On October 8, 2017, Joe Belfiore, Corporate Vice President, Windows and Devices at Microsoft, made a significant admission on his Twitter account: While Windows 10 Mobile will receive bug fixes and security patches in the future, no new features will be developed for the mobile operating system. Essentially, Microsoft is giving up on its Windows 10 Mobile OS and conceding the market to Android, iOS, and a few niche players.
However, just a few days before his concession about Windows 10 Mobile, Belfiore published a blog post announcing two new products for mobile devices running Google Android or Apple iOS. Microsoft Edge for iOS/Android and Microsoft Launcher for Android are two examples of how the company plans to continue to be a major player in the mobile market by extending its productivity applications across all operating systems.
While Microsoft may have conceded the mobile operating system market to others, it has not abandoned the rest of the mobile market. The company still has a viable strategy for its productivity and cloud services businesses—if it can pull it off.
SEE: Windows 10: Streamline your work with these power tips (TechRepublic PDF)
Microsoft Edge for iOS and Android
According to the blog post, as of October 2017, Microsoft Edge for iOS is available for preview. A preview version of Edge for Android will available sometime after that, likely before the end of the year.
Both products are designed to bring the Edge browser experience to your mobile device. In addition, using the Continue On PC functionality that comes with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, each product will allow users to transfer what they are viewing on their mobile devices to their desktop. Of course, Microsoft Edge for iOS and Android will also have familiar features, like the ability to share Favorites, Reading List, New Tab Page, and Reading View across your PC and mobile device.
A preview version of Microsoft Launcher for Android is available as of October 2017. This product takes advantage of Android's interface flexibility to change the launcher that is displayed on your smartphone's home screen.
The Microsoft Launcher for Android can allow users to customize the home screen to be more like Windows 10 Mobile. The product adds common features like favorite people on the home screen, The Feed for news, and improved gesture support. The Launcher also supports the Continue On PC functionality.
Both the Edge for iOS and Android and the Launcher for Android previews show exactly how Microsoft plans to maintain its presence in the mobile device market despite not having a viable operating system or line of hardware. By continuing to make its products OS neutral, Microsoft looks to become the de facto company for productivity software.
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Of course, many will question the sustainability of this strategy in the face of the fact that Edge, for example, has only about a 5% usage penetration in the desktop market as of September 2017. There are just not that many users clamoring for Edge on their iOS or Android devices. Still, at this point, there is not much else Microsoft can do.
Offering high-quality, familiar, and useful productivity software and cloud services that are completely OS-agnostic is Microsoft's best strategy going forward now that its mobile operating system is essentially abandonware. Only time will tell if it is a successful strategy.
- Swapping between Windows 10, iPhone and Android is about to get easier (TechRepublic)
- With new security features in place is it time to try Microsoft Edge? (TechRepublic)
- Hiring kit: IOS developer (TechPro Research)
- Edge in name only: Android and iOS Edge web browser (ZDNet)
Are you interested in experiencing the Edge browser on your smartphone? Share your thoughts and opinions with your peers at TechRepublic in the discussion thread below.
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.