2013: The Year of Unification

2013: The Year of Unification

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As 2013 comes to a close, I want to take a moment to reach out and thank all of you for your support of the Windows platform over the past year. I continue to be amazed by the apps you create, and I appreciate your ongoing feedback. Hearing from you helps us improve our platform, tools and the Store experience to best show off your creations. Thank you.

Over the past years, the ability to use apps on a variety of devices (phone, tablet, and PC) and in different contexts has become more important as the world becomes ever more connected. As users spend increasing amounts of time on their devices and using your apps, it is critical that users are not simply satisfied but delighted.

To achieve the ultimate goal of delighting our users across the world, we have not wavered from our mission to provide a confident, convenient, and customized app experiences, and provide developers with the tools and environment to rapidly innovate and maximize their opportunity.

Creating opportunities for developers

We’ve focused our efforts this year on three key areas to create developer opportunity:

1. Unification: Creating a shared experience for all devices – phone, tablet, PC – that access the platform increases your opportunity to reach the maximum number of potential users. In addition, users are engaging with the Store more frequently, with transaction volume up 3x year-over-year, and 12M transactions per day heading into a busy holiday season. Although we made a number of improvements throughout the year, the biggest change came in November with the release of the unified Windows and Windows Phone registration experience. This single, lower-cost registration workflow makes it much easier for you to address an even larger base of users across device types and located in over 190 markets.

2. Faster development: This year we focused on lowering the time and effort required to build better apps and games for the Windows platform. We partnered with leading providers to expand support for middleware tools and solutions – Unity, Marmalade, Corona Labs – to give developers incentive and tools to port already popular apps and games to the platform. We launched a major update to Visual Studio, as well as Windows 8.1. We introduced a new Developer Preview program to give Windows Phone developers access to the latest builds for testing, and we released tools for novice developers, which include Windows Phone App Studio Beta and Project Siena for Windows enterprise app development.

3. Monetization and engagement: To be a successful app developer, you need a set of flexible business models and your users need a wide range of payment options. This year we added and saw rapid adoption of the in-app purchase model. We’ve seen a steady increase in usage – in-app purchase currently represents nearly half of the download-to-own revenue in the Store. Advertising continues to be a popular business model, and this past year Microsoft Advertising began making investments in third-party ad networks to increase Windows Phone ad inventory and revenue. It also released enhanced reporting to give you insights into ad performance by market to help you optimize revenue.

In addition to business models, it is equally important to expand payment options that make it easy for users to pay for apps via their local, trusted source. New this holiday season are Microsoft and Xbox gift cards, distributed via retail stores and sales promotions from Microsoft and its partners. Windows Store gift cards make it easy for users to purchase apps from the Windows Store or the Windows Phone Store in more than 100 retail stores, in 41 markets. We’ve also tripled the number of carrier billing connections for Windows Phone Store users, for a total of 53 connections in 33 markets. This represents a significant opportunity for monetization – carrier billing can increase transaction volume by 6x in emerging markets where credit card penetration is low.

2013 saw first steps toward convergence, and continued investment in lowering development cost while expanding business opportunity. 2014 will see even more. I will continue to say it – there has never been a better time to develop for the Windows platform.

I want to thank you again for your support of the Windows platform and for all the amazing apps you create that delight users each and every day. Happy Holidays, everyone!

6 Comments
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  • Yeah I don't know if I'd go bragging about all that.  You guys missed TONS of huge opportunities, spent another year ignoring critical features, and people are starting to see the platforms get MORE fragmented.

    As "abm" said, number editing and seamless third party dialing are missing, and a seamless NFC experience is missing too.  Here are some more:

    No phones with keyboards.  That would be great if your target market were twelve year olds browsing instagram, but most of us are power users and business professionals.  Having a bluetooth keyboard would be a borderline acceptable stand-in, but that was removed in WP7 and hasn't come back.  

