Microsoft CFO: Cross-platform services key to Microsoft's Windows 8 iPad-compete plans

Microsoft CFO: Cross-platform services key to Microsoft's Windows 8 iPad-compete plans

Summary: Microsoft's CFO said common consumer and business services running on Windows 8 and other devices will give Microsoft leverage against its tablet competitors.

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One of the perennial questions about Windows 8 -- and one that many Microsoft watchers asked yet again last week after Microsoft's latest disclosures on Windows on ARM -- is what the Softies think they have to one-up the iPad.

Many believe Office will be Microsoft's trump card, especially given Microsoft's plan to "include" four Office 15 apps on Windows 8 ARM tablets and PCs. But if Microsoft ends up fielding Office for iPad, as rumored, that advantage may be moot.

During an appearance at the Goldman Sachs Technology & Internet Conference on February 15, Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein offered some more color on Microsoft's plans to stand out from other tablet/PC competitors.

Services, including search; various consumer and enterprise cloud services; and entertainment services like those provided by Xbox Live are going to be key differentiators, Klein said, and will help drive device pick-up with Windows 8.

Microsoft has a growing set of both kinds of services that it will provide to users at home, at work and at play. As Microsoft officials have said before, the grand plan is to offer a core set of services across all kinds of screens: Phones, PCs, tablets and TVs.  Microsoft also plans to offer its users common calendaring, email, photo, music, video, gaming and communication services, he said.

The "most fundamental service (category) across devices is communication," Klein told Goldman conference attendees (and those of us watching via the Webcast). Skype extends mail, messaging, voice and video, he said.

Office is another such category/set of experiences that will span all kinds of device types, he said. When asked whether Microsoft was planning to provide Office on iPad, Klein simply said that Microsoft believes it has a "great tablet experience with Office."

In related news, Microsoft is planning to detail more about its cross-platform Xbox Live development strategy at the upcoming Game Developers Conference (GDC) in early March in San Francisco.

On March 6, there will be a day-long event aimed at "professional developers who build games and entertainment applications for Xbox 360 and Kinect, Windows 8, Windows Phone, and the web," according to a Microsoft blog post.

"Developers will learn about the new Windows 8 Metro style application platform and new Xbox LIVE services that deliver breakthrough entertainment experiences across all of Microsoft's entertainment platforms," the post added.

A deep dive on Xbox Live on Windows 8 -- an app Microsoft officials showed off at the Build conference last fall; asynchronous gaming; storing game data in the cloud and "entertainment reimagined" are all on the March 6 agenda.

Back to Microsoft's cross-platform/cross-device services message with Windows 8. The common services idea is definitely a new tact for the company, in terms of its iPad-compete strategy. With Windows 7 tablets, Microsoft attempted to play up the lack of enterprise management functionality as the main leverage point it had against the iPad.

Topics: Tablets, Collaboration, Hardware, Laptops, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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43 comments
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  • RE: Microsoft CFO: Cross-platform services key to Microsoft's Windows 8 iPad-compete plans

    So Microsoft is going to resort to dumping to gain marketshare? I believe that will garner scrutiny from the DOJ.
    Joel-r
    • RE: Microsoft CFO: Cross-platform services key to Microsoft's Windows 8 iPad-compete plans

      @Joel-r Maybe after the DOJ is done looking at the anti-competitive nature of Apple's iTunes Store. One option for a payment processor (Apple) who charges a 30% fee and does not tell me who the customer is that bought my product.
      clcrockett
      • RE: Microsoft CFO: Cross-platform services key to Microsoft's Windows 8 iPad-compete plans

        @ccrockett@??? Leveraging a monopoly like position in one area to gain a monopoly like position in another area is what got Microsoft in trouble he last time. The fact that they are going to do it as soon as Government Oversight ends, indicates they did not learn from the last time they were punished for doing the same thing. Did they think that His Royal Highness Obama, the Arab, changed the laws ?
        Joel-r
      • RE: Microsoft CFO: Cross-platform services key to Microsoft's Windows 8 iPad-compete plans

        @ccrockett@... in regards to Apple taking 30 percent. So I guess every other store in the world like Best Buy, Macy's, grocery stores, gas stations, etc...etc.... promote and sell other people products for free? Heck, any retail store you could possibly find marks up their products over 100%. So everyone else gets a pass except Apple? Not a very well thought out if you ask me.
        beau27
      • RE: Microsoft CFO: Cross-platform services key to Microsoft's Windows 8 iPad-compete plans

        @ccrockett@??? as opposed to the Amazon store taking 30%, or Microsoft???s App store taking 30% and selling the customers name to whomever will pay for it?
        Joel-r
    • RE: Microsoft CFO: Cross-platform services key to Microsoft's Windows 8 iPad-compete plans

      @Joel-r
      The whole premise - How Windows 8 competes with the iPad - is faulty.
      iPad is a hardware/software tightly integrated package. Windows 8 is only software. They can never match the user experience on the iPad, which is optimized on both levels...
      prof123
      • RE: Microsoft CFO: Cross-platform services key to Microsoft's Windows 8 iPad-compete plans

        @prof123

        No, they can't match. They can make it a lot better. Microsoft has specific hardware specifications for tablets to help control that user experience and keep it up to par no matter what tablet you buy. Plus it gives people options without sacrificing usability.

        In the past, I would have agreed. But Microsoft has learned this over the past 10 years as the see Apple growing rapidly. They understand the level of user experience people are beginning to expect. They intend to execute that. Once they do that and unify their products Windows, WP7, Xbox, Office, SkyDrive, etc. They will more than compete, they will dominate.

