On 6th October, 2015 Microsoft launched a number of new devices into the market, including the Microsoft Surface 4, Surface Book, and a number of new Lumia smartphones. While the hardware is certainly attractive, that is not enough to peak my interest, nor that of my clients. What is interesting, however, is the introduction of the Microsoft Display Dock and Continuum for phones. This new technology allows users to connect their smartphone to a screen, keyboard, and mouse and use the smartphone on a large screen – running universal Windows apps designed for the PC and phone. Suddenly the power of Windows 10 as a universal operating system can be realized.
While not a complete PC experience, it will be enough for a lot of users within your business. Most firms have employees that only require casual PC access (think site staff in construction firms, store management in retail, traveling sales staff, factory floor management teams etc). At present we spend more than we need to in order to serve these employees – often providing a dedicated PC or laptop for them – along with their smartphone. In a world where universal Windows apps are readily available, many or all of these users could be given a smartphone and a Display Dock to use with a screen on-site or at home – helping you save money and direct this spending perhaps to rewriting your internal applications as universal Windows apps. Even a communal screen and dock would be enough in some workplaces.
However, this is all a pipe dream if Microsoft cannot get the traction it needs with Windows 10 to convince developers to write apps for the platform. App availability is still a significant factor in device choice – if your bank, local restaurants, entertainment, fitness, smartwatch, and other apps are not available for your employees Windows 10 devices they will still carry a second phone or tablet – relegating the Windows 10 phone to “my second phone for work”. With a number of developers working on universal Windows apps, there is certainly some momentum at the moment to suggest Microsoft will become a third force in the mobile device landscape. But don’t let the numbers distract you – Microsoft boasts of 110 million Windows 10 devices – but many of these devices are desktops, laptops, and tablets – which are all “second screens” – the smartphone is the first screen and this is the battle that Microsoft needs to win – or at least compete on an even footing. Forrester believes that Windows 10 will indeed become the new enterprise standard for PCs and laptops, which offers a chance that this mobile vision will become reality down the line.