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Microsoft tries to compete with Google and Apple

In addition to the launch of new Windows Phone devices, including the flagship Lumia 930, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) had two other big pieces of news on Tuesday at the BUILD conference.
First, new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced that Microsoft would be following in Google Inc.'s (GOOG) footsteps, offering Windows for free to tablet and smartphone OEMs.  
This was surely a difficult decision, one that Microsoft's last CEO, Steve Ballmer, was unable to make.  But Microsoft had already in recent years drastically trimmed its smartphone and tablet licensing rates, given that it was spending a lot of money to make these products and almost no one was buying or using them.  Prior to this week's announcement, Microsoft was reportedly charging between $5 USD and $15 USD per tablet (Windows RT) or smartphone (Windows Phone) license.

Lumia 630

Gartner, Inc. (IT) estimates that today only 3 percent of smartphones and 2 percent of tablets run Windows.  Microsoft is currently in third place in each market.
But going free could change that.  
Mr. Nadella, who rose up at Microsoft as a cloud computing star, indicated that the cloud will be a key part of Microsoft's strategy going forward.  He states:

We are going to innovate with a challenger mindset. We are not coming at this as some incumbent trying to do the next version of Windows, we are going to come at this by innovating in every dimension.

Our vision, simply put, is to thrive in this world of mobile first, cloud first.  Our goal is to really build platforms, create the best end-user experiences, the best developer opportunities and IT infrastructure for this ubiquitous computing world.

Key components of that cloud strategy include natural language processing and cloud storage.  Microsoft announced the personal assistant Cortana at BUILD, which is currently in beta.  Significantly smarter than Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) current model Siri assistant, Cortana's advanced abilities to understand rather abstract queries heavily leverages Microsoft's cloud computing prowess.  Likewise Microsoft's recently announced OneDrive is gunning for Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Google Drive and other storage services like Box.
Microsoft is rumored to be considering an ad-supported free version of PC (laptop, desktop, hybrids) Windows to OEMs as well.

Source: Reuters

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RE: data plans and coverage
By retrospooty on 4/3/2014 10:50:51 AM , Rating: 2
"3g/4g coverage and speeds. How does microsoft plan to change those limitations to make it's cloud so much more usable than what is presently available, and often not utilized."

Most people are on Wifi at home and at work, which covers the vast majority of their day. Data plan limits are irrelevant for most, as the times you would be accessing that type of data would usually be at home or work, not while out and about. I use the hell out of my phone, but am almost always on Wifi. I think I use less than 512mb of my 2gb (if that) every month.

RE: data plans and coverage
By hughlle on 4/3/2014 11:13:23 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed, but a huge number of people do not work in places with wifi, or their job does not permit them to use their phones for more than sending a text. And for the time when they are at home with wifi, why do they need use of the cloud?

If cloud is to be successful on mobile devices, which it seems it isn't at present, it will, in my opinion, be because it is usable on the go, not set locations. If my data plan and mobile coverage allowed me to upload and download music, videos, and files willy nilly, then i would use it on a regular basis, but due to the time it takes me to upload or download even a single song, it just isn't worth it.

RE: data plans and coverage
By FITCamaro on 4/3/2014 11:58:07 AM , Rating: 2
People who don't work in places with wifi generally aren't supposed to be using their personal phones to begin with, so the point is moot. And most of those people also probably don't have a lot of reason to access important information that is extremely large.

Google Docs doesn't really use a lot of data either.

Also I generally get a few hundred KB/sec to over 1MB/sec through my Note 2 on 4G. So I don't get how that isn't fast enough for most usage scenarios.

RE: data plans and coverage
By kleinma on 4/3/2014 12:01:35 PM , Rating: 3
Well, every picture I take on my phone automatically backs up to my skydrive. I can take a picture with my windows phone, and watch it appear on my PC in about 60 seconds. When I want to show someone a photo, I can do so on my tablet, even though I took it with my phone.

I also have all my onenote notebooks sync between my devices via the cloud, so I always have all my notes with me, regardless if I am on my PC, phone, tablet, whatever...

It sounds to me like you just don't have a good cell carrier, and maybe your access to wifi is limited, but that is not the case for the majority of people...

RE: data plans and coverage
By gixser on 4/3/2014 2:03:35 PM , Rating: 2
The thing I like about Windows Phone is that I can download my maps, xbox music, Nokia mixes, etc while on wi-fi for later use. I can also tell it to only upload my photos to the cloud when I'm on wi-fi. I don't worry about data use charges (work phone) but I like the efficiency of this approach.

Also see Wi-Fi Sense:

RE: data plans and coverage
By Alexvrb on 4/6/2014 12:03:58 PM , Rating: 2
Those are all really great features. But to me, the maps isn't just about bandwidth conservation. If you're travelling and you lose reception on a device with no offline maps, well... there goes your map! But you still have GPS, so a device with an offline map still works perfectly. There's been a couple of occasions where I've fired up Drive to help someone with an Android device that thought we were driving through a rather strange flat checkerboard section of the mountains.

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