News

Microsoft: Windows Phone Not Dead, Still Evolving

Paul Ballard

26 May , 2016  

The latest round of layoffs in Microsoft’s Windows Phone business—1,850 jobs will be cut, according to an announcement earlier this week—seems to signal the final death gasp of a segment of the company’s business that has long struggled. Windows phones currently make up less than one percent of smartphones sold worldwide.

Microsoft, however, continues to insist that it’s simply refining its mobile hardware strategy. In an email to partners obtained by Windows Central, the company reiterates that it’s now focusing on business customers. That’s one of three market niches Microsoft said last year it would prioritize.

The other two, value customers and diehard Windows Phone enthusiasts, seem to have been largely abandoned. The company recently sold its feature phone business to FoxConn for $350 million. And this week’s email indicates that Microsoft will be pulling back from selling phones in emerging markets like India and Brazil, where budget Windows Phones had found a following.

Microsoft hopes business customers will be drawn to its phones’ security features and the ability to use Continuum to connect to larger displays.

“We will continue to support and update the Lumia devices that are currently in the market, and the development of Windows 10 phones by OEMs, such as HP, Acer, Alcatel, VAIO, and Trinity; as well as develop great new devices,” Microsoft says in the email, according to Windows Central.… Read more

, ,

News

Windows 8.1 Mobile Customers Can Finally Upgrade to Windows 10

Paul Ballard

17 Mar , 2016  

Think Windows Phone is dead? Not so fast. Though the customer base for the mobile OS remains paltry compared to competitors iPhone and Android, Microsoft still seems to see the phones as important to its overall plan for Universal Windows Apps.

And on Thursday, the company began rolling out over-the-air updates to Windows 10 for Windows 8.1 mobile customers. Though only about three percent of smartphone users had Windows Phones as of November 2015, they’re a loyal bunch, so there’s been plenty of chatter about this online.

Some newer phones, like the Lumia 950, are already running Windows 10. But customers who bought older phones had been anxiously awaiting the upgrade for months. Because carriers have to approve the update, only some phones are eligible. (Users can download Update Advisor from the app store to see if they qualify.)

Microsoft also updated the list of phones eligible for the Windows Insider program, with some older phones no longer being supported.

So what’s in store for Windows Phone? Well, Microsoft is increasingly indicating that rather than owning the device market, they’re more interested in occupying certain niches (“affordable” phones) as well as pioneering non-traditional uses for phones—e.g., as portable mini-computers that can be connected to larger displays via Continuum.… Read more

,

Editorial

Microsoft’s Q2 Earnings Point to Success of Cloud-Focused Strategy

Paul Ballard

1 Feb , 2016  

After Microsoft reported earnings last week for the quarter ending Dec. 31, its stock jumped by more than 8 percent. That’s despite the fact that both profit and revenue fell from the previous year.

Why? Investors are excited about some of the same segments of Microsoft’s business that have drawn interest from developers: cloud services and productivity software.

Microsoft Azure, now second only to Amazon Web Services in its share of the public cloud market, saw revenue growth of 140 percent in the quarter. That number helps validate Microsoft’s ongoing transformation from a company known for making PCs and operating systems to one focused on providing cloud and enterprise services for today’s tech-savvy businesses.

“Azure is a compelling option that is slowly closing the gap on AWS, and I don’t see anything taking away from that trend,” Gartner Research vice president Adam Woodyer told USA Today. “Microsoft is still tied to (shrinking) PC demand, but we do see a gradual decoupling on that front.”

Office 365, the cloud version of Microsoft’s productivity suite, now boasts 20.6 million consumer subscriptions, up from 9.2 million last year. On the enterprise front, new research from Gartner shows Office 365 beating Google Apps for Work in adoption by large, publicly-traded companies.… Read more

, , ,

Editorial

Microsoft in 2015: The Good, the Bad and the Works in Progress

Paul Ballard

29 Dec , 2015  

‘Tis the season for year-in-review stories, and the techie blogosphere is sounding off on Microsoft’s performance in 2015. It was a banner year for Redmond, most observers agree, despite a few stumbles. Microsoft made bold forays into newer areas like virtual reality and hardware, while leveraging its strong enterprise customer base to build its cloud business, and releasing an operating system that people actually were excited to use. Or as the headline of a recent Business Insider piece put it, “Everybody suddenly loves Microsoft–but the turnaround’s not over yet.

By far the biggest success was Windows 10, now running on more than 120 million machines. With a seamless user experience on desktop and mobile, the new operating system “has for the most part erased any lingering bad memories” from “the disaster that was Windows 8” as Paul Thurrott writes on Petri. Heavy hitters from Netflix to Pandora have recently announced apps built on the Universal Windows Platform, which allows developers to create for multiple devices at once. (There’s even a BB-8 app that lets you control an on-screen droid with voice commands. Merry Christmas, Star Wars fans!)

Critics have slammed Microsoft for failing to address privacy concerns about user data collected by Cortana, Windows 10’s virtual assistant, and for a pushy rollout that had Windows 7 and 8.1 users facing a barrage of prompts to update.… Read more

, , , , , ,

Survey

Will Windows 10 Continuum Lure Developers Back to Windows Phone?

Paul Ballard

10 Sep , 2015   Video

Microsoft is pushing Windows 10 into every corner of the globe with more than 75 million devices running Windows 10 across 192 countries.  It’s next big push coming ostensibly as part of their October hardware announcement will be Windows 10 on phones, and with new hardware comes a feature called Continuum.  Continuum allows the latest Windows 10 phones to be docked to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse and then treated like a desktop device.  Universal Windows Apps running on the phone will be able to detect the larger monitor and keyboard/mouse and adapt themselves accordingly.

