Asked about high end sales (low compared to relative success at low end). Joe Belford suggests there is an ecosystem volume issue here. Plus at the low end Windows Phone appeals particularly to new users, the good performance of Windows Phone on low end devices, makes this particularly attractive.
To be clear the hardware announcement is about partners. There is nothing on specific devices. The assumption is that these partners are working on / looking at making Windows Phone devices, but we'll have to wait for partners to announce (and it's fair to say there's no guarantee that they will all take a device to the market).
In response to question about "how Microsoft would feel if Nokia produced an Android phone". Lots of laugh in the room.
Joe says they are a close partner and we've done great work with them. He does add "there may be things we'll be less excited about".
Asked about relative numbers of devices from each Windows Phone manufacturer in future. Will Nokia proportion go down?
No direct answer, but inevitable with things like dual SIM , new hardware support, and new partners coming in.
In the Q&A people are pushing to find out about additional features of next Windows Phone, but no dice (no surprise there). Still a surprising amount has been confirmed today. And the new hardware support is going to have a big impact. It's clear Microsoft is going to be pushing even harder into the low end of the market.
So summary for Windows Phone
- Facebook Messenger app arriving
- New enterprise features in next Windows Phone
- New hardware support in Windows Phone
- Opening up Windows Phone to many new hardware partners.
New Mobile Operator Opportunities - great partners with iconic devices, white-label and local brands, services and app monetization.
What this really translates into is that Microsoft is pushing for a flowering of Windows Phone devices from multiple OEMs (China, India, etc.)
Karbonn, Solo, LG, Foxconn, Gionee, JSR, Lenovo, Longcheer, Xolo are all part of this process as new partners.
Windows Hardware Partner Portal. http://oem.windowsphone.com is announced making it easy to create a Windows Phone device.
Nick Parker, VP Windows OEM, comes on stage to say that Microsoft is open for business on Windows Phone... this means anyone can build a Windows Phone device. Using the reference design makes it easy for anyone to build a Windows Phone device.
Also bringing dual-SIM support.
And Joe shows offs a Qualcomm hardware reference design (dual SIM).
Hardware requirements becoming more flexible:
- 4GB/512MB devices
- Softies (i.e. hardware keys optional)
- Camera button optional)
- TD-SCDMA support
- TD-LTE support
Also various things to help manufacturers, with driver catalogues, simplest tools and licensing, works with existing Android hardware.
New chipset support coming: Snapdragon 200 (8x10 & 8x12), Snapdragon 400 (8x26 and 8x28), Snapdragon 400 (8926 & 8928).
New enterprise features coming in next version of Windows Phone. S/MIME support, VPN support, more MDM.
This next version is arriving soon (Spring). New devices, but also available for all existing devices.
And the first Windows Phone news... Facebook Messenger for Windows Phone arriving in next few weeks.
And many more apps to come.
Where are the cool new features seems to be a common question. Belfiore says a lot was delivered in Update 1,2, and 3... but a lot of this has been focused on growing volume (new hardware support etc.), so the benefit for existing users was a bigger volume, which meant more apps, with Instagram being the best example of this.
Example of this? Lumia 520 was the 3rd best selling phone in the UK market in November (ahead of all Android devices).
Talking Windows Phone momentum: talking year on year growth: 59% Europe, 105% APAC, 758% NEA. Number 2 OS in 10 markets. The familiar story from recent stat releases. (Does need to be set against relative small base to start with).
Joe Belfiore: "2103 was the year we ate our vegetables. 2013 was the year we got Windows Phone to the world and to the place where volume can follow."
...and so to Windows Phone... a short video shows off some facts about momentum... over taken BlackBerry, more apps, challenge old guard and provide something new, smartphone reinvented around you, Live Tiles, closer to the things that matter most, reinvented with meaningful innovations (low light camera, 41MP)... and in 2014... more device, more apps, continuing to innovate.
For education, corporate, and government institutions there an IE8 compatibility mode for IE11. This helps improve support for legacy web apps.
Joe says we've been working on this and some of it has leaked... so we want to make a few things clear about our intent:
"We love touch, none of the new stuff detracts from this, but we do think we can improve things for mouse and keyboard users."
Enabling new hardware.... at lower price points (1GB RAM 16GB internal storage).
Coming this Spring is an update to Windows 8.1. Three key items:
- Improvements to non-touch experience
- More hardware options (including at low end)
- Improvements for government and education markets.
And so on to Windows specific stuff. Windows 8 "was a significant step for Microsoft". Core to ARM (shared to tablets and phone), revitalise UX (modern apps, Start screen, touch UI), and more.
200 million Windows 8 devices sold.
Fastest upgrade rate ever (x4 Windows 7).
5400 devices certified
40% of devices sold in US are touch enabled
4 million downloads per day from the Windows Store
So why phone, tablet, and PC put together? This personal computing experience, regardless of device, have great value in being mobile. Se setting up organisation to build user experience and app platform around this.
Our current products are a solid first step in this. Knowledge from one device applies to other, but there is a lot more coming.
The other thing that is important is "how the cloud plays into all of this". Microsoft account service, OneDrive, and all the pieces that sit on top of these (and more).
We're being reminded that Windows devices have a common core. Across smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, TV / Gaming. A large core team works on this, and there's segment specific teams. Joe says he is the "guy for phones, tablet, PCs".
Joel Belfiore on stage, says he is glad to be back in Barcelona. Getting an update on status of Windows and Windows Phone. Also some partner news.
Things just about to get underway here. Blue Windows moos lightning. Check. No name music playing in background. Check. Windows everywhere. No we're underground...
The briefing and press Q&A kicks of at 1pm (just over 30 minutes time).
As you would expect there are lots of Live Tiles around on Windows Phone devices, PCs, and Xbox Ones.
We're at the Microsoft event. It's currently lunch time and demo time (existing devices, apps, and services). There is a briefing coming up a bit later though.
If you're wondering when the announcement for the next major version of Windows Phone will happen... that'll almost certainly be at BUILD 2014, Microsoft's developer conference, which kicks off in just over 4 weeks on April 2nd.
You can also follow along on Twitter @AA_WP, where you'll find some additional text updates and pictures from the event.
Microsoft's event is due to start at 12:00 CET (11:00 am GMT). We're not anticipating any major announcements, more of an update on the state of Windows and Windows Phone in the mobile space.
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We'll also be publishing individual news stories for any significant announcements made this week at MWC. Check the home page of the site for the full listing.