BELLEVUE, Wash. — “Please silence all Windows Phones and other devices,” was the announcement at the beginning of Microsoft’s annual meeting here this morning.
In any other setting it might have been a joke, but there were plenty of shareholders at the meeting who have shown their dedication to the company by opting for Windows-powered smartphones. And a couple of them had some pointed questions for Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
Following its ill-fated $7 billion Nokia acquisition, Microsoft has cut back its smartphone hardware to a smaller number of flagship devices. Microsoft has also been making more of its own apps widely available for the more popular iOS and Android mobile platforms.
Microsoft shareholder Dana Vance, owner of a Windows Phone and a Microsoft Band, said he received an email about the Microsoft Pix app but was surprised to learn that it was available for iPhone and Android but not Windows Phone. Ditto for Microsoft Outlook. He also alluded to reports that Microsoft has put the Band on the back burner. Given this, he asked Nadella to explain the company’s vision for its consumer devices.
As part of his response, Nadella said Microsoft’s Windows camera and mail apps will include the same features as in Microsoft’s apps for other platforms.
“When we control things silicon-up, that’s how we will integrate those experiences,” Nadella said. The company will “build devices that are unique and differentiated with our software capability on top of it — whether it’s Surface or Surface Studio or HoloLens or the phone — and also make our software applications available on Android and iOS and other platforms. That’s what I think is needed in order for Microsoft to help you as a user get the most out of our innovation.”
Another shareholder, who says he uses his Windows Phone “18 hours a day,” said he has heard Microsoft is “stepping away from mobile.” He asked, “Can you calm me down … and tell me what your vision is for mobile?”
Nadella answered, “We think about mobility broadly. In other words, we think about the mobility of the human being across all of the devices, not just the mobility of a single device.”
“That said, we’re not stepping away or back from our focus on our mobile devices,” Nadella said. “What we are going to do is focus that effort on places where we have differentiation. If you take Windows Phone, where we are differentiated on Windows Phone is on manageability. It’s security, it’s Continuum capability — that is, the ability to have a phone that can act like a PC. So we’re going to double-down on those points of differentiation.”
He cited the HP Elite x3 device as an example of a Windows 10 phone that follows this strategy.
“We will keep looking at different forms and different functions that we can bring to mobile devices, while also supporting our software across a variety of devices,” Nadella said. “So that’s the approach you will see us take. We are not stepping away from supporting our Windows Phone users. But at the same time we are recognizing that there are other platforms in mobile that have higher share, and we want to make sure that our software is available to them.”
See our earlier report for more from Microsoft’s annual meeting.