Microsoft is leading this model with the build of their Office products for Windows Phone.  In this video you can see Joe Belfiore running Excel and Outlook in a desktop mode from his pre-release Windows 10 phone.  Leaks even show that Microsoft is building a new docking cable for it’s Lumia line of phones code-named Munchkin.  Acer also announced it’s Jade Primo Windows 10 phone at IFA 2015 that includes a dock.

But will this amazing new feature finally be enough to lure developers to a Windows Phone platform?  Would you develop applications for Windows Phone/Continuum?  Tell us what you think in our latest poll below.… Read more

, ,

Survey

Is This The End For Lumia?

Paul Ballard

18 Jun , 2015  

In what seems an inevitable conclusion to the Microsoft-Nokia acquisition, Microsoft has announced that Stephen Elop would be leaving Microsoft.  This announcement came amidst yet another reorganization that also included the departure of former Server and Tools VP Eric Rudder, Kirill Tatarinov head of Dynamics CRM and ERP as well as Mark Penn whose departure is unrelated to the reorganization.

It’s been a wild ride for Stephen Elop.  Since leaving Microsoft the first time in 2010 to become CEO of what was the world’s largest handset manufacturer his career has been filled with controversy.  First was the decision to abandon Nokia’s Symbian OS in favor of Windows Phone and also killing off the Meego platform which was under development.  This move that left thousands of employees with a bitter taste in their mouth only to be made worse when tens of thousands of employees were laid off in an as a result of Nokia’s quickly shrinking market share.  Then in 2013 the announcement came that Microsoft would buy Nokia and Stephen Elop would rejoin Microsoft as EVP of Devices and Services.  Shortly after rejoining Microsoft there was some talk of Elop filling the CEO position after Steve Ballmer left, but this was fairly quickly quashed and current CEO Satya Nadella took the reigns.… Read more

, ,

Survey

Which Mobile OS Do You Trust?

Paul Ballard

23 Apr , 2015  

With recent revelations from the RSA Security Conference highlighting gaping security holes in iOS8 as well as pointing out that many Android apps don’t perform proper SSL validation, one has to wonder is their mobile data safe anywhere?

Amit Yoran, President of the RSA kicked off their company’s annual conference with a scathing commentary on the current state of security in the software industry calling our current mindset “Living in the Dark Ages”.

We are living in the Dark Ages of security. We cling to outmoded world views and rely on tools and tactics from the past, and yet we are surprised to find ourselves living in an era of chaos and violence. We must cast off the past and enter an Age of Enlightenment by pursuing greater visibility into and understanding of our digital world. — RSA Conference Keynote

According to the Computer Emergency Response Team, 22,000 Apps on Google’s Play Store including Kaspersky and Webroot don’t validate the authenticity of certificates that they use to secure communications to back-end servers.  This means that millions of users are vulnerable to certificate spoofing or using certificates that have been revoked by trusted certificate issuers.  To make matters worse, the checking of validation for SSL certificates is turned ON by default by Google and has to be turned off by developers.  … Read more

, , ,

Wintellect Blogs

Responding to Orientation Changes in Xamarin Forms

Jeff Prosise

2 Mar , 2015  

Last week, I published the first in a series of articles on building cross-platform mobile apps with Visual Studio 2015 and Xamarin Forms. In it, I presented an RPN calculator app that works on Windows Phone, Android, and iOS.

One subject I didn’t address in that article was how to respond to orientation changes in a Xamarin Forms app – that is, when the device goes from portrait mode to landscape or vice versa. By default, the screen rotates so that the content remains right-side-up. You can “lock” the orientation to prevent the screen from rotating (more on that in a moment), but the more common case is that you want to change what’s on the screen to adapt to the new dimensions.

I built a second version of my calculator app that does just that. When the device rotates to landscape mode, two additional columns of buttons appear on the left side of the screen – buttons for sin, cos, tan, and so on:

Calculator-Group2

Most mobile operating systems fire some type of event when the device orientation changes. Xamarin Forms does not, at least not yet. (Xamarin Forms is a work in progress and it’s evolving rapidly. It hasn’t escaped the notice of the engineers in charge that the platform lacks a device-orientation event, so don’t be surprised if one is added soon.) In the meantime, the recommended way to respond to orientation changes is to override the page’s virtual OnSizeAllocated method and make any changes you wish to make inside the override.… Read more

, , , , ,

Editorial

Microsoft’s Most Popular Mobile Apps Aren’t Necessarily on Windows Phone

Paul Ballard

3 Feb , 2015  

You may have heard that Microsoft has released mobile versions of their Office apps for Android and iOS, but that’s only scratching the surface of what they’ve published.  What’s more some of their apps are more popular on Android and iOS than Windows Phone.

Microsoft’s recent move to open up the Office platform to Android and iOS has received quite a bit of press and many of the apps are garnering good reviews including recent praise from the Wall Street Journal for the Outlook for iOS and Android app.  No longer running under the “First-and-best on Windows” flag, Microsoft has continued to release or upgrade apps for Android and iOS that promote their online and cloud services.  Recent news of Microsoft investing $70M in Cyanogen, the makers of the popular CyanogenMod version of Android is even more proof of their determination to ingrain themselves into other mobile OS ecosystems.  But will they be successful in helping Cyanogen “take Android away from Google”?

Microsoft currently has 61 apps available on the Google Play Store and 48 available for iPhone on iTunes.  These include the names you would normally think of like the Office apps, Bing Search, and OneDrive.  But here are a few that you might not expect.… Read more

, , , ,

InfoGraphic

Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Roadmap

Paul Ballard

1 Dec , 2014  

In a recent blog post, Microsoft’s Mohamed Yamama has released an updated infographic showing resources for learning, porting, designing, building, testing, publishing, and monetizing your Windows Phone 8.1 Apps.… Read more

,