The new version of Windows, Windows 10, is a must-have if you’re currently running Windows 7 or Windows 8.
But Windows 10 isn’t just designed to run on laptops and desktops. Soon, it will power all kinds of devices, including augmented reality headsets, tablets, and phones.
It’s the last one that’s going to be the biggest challenge for Microsoft. As good as Windows 10 is, Microsoft is still going to have a problem making Windows Phones relevant this fall when they get the new software.
Windows Phones only have about 3% of the global smartphone market, so developers have very little incentive to invest in making apps for Windows Phone because very few people will actually use it. And because it doesn’t have the best apps, there’s no incentive for people to buy a Windows Phone.
Windows Phones are caught in a Catch-22.
Microsoft’s hope is that Windows 10 will solve the app problem. The OS is a free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8 users, which means potentially hundreds of millions of people will have it within the next few months. And any Windows 10 PC app can be tweaked to run on a phone too. Microsoft thinks developers will realise it has access to all of these users and start building apps for Windows Phones.
But there’s a flaw in that logic. The best and most popular phone apps are designed for the phone first. They’re not PC apps reverse engineered to run on a small screen. Just because millions of people will be using Windows 10 on desktop soon doesn’t mean mobile-only companies like Snapchat will start making apps for PCs and then phones.
In short, there’s very little chance Windows Phones will suddenly take off thanks to Windows 10.
On the other hand, Microsoft has another smart mobile strategy. It’s been systematically snapping up the best mobile productivity apps like Wunderlist and Sunrise, regardless of the platform they run on. For example, I had zero Microsoft apps running on my iPhone’s home screen. Now I have three. Microsoft has slowly been taking over iPhone.
Over time, that could build loyalty toward Microsoft and hook people back into the Windows ecosystem.
But for now, Windows 10 won’t be able to save Windows Phone.
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