Microsoft should abort Windows Phone

I use Apple Maps on my iPhone. Like tens of millions of other users, at least. Despite what you’ve heard, it does not suck. In fact, for me, Apple Maps is far better than previous versions of Google Maps on iPhone. It loads faster, looks better and gives me turn-by-turn navigation (in the US). I suspect that for most people, however, Google Maps on an Android is superior to Apple Maps on an iPhone, for now. The battle between Apple and Google for the future of personal computing is by no means over. Small wonder, then, that the two giant combatants do whatever they can to undermine the other.

Google wants to record and sell all my personal information, even the data captured from Apple’s platform. Android handset makers seem intent to copy everything Apple does. Apple wants to kill off Android, whether by patent wars, copyright or other means. The dogs of war have been unleashed. The smartphone wars are go! Apple and Google are worthy combatants. For Microsoft, however, I think their platform, Windows Phone (8), is destined for a fate similar to Palm – oblivion.

The market has spoken, over and over again, The market wants app phones, not tiles. The market wants iPhone and Android, not Windows Phone, not Lumia. Android is the smartphone market share leader, iPhone is the profit leader. Microsoft remains an also-ran, with a global smartphone install base of approximately 2%, less than Samsung’s own Bada OS. The future is not bright. Even sales of the Windows Phone flagship, Nokia Lumia, have fallen quarter-over-quarter.

While this may be due to buyers holding off on Windows Phone 7 until Windows Phone 8 handsets appear in large numbers, the overwhelming reality suggests that, unlike the PC wars, where one platform – Windows – dominated, the smartphone wars will sustain two separate platforms. Only two, Android and iOS; these are your winners. Microsoft’s alternative platform is simply not needed and almost no one wants it. Indeed, things have gotten so bad for Windows Phone that there is a good chance that Microsoft will offer its own “Surface Phone” using WP8. This, also, will fail.

Microsoft should abort the Windows Phone platform. – now. There is a better path. Microsoft must abandon the very notion of controlling (a) platform. Concentrate instead on making the very best software (and apps) for the dominant personal computing platforms on the market. Make no mistake, smartphones are personal computers and Android and iOS are the dominant platforms. This will continue probably through this decade, at least. Instead of a computer on every desktop, we will have a computer in every hand. Instead of a billion PCs, we will have at least 2 billion smartphones, probably by 2016, maybe sooner. Then three billion, then four billion…

Microsoft still offers the best “office” applications. They still make a solid web browser. They have excellent email and calendaring programs. They build leading software for every business, for very large businesses, for government and for consumers. They could have the leading applications – software – on both iOS and Android.

Focusing on building a new platform, one that cuts across PCs, which are dying, and tablets, a market owned by Apple, and smartphones, which have now solidified around iOS and Android, is a strategy doomed to failure. Microsoft’s future is in user software, not in controlling the underlying operating system. The world went mobile, quickly, and Microsoft simply missed the revolution. Chasing Apple, by building their own devices, offering music and movie services, and constructing copycat stores is a dead end. Hoping they can magically catch up to the massive (and growing) Android install base is a fool’s errand. This will not happen.

For a generation, Microsoft has controlled the personal computer. Their Windows install base rose to just over one billion units. It is a different world now. Android and iOS are already approaching that magical billion install number, perhaps they’ve already surpassed it. We are in the midst of a personal computing revolution. The extant Windows install base has no bearing on the future. Having a Windows PC in no way will help Microsoft sell appreciable numbers of Windows tablets or smartphones, if any.

But software for others, for iOS and Android, is a very real opportunity. Already, several analysts have suggested Microsoft will offer Office for both iOS and Android sometime in 2013. I would like Outlook on my iPhone and the very best Skype experience. With smartphones leading the BYOD revolution at work, the integration of work and consumer applications will be huge. This is Microsoft’s opportunity.

But will this opportunity be big enough?

I think this question misses the point. There simply may be no other realistic future for Microsoft. Apple has already sold about 100 million iPads. Apple offers its integrated iPad iWork suite for $30. For years, Microsoft has been able to charge well over $100 for the PC version, and often much more. They will not have such price making power in the future. Still, they will have the opportunity to make more software and put that on more devices. Instead of 1 billion PCs, we will have billions and billions of smartphones and tablets. Only, instead of Windows – any flavor — almost certainly these will be using iOS or Android.