    Removing device backups.  You can back up a WP7.8 device (though you have to use a hack, which should have clued us in on the team's negative foresight), but there's no way to do it to a WP8 device.  If you complain about it on the forums, MSFTs will say that there's text and photo sync!, but there are two huge problems with that.  First, there's no way to verify that, you just have to hope that the stuff is actually getting backed up and hope it comes back when you set up your phone again.  Second, it doesn't back up app settings, start screen layout, and most OS settings.  You know, the things that people actually want to back up.

    Excessive lockdown on devices.  We can't change the boot loader, we can't install software that can do many useful things, apps can't communicate with each other on the device, apps can't interact directly with the OS, and apps can't pull most data from the OS.  Sure, a few of the excuses about security are reasonable, but there's no reason the user can't authorize permissions to allow things like seamless NFC activation or sending/receiving SMS.

    Users can't install downloaded XAPs.  What's the point of downloading them then?  Sure like the one phone that takes an SD card can make use of that.  Why can't I do it from skydrive?

    Now about the "unifcation"... are you completely disconnected from reality?  WP and tablet/desktop windows are almost completely disconnected.  

    IE in metro is pretty neat.  It has tab, favorites, and credential sync across devices and it's integrated with the desktop favorites and credential stores.  That's pretty useful.  IE on WP shares nothing but the name.  

    Your team is letting Nokia make disruptive cusomtizations to firmware for their phones.  The maps app is somewhere between crippled and blocked on new lumias, for example, and there are rumors that the task switcher close functionality is significantly changed after installing lumia black.

    Skype on WP shares only a name and login with the desktop.  IMs viewed on one device don't get marked on the other.

    You want some unification?  How about integrating the SMS experience.  I should be able to get a text on any WP device and be able to get a notification, view, and reply to it on my desktop, metro interface, or skydrive page.  I should be able to build an app to put that functionality in, too.  IE favorites and credentials should sync across devices seamlessly.  

    So how about you guys open your eyes, stop patting yourselves on the back, and actually build some of this unification that you think you have?

    And on my site: jordanmills.wordpress.com/.../to-the-windows-phone-team

  • Many companies, such as DirecTV and GolfNow advertise their apps on television.  I recall that during the Masters golf tournament, with millions of viewers, GolfNow ran several commercials on their new app that allows booking of starting times on a Smartphone.  DIRECTV also runs lots of commercials that get viewed by millions of people.  So, this is two of maybe a dozen companies that have apps that get advertised to millions of people.

    There is one common term that runs across all of the above that tens of millions of people hear: "Available on Android and IOS".  Immediately, anyone who might be interested in a Smartphone, consciously or subconsciously, rules out Windows Phone. Millions of people hear that term every day.

    Microsoft must stop this if they want WP to ever get traction.  There are all sorts of ways.

    Just do it.

  • I have one suggestion to integrate the tiles interface with the desktop interface:

    When we are on the Start screen, and we pinch with 2 fingers to "zoom out" the tiles, that "zoomed out" view should not only make the tiles smaller but make the desktop taskbar appear.

    This way one can easily switch between the two modes, and in desktop mode you can still use the tiles, thus integrating the two.

    While in desktop mode, clicking on a tile would open the app in a window.

    I think it is a simple solution that could make Windows 8 more seamless and logic. Thanks!

  • Jokur
    0 Posts

    6 Gadget That Fails on 2013 : www.youtube.com/watch

  • intech
    0 Posts

    Guys you have done a great job. I want to encourage that you continue your great job, Thanks for sharing.

    http://goo.gl/1XAeiC

  • abm
    268 Posts

    Hopefully next year you guys would bring more features to Phone OS rather than merely focusing on convergence of RT and Windows Phone OS.

    Windows Phone OS has lots of annoying limitations such as; lack of editing the number in dialing (cursor), third party to dial number without asking user every single time, uninterrupted NFC experience (with NFC ring, it gonna ask every single time for each and every actions