Microsoft — Mobile is the new Desktop

Microsoft is clearly looking at the future. After being judged as having missed a lot of opportunities earlier, including moving to the cloud and mobile computing formats, getting into the smartphone and App development ecosystem and developing innovative software and hardware products to meet the demands of today’s mobile consumers, Microsoft is clearly adapting.

When he took over at the start of this year, Satya Nadella, the new CEO of Microsoft, made a clear indication that mobile and cloud were the way ahead.

The Cloud and Apps

To start with, in 2013 Microsoft launched Office 365 with unlimited cloud storage and updated Apps for a nominal fee. After Satya Nadella took over this year, Microsoft announced the launch of its Office Apps for use on Apple iPad. This November, it further liberalised its entire suite of market leading Office Apps for being available for free use of its basic features on iOS devices, with some premium features being charged.

This is a major shift in mindset. Today, Microsoft is giving away a free use of its iconic market leading office suite for use on its competitor devices and operating systems.

A case in point is the new MSN.

Designed from the ground up for mobile and cloud formats, the new MSN provides comprehensive curated content from thousands of credible sources across multiple major categories including News, Weather, Sports, Money, Health & Fitness, and Food & Drink. Ported on to its newly designed Apps which are specially designed to work in an awesome way on iOS, Android, MSN now offers a whole new experience which is mobile driven. Check out the blog.

The Licencing Route

Microsoft is also moving away from its complex licensing system where the customer had to pay for multiple licences as per number of devices used. Now, for its Enterprise Cloud suite, corporates can run windows and office software on every device of every employee for the cost of a single enterprise licence.

The Smartphone Route

Its recent acquisition of Nokia was a key step in building a synergy with the smartphone ecosystem on which it was lagging behind. After rebranding the phones to Windows Phone, it has also been exploring the option to develop the hardware further for running on other Operating systems like Android. This would enable Microsoft to not only build market share for some of the best smartphone technology and hardware that the Nokia team builds, but it will do something even more strategic. A huge number of users are on Android, with multiple hardware and App developers already on board the platform. It is the largest used mobile platform in the world today. Allowing its smartphone hardware to run Android would also enable Microsoft to port and give access to its windows applications, the office suite and other enterprise applications where it has a huge market share, and does not want to risk alienating a large number of users who are mobile on Android.

Microsoft wants to acquire and cater to customers who are mobile on Android.

The Acquisition Route

Recently, Microsoft acquired Accompli, provider of innovative mobile email apps for iOS and Android. As stated by the company on their Blog post, this is a “company-wide effort to help people accomplish more with their mobile devices”. Accompli works on building great email usage experiences for consumers, especially on mobile platforms. Imagine interfacing this with its email applications like outlook and windows mail.

Microsoft is building technical capabilities in mobile technology and smartphone Apps to drive its strategy.

Another indication of its seriousness to embrace mobile is the recent acquisition of the mobile app testing company HockeyApp. This would offer the company crash analytics and a test environment for mobile apps for iOS, Android and also Windows, which will enable it to launch well tested awesome apps to build its mobile community.

Whatever said and done, for Microsoft and its CEO, the route ahead is mapped, and it is mobile. Instead of trying to align its existing and potential customer base towards its existing formats and risk alienating them as they are already mobile on all other aspects, Microsoft is reworking and casting its vast array of consumer and enterprise products into the mobile and cloud formats so as to keep its existing customer base and add on to it. It wants to build the same success story on mobile what it built with Desktops.

It appears that for now, for Microsoft, the mobile is the new Desktop.

Sanjay Dukle is a Marketing Professional with a wide experience across the Marketing Domain. He Connects Brands with Customers. He writes about Marketing, Business, Technology and Social Media. Connect with him on Linkedin, Twitter and Google+.