Mobility Officially Bumped From Microsoft’s Strategy

Contributor: Jason Koestenblatt
Posted: 08/08/2017
Microsoft AI

First came the discontinuation of support for the Windows Phone 8, and now Microsoft has completely eliminated any mention of mobility from its 2017 strategic vision.

That’s not to say the Redmond, Washington-based IT giant is packing up shop, rather, refocusing its sights on edge computing and artificial intelligence.

In its annual 10-K document, which reveals the strategic vision for all publicly traded companies as required by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, Microsoft makes no mention of mobility in 2017, a change from the previous four years.

As of July 11, Windows Phone 8.1 no longer received software updates or technical support, just three years after its debut. For companies whose employees are using Windows Phone 8.1, it doesn’t mean the device is now useless, but will become antiquated sooner than most, considering OS updates from Apple and Android are fast and furious, pushing through new software and patches on an annual basis, if not sooner. It also means new apps being built for the enterprise likely won’t be compatible with the now-outdated Windows OS.

Microsoft is making clear, however, that while it may be moving away from creating mobility, it wants to be inside that technology, pushing artificial intelligence as its next major effort.

“Our strategy is to build best-in-class platforms and productivity services for an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge infused with artificial intelligence (AI),” reads the 2017 strategic vision. In 2014 through 2016, the strategic vision made specific mention of competing with “best-in-class platforms and productivity services for a mobile-first, cloud-first world.”

It’s not as if Microsoft won’t have a mobile presence whatsoever, of course. The AI assistant Cortana is enabled for use on iOS and Android; the majority of enterprise business professionals use LinkedIn’s mobile app; and Skype is available just about everywhere. This certainly isn’t a death knell for the company, but as CEO Satya Nadella said in the fall of 2016, Microsoft needs to remember its roots as a platform-first company.

The company is also facing an uphill battle in the fight for cloud supremacy, being lumped in with Google and IBM as the group, combined, makes up for less market share than Amazon Web Services. While the cloud market – both public and private – has no cap as enterprises steadily move toward migration, AWS’s lead is so big, Microsoft can’t see any kind of market leadership in the near future. Between that and it’s lag behind Apple and Android in the mobile fight, it’s no wonder the platform-first tech company has aimed its roadmap in a different direction.

Microsoft recently held an event in the UK, celebrating the 20th anniversary of its research center in Cambridge. The event focused on “the intersection of artificial intelligence with people and society,” and showed the company is taking a lead in the AI field, according to CCS Insight analyst and vice president Nick McQuire, who attended the event. Read more of his take on the event here.

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Jason Koestenblatt
Contributor: Jason Koestenblatt