Scaling Windows Phone, evolving Windows 8

Scaling Windows Phone, evolving Windows 8

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A lot of you folks know me as “the Windows Phone guy.” Over the past five years I’ve been co-managing the Windows Phone product team on a mission to make Windows Phone a delightful and successful platform. Recently my job changed to focus not just on Windows Phone but also on the user experience of Windows 8 and future versions of Windows. Today Nick Parker and I had a chance to talk to media and analysts from around the world attending Mobile World Congress in Barcelona—we shared some updates about Windows and Windows Phone, and we announced a new phase in our plan to continue growing and scaling Windows Phone globally.

Windows Phone: Growth in the last year

Let’s start with Windows Phone.

We’ve experienced steady growth in recent years due to our “highly personal” approach to the smartphone experience and the amazing devices we’ve seen from our hardware partners HTC, Huawei, Nokia and Samsung. Together we’ve solidified our spot among the top three operating systems and celebrated some impressive milestones:

  • Recognized as the fastest growing OS with 91% year-over-year growth in 2013 (IDC, February 2014)
  • More than 10% share across Europe—which is more than double compared with last year. (Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, January 2014)
  • Most important to me, we’ve seen high customer satisfaction data—a fact that even our competitors have acknowledged!
  • Reached critical mass in the Windows Phone Store (now over 240,000 apps) and are still growing – fast – with an average of 500 apps added each day. We’ve had key additions such as Instagram, Vine, Waze and Mint—and today, we announced Facebook Messenger will be available in the coming weeks.

This past year was especially busy as we delivered three updates to the Windows Phone platform—we continued building the platform out for scale (via new chipsets, new carrier/country support, and more screen sizes) and we enabled some great scenarios for customers (e.g. the Nokia Lumia 41 MP camera and advanced camera features).

New Windows Phone Hardware Partners

Broadly speaking, our partners overall are the engine of growth for Windows. In addition to our great partners HTC, Huawei, Nokia and Samsung, today in Barcelona we announced we’re now working with nine new Windows Phone partners, including: Foxconn, Gionee, JSR, Karbonn, Lava (Xolo), Lenovo,LG, Longcheer and ZTE. Collectively, Windows Phone partners make up an impressive 56 percent of the global smartphone market, according to IDC.

This is exciting news for phone buyers around the world. With seven of the top 10 global OEMs—in addition to some of the leading brands in China, India and Taiwan— now collaborating with Windows Phone, you can expect to see an incredible new range of devices across screen sizes and price points. And of course we’re committed to delivering this device diversity without compromising the consistent, designed-around-you Windows Phone experience our users have grown to love.

Some of these partners are names that might not be familiar to you, but they’re leading the global expansion in the smartphone category. They bring competitive products to market because of their knowledge of the local markets, channels and consumers. They are important partners that will help broaden availability of Windows Phones to new and emerging markets.

New Windows Phone Hardware Support

Getting a wider range of device builders to create Windows Phones required us to enable even more hardware flexibility and to make the engineering process of building a Windows Phone even easier. Thus we also announced:

  • We are adding support for Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 and 400 series chipsets, with options that support all major cellular technologies, including LTE (TDD/FDD), HSPA+, EVDO and TD-SCMA. We will also support soft keys and dual SIM where our partners want it for their devices. One nice benefit of these additions is that many hardware vendors will be able to use the same hardware for both Android and Windows Phone devices.
  • To streamline the process of building a Windows Phone device, today we launched the Windows Hardware Partner Portal so that all our hardware partners will have direct access to the tools and content needed to build and market their Windows Phone devices efficiently and cost-effectively.

We also are working closely with Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. to help manufacturers anywhere in the world quickly and easily broaden their portfolio by building Windows Phone devices through the well-established Qualcomm Reference Design (QRD) program. Making it easier for manufacturers to take advantage of reference design options is an important step for Windows Phone. ABI Research notes a major smartphone industry shift towards reference designs since they speed time to market, and estimates that more than 400 million reference design smartphones will be shipped in 2014.

Evolving Windows 8

As part of my “new job,” I talked as well about Windows on tablets and PCs, and what to expect from us in the near future.

We are committed to making Windows the best place for our partners to build great devices. Today that means different screen sizes, input methods, connectivity needs, and usage scenarios. Above all, we want that experience to feel natural for our customers. We want it to be familiar and tailored to the device. We want your stuff to be there no matter where you are, ready for whatever you need, and we want it to run beautifully on hardware made by partners around the world.

