This post is totally off-topic for, it’s so off-topic that I’ve decided to add a new “off-topic” category to the blog… just because I’d like to repeat the experiment in the future. 😉

phone_start-730x730Microsoft is going to announce new hardware very soon. Rumors reckon… Surface 4 Pro, new phones and maybe an Xbox light(?).

Surface is the key

A few months back I bought a Surface 3, which I consider a great device for traveling, especially now that it runs Windows 10. It has some annoying bugs, but the overall experience is excellent and I now use it more often than any other PC I have.

The new Surface 4 Pro will likely be bigger (12″, and a 14″ model maybe?) and a (much) more powerful device targeted to power users who want the best in terms of performance from a portable device (CAD, video and photo editing included).

At the end of the day, especially after Apple announcing the iPad Pro, it’s clear that Microsoft has found the right balance for professionals. A tablet for managing basic tasks and consuming media with the ability to become a full-fledged PC when it comes down to doing serious work.

It could sound incredible, but now Surface products count for $1B per Quarter in revenues for Microsoft… and PC vendors, including Apple, have started copying Surface!
It’s amazing how often Surface comes up in conversations with other IT professionals, and how many of them are now considering to buy one!

I want a Surface phone

I’m really new to the Microsoft ecosystem but, thanks to the cloud, I can move pretty quickly from device to device regardless of the OS. Well, it’s not totally seamless, there are some constraints… but I’m now living in a very Multi-OS environment and I choose the best App/OS for every single task.

Long story short, I’d like to see Microsoft choose the name “Surface” for the new phones too… but I know it won’t :/

Lumia phones never caught the interest of Professional or Enterprise users for many different reasons. The list is very long: lack of applications, limited hardware, immaturity, some residual antipathy for Microsoft… But it is also true that Ive rarely found a Windows Phone user unhappy with the OS itself.

In the last year Microsoft has flooded Google and Apple App Stores with many interesting applications: OneDrive, Outlook, Skype, Office365, Launchers, Games, Onenote, photo and video tools… And now it’s not unusual to find people using some of these tools in their day-to-day activities (I happen to be one of them). If it is true that Apps are at the base of mobile experience, Microsoft is definitely nailing it!

microsoft-iphoneSatya Nadella has recently joked about the iPhone being full of MS apps during a presentation and he called it an “iPhone Pro”… A Surface phone could be a consolidation of Microsoft’s strategy: a productivity phone or better still, a phone for professionals. For example, I’m using OneNote to write this post on a 5.5 Android phone while waiting for my kids to come out of school.

But where are the (Pro) Apps?

The biggest problem Microsoft had with previous phones/OSes was the lack of Apps. And I mean primary Apps!
Looking at the Microsoft Store, there is some activity… But it’s not enough.
I don’t know what Microsoft is planning to do, but they absolutely need to find a way to involve more ISVs (and small startups). Development tools are important… But developers want to see the money first! Microsoft has to show where the money is. It’s not only a matter of market share, it’s a complicated mixture of marketing, huge investments and educational efforts.

And migration is all but easy

Last week I tried… but I failed!
My current Android phone has battery problems, and I searched for a temporary phone while waiting for something better. I found a Lumia 640xl (LTE) on Amazon for €229. Sounded good to me, it was intended just as an experiment.

movetoiosBut, before ordering it, I wanted to check out how to migrate my stuff. Sometimes it’s just a matter of different services (Google photos, for example, doesn’t have a client on Windows Phone), in other cases I don’t know what to expect from Microsoft for many services I use on a daily basis (Google Maps for example).

Well, you know what? There are no automatic procedures or apps to facilitate this process. You have to figure out how to do it and then do it all manually! (With all the issues you’ll have to face)… Really??!?! I don’t have time to waste on that.
This is going to be a major obstacle. Migrating from iOS to Android (and viceversa) has always been easy due to the existence of some reciprocal form of support and specific Apps to help inexperienced users through the process.

Closing the circle

From the enterprise/professional standpoint, Apple iOS and Phones are still the best: better supported by third parties and with the best overall user experience. Android is less interesting to business/Pro users for several reasons but the new generation of high-end-commodity phones (€300/400) is not that bad… The question is: “does a third player have any chance in succeeding?”.

From my personal POV, looking only at entperise and professioanl markets, “Surface Phones” have a chance only if Microsoft plays its cards very well. IIRW, enterprise mobile market is an 80/20 split for Apple now. With Blackberrys and others already out of the picture, Microsoft must try to get a 20% of this market in less than 2 years. It’s tough, but since it has an agreement to sell its Suraface tablets through primary vendors like Dell, why not expand it to sell Phones too? This, along with some very aggressive tactics would be of help for sure.

I’m tempted by the Windows phone (I like Windows 10, the Surface and some of the features, like Continuum, which will be introduced with the mobile OS)… But I don’t know if it is enough to justify a change.

I don’t want to hurt my productivity nor the user experience… But I’m really curious to see what happens on 6th of next month and the days later. hoping that reviews will be favorable and Apps available.

Another problem is the ecosystem itself… some services are simply missing (As far as I know Microsoft doesn’t have a cloud storage dedicated to photos like Google or Apple, for example). I could live with that… but Microsoft should develop an app or a set of best practices to help users in the migration process. It needs to be done very soon if their target is to lure users from other platforms!

Comments are very welcome.