IHS Technology: Microsoft admits defeat in smartphone OS market with Windows 10

Microsoft has conceded defeat to Apple and Google in the smartphone market with the launch of Windows 10, its latest operating system (OS), according to IHS Technology analyst Ian Fogg.

In a research note emailed to FierceWireless:Europe, Fogg, director of mobile analysis at IHS, said that Microsoft is "prioritising the PC version of Windows 10 for delivery first, not mobile", adding that the focus on PCs shows the U.S. company understands that it has lost the smartphone OS "war" to Apple's iOS and Google's Android platforms.

Microsoft is launching Windows 10 in 190 countries today (Jul. 29) as a free upgrade for PC users running Windows 7 and 8.1. The OS will also be shipped on new PCs, tablet PCs, mobile phones, the Raspberry Pi device, and the Xbox One games console.

Fogg commented that Microsoft's launch strategy is "one step forward and two steps back" in terms of its approach to mobile devices. The U.S. company, he said, "is again trying to make its mobile OS a mimic of its large screen PC OS as it used to do before the grand Windows Phone re-launch in 2010," which he added was Microsoft's bid to compete with iOS and Android.

By focusing on the PC first, "Microsoft again risks a lowest common denominator experience with the smartphone weakened as a result of not being fully optimised for the phone," Fogg commented, adding that "many of the trademark user interface [UI] decisions which differentiated the modern UI on smartphones have been withdrawn in this new version", citing panorama views and hub centric applications with integrated content from multiple sources as examples.

Further evidence of Microsoft's move away from the smartphone market is found in the company's decision to offer versions of flagship applications including Office and Halo for "the rival smartphone OS, which have the bulk of the users," Fogg added.

Craig Stice, senior principal analyst at IHS, pointed out that Microsoft has attempted to close the gap to Apple and Google in one key area: Windows 10 will be delivered using a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, in an attempt to make it easier for consumers to keep the platform updated.

"Both Android and iOS have driven the market into a free upgradable software generation. Microsoft has been caught behind, so, as they move into this new generation of OS upgrades, they must execute, be user friendly, and be free of major bugs," Stice commented.

For more:
- view Microsoft's Windows 10 announcement

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