With Windows 8, there’s no doubt that we made a big bet and took a first step toward that future. We bet on touch and on mobility in a big way, and included a fresh take on what a touch-based interface could be for customers. We believe deeply in this direction and the future will continue to build on Windows 8.

We shipped Windows 8.1 in under a year in response to customer and partner feedback, and we’ll continue to refine and improve Windows to deliver a productive and delightful experience for all users on all devices. And, you’ll see us continue on a more rapid release cadence where we deliver ongoing value to all your Windows devices.

Over the next few months, we’ll continue to deliver innovation and progression with an update to Windows 8.1, coming this spring. We’re especially excited about several things I want to preview with you here.

  • We’ll enable our partners to build lower cost hardware for a great Windows experience at highly competitive price points.
  • We are making improvements to the user interface that will naturally bridge touch and desktop, especially for our mouse and keyboard users. We have a number of targeted UI improvements that keep our highly satisfying touch experience intact, but that make the UI more familiar and more convenient for users with mouse/keyboard. Don’t worry, we still LOVE and BELIEVE IN touch… but you’ll like how much more smooth and convenient these changes make mouse and keyboard use!
  • We are enhancing support for enterprise customers via a few tweaks, particularly including features that greatly improve IE8 compatibility in Internet Explorer 11, which is especially critical for web-based line of business applications. Additionally, we’re extending mobile device management capabilities and making deployment easier.

More news still to come

Speaking of our enterprise customers, we are also hard at work on delivering a compelling new update for Windows Phone that will add key features for consumers, as well as a big investment in enterprise customer capabilities, including VPN, S/MIME support, enterprise Wi-Fi, extended mobile device management and certificate management. Along with a host of great developer and consumer value, we expect to deliver this to customers this spring with new phones following as we move into summer.

2013 was an exciting and busy year chock full of big changes in our industry and at Microsoft. I’m really excited about seeing what the new and hot technologies are as Mobile World Congress opens tomorrow, and even more excited about the work we’ll be able to deliver for customers, partners and developers over the next several months. Stay tuned!

28 Comments
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  • Lin
    0 Posts

    PLEASE make Picasa compatible with Windows 8.1.  I have used Photo Gallery and Photos in the apps and find them lacking in the tools I want to use to manage my photos.  Also very unhappy that I can't link my new Ipod to my new computer.  I've read that the problem is Apple, not Microsoft but come on, lets get going on linking Apple and Microsoft.  Had Windows XP and linked everything with no problem.  Still have my old computer but obviously won't be able to use it after April due to Microsoft not supporting it.  What is one to do?   HELP

  • Great news, hope Windows will be one of the best companies worldwide!

  • joeford
    0 Posts

    I I have been leaving this comment on every forum I can find that seems relevant hoping to get through to someone who can make a difference.  

    After struggling for this past year to get Windows Phones into our corporate environment, I was able to get 10+ of our 60 person company on Lumia phones with more users requesting them. At the same time we have been setting up full Office 365 including Lync voice.  A few weeks ago we started up Lync IM, presence, calling, etc only to find that the Windows Phone Lync app DOES NOT respond unless the phone is awake and the Lync app is on screen. Apple and Android phones work perfectly, receiving Lync calls when their app is in the background or the phone is on standby.

    Due to this the Suits in the corner office have REMOVED the Windows Phone from the approved purchase list. I can now only deploy iPhone or Android into our Microsoft Lync environment.

    If this is not corrected VERY SOON Windows Phone is DEAD in the enterprise.

    I have been using Windows Phones in their many iterations exclusively for over 10 years and am very disappointed with this situation.

  • EllePi
    0 Posts

    In my opinion, it's urgent to improve the calendar!

  • Let's just hope that at least one of those is ballsy enough to return a physical keyboard for us. In the meantime, I'm sticking to my Dell Venue Pro Windows Phone 7.8 --got 3 more stashed in case it breaks. Touchscreen is just useless for someone who does heavy typing (long letters, etc.) on the go (while in public transpo, etc). I tried it 3 times; came back to physical. One is no longer a teenager for just sending substanceless short texts (pace Nicholas Carr's idea that we have all some level of ADD precisely due in part to that fragmented type of new, disturbing messaging trend). These were supposed to be communication devices --not merely phones. The ex-CEO of Nokia got that right. It is ironic that Windows is letting the executive crowd out there to rot (pushing them indirectly to switch to the dying BB, or even to the garbage of Android --some of which have physical qwerty's). In the meantime, I'm holding ALL MY GEAR to Windows 7 --which syncs nicely enough to WP7.8. You want "3 screens and one cloud"? Sure. I'm there already. But no Windows Phone with a physical keyboard? No switching to Windows 8, ever --which would render it, for yet one more reason, as the pathetic new Vista. Build at least one phone with a physical keyboard and let those who actually produce content from a phone (rather than merely using it as a consumer device) evolve with the whole ecosystem. I'm a philosophy professor doing a PhD in philosophy of technology, faithful to Windows devices at all levels from the beginning, but increasingly disappointed by this "touch screen only" trend. Let us hope someone listens.

