Tech in the 603, The Granite State Hacker

Rise of the Smart App

Microsoft didn’t talk much about the Windows Phone at Build 2016.  If you think that’s news, you’re missing the point.

As Microsoft re-defines “Mobile First, Cloud First” they declare shenanigans on the idea that the tech world revolves around phone and tablet.  Yes, tablet and smartphone are mature, first-class citizens, now, but they’re not above laptops, PCs, or other computing devices, as Apple (and perhaps even Samsung) might have you believe.

There’s no denying that Microsoft lost the battle for smartphone market share.  RIM’s Blackberry, considered a relic of the primordial smartphone market, is all but forgotten. Microsoft was pushing Windows Phone as significant competitor, yet, with about the same market share as Blackberry, no one really took their smartphone offering seriously. 

Until Windows Phone’s recent convergence with the PC on the universal Windows 10 OS, Windows Phone had no more competitive edge than Blackberry, either.  Sadly, this new competitive edge comes too little, too late. Or has it?

Several years ago, in a very sly move, Apple narrowed and laser-focused the global technology mindset on a much smaller battle… one that it was well positioned in. Apple then equated the battle to the war… They made it all about the smartphone/tablet market.  (I don’t think Apple counted on Android, but it didn’t matter… in terms of market share, Android won, but in terms of profitability, Apple won.)  Billions of dollars can’t be wrong, so Microsoft tried to position itself in Apple’s vision, and let itself get dragged around for years… 

Until now.

By connecting Mobility with Portability, Microsoft is driving the scope of technology mindshare again, and are driving it back out to a scale Apple will have to struggle to position itself in. Apple made good smartphones.  Cool beans.

With its converged “Universal” Windows 10 platform, Xamarin portability, and mature cloud offerings replete with machine learning, Microsoft is targeting a much broader “smart app” market… Smart Apps are apps that make any device (keyboard, mouse, display/touchscreen, microphone, pen, scanner, camera, video recorder/editor, audio mixer, cell phone, media player, whiteboard, virtual/augmented reality, what have you) into a smart device.  (Notice anything missing here?  perhaps cars…  but it’s hard to imagine that won’t change in the next few years…  after all, cars (e.g. BMW) did get mentioned at Build.) 

The smartphone isn’t irrelevant, it’s just not the whole pie. The reality is that Microsoft is not going to exclude phones from Windows 10 now or any time soon. 

Smartphone prominence is not innovation superiority.

So, how does this make you feel?

Tech in the 603, The Granite State Hacker

Time to Extend Your Brand to Windows 10

Marketers, if you’re looking for fresh, fertile ground to extend your brand into, jump now on Windows 10.

The Windows 10 app store is a clear path to:

  • Bump up your online store shopper counts
  • Extend ever-available services directly to your Windows customers (which is about 90% of them)
  • Connect with your brand’s demographic in a way that helps you better understand their needs
  • Build brand value by connecting with partners
  • Build brand value by connecting with social media
  • Escape web browser inconsistency that threatens to pull brand value down
  • Escape security/stability issues in popular platforms (e.g. Android) that threatens brand value.
  • Reach more device form factors with a single, less specialized (less expensive) codebase (desktop, tablet, phone, even game consoles and devices)

AND…

Windows 10 is attracting Microsoft’s (and, by extension, arguably) consumer tech’s most valuable territory,

To wrap one’s head around this, it helps to understand recent history a bit. 

Being a “convicted monopoly” put a lot of costly restrictions on Microsoft, and especially Windows, making every OS release from XP to Vista to Windows 7 less than it could have been.  Despite the fact that Windows is still king in the desktop arena by far, Microsoft has done a great job of digging out from under the perception that it has a monopoly in that space.  It dug itself out by connecting Windows to the both to the cloud and to the broader computing device market, including tablets, smartphones, consoles and devices.

