Amir Zmora
Amir Zmora is an independent consultant for WebRTC and communications and VP Alliances & Partnerships for AudioCodes. Amir is also...
Read Full Bio >>

Amir Zmora | September 29, 2013 |


Windows Phone 8 Rocks: Does its Road to Success Run through the CIO Office?

Windows Phone 8 Rocks: Does its Road to Success Run through the CIO Office? Windows Phone 8 has all it takes from an OS to become a leader in the market. The lineup of applications will be the make-or-break criterion.

Windows Phone 8 has all it takes from an OS to become a leader in the market. The lineup of applications will be the make-or-break criterion.

The development and release of iOS and Android took place around the same period of time (developed 2004-2005 and released 2007-2008). When these 2 game-changing platforms were starting to be developed and Android acquired by Google, Microsoft already had a mobile operating system called Windows Mobile, but Microsoft missed the mobile platforms train.

Microsoft took different routes to try and overcome its late coming to the new world of mobile platforms, but the market share of Windows Phone 8, the Microsoft new generation of Windows Mobile, is still rather small.

The smartphone OS reality today is of 2 main players, Android and iOS, accounting for 92.5% of the smartphone market, while the rest is...well...others.

But then you need to take a close look at the split of the Android smartphone market. There is one big guy out there called Samsung and all the others are way behind in market share. The Android market is diversified, many brands, many models, many device characteristics and a wide price range.

There are significant differences between the OSs
In iOS, application developer flexibility is limited to a closed sandbox and there is no way to "hurt" other applications and surely no way to change native phone interfaces like the dialer, messaging, FaceTime.... Having said that, in the eyes of the non-techy user, it simply works.

In Android, the story is more complex; its openness holds many advantages for the techy users. It also gives a lot of flexibility to the device manufacturer and to the application developer. But this openness is a double-edged sword. Given the flexibility of Android, application developers can change native phone interfaces. They can take control over your dialer, SMS, contacts and more. I have personally experienced this with a real-time VoIP application that took control over my dialer. It took me a lot of digging until I got rid of that. Helping out some non-techy user, I experienced something similar with a messaging application.

All this got me to the conclusion that Android has taken the smartphone OS market by a storm not because it is the best/ideal OS. It is because there was no other valid OS option for device manufacturers to adopt.

If that is the case, I thought, there must be a third OS vendor that stands a chance to become a dominant player in this market if it plays its cards right. Microsoft looked to me like the right candidate. So I got my hands on an HTC 8x device to play around with, and I've been using it for the last month or so.

The phone itself is not the focus of what I wanted to experience, but I must say I have mostly good things to say about it. It feels great holding it in your hand; it is cool, quick, easy to use, good battery lifetime, great camera. My only comments would be that audio volume could use a small boost (or maybe it is my age) and that a Micro SD card slot would be handy.

Moving down to the OS
I won't presume to give a full in-depth review of the OS; there are many such to be found. What I aim to cover in this section is simply my take on the OS and what can be done to improve its adoption.

Once I got my hands on the device it took me no time to get going, even though I'd never used Windows 8.

It never got stuck or slowed down even when performing tasks my iPhone 4S would usually be a bit slow at, like searching through thousands of contacts.

It has Office preinstalled, so reading email attachments or documents from my Dropbox (there is a Dropbox app) is fun and easy.

After a month of use, the only issue was the lack of some of my favorite applications. If there is one reason why I wouldn't switch to a Windows Phone 8 device, it is the lack of leading applications such as Waze and Feedly, and replacements that just don't reach the standards of the original iOS- and Android-based ones.

The other thing that was really annoying was the fact that every application I installed required to know my location even if it had no real functional need for that. The reason is that on Windows Phone 8 only navigation applications can run in the background; other applications are suspended or terminated when put in background. This deficiency of Microsoft is twofold; they don't make sure that applications declaring to be navigation applications are really such, and they don't have a good background strategy. This is something Microsoft better fix quickly.

My 10 Cents
Given the big gap between the quality of the Windows Phone 8 OS and its market share, there are a few things that in my humble opinion could help it better succeed.

