In a few weeks Microsoft will be holding its annual Build conference. The conference is expected to unveil the developer platform story for the Xbox One, the full introduction of Windows Phone 8.1, and a preview of the next version of Windows codenamed Threshold.
Before Build however will be an event that should be keeping Microsoft’s OS team up at night. Its been reported by ZDNet and Bloomberg that on March 27 Microsoft will show off Office on iPad and launch it before its Windows tablet counterpart. The tablet version of Office is following the recently launched OneNote for Mac and a series of apps/programs on Android and iOS.
It has been clear for a while that Microsoft is serious about providing cross platform services that work across devices and operating systems. For a company like Microsoft concentrating on services and software is almost more important than maintaining OS dominance.
However the platform is still important.
The question facing the OS Group (formerly the Windows division) head Terry Myerson is a simple question,”Why Windows?”
Why choose Windows when Office, SharePoint, Skype, Yammer, and a number of other applications are available on platforms with more momentum. Specifically from the standpoint of mobile operating systems.
Why choose Windows when there are easier and simpler options built around what the majority use computing devices for (and we are not talking about Visual Studio)?
Why choose Windows when its main feature, legacy and compatibility, is no longer a major selling point to the mass consumer market?
Why choose Windows when the apps people know about are on Android tablets or the iPad first?
Myerson and team face the challenge of making the case for Windows as a viable platform. Not just to businesses or developers but regular users. In all the commentary and opinion pieces no one has talked about the need for Microsoft to make a case for Windows that isn’t about legacy, compatibility, or Office. The move towards a devices and services company means Windows needs to be able to stand on its own. This means starting at Build when people ask why Windows there needs to be a compelling answer.