Being out from under those restrictions has enabled Microsoft to really make Windows 10 come together in ways that even the incumbent Windows 7 couldn’t.   All indications are that Windows 10 is a hit and will de-throne Windows 7 as the de-facto desktop OS within a couple years. Between re-claimed freedom to innovate, lessons learned, and other market conditions, it’s a no-brainer that Windows 10 has legs.

[Here’s a number to associate with Windows 10:  1 Billion UPGRADES.  (not counting the number of devices that will be sold with Windows 10 on them.)]

What about Social Media?  According to folks like @fondalo:

With nearly 62% of consumers stating that social media has “no influence at all” on their purchasing decisions (Gallup), marketers are faced with substantial hurdles in an ever-increasingly noisy digital landscape. This challenge is further amplified by a CMO Council study showing that only 5 percent of brands feel they are extremely effective at creating experiences that resonate with target audiences.

In fact, most marketers are currently forced to put more resources toward their digital and social efforts, just to maintain their current returns. I believe this gap will continue to widen for larger brands, but smaller more nimble retailers that get creative and deploy proper resources could end up being the big winner.

Finally, it goes without saying that it no longer matters that you’ve extended your brand to iOS (iPhone/iPad) and/or Android.  The app marketplace for those devices, in your space, is saturated… even super-saturated.  You’ve extended your brand to those app stores, and so has every other brand in the world, including all your competitors.   Of course, saturation will occur in the Windows 10 app marketplace, but getting in ahead of the crowd has its advantages.

Never mind the upside potential on phones and tablets (which remains huge, and far more addressable from Windows 10).  The pendulum is swinging back to the desktop/laptop again (for now).

Being a Microsoft appointed Technical Solutions Professional, I can help.  Let me know how I can bring my (and my team, BlueMetal‘s) expertise to bear for you in your goal to make the jump.
In any case, talk to me.  If you’re a marketing technology manager, what do you see as the pros and cons of jumping into the Windows app pool?  
Tech in the 603, The Granite State Hacker

Google’s Challenge, by the Numbers

Google may have inadvertently worked itself into some awkward dependencies that could be troublesome for it in the next few years.

It’s hard to imagine Web 2.0, now a decade gone by, as the peak of the web, but I think the numbers speak volumes about it.  Below, I’ve grabbed some stats from Wikipedia, as of today (4/26/2015) ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_operating_systems ), that puts together some puzzle pieces together in my head, but introduces a few new ones. 

Originally, I was thinking about Windows market share this past weekend, and how absurd it is that folks think of Windows 8/8.1 a “failure”… (It came up at the Global Azure Cloud Camp Jim O’Neil hosted at BlueMetal’s office in Watertown this past Saturday.)  There’s more Windows 8+ machine (alone) than all versions of Mac OS X combined…  Microsoft’s “failure” is only a failure when compared to Windows XP and Windows 7.

Desktop operating system browsing statistics
Windows 7
  
58.04%
Windows XP
  
16.94%
Windows 8.1
  
10.55%
Mac OS X 10.10
  
3.96%
Windows 8
  
3.52%
Windows Vista
  
1.97%
Mac OS X (other)
  
1.71%
Mac OS X 10.9
  
1.61%
Linux
  
1.5%
Windows (other)
  
0.2%

Windows 8 / 8.1 comes sums at roughly 13%, while OS X (all versions) is (estimating generously) 8%.  So 13% may be a failure compared to Windows 7’s 58%….  but no one thinks of OS X’s 8% market share as anything less than a smash hit.  

I get that the terms of failure for 8.x come from it’s largest customer, the enterprise market, which has largely ignored it. It’s why Windows 10 is a significant comeuppance for Microsoft.

All told, though, among desktop OS’s, Windows is king.  No surprise there, really.  That’s only the beginning of the story. 

Some of the other stats started to catch my attention with respect to all devices, and what folks are using them for.

From the same Wikipedia page:

According to Gartner, the following is the worldwide device shipments (referring to wholesale) by operating system, which includes smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs together.