  • Latest updates to Windows Phone 8 Produce some problems: 1. Calendar does not synch with Hotmail calendar; 2. Text messages default to "Home Phone" even if the home phone cannot accept text messages and there is a cell phone in the record (Xfer the home # to Home Phone 2 works around; 3. OneDrive does not appear as a choice to synch photos; 4. Wallet says it works for MS Store only...; 5. Third-party password managers (Roboform) designed for Windows phone will not function. What to do?

  • Mantvydas
    15 Posts

    Now that Windows Phone is over 10%, and BlackBerry is so low, and can't do anything about it, I think Microsoft should be buying Blackberry to make use of their data compression, cheap roaming and instant messaging features. That'd be killer for everyone not only to enterprises.

  • I want to point point issues with MS office 2013 UI.

    I want to point out to this discussion:

    answers.microsoft.com/.../c23e5018-5020-4137-b6a5-62c8aef2cbab

  • How about Huawei Ascend W1? Is there any chance of update to Windows 8.1???...

  • hi there

    Where I can watch the full Microsoft conference at MWC 2014 ?

    Thanks alot

  • We will have more to share about the upcoming update for Windows 8.1 in the coming weeks that will answer a lot of people's questions. Stay tuned!

  • Does context menu on Start Screen shows up only on devices with no touch interface? The reason for question is concern that it really looks out of place and don't want to use word 'ugly'. I see no benefit of it even though i am using only mouse and keyboard. Metro Screen has too many hidden elements and it is not really friendly for consumers intended to. As power user it took me 10 minutes to figure out whole interface but again greatly suffering because it gets in away where i am and where i want to be. I wish MS gives us that option to say Start Menu or Start Screen...choice is yours.

  • Inteller: oe, get metro Office on Surface and Surface 2 and strip out Desktop... it simply has no place on these touch first devices. Port over what little accessories are needed like cmd prompt, but get rid of Desktop.  Surface should be about a pure modern experience.

    That is valid if you only use the tablet as a tablet.  I use mine as a tablet AND my main desktop computer.  I plug it into a dock with 2 screens, a keyboard and a mouse.  In that mode, I live in desktop mode.  So no, it's isn't a clever move to "strip out desktop"

  • abm
    268 Posts

    @, you must have missed this www.markspace.com/.../nokia.. Nokia's "Welcome Home app". Its out for like year now..

  • I am pleased to read that the Windows 8 update will make the UI more acceptable for desktop users.  

    The desktop community has mostly avoided "upgrading" to Windows 8. Most of us who were forced to "upgrade" to Windows 8 due to a new PC purchase, have been forced to circumvent Metro with third-party shells.  

    You "LOVE and BELIEVE IN touch" believe in touch... the real question is, do your core-customers believe in touch?

    Desktop users are your core-customers.  You will never catch up to Apple in the pad or phone market.

  • Joe, really great to know that you guys are putting in so much work. Although I am very happy with Windows Phone and my Lumia 1520, I still think that a File Manager is absolutely required and should be addressed on priority. Also the inability to attach files (not pictures) is very irritating too. Please address these issues on priority. Thanks again. Keep up the good work.

  • Joe,

    For the last two years I have been telling Microsoft through various channels that you truly need to increase your efforts at making the migration from other phones - iPhone and Android - as seamless as possible.  It is still a real pain and, for example, and I am still struggling - weeks later - to get my 11 year old son using his new Windows phone as his choice to replace his iPhone.  As an example after 4+ hours of efforts we still do not have Xbox Music working on his phone ... for no reason by a poor user experience and lack of ability to support.

    If you are not able to make this migration easy and painless, then you are going to have lots of younger generations who will complain about the experience. .. not what you want.

    Focus some energy on these things ... it will pay off in the long run!

  • tribexx
    8 Posts

    If you want to experience growth in the US, now that MS owns Nokia's Hardware, release the same phone on all US carriers. 3-4 phones every year or 2-year cycle...

