft, who again lacks transparency.
The announcement makes one thing clear : Microsoft wants iOS developers to port their apps and games to Windows 10, and they’re trying to convince them with Project Islandwood. There’s other option for iOS and even Android ports: the recent acquisition of Xamarin could prove interesting to push the Windows 10 Mobile catalog as Microsoft pretends.
I doubt it more and more each day. Mobile World Congress was a missed oportunity for Microsoft -they should have published Windows 10 Mobile final version there- and I guess Xamarin is again part of their B plan. If they can’t win with their own platform, they will try to enter into other platforms through apps (Outlook, Cortana, Office), services (OneDrive, Skype) and developer tools (Xamarin).
Tough times to develop for Windows.
Great insight from Peter Kafka based on a new study from Nielsen. On it we found a critical comparison: mobile OS market share vs most important mobile apps (by number of unique users).
The facts are there: even with Apple pretty close to Android in the US, five of the top 10 mobile apps are from Google, with Facebook owning three (remember Instagram?) and the latest two owned by Apple. It’s surprising to see Apple Music there (Spotify?) but I guess preinstalling that with iOS 9 makes the difference.
That graph would be pretty different outside the US. In Spain, for example, Android leads with a staggering 89,6% market share (iOS has a 7,3%, Windows has a 2,7% an the rest, a 0,4%, is for “Others”), so the most used mobile apps should benefit Google even more. There would be differences on the instant messaging market -WhatsApp is undisputable leader here, so Facebook would win again on that front- but the data from Nielsen makes this even more relevant: in the US, where iOS is strongest than anywhere else, Google and Facebook are kings amongst app makers.
As hardware has become a commodity in the mobile space, is software what makes the difference, and Google and Facebook dominate this space.
That’s really interesting.
Source: You May Own Apple’s Phone, but You’re Using Google’s Apps
Tom Warren at The Verge:
The Lumia 950 XL simply isn’t for me or the vast majority of smartphone users out there. I use Windows 10 on a daily basis on a PC, but the experience on mobile is just lacking. Microsoft has done an excellent job on its apps for other platforms, and my iPhone home screen is full of them. The Lumia 950 XL needed something exciting and unique to convince me to switch back, but it failed.
I’m expecting to confirm this, but every review out there has pointed more or less to the inmature state of these new smartphones. It’s Microsoft fault, but it’s a logic flaw: Windows 10 Mobile is a baby OS. I’d like to give it a chance, but I’m affraid the market won’t be so merciful.
Ballmer recently criticized Microsoft approach to apps and the mobile space and pointed out that the universal apps philosophy “won’t work“. Matt Weinberger at Business Insider makes us think that Ballmer could be really wrong:
On Wednesday, driver-on-demand app Uber comes to Microsoft Windows 10 — making it the first time ever that Uber has been available from a desktop PC. […] Getting Uber on Windows 10, as an official universal app, is a huge coup for Microsoft and Nadella. It means that Uber, at least, thinks that Windows 10 is worth the time and energy to support.
Maybe he should take a look at the new Uber app for Windows 10, that works indistinctly on a PC and on mobile phones with Microsoft’s new OS and that lets developers discover how a universal app can really transform itself to adapt the interface and its features to each device conveniently.
That’s the way to go, Microsoft.
IDC released estimates for Windows Phone market in the next few years, and that data is not nice. According to them, Windows Phone / Windows 10 Mobile will have a 2.1% share in the mobile space, and that number will not change much in the next 3 to 4 years.
Universal apps “won’t work”, like Ballmer said, and IDC seems to agree. They’re not the only ones, and Jean-Louis Gassée writes about this on Monday Note:
There are well-understood reasons why this slam-dunk idea has never paid off in practice. At one end of the spectrum, we have lowest common denominator mediocrity: Compromises must be made to ensure that a single Write Once code base will work on the smallest, least powerful Run Anywhere device. Imagine music that’s written so that it can be played, without rearrangement, on a flute or by an orchestra. You’re not going to hear many orchestral performances.
To solve the problem, we can go to the other end of the spectrum and devise modules that are tailored for each supported device and bundled inside a universal app. When an app is launched, it determines which device it’s running on and activates the appropriate module.
I certainly see problems for Microsoft in the future, but I also consider this was the boldest of their options in the mobile space right now:
- Universal apps: that’s the only way to become themselves a hardware/software ecosystem to compete against Apple and Google. Microsoft is late to the party, yes, but it was late too with the Xbox, and their entertainment business is doing well.
- Fork Android: Nokia showed us what an Android fork could work on their phones -remember Nokia X?- and Microsoft seems to have a plan B in mind: talks with Cyanogen suggest a possible Android fork based on Cyanogen OS populated with Microsoft apps and services instead of Google ones. I predict Microsoft will take this road when if Windows 10 Mobile and the universal app strategy fails.
- Goodbye, mobile: I really don’t see Microsoft leaving this gigantic market to its rivals, but others have surrendered. Microsoft should focus on apps and services, and would abandon it’s convergent OS strategy.
I want to be optimistic here. I think Microsoft has a chance, but it’s not a big one. Yes, Android and iOS seem to be invincibles, but it felt the same way with IBM in the 80s, Microsoft in the 90s, Google in the 2000s an so many others along the way.
Numbers are just that: numbers.
Ballmer has never been the shy CEO, but I thought that at times it was just a role he had to play in order to represent Microsoft. His public/business image never worked for me. I can only think of him shouting, and his business decissions were debatable to say the least.
It seems Ballmer was just Ballmer, and the recent critics against Nadella and its strategy are harsh, inelegant and not necessarily smart.
When he says the new universal apps approach “won’t work” and he points out that users must be able to run Android apps on their Windows mobile devices he is making the same mistake BlackBerry did.
Getting other platform apps on yours is not the solution, and it’s not the solution because if I want to take advantage of a platform software and services, I will buy a device that runs these software and services natively.
Your ideas won’t work, Steve. Your ideas won’t work.
Source: Ballmer Chides Microsoft Over Cloud Revenue Disclosures – Bloomberg Business
Tom Warren talks on The Verge about the lack of apps on Windows Phone and the gradual disappearing of several apps that are no longer available or that were available but weren’t updated.
Windows 10 Mobile will try to fix this with the technologies that allow iOS and Android developers to port their apps and games to this platform, and I recently asked one Microsoft exec if that wasn’t something that would stop native development.
He told to me that he believed it was not the case. They see that as “bridges” (and they call them that way), so those developers don’t have to start from scratch. The transition can be made softly this way, and that could lead to developers that really take advantage of the promising Windows 10 ecosystem. As Warren writes:
With constant Windows Phone change, the only thing that has remained persistent is a lack of apps. Windows 10 Mobile is rumored to arrive to existing handsets in December, but Microsoft still hasn’t officially revealed a launch date. A lot is changing in the new OS, with different built-in apps, a new design and navigation, and Microsoft’s expectation that developers will create universal apps. It’s unlikely to make any difference to the fate of Windows Phone overall. It’s another reset, and Microsoft can’t keep hitting the reboot button forever.
I doubt it will be the case: few announcements and lack of details don’t talk very well about the future, but we’ll see.
Source: Windows Phone has a new app problem | The Verge