Worldwide Device Shipments by Operating System
Source Year Android iOS/OS X Windows Others
Gartner[1] 2014 48.61% 11.04% 14.0% 26.34%
Gartner[2] 2013 38.51% 10.12% 13.98% 37.41%
Gartner[3] 2012 22.8% 9.6% 15.62% 51.98%

The above table establishes that “device” shipments of Windows devices is relatively small compared to Android devices, with Apple devices coming in 3rd overall.  If we set form factor aside and look at all consumer “computing devices”, Android is undeniably tops, and has been for a few years already.

Now look at this…  (a breakdown of what OS folks are using web browsers on.)

Web clients’ OS family statistics
Windows
  
55.74%
Linux based
  
22.02%
iOS, OS X
  
17.17%
Symbian, S40
  
2.02%
Other
  
3.05%
Linux based is actually composed of both desktop and Android based devices… digging a bit, the stat that shows Android usage specifically shows it at less than half of “Linux” based stats.

See the rub?

The web is unequivocally consumed by desktops, which are owned by Windows.

Android… the most popular consumer “device” (by an allegedly monopolistic margin in some markets), represents less than half the web traffic.

Either the margin of error is so far off these stats, rendering them all useless, or there’s an interesting story there.

This means the good old browser is being left behind by mobile devices.   This has been observed before, but it’s interesting to note that Google’s hanging on it.  I mean, what’s your home page?  If you’re like a lot of folks, it may well be www.google.com.

Here’s a question.  Is the browser propping up Windows, or is Windows propping up the WWW?

Here’s an answer…  Microsoft’s go-forward strategy is Mobile First / Cloud First.  Windows 10 is a mobile OS that supports desktops, not a desktop OS that supports mobile.  Clearly, Microsoft is taking risks, but their goal is to push Windows into the mobile app world, taking only the parts of the world wide web that are important to mobile and cloud.

One might argue that Windows 10 includes both IE 12 and the Spartan browser.  Further, Microsoft is just releasing a new ASP.NET and MVC web development tools.

No matter what, the web app is not going to vanish overnight.  Still, Microsoft adding yet another browser and more tools is 1) further fragmenting the already terribly fragmented web app platform, 2) a bone thrown to the many enterprises who have built their infrastructure on web technology and can’t afford to fully shift their enterprise app platform (and developer skill set) to mobile apps in the next few years, and 3) continued support for the still critical http protocol that is a core network transport for everything in the Internet of Things.

One might argue Office 365.  The backfire there:  pretty much everyone who has Office 365 also has desktop and even mobile apps.  This leaves Office 365 to be primarily a services back end for those apps, with a web-based UI as a fallback if you for some reason can’t run the native apps.

Apple’s iOS success and Google’s Chromebook failure led Google to cannibalize itself into the (unexpectedly?) wildly successful Android.

Android’s success, in turn, is eating away at Google’s classic model…  Google will likely always be a media platform first, but more and more, that media platform is being confined to (and defined by) Android.  (Like a genie enslaved to its bottle…  “Phenomenal cosmic power, itty-bitty living space.)

All in all, I’ll go out on a limb and say that Microsoft is about done propping up the consumer web as an application platform.

Still, forgetting what Microsoft is doing, Google is SaaS heavy, and has no PaaS or IaaS offering to fall back on.  They have no desktop OS to elevate them.  All the cards in their foreseeable future appear to rest on Android (and therefore Samsung).

With the anti-trust suits already starting against Google because of Android, it’s hard to really see Google’s future over the next decade.

Being at the top, it’s pretty easy to say Android is peaking.   The question is where does that leave Google.  YouTube?  Self-driving cars?

I find myself thinking it makes a bit more sense that Apple and Yahoo have aligned their search with Bing.

What am I missing?

Tech in the 603, The Granite State Hacker

Is Your Solution Delivery Strategy About to get Avalanched by Windows 10?