    500 series

    900 series

    10(20) series

    1500 series

    If this was the case I would have, not only a 928 on VZW, but one or more 1020s and 2 backup 520s. Family members on Sprint would have had 1020s.

  • I went into Verizon today *looking for* a Lumia Icon; you know, that amazing new smart phone that just became available last week.  Is the marketing plan for Lumia Icon to keep it as big a secret as possible?  Because I almost couldn't find the phone.  Then, I found it, at the back of the store with other Windows Phones on a display that had a big ad for the MotoX on it.  Why is anybody surprised that Windows Phone can't scratch 5% market share in the US when there is *absolutely no marketing effort whatsoever* for it?

  • will the new windows phone ICON get the update to 8.1 when it comes out? the salesperson at the microsoft store was unable to answer this.

  • Ronnet
    0 Posts

    If you want to being Windows and WP closer together, why not start with the easy things? Why cant you add the option to make WP look as colorful as Windows? Or Windows as monotone as WP? Both styles are appreciated by customers and customers should be free to customize this.

    Like in this concept video: www.youtube.com/watch

  • Thanks Joe,

    the way to a professional and modern OS is very necessary to all professional users. VPN to e.g. "Fritz-Box" from AVM is necessary to access the intranet (File-System, Home-Server, standard laser Printer for WORD/JPG/PDF and so on) at home.

    Scheduled Sending of messages and SMS is as necessary as a scalable/zoomable month-view/week/view and day-view of the calendar. The month-view is nearly a fake - no text is correct. Other programms should help using the calendar better - make it more useful.

    The tasks/to-dos have to be synchronized over the air from phone to pc and other phones using the same calendar.

    A browser for photos, PDFs, WAV, XLS, MP3, MP4, DOC and other standard formats with sorting/subdirectory/renaming/attatching to mails (no link - real attatchment) is very necessary to Win8Phone Users.

    Standard usability is the use of self-defined shortcuts like "tia" -> "thanks in advance" or "yrb" -> "Yours   Bjoern" or "twimc" -> "To whom it may concern" - so everyone can use his/her favourite long phrases (long sentences, placeholders (Time/date/GPS-Coordinates and so on), the whole signature private and professional and so on).

    Please help to make Win8Phone that, what other OS (some examples above from BB Curve with 64 MB) have had 5 years ago - so that it is state of the art.

    Bjoern from Germany

  • vieya
    44 Posts

    This is great but when will a Nokia be released on Sprint? It's been 2 years at least by at this point that Sprint users have not seen a Nokia phone release on Sprint. Since you guys now are partnered with Nokia it would be nice if you could give us an answer.  

  • abm
    268 Posts

    That is Great! Thank you Joe.

    Besides File Explorer improvements and deep integration with Windows Phone, hopefully there will be improved Hyper-V support, so we can finally get this github.com/.../1244.

    Also, IE to get WebRTC and latest WebGL v1.0.2 (current implementation in IE11 is at 0.9 mark) AND Improved F12 dev tools:

    //connect.microsoft.com/IE/feedback/details/798021

    //connect.microsoft.com/IE/feedback/details/791981

    //connect.microsoft.com/IE/feedback/details/792543

    //connect.microsoft.com/IE/feedback/details/797447

    //connect.microsoft.com/IE/feedback/details/798009

    //connect.microsoft.com/IE/feedback/details/798046

    //connect.microsoft.com/IE/feedback/details/800084

    //connect.microsoft.com/IE/feedback/details/801923

    //connect.microsoft.com/IE/feedback/details/805145

    //connect.microsoft.com/IE/feedback/details/805163

    //connect.microsoft.com/IE/feedback/details/811024

  • Joe, get metro Office on Surface and Surface 2 and strip out Desktop... it simply has no place on these touch first devices. Port over what little accessories are needed like cmd prompt, but get rid of Desktop.  Surface should be about a pure modern experience.

  • I find it particularly interesting adding the new key features for enterprise customers as being not able to connect to the Wi-Fi at work or use VPN when outside was a big problem for me. Also for the introduction of missing key apps, I am happy with the 2013 progress and think Facebook Messenger is a good edition as the built-in messenger was not really a good alternative.

  • Joe, I'm upset to see the removal of the action bar on the start screen. Doing that destroyed the unity with metro apps. If users are still going to get the action bar on Metro apps - even on the desktop, then why is there an out of place context menu on the Start Screen now?

  • This is could be am encouraging statement..."..support for enterprise customers...greatly improve IE8 compatibility in Internet Explorer 11..." Silverlight? Silverlight on SurfaceRT?