The platform war, from Microsoft’s perspective, is over. Yes, milk the aging PC base as long as they can. But Microsoft must look to the future. The future simply will not come with devices that are dependent upon Microsoft. That was last century’s war. Microsoft was the personal computing champion of the twentieth century, not the twenty-first. Spending precious time, resources and management focus on futile efforts to re-establish personal computing platform dominance is a non-starter. Microsoft has already lost.

But they can do so much. Who has more software experience in the enterprise, the small business, the household, than Microsoft? Such efforts can also bring focus to the company. Consider Windows, Surface, Windows RT, Windows Phone, Xbox, Windows Media, Xbox Music, Microsoft, Office, Skype, Zune. The company has become lost. Where Steve Ballmer sees cohesion the market senses confusion. All the work to hold onto a dying PC platform and create new platforms has made them ineffectual everywhere. No tablet sales, no smartphone sales to speak of, and Apple’s Mac OS whipping Windows quarter after quarter, year after year, in growth.

Yet imagine Skype on 500 million smartphones. That will not happen unless Microsoft works hard to optimize it for iOS and Android. Same with Office. Same even with Xbox Live, for example. Apple and Google have both shown that if you compete directly with them, with their smartphone platforms, they will do whatever they can to cap you at the knees. Is it possible that Microsoft, once so feared, once the company that stopped others from having a key role on its platform, could soon become the ‘neutral’ provider of the best applications on the best devices? Yes, but not if they continue work on a competing smartphone OS that will – trust me – never amount to anything.

Do not be fooled. Do not think that Microsoft – finally – has all the pieces in place. This is a delusion. Microsoft spent ten years allowing others, primarily Apple and Google, dominate digital media, the cloud, smartphones, tablets. Microsoft will not catch up. But they can change, they can go ‘back to the future’. They can once again become a great software company. PCs will never again be the dominant platform. Microsoft will never again control the primary personal computing OS. Never. But more than ever, the world needs great software.

Author: Brian S Hall

Brian S Hall writes about technology, immortality and food for ReadWrite, Techpinions, Unwired View and other publications. His thoughts on the 'smartphone wars' and how these are rapidly de-constructing markets, industries, business models and relationships around the world can be found on his personal site at

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  • Abraham Marquez

    bitch please

  • Tom Dauria

    All hail the king of stupid

  • asherpat

    The writer has Apple products and he wants to persuade us that “resistance to Apple is futile”. Now with all due respect to Android, it is an Asian thing, the designs of the phones are bland at the best, iPhone copies at worst. whereas Lumias are something else, it’s not a copy of Apple but still looks gorgeous and fresher than Apple. the UI is fresh and the OS is more stable than Apple’s that embarassingly freezes frequently.
    So the mainstream media and hacks like this journo are out to stifle any high quality competiion to their precious iCult. They tried to do this at the early stages of Android (just look at the other “contribution” of the same scribe entitled “is Samsung the only Android success story” – let’s put “them” down as much as possible), they cant stifle Android anymore, so they try to kill WP and especially Nokia.
    Why do these people try to help the 300 kilo gorilla of the industry to kill any competition, however feeble? Dont they remember how they tried to help Apple survive in the 80s and the 90s? What’s the coolness in supporting the top-dog? why not “think different” than the white-earpieces clone army?

  • jason oakes

    I haven’t even read past the first chapter to realise just what a PLEB you are!

  • J B

    Well, crap. I guess I should just return the Windows 7 phone that I just got rid of my Android phone to get. Is it obvious this guy is an apple sheep?

  • suvi.vang

    second that.

  • Abe

    Not only an Apple fan-boy but a fool too.