HoloLens took the spotlight when //build/ 2015 announced it had sold out in under an hour, but I can’t help but think at least as big a chunk of the excitement is around Windows 10 (or as we developers like to think of it, Windows Unified). As cool as HoloLens is, Windows 10 will most likely be landing in your lap long before HoloLens has images dancing in your living room. 

If you’re not already preparing for Windows 10, your solution delivery stack could be in for a shock from the client up. Microsoft is in the process of launching a re-boot of itself, and Windows 10 is the fulcrum of that effort. As usual, many of its changes are aimed at pulling developers in. If solution development has a place in your organization, this will likely impact you as well. 

“Mobile First / Cloud First” is, as always, the key phrase, and for a client OS… if it’s not for cloud devices…. give it a moment…  let that sink in…   Yes.  Windows 10 is an OS for mobile devices. Even if your device is a big heavy block of a workstation sitting near your monitor.  It will have the same mobile app store as phones and tablets, and it can be managed by the same Enterprise Mobile Device Manager (MDM).

Windows 8 was an introductory / transitional OS. With Windows 10, the transition matures.  Windows 10’s maturity is likely to make it far more palatable than Windows 8 was. (Keep in mind that Windows 8 is only a “failure” in terms of Microsoft’s other OS releases… Windows 8/8.1 has a bigger install base than some of the most “successful” of its non-Microsoft competitors. If Windows 10 becomes the hit many foresee it to be, it has potential to become the de facto standard platform to truly de-throne XP and even Windows 7.)

Windows 10 also adds a bit of a surprise, especially around browser technology.  Microsoft is tossing in to Windows 10 a whole new web browser (in addition to Internet Explorer) currently code-named Spartan. This new browser is intended to go after the consumer browser market, which IE has lost considerable ground in. I speculate that Spartan will be a breath of fresh air for consumers who feel IE’s bloat-related flaws collectively compels them to download Chrome or Firefox.

If you’re a web application developer who does more than a little HTML, on the other hand, you’re probably already groaning. You know what a pain browser compatibility is. (The browser was never intended to be a homogenous cross-everything platform, but that’s how a lot of web designers treat it, and they’ve shaped culture to expect it. Despite the best efforts of tools like jQuery and others to try homogenize, and trends like responsive to try to change the culture of presentation homogeny, web application developers get severely burned in the crossfire.  I’ve got more than a few scars to prove this, but you don’t have to look further than jQuery’s failed mechanisms for helping developers with these issues.    (First there was $.browser and $.browser.version, then $.support… then, “awe… heck… we give up, use Modernizr“.) /rant )

Spartan is a move that makes total sense, but it can’t help but add complexity to web application developers’ lives.  

In fact, in my mind, the long term net message is… there’s only one way to end browser pain… by getting out of web as a client platform. (Web services are the only part of the web worth salvaging.)

Microsoft has seen what platform diversification has done to its core OS business, and it’s not good. Developers need a consistent platform to deliver consistent solutions on, and that’s been a bigger part of Microsoft’s success over the years than even they seem to have realize.

So if web application development is becoming ever more complex in an already over complicated domain, how should one produce and deploy apps?

In a word:  native (aka mobile).

Windows 10 is a unifying platform, a “pentecostal” event to counter the “tower of babel” event of Windows platforms that have fractured into existence since the end of the .NET Compact Framework era. Where before development was requiring more and more effort to support PC, tablet, smartphone, wearable and even Xbox, Windows 10 has a unified SDK across all those platforms. For the first time ever, a .NET developer can build a single solution that runs in all those devices. There may be runtime differences between platforms that have to be ironed out, still, but not compile-time  (if(system.capability.phone) {} rather than #ifdef WINDOWS_PHONE_APP)

And think about it… what are the big reasons for web deployment?   Centralized management and centralized deployment.  Think back to MDMs and mobile app stores.

