The All-new Post-PC MI­CROSOFT

Where do they want to go to­day?

HWM (Singapore) - - FEATURE - By Zachary Chan

W ell OK. Maybe not ex­actly all-new. Mi­crosoft has been pur­su­ing a “mo­bile-rst, cloud-rst” strat­egy since Satya Nadella took over as CEO back in 2014. But to the ca­sual ob­server, Mi­crosoft is still Win­dows, O ce and a smat­ter­ing of Xbox.

Ex­cept, the PC mar­ket has been in con­tin­u­ous de­cline—re­search rm Gart­ner re­ports PC ship­ments are down in Q2 2017, and has been slid­ing for the past 11 quar­ters. A global reshu ing ex­er­cise has also seen Mi­crosoft cutting con­sumer teams around the re­gion, Sin­ga­pore in­cluded, even as they’re gear­ing for new Xbox and Sur­face de­vice launches.

What ex­actly have they done to fur­ther this mo­bile-rst, cloudrst agenda? I was in­vited to visit Mi­crosoft in Red­mond to see for my­self. Far re­moved from their de­vices days (you know, Win­dows Phone), the rst thing I no­ticed was that al­most ev­ery­one uses an iPhone. Even among the jour­nal­ists present, three out of four were tak­ing notes with a tablet and Blue­tooth key­board in­stead of a note­book. Mi­crosoft has ac­knowl­edged that we’re liv­ing in a world where any de­vice that works for you, is the de­vice you work with. This seems to be what Mi­crosoft’s mo­bile-rst ethos is all about; not a specic de­vice or de­vice ecosys­tem, but about mo­bil­ity.

In a nut­shell though, Mi­crosoft is go­ing back to its roots, and it re­volves around soft­ware. Think about it. What is a PC? A dis­parate mix of hard­ware all run­ning on a com­mon plat­form – Win­dows. In a mo­bile-rst world, your dis­parate mix of hard­ware are the de­vices of all makes and mod­els. But Mi­crosoft has learned that cor­ner­ing the mo­bile mar­ket isn’t about try­ing to put Win­dows onto ev­ery de­vice. Here’s where the cloud-rst strat­egy comes in.

The new Mi­crosoft doesn’t care what you use. Are you a Win­dows user? Great. Not a Win­dows user? Doesn’t mat­ter. In 2014, Mi­crosoft opened up the O ce suite for free on iOS and An­droid. They even part­nered with Drop­box, a third­party cloud provider to ac­cess O ce doc­u­ments, so you tech­ni­cally didn’t need to pay Mi­crosoft any­thing at all to use and work on your mo­bile O ce docs. In the fol­low­ing years, Mi­crosoft has con­tin­ued to open up more of their soft­ware on iOS and An­droid. How­ever, this is just scratch­ing the sur­face of things. There’s more to Mi­crosoft’s strat­egy than mak­ing apps avail­able on com­peti­tor plat­forms.

Ev­ery ma­jor tech­nol­ogy com­pany is in­vest­ing for the big push into AI, Mi­crosoft in­cluded, even though they’re prob­a­bly lesser known to­day among other con­sumer AI im­ple­men­ta­tions. When you think of Siri, you think of speak­ing into your phone to sched­ule meet­ings and up­date to do lists—or if you’re The Rock, save the world. When you think of Alexa, you think of con­trol­ling your smart home; dim­ming the lights, play­ing mu­sic or switch­ing TV chan­nels.

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