  • Arvind Nair

    Hahahaha…this guy is so biased that he actually sounds funny…!! xD

  • Jennifer Matthews

    this writer is a short-sighted moron. to suggest that Microsoft doesn’t have the pieces is just insane. Sure, they’ve been slow to catch on in the mobile space. But history has shown that microsoft is always slower than its competitors, but that’s primarily due to their complex set of products and customers that they need to ensure backward compatibility to, etc. Finally, a new paradigm shift is coming and its actually the result of Microsoft’s patience and hard work. That shift is Windows 8 and what is will have to offer to consumers, developers, enterprise, etc. Finally, consumers will be able to have their “cake and eat it too” thanks to windows 8 and the great form factors about to come out. Who the hell needs an expensive overpriced Apple macbook and ipad when you can buy a slicker, thinner, and better tablet or hybrid with windows 8? No more carrying 2 devices. No more consuming content on an IPAD without any productivity software like Office. Windows Phone will be the beneficiary of this paradigm shift because developers and consumers (and enterprise) will see the benefits of the wp8 platform. This author has drank too much of that Apple kool-aid that frankly too many of their cult, herd-mentality following has drunk. windows phone, like android, will be at all price points and will indeed win over the hearts and minds of the masses as they see how much better windows is than android.

  • Yan

    All comments that below are from losers.

  • vmgunz

    What kind of stupid article this is.. It only says Microsoft cannot come out with their own platform because …… they are Microsoft.. Brian S Hall has been flagged as spam in Google News..

  • Jorge Murphy

    I agree with the comments below from asherpat, suvi.vang and JB….this is a such a troll story that not even iPhone sheep can’t agree with. I could point out so many features that Apple has stolen from both Windows and Android it’s sad to see so called journalists on websites allowing crap opinion pieces like this. Is there a thumbs down option. I own all platforms and like and hate something on iOS, Android and Windows Phone….with all that said, I still choose Windows Phone as my main device if not for the easy and functional UI and clean/stable OS that truly trumps both Android and iOS when comparing stabilty. My Windows Phone never crashes, I can’t say that about Android or iOS. That still doesn’t mean that I’ll “HATE” on the other platforms.

  • vsaw

    how did a troll get his own column?

  • Philip G

    Yawn, a troill, a member of the iGestapo

  • Salman S

    If Apple can survive as a company for over 3 decades with less then 5% market share in the world of computers, which it still does, nearly going bankrupt once, and then roaring back into business and now thriving in the mobile space, then why not Microsoft.

    After all, Microsoft is already thriving in every other market, except in mobile. And it has under 5% market share of the mobile market just like Apple does in the computer market.

  • bibleverse1

    Honestly, Windows phone wont have the number ios or android have but there is plent of money to be earned at 5 to 10 percent market share.

  • James H

    If Microsoft paid you to say otherwise then you would have nothing but good things to say… You are such a moron offering such a biased opinion and trying to sway people from buying into the Windows future offerings…. The future will tell and in the end no one will even remember your stupid little attempt at an article!

  • GR

    Why would an article about Windows start off by promoting Apple Maps and then follow up by bashing Andriod… A waste of time. This is the last time I’ll read an article from Brian S Hall…

  • Arun

    Kindly comment people, so that this poor guy gets more hits

  • Brian S Hall

    I think by calling Microsoft the “competition” and labeling Apple and Android as the “300 lb gorilla” you reveal just how far Microsoft (and Nokia) have fallen. In “PCs” there was one standard — Windows. In the smartphone age, I think there will be two OS standards – iOS and Android. There is no room for Microsoft.

  • Brian S Hall

    If there’s any kool-aid drinkers out there, clearly it’s you! You’ve already decided that Windows 8, which I bet you’ve never used, will obliterate Apple and Google Android! As for paradigm shifts, I think it already happened. Tablets and smartphones now are at least the size of the WIndows PC install base and growing rapidly. Microsoft missed the boat. Nokia is collateral damage.

  • Brian S Hall

    I suspect iOS and Android are so far ahead that your preference for Windows Phone is not relevant. I could go back 20 years and say Mac is better than PC. Being “better” doesn’t often change the reality. I think Windows Phone will remain as a very minor platform. Thus, it’s in Microsoft’s best interests to focus on building software for others rather than wasting time trying to crate a viable smartphone platform of their own.

