As noted earlier this weekend, Microsoft’s co-founder Bill Gates has revealed he is now using an Android-powered smartphone, but he made sure to subtly reinforce the importance of Microsoft’s cloud-based services in his day-to-day connected life.
Speaking to Fox News, Gates talked about his switch. Laurent Giret for On MSFT has taken a closer look at the statement, putting it into the context of Microsofot’s positioning in 2017:
The former exec made the confession during an interview with Fox News yesterday, saying that he switched to an Android phone with “lots of Microsoft software” on it. This would have been quite a risky statement to make a few years ago when Microsoft was still trying hard to build an alternative to iOS and Android, but at this point, even Satya Nadella admitting he’s an Android user wouldn’t really be bad PR for the Redmond giant.
The interview managed to avoid the more politically dangerous question of which manufacturer the Android handset he used (although The Verge suggests that Gates might like to try Microsoft’s version of the Galaxy S8 which is pre-loaded with the requisite software from Redmond).
Although Windows 10 Mobile continues to be supported by Microsoft and new devices have been recently announced (such as WileyFox’s reveal at IFA), the real focus is on bringing mobile users, no matter the operating system, into Microsoft’s cloud through the use of apps such as Office365, Outlook, OneNote, and To-Do.
The appointment of Sataya Nadella as CEO allowed the Redmond-based company to move on from trying to sell a rival mobile operating system to iOS and Android. Instead Microsoft switched to trying to rule the next step up from the OS. That was the cloud of personal data that people want to access no matter what device they are on… be it Windows 10, macOS, iOS, Android, or elsewhere Microsoft has a single solution for all. While it might not have the usefulness of a ‘home’ operating system on mobile, the use of Windows 10 on the desktop gives the Microsoft Cloud approach the sort of viability that a company starting from scratch would struggle to achieve.
The use of an iPhone or Android device does effectively mean signing up to Apple’s or Google’s cloud, but those choosing to use Microsoft’s cloud are making an active choice, rather than being dragged along by their smartphone.
In that sense it’s obvious why Gates felt comfortable in anointing himself as #TeamAndroid – Microsoft wants to move the battlefield away from OS and on to Apps and user data.