(Xamarin plays a roll in all this as well. Between Windows 10 and Xamarin, developers will be able to leverage a good chunk of their code base across all hardware, even non Microsoft platforms such as IOS and Android. This, too, is a breath of fresh air, because the cost of maintaining multiple code bases (and talent pools) is ever climbing. Xamarin will likely never be the 110% development experience that the latest .NET framework is, but neither was Silverlight for Windows Phone 7, yet one could do some fairly heavy lifting with it.)

Because Windows 10 is one platform that runs across form factors, it essentially means that any app written for Windows 10 is a mobile app. In that light, it means that Windows 10 is most likely to vault Windows into the top spot for mobile platforms by its projected install base. 

This on top of Microsoft’s recent “trickle up” theory of mobile market share growth, where Microsoft has been grabbing market share by targeting the feature phone market.  (This tactic has little effect in the US, where carrier subsidies nullify the low end to “$0”)  At some point Windows Phone will hit critical mass outside the US. Once that happens, even US developers will no longer be able to afford to ignore it.

Even if Microsoft is not contributing directly to your solution stack, Windows 10 and its biases have potential to culturally influence your solutions and solution delivery over the next decade.

Tech in the 603, The Granite State Hacker

Cloud or Windows 8 Killing the PC Market?

Everyone’s busy scratching their heads as of late, and then pointing.  Who’s killing the PC market?  

Slashdotters are loving the idea that it’s Windows 8 ( http://tech.slashdot.org/story/13/04/11/002200/windows-8-killing-pc-sales ).

…but I fully call BS on that.  (Thankfully, Slashdot corrected itself to some extent.)

Then I came across this article by ZD Net blaming the cloud:
http://www.zdnet.com/whos-killing-the-pc-blame-the-cloud-7000013954/#postComment

The CLOUD?

That’s kind of like saying the Boeing 787 is killing the auto industry.

The cloud may be killing the server market, but that’s not the PC market…  the server market is busy supporting the cloud providers, though, so I don’t think they’re too bad off. 

If Windows 8 is holding the PC market back, it’s this:   I have upgraded every PC I touch (and then some) to the latest Windows 8 Pro, with no need for additional hardware, (because you were ill advised (or unadvised) if you’re a Windows user who didn’t take advantage of the $40 PRO edition upgrade offer from MS while you could.)

What’s killing the PC market is rooted in applications… especially games, on a couple levels:

1)  the fact that there’s only ever been one reason to have heavy iron at home:  games.  Games have gotten to the point that spending a few thousand dollars on a new machine won’t significantly improve your desktop gaming experience… so… unless you have that kind of scratch to waste, why bother?

2)  The games people want to play are on mobile devices.  As much as I love my desktop games, there actually have been a few mobile titles that have been engaging enough that I have taken time off from raiding to play them.

There is also the fact that the economy in general sucks, and while older PCs can continue to function, newer PCs are discretionary purchases that can (or must) wait.  

I can say from example, I’m aware of someone who has a laptop that, through what appears to be planned obsolescence, has broken in a couple of “expensive” ways… the display and keyboard are both dead.   Rather than pay a grand or more for repairs that would cost more than a new machine, or even pay the money for the new machine, the solution was to pick up a USB keyboard, and a cheap monitor… it now serves quite adequately as a desktop…  (and it was also upgraded to Windows 8).  (In any case, I’ll never waste money on that brand of laptop again.  🙂  )

If the hardware market wants me to spend, they’ve got to do something that will get me to feel like I’m not burning bucks for 10 additional frames per second, or… change their model… radically. 

Or… show me my favorite desktop title with an improved experience through touch screen…  but even this can be overcome with something like a LEAP Motion sensor for less than $100.

Bottom line… I think what we’re seeing is, for the first time, honest to goodness inflation hitting the PC market, and it’s choking on it.