  • Brian S Hall

    You are certainly not the first to make that claim!
    As for starting off with Apple Maps and Android…my bad if I did not make that clear. It’s to show that the two dominant platforms (iOS and Android) are competing so vigorously that both will sometimes make decisions that *might* harm users in the short run simply to harm the other platform. I suspect both Apple and Google Android will do what they can to harm Windows Phone. Thus, the better strategy, since I think Windows Phone will never leave the 5% market share level, is to be a “neutral” provider of software applications for each of these more dominant platforms.
    Lastly…my name is on the article. My name is on this comment. I notice that is not the case for you.

  • Olav

    This guy is a tool. Look at the smirk on his face, he just wants to watch the world burn, while he drives around using Apple maps.

  • Fred Schultz

    Tell this to the slaves that are chained to their desk making penjies per day so the rotten fruit can make billions, people are sheep, that is why they buy what they are told. Most people aren’t techies and just go with the flow. I can wait for my Surface RT.

  • GR

    I’ll would like to revise my previous statement by adding this entire website to my boycott. You are bashing Android for cloning and you are bashing Windows for being different. Your verdict is to simply buy an iphone. No thank you and good day to you.

  • peadarwagon

    How did he type this with his iphone so far up his iAss?

  • bpes

    stupid moron. brain s mall. more fun reading comments, than the article!

  • James Horn

    haha, wow, what a load


    Que mierda de articulo, pero que porqueria. Este loco no sabe de lo que esta hablando. Por perro como este es que el mundo esta como esta. Que disparate. This article is a POS. Windows4Ever…


    Really?! Really?! iOS 4+ and Android 4.1+ are solid OS’s. The iPhone 3GS, 4S, and 5 are great devices. I used to own a iPhone 3GS, a Blackberry phone, a Symbian device, and an Android 2.3 phone by Samsung. Great phones, but once I got my hands on Samsung Focus, I LOVED IT! There is nothing wrong with Android or iOS. In fact, Android 4.1+ is an awesome improvement to 2.3 that I used to have. When I upgraded my iPhone 3GS to iOS4, I really enjoyed my iPhone. But since Windows 7.5, I literally loved the OS. You are definitely bias. It is okay to have your opinion. In fact, you said great things about Microsoft in your article which are true, but do not knock the OS. Their are a lot of people who like WP7. In face, in one month, I am buying a Microsoft Surface RT and Lumia 920 (both cyan color). I am a Microsoft fan all the way, but I never ditch the others. Google and Apple are great companies as well, and I use the all. I do have an Apple TV and an older Mac that I use occasionally. I have nothing bad to say about Google stuff or Apple stuff, I just prefer Microsoft over all of them.

  • Microsoft Wins

    Probably wheres a dress and masturbates to Steve Job’s videos… That or he owns apple stocks. I know a few screwballs like this.

  • Guest

    So it’s “biased” to acknowledge reality now?

    Windows Phone is selling extraordinarily poorly. This is an objective fact.
    The PC market is flagging. This, also, is an objective fact.

    So what would your advice to Microsoft be? Keep throwing money at a dead mobile platform and chain yourself to the slowly sinking legacy PC market?

    Stay the course and deny all problems?

    That might not be a great strategy.

  • rb

    I’m surprised you think the “future” of things is the Office software we had 20 years ago. As more things go to the web, the device and OS becomes increasingly irrelevant. Once people have spent a few years buying apps from the various stores it creates 2 additional problems for Microsoft. They have to provide at least the equivalent (no Angry Birds?), and then assuming they have that, overcome all the money I spent buying them the first time.

    Microsoft stopped really competing a long time ago. It’s not in their blood anymore. Office, IE, etc all won, not on features, but on the fact that Windows was everywhere. Nobody would bother with IE if it wasn’t already there. Office wouldn’t have taken off without them abusing a monopoly position. xBox never would have lasted if it had to live on it’s own (those nice monopoly profits floated it for years until profit could be realized).

    I’m all for seeing a strong 3rd party to this market, but I genuinely feel Microsoft has lost the ability to compete in an open market.

