This article was published on June 29, 2012

This week at Microsoft: Windows Phone, Windows 8, and the tablet wars

This week at Microsoft: Windows Phone, Windows 8, and the tablet wars
Alex Wilhelm
Story by

Alex Wilhelm

Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]

Happy Friday dear reader, I trust that you are in high spirits due to the coming weekend, which will afford us all a chance to work when we shouldn’t. But don’t worry about all that now, it’s time for our weekly trek through what Microsoft has done in the last seven days.

Now, this week wasn’t quite as heavy as the one prior, but news abounds, so hit the archives for a full dose. As always, ensure that you are following TNW Microsoft on both Facebook, and Twitter, and let’s dig into the heavy stuff.

Windows Phone

There are two important stories concerning Windows Phone this week. The first, from several days ago is that Windows Phone 8, the next version of the platform, will ship with a new edition of Office, Office 2013, to be exact.

Now this is not exactly a surprise; we have been anticipating a late-year launch for the next major Office release. And, as Windows Phone 8 is a major refresh of the platform, it makes sense that the phones would enjoy an Office update. And to what else than the latest code, right? Windows Phone 8 is built using much of the Windows foundation, implying that the port wasn’t hellish.

Next up is the fact that Microsoft will be massively expanding the number of countries that can download Windows Phone apps. For Windows Phone 8, some 180 countries will be included in the supported market mix. That’s nearly three times the current amount. This could lead to more developers finding the platform worth building for, perhaps.

Windows 8

Here’s a non-surprise: It seems quite likely that Windows 8 will RTM (be released to manufacturing) in July. Yes, that’s next month. In fact, the next TNW Microsoft roundup will take place in July. That means that Windows 8’s development progress has hit no major snags, given that its timetable hasn’t slipped.

As we noted, the timing of the release has more than one function:

[T]he company will need a fresh set of press to keep Windows 8 in the minds of consumers, once the Surface story completely blows over. That shouldn’t take long, given that the hardware isn’t in the hands of the press, or the public. Out of sight, out of mind.

Oh, in case you missed our post on the matter, everyone thinks that the rumored Surface prices are lunacy.

Office 365

Happy birthday, Office 365, you are now one year old. To celebrate, Microsoft opened the product to 46 new markets, and added support for 11 new languages. Also, a new education-focused version of the product was released.

‘Office 365 for education’ has both a free tier, and several paid tiers. How much of an inroad it can make into the edu-tech market isn’t clear, but the free level of service certainly won’t hurt. However, that tier doesn’t include Office; paid service begins at $2.50 per month, per student, including Office.


And finally, tablets. This week, Microsoft raised eyebrows with the following quote: “Everything used to be desktops, now 60% of PCs sold are laptops. Next year, tablets will outsell desktops.”

Here’s a fact: Microsoft’s current effective tablet market share is zero. If tablets are set to overtake its crucial desktop market, the company has to either snag a fat slice of the tablet market, or watch its money-factories slowly go offline. That’s the idea behind the Surface, of course, and the dozens of other OEM tablets that will enter the market later this year.

How much market share can Microsoft take, essentially overnight? 10% by the end January? 20%? Whatever the figure is, it will diminish Apple’s hegemony in the product category.

Now, zip off and make a gin sour. You deserve it. And a good book. Even a cigar, if you can find one.

Top Image Credit: Robert Scoble

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