        The iPad is a niche market toy. Windows 8 on Tablets/Convertibles will replace Netbooks and Laptops which is all most people need these days.
        spaulagain2
      • RE: Microsoft CFO: Cross-platform services key to Microsoft's Windows 8 iPad-compete plans

        @spaulagain

        55 million is a nice niche to be in.
        cartman00000001
      • RE: Microsoft CFO: Cross-platform services key to Microsoft's Windows 8 iPad-compete plans

        @prof123
        So You say, in your opinion???
        eargasm
      • RE: Microsoft CFO: Cross-platform services key to Microsoft's Windows 8 iPad-compete plans

        @spaulagain A "niche market toy" that has outsold all tablets to date, even those clunky Windows based crap piles that people still think are so important. When you deride a massive and growing market as a "niche", it can be safely assumed you either have no idea what you are talking about, or for some petty reason dislike Apple so much you are willing to look stupid to mock Apple. Which is it?
        His_Shadow
    • RE: Microsoft CFO: Cross-platform services key to Microsoft's Windows 8 iPad-compete plans

      @Joel-r
      "the Arab"? Really? He's not. And if he was, what would be the problem?
      kbartels@...
  • There are so many things MS could do ...

    ... directly, or partner with other companies to accomplish, which would add significant value to services such as Xbox Live, and revolutionize entertainment at the same time. E.g. MS could provide infrastructure that supports the formation of singing / comedian / talent shows, in which independent and established artists are brought on every week. If a show is a singing show, and an audience member likes a performance, he could instantly download the artist's song, pause the performance, go instantly to the artist's Xbox Live experience to explore and maybe purchase additional songs, videos, concert performances, merchandise, etc. The audience member could alternately have the Xbox Live service send a reminder in the form of the artist's Xbox Live experience, being featured on his home page. This arrangement would allow artists to experience bursts of IP sales, whenever they appear on a show. MS would benefit by taking cuts of these transactions. Radio stations and video channels could operate very similarly.

    Another important arrangement, is having artists place ads for their songs, albums, or Xbox Live experiences on the web, and in other digital publications, in order to boot strap sales and interest. MS could even come out with a Craigslist type of service, in which artists advertise their IP, and users are able to search through and watch free performances, and explore the artists' Xbox Live experiences - in hopes of generating sales for the artists. I believe the above would be great for artists, and would lead to the distribution of wealth seen in the rest of the economy, rather than what we see in entertainment industry today.

    Another neat concept I believe, is one called virtual live performances, in which MS (or partners) set up template services that a group of individuals could use to create live virtual performances for sale. Say e.g. a group of American Idol alumni wanted to put together a live concert in a studio. They would be able to go into a studio, and produce a live performance they could sell to their fans. The studio would make it easy for them to advertise the performance, produce the IP, sell access (e.g. $5) purchase the performance, have audience members instantly buy their songs / albums, and link to their Xbox Live experiences, etc.

    There are a lot of really great things which can be done on Xbox Live, and I hope we get to see them in the future.
    P. Douglas
    • RE: Microsoft CFO: Cross-platform services key to Microsoft's Windows 8 iPad-compete plans

      @P. Douglas Microsoft wants to charge, while serving up ads. Kind of like the cable channels do. Why are they charging as much as they do, and subject people to stupid ads?
      Joel-r
      • How much is MS ...

        @Joel-r,

        ... charging?
        P. Douglas
  • RE: Microsoft CFO: Cross-platform services key to Microsoft's Windows 8 iPad-compete plans

    Why was Skype even mentioned? The iPad already have Skype, and plenty other video comm. services. XBox live on tablet and phones is a big meh, I'm still waiting to see the "breakthrough experience", besides the syncing of game data etc. May see some sales for MS Office in the enterprise but I just don't see it as something consumers will be looking for when buying tablets. Plus there's options for iPad users to use Office if they need (OneLive Desktop, Remote).
    dave95.
    • RE: Microsoft CFO: Cross-platform services key to Microsoft's Windows 8 iPad-compete plans

      @dave95. Skype was mentioned because MS now owns it, and it sounds like they will probably find ways to integrate it across all of the core MS experience. Xbox Live on tablets and phones isn't "meh" for Win8. The same games that devs develop for xbox live arcade will be able to be ported to both phones and tablets. And Onlive Desktop and Remote are crappy sluggish ways to "use" your MS Office suite on your tablet, and in absolutely no way compete with a dedicated app suite for your device.
      d20dad
      • RE: Microsoft CFO: Cross-platform services key to Microsoft's Windows 8 iPad-compete plans

        @drunkenscholar

        Remote desktop to MS Office is a very viable and fast solution if you use the right software such as ThinServer XP
        bojanwojan
      • RE: Microsoft CFO: Cross-platform services key to Microsoft's Windows 8 iPad-compete plans

        @drunkenscholar <br><br> [i]The same games that devs develop for xbox live arcade will be able to be ported to both phones and tablets.[/i]<br><br>You mean developers will be porting great XBox Live games like Call or Duty, Battlefield 3, Halo to WOA tablets and WP7 Phones? Will these tablets and phones handle the graphics these games require? Don't think so. We are talking metro-style casual games here, the Angry Birds, words with friends etc, a whole different set of gamers from your typical XBox Live target. No one will be playing Halo on their XBox and then continue where they left off on WOA tablets or phones, it definitely wont be the same experience. But it all sounds great in theory. And in marketing speak.
        dave95.
      • RE: Microsoft CFO: Cross-platform services key to Microsoft's Windows 8 iPad-compete plans

        double
        dave95.
      • RE: Microsoft CFO: Cross-platform services key to Microsoft's Windows 8 iPad-compete plans

        @dave95
        Xbox Live Arcade games would be the likely candidates, not full on Xbox 360 games. If you have ever played some of the better Xbox Live Arcade games, you'd understand why this is a big deal. They are excellent.
        kstap