Tech in the 603, The Granite State Hacker

My Windows 8 Adventure So Far

I had different reasons for doing each of the upgrades I’ve done so far… Here’s a list of the upgrades I’ve done so far, and why… maybe something I talk about will resonate:

My home PC (desktop):
I upgraded my computer initially to see what it was like. For $40, you don’t even have to go to the store to buy it.  That’s the Pro version, you can buy that to upgrade XP, Vista, and Windows 7 computers…  and it’s a way better price than the $200 upgrade from Windows Vista to Windows 7 for example.   It’s a relatively easy web-based upgrade. (I encountered some quirks with Symantec/Norton anti-virus, but Windows 8 includes security apps which make a good replacement.)  I’ve found it to be as solid as Windows 7, and once you get used to the mouse gestures and the way “Modern UI” works, navigation is easier than it was in Chicago-era UI’s (The UI we’ve basically had since Windows 95).

I also intend to explore app development with it. 

I’m also deciding my hardware upgrade path.  It’s an inexpensive way to get a grip on what devices I might want to invest in, going forward… for example, do I want to upgrade my current PC, which is great but has no touch screen support, lacking virtualization support, or do I want to bite the bullet and get something more current. 

I’m still deciding on a tablet, and it’ll either be “Surface Pro” or “Surface RT”…  I don’t want to invest in iPad or iPhone because they aren’t going to provide the level of integration I’m seeing and liking with the Windows 8 generation of devices.   Right now, I’m actually leaning toward maybe getting a Surface RT tablet, which are already available at Microsoft Stores at the mall…  the Surface Pro will be more fully featured, but cost more.  I’m thinking for what I want to do with a tablet, the RT will suffice, and if I need more horsepower from my tablet, I’ll just remote into a regular computer.
 
My wife’s PC (laptop):
I upgraded my wife’s computer because she & the kids loved the free games they saw me get from the app store… which works a lot like app stores on iPhone, Android and Windows Phone… they all mastered the “Modern UI” the first day, and found it to be an improvement, as well… so she got the “shiny new” experience on her older laptop.

That experience also enabled me to check out how Windows 8 devices (this includes computers, laptops, tablets, and phones) all communicate through the cloud…  I was easily able to transfer my profile from my desktop to my own login on my wife’s laptop.  This is something that Microsoft has been trying to make better for years, and used to only be available to Enterprise users, but now, thanks to the cloud, it’s something anyone can take advantage of.

My sister-in-law’s PC (laptop)
I upgraded my sister in law’s machine to get a less-involved, not quite so technical perspective on it. She picked up the new features right away, and is enjoying things like the free apps… Fresh Paint is one she mentioned as being a favorite, which is one my daughter is particularly fond of, as well.  She’s had an odd behavior with it that I have to fix next time I get the chance, but it’s just that startup takes longer than it should. 

My work machine (laptop)
I upgraded my work machine because I use Virtual Machines a lot, and Windows 8 has an updated version of Hyper-V in it… I was a bit nervous about this at first… my work depends on not screwing up my VMs, but after getting my first VM migrated from VirtualBox, I’m really glad I did it… Results so far are that performance seems better, and it’s just so much more flexible than VirtualBox was.  I’m hoping to see some bugs I encountered in my VirtualBox hosted machines go away too, haven’t tried that just yet…  (Stepping through code was a bit flaky in VirtualBox VMs)

To come…  My Mom’s machine (desktop)
I’m upgrading my mom’s machine for more practical reasons.   I think the UI will be easier for her to get around.  That said, it’s mostly the fact that Windows 8 has better apps included than what she’s using. (For example instant messaging, email, news… the web-based apps she’s using are limited in comparison.)  She’ll be able to toy with the apps from the app store, as well, which will be relatively a new technical freedom for her altogether.

Still…
If you want to see Windows 8 in action without risking a computer, I recommend stopping by a nearby Microsoft Store.  They have them set up so you can spend a bit of time playing with them, and plenty of people around to bounce questions off.

Tech in the 603, The Granite State Hacker

Windows Phone… who knew, right?

There is something interesting happening with Windows Phone 7… (a story outside Windows 8, Metro & Silverlight 4).  There’s a chance that the stars could align in an old, somewhat familiar pattern.