  • Mike

    A one sided flop of an article. It goes to show that they will give anyone a voice on the web even if it is this type of awful dribble. No facts, just skewed opinions. My wife has an android, I have a windows phone, and all of my friends have I phones. Everyone complains about their phone, expect me. Never a reset, never an issue, nothing at all. It does exactly what I need it to do, make calls, check email, text. Yes, there are some features that the phone should have and could have, but every phone is like this, none are perfect.
    Will the windows phone have a place in the future….that is yet to be determined. Yes, their market share is low and unless they step up their marketing and showcase the advantages of WP, well, they may be the cause of their own destruction.
    He commends Android….which looks and acts just like IOS. Wait….the big difference between IOS and Android from the consumers point of view is that Android can have different hardware options, they are not restricted to the same model Iphone that everyone else has. They have this thing called….choice….something that Apple does not want the consumer to have. They treat people like lemmings. And the lines at product releases show this. They are not educated consumers, they are hippsters that are about having the newest phone/device, not something that has value and is different. And that is why Android has a huge marketshare….simply hardware choice.
    But if you want something different, then only other suitable option is WP, and let me say from actually using all three devices, it is not a bad option at all.
    And don’t start waving the Android flag here either, my wifes phone has been one of the worst smart phones ever used. Constant resets, issues, reboots, and even a couple of full factory resets. And almost everyone I know that uses android has similar but not as serious problems as my wife. Their fragmented ecosystem leads people to hope their phone will actually function. Yes, they have improved, and I expect them to learn and improve their products. Apple….they have just added more bells and whistles. They promote an app store with hundreds of thousands of apps. Well, take out all the useless crap, flashlight and alarm clock apps, and the ones that don’t even really work…you may find that more doesn’t mean better. Quality is always better than quanity unless you are counting cash.
    Apple may have pioneered the concept of a more modern smartphone and introduced the concept that a tablet can have it’s place in this world….but their firm belief that consumers are going to contiune to just use their product because of a cult like following will lead to their fall. Some people already believe that Apple is at their peak and the downfall will begin. I don’t know a person with the Iphone 5. Not one. Don’t you think that there is something going on there? Isn’t that worth reporting on? Oh…that would shed a dark cloud over your beloved IOS. Add to it, watch what happens with Windows 8 and Windows 8 RT on tablets. This is going to change the game.
    Maybe as a “writer” you should take your face away from your little I-world and understand what is going on in the tech world in order to actually write on about it.

  • asherpat

    that was 300 KILO, you “imperialist” (in measurements terms…)
    And yes, MSFT and NOK have fallen behind Apple who became the Microsoft of 21-st century. and that is what I dont understand- MSM that always gravitate to the underdog (see Palestinians/Israelis, Greens v Capitalists, etc), root for the steamroller in this case? What’s so cool to jump on the bandwaggon, to cheer Manchster United?

  • E P

    “Google wants to record and sell all my personal information, even the data captured from Apple’s platform. Android handset makers seem intent to copy everything Apple does”
    Yeah, your personal information, right? Care to give an example? Or do you mean aggregate anonymous information?
    And last I checked, Apple is copying Android handset makers with bigger screens and copying Android with drop down notifications, turn by turn navigation, etc.

  • Brian S Hall

    Great! But my post is not suggesting that Windows Phone is bad per se. Rather, that Apple and Google have such a commanding lead and there is simply no reason for people to choose a third platform: see also Blackberry. Microsoft is wasting valuable time and resources attempting to construct a viable third smartphone platform when instead they should focus on building great software for the *billions* who will be using Android and iPhone.

  • boss

    This guy is really retarded. If he thinks windows phone will ever be dropped then he clearly knows nothing about the business or tech world. iphone or IOS became popular because it was first to come out with touch screen phones and apps. Then google came quickly before iphone and ios became big. Microsoft however takes a long time and that’s why its not easy to gain market share when you come late. But I do admire Microsoft because when they do come out they come with ready products unlike android which even this author realises which im glad for that. The author realises that android was not ready. Still isn’t. Its glitch. The coding is poor and was rushed. Not much difference between a one or 10 core phone. Also google knew to make it open source so they can quickly force manufacturers to use it. But its not so profitable. probably 1 billion a year at most from store. Its funny. Microsoft are receiving almost 1 billion dollars per quarter from android royalties mainly from Samsung and htc but several others have signed up. That’s 4 billion dollars a year. So Microsofts will keep pushing with windows phone. It won’t explode because its not something new. But it will grow slowly. And Microsoft and afford to do that because of the royalties they receive. They can afford to carry loss making business until they are profitable something google cant do. Microsoft bing division is a loss maker. They have been carrying like 750 million dollars loss per quarter based on last years figures but this year they halfed that and its expected to soon be profitable. google only makes 2.5 billions dollars profit per quarter where as Microsoft makes double that. Bing has been stealing share from google.

