After a few years of being pushed into third place (at best) in the mobile market, Microsoft is showing signs of turning it round.
For years many people, me included, have had many complaints about Microsoft; we have been concerned about Microsoft’s domination of the computer world, preferred Mac OS to Windows, grumbled about computers slowing down over the months to the extent they are virtually unusable, not got on with Internet Explorer or Bing, etc. Still, there’s always been Office.
Then it all changed. With the resurgence of Apple, which stopped being specialised and became the ‘must have’ computers, and Android, which gave tablets and smartphones fantastic functionality, Microsoft suddenly lost its pole position. It appeared to be struggling to keep up, with the fall of PC sales (Gartner said in October 303 million PCs would be shipped in 2013 – an 8.4% decline from 2012, while IDC forecast that tablet sales would exceed PC sales (desktop plus portable PCs) in 2015. IDC also expects larger screen smartphones and ‘phablets’ to eat into the tablet market by 2016.
Given the position enjoyed by Apple and Google in these markets the future looked a little bleaker for Microsoft.
After years of Windows use I moved to a Mac, and also used a smartphone iPhone then Samsung Galaxy) and an Android tablet. The home PC was definitely the poor relation, running slowly and taking forever to do anything.
Microsoft took a while to sort out its response. Eventually after a couple of false starts it came up with a strategy that looks like it might work. New Chief Executive Satya Nadella while talking about the firm’s 2014 Q1 results included the sentence “This quarter’s results demonstrate the strength of our business, as well as the opportunities we see in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.” Interesting choice of words. Windows 8.1 appears to be an attempt to unite the desktop, tablet and smartphone experiences, and the acquisition of Nokia as ‘Microsoft Mobile’ is a shot at gaining smartphone market share.
Personally, I noticed a strange reaction. When the company struggled, I felt an odd affinity with it. I bought a convertible (Asus) laptop running 8.1, Windows seemed as comfortable as an old slipper. Having gone through Apple and Android, I didn’t have the reported familiarity issues with 8.1. The new machine is quick to start like a tablet, can be used as a tablet, and the Windows App Store is an easier way to download new applications. And there’s still Office…