New data visualization apps for Excel 2013 could help Microsoft hang on to customers looking for better data visualization tools.
Ballmer: the next app maker to "hit it big" will be a Windows developer
The premise of BYOD is that users choose their own smartphones and tablets and bring them to work, where IT is forced to accomodate them.
But what if you build a platform that nobody chooses?
That's been Microsoft's dilemma with Windows Phone. Despite a wholly original look and feel -- no "thermonuclear" patent lawsuits here -- and some groundbreaking features in important areas like contact management, maps, search, and gaming, Windows Phone has been stubbornly stuck below 2% market share since its introduction almost two years ago. A big cross-marketing deal with Nokia, which chose Microsoft as its exclusive platform developer in 2011, and the launch of some pretty solid phones under the Lumia brand earlier this year didn't help.
Today in New York, Microsoft and Nokia took the wraps off their next effort to change this.
The Lumia 920, the high-end flagship phone running Windows Phone 8, looks great. It's got some cutting-edge features, particularly related to photos and videos -- for instance, it automatically stabilizes images to overcome shaky hands, which lets it leave the lens open longer to shoot in very low light. It also supports wireless charging -- just set it down on a "charging plate" -- and has built-in augmented reality in its location apps. (For more details on the 920 see these first takes in Infoworld and Computerworld.)
But the real difference this time comes down to the underlying operating system, Windows Phone 8. Unlike its predecessor, it is based on the same kernel as Microsoft's next PC operating system, Windows 8, and shares other common components as well. The user interface is also very similar to the Windows 8 touch screen UI.
At today's event, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage and explained where this common platform is leading, and why it's important. As you might expect from Microsoft, the strategy hinges on developers.
"We've done a lot of work to standardize the foundation, to give developers across a family of devices a chance to build applications they can monetize in amazing ways. One year from now, Windows Phone, Windows tablets, Windows PCs -- we should see close to 400 million new devices running those operating systems."
In other words, developers who want to target the largest possible audience should target Windows 8. Those developers will then find it relatively easy to move the same applications over to Windows Phone 8. As that happens, users will finally find that Windows Phone has the same level of variety and "long-tail" apps that have helped make Android and the iPhone so successful.
Ballmer also hinted that the UI similarities between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 will be a help. Once users have become accustomed to using Windows 8 apps on their PCs, they'll find Windows Phone to be comfortably familiar.
At least that's the theory.
Surface has been a stiff so far, but Microsoft reportedly has big expectations for its next fiscal year. Here's why the company may not be crazy.
Brandon Porco, the chief technologist for defense contractor Northrop Grumman, says that IT will have to try lots of different things and move quickly to keep abreast of evolving employee needs. "Google has it very well-patterned: Launch and iterate."
Although Apple is often accused of not being an enterprise company, it's only in the last few years that Apple has abandoned its enterprise-oriented products. The real story may be that Apple's discovered that making enterprise-focused efforts simply don't deliver a huge return on investment.
Majority of Windows 8 PC owners launch less than one app a day