Microsoft – A Mobile Strategy Does Not Have To Include Phones

Microsoft and their mobile devices, Microsoft Lumia, were in the news again this week and not in a good way.  The company has all-but confirmed that they will be killing off the devices and brand by the end of 2016.  As a long time H/PC, PocketPC, Windows Mobile, and Windows Phone users (I started this site back in 2004 writing about Handheld PCs and PocketPCs), it is a shame to see a company with the resources of Microsoft so utterly screw up their mobile strategy around devices.  There are a lot of reasons for this of course and I could spend a lot of digital ink on it.  But the bottom line is, from a device perspective, Microsoft made a long series of major missteps that has led to where we are today:  Virtually no Windows powered phones.  Sure there is the new HP Elite X3 but at the price point it has ($799), it will see very few and really, it’s aimed at the enterprise anyway.

But to suggest that Microsoft’s mobile strategy is dead because their phones are dead is a bit of a stretch and dare I say, false.  Their strategy is very much alive and well across both Android and iOS and proves that you don’t necessarily have to have phones in the mix.  Microsoft’s focus has been pretty clear for the last two years.  First, they want you using Microsoft services on whatever devices you want to use.  Second, they want you to have the apps to make you productive and give you near the same level of functionality as you have on the desktop.  These two things not only make up a mobile strategy but it makes a pretty solid one.

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Google Could Be Bringing Services to Windows 10 Mobile

Nokia Lumia 1320

Some interesting news and rumors to start your week.  Tomorrow, Microsoft is holding an event where it is widely expected that they will launch at least two new Windows 10 Mobile devices along with the new Surface 4 Pro and other key announcements.  This event likely is a signal that the mobile version of Windows 10 is at or very close to completion.

Now there are rumors floating about that Google will be in attendance and that they will be announcing a wide range of Google apps to access their services on Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile.  This would be a huge step forward in the relationship between the two tech giants with Google pretty much ignoring Microsoft and Windows these past few years.  If you remember, I wrote a piece on the one sided relationship between the companies earlier this year and as of today, not much has changed.  That could be very different tomorrow.

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Next Windows 10 for Phone Build Covers The Entire Range of Lumia Devices

Windows 10 Icon

According to a blog post by Gabe Aul, if you own a Lumia device you will likely have the next Windows 10 for Phone preview available on your device.  The news is certainly welcome to everyone who was disappointed by the limited number of devices the original preview was available for in January.  That seems to be resolved thanks to the partition stitching process that had to be resolved on many devices and within the next couple of weeks we should see a new build.

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Microsoft Announces The Lumia 430

Lumia 430 Icon

Continuing their dive to the bottom of the price barrel on smartphones, Microsoft today has announced the new Lumia 430.  This $70 Windows Phone 8.1 powered device has minimal specs as you would expect for that price point but does has a few things going for it in that it is upgradable to Windows 10 for Phone and it is a Dual-SIM device.  Otherwise this phone is not going to set the world alight but that really isn’t want Microsoft is intending with the Lumia 430.  It is a budget friendly phone aimed at specific markets (APAC, IMEA, Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Belarus) to go after the “next billion” in Microsoft plans.

That means we will likely never see the Lumia 430 here in the United States.

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The Best Windows Experience on Microsoft Hardware – Why It Should Happen

Microsoft Icon

I will preface this post with a disclaimer to start in an effort to ward off the flaming emails.  The purpose of this post is not to suggest that Microsoft should get rid of their current ecosystem of partners.  It is too fast and far to important to the company and the success of their solutions.  All you have to do is look at the all new Dell XPS 13 laptop and read the raving reviews it is getting to understand just how important OEMs are in the mix for Microsoft.

But equally, you can look at the Microsoft built and branded devices and see where the company could and should be more actively involved in hardware manufacturing.  I’m not talking about mice and keyboards (although they do a pretty good job at that too) but rather things like the Microsoft Lumia lineup and the Surface Pro 3.  Arguably the best Windows experience for their form factor are on these devices because Microsoft has intimately been involved in the hardware design of them to get the most out of the Operating System.  Even with the Microsoft Band, a device that is near impossible to get because they can’t keep them in stock, produces a great experience for users.  And while user experience is important, there is also the matter of controlling their own destiny when it comes to updates and improvements along with security.  All of these are why I think Microsoft should look long and hard at the PC and Laptop market for their own branded devices.

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Lumia 640 and Lumia 640XL Not Coming To Verizon

Lumia 640XL Icon

Yesterday’s announcement of the new Lumia 640 and Lumia 640XL seems to have gone over well with many relieved to see a mid-range phone instead of a low-end Windows Phone come to the market.  I still contend there needs to be a flagship phone sooner rather than later but that’s a different discussion for a different glass of wine.

One interesting observation though:  Verizon was not mentioned at all as a US carrier who will have these new Lumia devices.  AT&T will carry both the Lumia 640 and Lumia 640XL while T-Mobile and MetroPCS will carry the Lumia 640.  It appears, at least for now, the Lumia 640XL will be exclusive to AT&T which, frankly, it should be given that AT&T has been a supporter of the platform.  So you will have the US #2 and #3 carriers with these new budget friendly devices but not the #1 carrier in Verizon.

Given the history of Verizon with Windows Phone however, this shouldn’t come as a complete shock to anyone.

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AT&T Confirms – Will Carry The Lumia 640 and 640XL

With the announcements of the Lumia 640 and Lumia 640XL this morning at Mobile World Congress, one of the first questions that came up was when or if we would see these in the US market.  The answer came almost as quickly as the announcements themselves.  AT&T has issued a Press Release stating that they will carry the Lumia 640 and will be the first US carrier to have the Lumia 640XL in their lineup.  While pricing and release dates were not a part of the announcement, you can expect them to be here pretty soon given that Microsoft announced they are available this month.

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Microsoft Lumia 640 and Lumia 640XL Launch Videos

Lumia 640 Icon

As part of the launch announcements for the Lumia 640 and Lumia 640XL, Microsoft has released two new launch videos covering both devices.  Both of the videos can be found after the break and both are quite dramatic, outlining the look and feel of the devices as well as the wide range of apps that come built into the device.

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