Microsoft has a problem. They have 600 million Windows 10 users, but the number who actually love the operating system is much, much lower than that. While loving an operating system may be an odd thing to expect, it is a pretty normal feature of owning an iPhone for example and a stated goal of Satay Nadella, who said “We want people to love Windows on a daily basis. We want to make Windows 10 the most loved version of Windows.”
This weakness has opened Microsoft up to having their position in computing usurped by more modern competitors such as iOS and Android, with the risk of completely supplanting Microsoft in day to day usage.
To address this issue earlier this year Microsoft created a new Windows Engagement organization in the Windows and Devices Group under the leadership of Joe Belfiore.
The organization was created out of the Saga group, responsible for the Edge browser, the Windows Shell group and the Information and Content Experiences (ICE) team, responsible for content on MSN.com, the Start page on Edge, Bing carousel, Lock Screen, Windows Store, Microsoft Store and other Content Experiences across Microsoft, with the goal of improving user engagement with Windows by providing unique experiences for the users.
The team has already made strong moves, many of which we have covered here. They are for example responsible for the Microsoft Launcher on Android, the Continue on Your PC initiative for iOS and Android and the rest of the Cross-Device SDK, and also the Edge browser on iOS and Android.
The team clearly acknowledges mobile-centric nature of computing these days and are working to weave Windows into that work-flow. In their recent ad for Edge for Android, for example, showed a user using Continue on your PC to show a website on a bigger screen to more easily share with others, a reasonable use scenario which emphasises the strength of the PC. The Timeline feature of course also acknowledges how the PC will only be one part of our computing experience.
Having the content, shell and browser team working together meant a more integrated approach to drawing users back to the Windows platform and is an approach we have advocated for years now. The group also includes a team called Area 51 where members can draw in resources to rapidly prototype ideas and test them internally, speeding new developments to market by bypassing the usual Microsoft bureaucracy.
It is not clear if this approach will see success of course – it is now rather late in the game and Google and Apple are similarly working against Microsoft to lock users into their ecosystem. It is, however, unquestionably the right approach for where Microsoft is in the market currently.