In its annual corporate report to the SEC, Microsoft laid out its unexpected plans for how it expects Windows 10 to drive the company’s growth.
“Our ambition for Windows 10 is to broaden our economic opportunity through three key levers: an original equipment manufacturer (‘OEM’) ecosystem that creates exciting new hardware designs for Windows 10; our own commitment to the health and profitability of our first-party premium device portfolio; and monetisation opportunities such as services, subscriptions, gaming, and search,” reads the report.
The first two points are somewhat contradictory, and show Microsoft hedging its bets a little.
The big question for Microsoft around the Windows 10 release cycle is whether or not the operating system is still relevant amid a shrinking PC market.
If it’s looking for “exciting new hardware designs” from OEMs (industry-speak for hardware manufacturers like HP and Dell), Microsoft is signalling that it sees Windows 10 as moving beyond the desktop, into smartphones, tablets, and whatever else.
Meanwhile, the second point seems to indicate some degree of Apple envy. The Microsoft Surface tablet product line has become successful, with big revenue growth reported this last quarter. And Microsoft insists that the Lumia line of flagship Windows Phones isn’t done yet, despite the fact that it’s got very low low market share.
It’s also worth noting that the Xbox One video games console is expected to get an update to Windows 10 that would turn it into a similar flagship device: A combination desktop computer-slash-lean, mean, games machine, at a budget price of $US349.
But the last point — “monetisation opportunities such as services, subscriptions, gaming, and search” — is equally crucial.
Microsoft sees Windows 10 as being the impetus for customers to open their wallets for subscription services like Microsoft Office 365 or Xbox Live, that then also work on iPhones and Androids, too.
The goal is to win more cash from every customer by providing useful services, no matter what device they’re on, with Windows 10 being the preferred way to access them.
The Microsoft of the future is looking like one that doesn’t care about the PC market as much as getting Windows and a bunch of its other services on as many devices as it can.