  • bob

    just to add even if bing keeps making loss. These are tactics used not only because they want to grow but because they want to not rely on other peoples stuff like google maps, search. and reduce there companys shares and value and revenue. Bing will be introduced in windowsphone , windows 8, xbox, new tablets. and bing powers yahoo.

  • Danni

    Sorry I accidentally just downvoted this. I was aiming for the upvote (I honestly LOLed so thanks :) )

  • Sam

    As a current Windows phone user, I must say that the bing maps navigation is far superior than my previous google powered iphone maps. The operating system is clean, fast, and almost fully integrated with all the perks (facebook, twitter, linkin, etc). Something that apples is just now catching on to. I can not wait for the release of windows phone 8, which I believe to be an amazing operating system that can compete with android. Windows phone 8 will rise as one of the leading smart phone UIs. With the release of the amazing nokia and htc phones, as well as future integration with xbox and windows 8, the phone will catch on. I hope the guy who wrote this article is not being paid… because he is a douche bag.

  • Heydon McIntosh

    Have you ever thought of possibly toning down your blatant fanboyism in articles. iphones are good phones and work for a lot of people, but like all products people have their own preferences. There’s no point saying “KILL THE PLATFORM” when its barely started, otherwise we wouldn’t have the choice we have in tech today. I have a Galaxy Note, a reasonably top of the line Android phone. It’s great for me since I can run emulators on it, I love the file browser and it has some great networking functionality not available on the other platforms. However even though it has high specs and runs ICS it still lags due to the openness of the Android platform. I’ll be buying my Mother a Lumia 920 as her first smartphone, not an android or iphone. Unless you buy a top of the line android your going to get lag and can do some damage to your phone if you’re not tech savvy. The latest iphone is very stale. No NFC, Camera a bit better, body slightly bigger – it’s hardly revolutionary. The Lumia 920 promises incredible camera footage, wireless charging, NFC, has a beautiful design and complete offline GPS solution for travel. It’s a really innovative phone and I think you’ll find more and more non tech savvy Android users and iphone users come over to the platform in the future. For beginner users Win Phone is incredibly easy to use and there’s a whole choice of phones as well.

    Microsoft’s strategy is very smart. With Windows 8 going to be sold on a ton of new laptops, desktops and tablets coming out, and Windows phone 8 sharing much of the same underlying tech – developers will be building thousands more apps for both Windows 8 and Windows phone 8. Competition is never a bad thing Mr Hall and you’re deluded if you think Microsoft haven’t spend thousands of hours planning their strategy for the phone market. As more and more desirable phones like the Lumia 920 come out people will be flocking to the platform.

  • Scott Tompkins

    Sorry, didn’t read past “Google wants to record and sell all my personal information”… haha, take off the tin foil hat pls.

  • pjcamp

    PCs are not dying. They are still the only way to get actual work done, as opposed to playing games and watching movies.

  • studuncan

    How much *profit* do you think Nokia will earn by selling a couple hundred thousand Lumias per month? It might take them 5 years to pay off the cost of the infrastructure for building those phones.

  • miks

    well as far as windows os is concerned i think its not that bad as highlighted here. Apple os is a snob who thinks it owns every patent in this world. I guess android is way better than apple!!!

  • Brian

    Yeah and PCs are dying. They’re so dead, in fact, that PC sales in 2012 will be greater than all Apple II, Apple III, Macintosh, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch sales combined since Apple first opened its doors. That’s some spectacular “death.” :)

  • Bruce Miller

    Google does not sell data to anyone. Your personal data is encrypted, never leaves the datacenter, and is never seen by human eyes. Microsoft and Apple both scan your data, for their own reasons (e.g. virus checking, spam filtering etc…). All Google does is pattern matching, so they can match ads to most-likely interested views. Google does not sell your data to anyone.

  • ChardVC

    Only two words to say “Apple Fanboy…”