I’m thinking about the PC market back in the day (for me, that’s late 80’s early 90’s).  There were three niches in the personal computer business.  The most memorable stars were Apple, IBM, and Commodore.   Apple was the early front runner with high-end consumer technology that dazzled with an artsy focus (if you could afford it).  To try to coax the lower end of the market, they gave away machines to every school that would take them, making them the defacto for education, too.  Commodore (and a few others like them) had a developer and gaming niche…  if you were a lower budget programmer/hobbyist/gamer (as I was), you probably had one of these and half-convinced yourself it was better than an Apple machine.  

The rest of the world wanted a computer, too, but didn’t want the price point of the Apples or the technical overhead of the Commodore class of machines.   That’s where IBM came in, with an affordable machine that wasn’t necessarily the flat out best of anything on the market, but the overall value made it accessible to a broad range of people.  IBM… PC… who knew, right? 

History shows that IBM’s (or, more appropriately, Microsoft’s) strategy won out, with the social forces of the now ubiquitous Windows pc’s swallowing the hobbyist market almost whole, eating most of the Apple pie, and sharing the gaming market somewhat grudgingly with consoles. 

The social force in effect was the desire to make something that worked for the non-technical consumers who weren’t so attracted to the high-end market…  since consumers found commonality in the accessible/value platform, eventually that platform swallowed up the niches.  What hobbyist wants to write software that they can’t share with anyone (short of installing Linux on their mom’s computer)?  What technologist wants to have a separate system for gaming and another for everything else (setting consoles aside)?  In a way, the IBM / Microsoft platform became the “lowest common denominator”… but the important emphasis being on the word common.

Fast forward to the mobile phone market of about a year ago.   My wife picked up a Droid based phone on a deal.  She’s not exactly unhappy with it.  It works, but she doesn’t quite trust it after she had some technical issues she wasn’t prepared to deal with.  Droid based phones seem to appeal to a lot of the guys at work, who don’t mind tinkering with the things.  The Droid reminds me of the “Commodore” of smart phones.

Even more recently, my wife was helping her mother pick out a new phone.  Seeing that the iPhone was a popular choice, they looked at it, but it was a huge step up in cost and it seemed overwhelming to my mother-in-law.  Given that her old phone was a relatively basic mobile phone, she didn’t see the need to spend a ton of money only to buy a phone she felt was more than she needed.   My wife, thinking back to my Windows Phone, realized she really likes its clean, simple-looking style and ease of use.  Since the price point was way better than the iPhones, too, the Windows Phone won out.

(I remember posting a light-hearted lament on Facebook at the time, that maybe I should consider switching phones, because…. how can you see technology which the grandmother of your children uses as the basis of an interesting, relevant, and marketable skill set (and career)? (I really was just kidding! (I still have bruises from several grandmothers over these remarks.)) 🙂  

After a brief break-in period with her new Windows Phone, my mother in law fell in love with it.  She doesn’t have to struggle to figure her phone out, anymore.  She just uses it.   She takes advantage of features she never thought she’d use, because the features are arranged so nicely that they work together.

Interestingly, this opens up technology for me, too, because now I can share the product of my technical interests with her. She was one of the first beta testers of Jimmy Sudoku, my hobby project.

I’ve come to see that Windows Phone is the IBM PC of the modern mobile phone market.  It’s poised to become the common denominator of mobile phones.  It’s less expensive , easy to use, less overwhelming / more accessible to more people, even to those without a technical degree.  (Check out that new Nokia Lumia 900?)  Still, for us geeks, it’s got readily available (free) development tools using fun and marketable skills and a reasonably open app marketplace.  Perhaps Microsoft should review IBM’s old PC marketing strategy before they overlook the opportunity they seem to have set themselves up for.

Like the frying pan in the Disney movie “Tangled”…  Practical, available, affordable, easy to use, and good for more than the obvious stuff…  who knew, right?