Controlling the HW of the device
This post was originally planned before the acquisition of Nokia by Microsoft so I guess that part is covered now, but there are still decisions for Microsoft to make, and actions to be taken. Microsoft can decide to go the Apple way and limit the OS to their devices, or keep it open. Keeping it open would be my choice. This approach proved right on the desktop (yet Microsoft was never a PC vendor) and for Google with Android.

Having said that, Microsoft should keep close control over the HW spec of the devices to make application development easier, avoiding the QA nightmare that exists today for Android due to device specification diversification. Close control on HW spec would also keep user experience good and consistent.

Things I would include in HW control would be:

* Minimal requirements for some characteristics such as CPU, memory, and different HW accelerated functions, defining probably 2-3 device profiles for phones and tablets, starting from a low cost and ending at Pro for Enterprises.

* Physical characteristics such as screen size and buttons

* Minimal battery life-time

Controlling the user experience
This includes both mandating usage of the Microsoft UI & UX by the device vendors and limitation of the flexibility given to application developers when it comes to interfacing with things out of scope of their application sandbox.

Integration with Microsoft
Ideally, Microsoft should work with Microsoft better than any other mobile OS vendor. This I believe can be one of the winning factors for the company, especially when it comes to enterprise users.

Even though Office comes built in to the OS there are a few annoying things, some even handled better on other OSs.

One such example is synching Outlook contacts subfolders. iOS does this OK; you can select to sync a sub folder. On Windows Phone 8 you sync only the root Contacts folder. I would expect more from Microsoft in their integration with Outlook.

I didn't manage to open password-protected Excel files on other OSs but I expected this to be possible on a Microsoft device. Unfortunately I found this is not possible.

Putting this in short, Microsoft can do more to make users' experience more compelling when using the Microsoft applications on a Microsoft OS.

Enterprise focus
Microsoft has a significant footprint in the enterprise. This includes owning users' desktop through Windows OS, Office and Lync; and providing a hosted offering in the form of Office 365 both by Microsoft itself and through partners. Microsoft also dominates the IT backend with its servers and applications such as Exchange, Active Directory and SharePoint. Becoming the first choice of the IT department could make Windows Phone 8 the new BlackBerry. In addition to best-in-market integration required as mentioned above, 2 other main enhancements are required:

Security--Securing all phones in enterprise-related communication (2 profiles; one of personal activities and contacts, plus activities done with corporate contacts and content).

Management--Integrate the management of the devices by the IT department into the Microsoft enterprise solution.

This last item is probably the most important one regardless of whether the main focus of Microsoft is consumer or enterprise. Current status is that many leading applications are missing or have a poor replacement.

There is the advantage of code reuse for Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 for PC, but that is not enough since the nature of the application is different on PC and mobile. Moreover, many iOS and Android application developers skip the PC altogether. Nevertheless, the benefit of code reuse is yet another good reason for enterprise focus by Microsoft, as in the enterprise PC it is a must.

Microsoft is investing significant dollars in encouraging developers to develop for Windows Phone 8, but to me it looks more like unfocused dollars being spread thin. Giving $100 to an app developer or giving out points based on some developer-achieved tasks for which the developer can get an Xbox or Windows 8 license doesn't look like incentives that would move one to develop for Windows Phone 8. The actions that could increase application development, to my view, are:

* Make everything possible so that the must-have applications will run on Windows Phone 8. This can be through funding the development or putting Microsoft engineers on the job to work with that company and do the development. There have been some actions by Microsoft in this direction, but based on results they are still too little.

* Acquisitions--As in patents where companies invest to create a balance of power so they will not be sued; same applies here. Google has done that with Waze. Microsoft should acquire a must-have app company and create the balance of power mainly against Google who announced they will not develop for Windows 8.

* A porting platform--Microsoft should make life as easy as possible for developers to port from iOS or Android to Windows Phone 8. This can be through a porting tool Microsoft will develop or a multi-platform development tool that will allow releasing applications for the 3 major OSs (iOS, Android and Windows Phone 8) similar to some game development platforms such as Unity. This is surely a significant technical challenge, but the reward to Microsoft can be far more than the investment.

In Conclusion
Windows Phone 8 has all it takes from an OS to become a leader in the market. The lineup of applications will be the make-or-break criterion if it is to become such. Given Microsoft's dominance in the enterprise market, the road to success runs through the office of the CIO.

As for me, I returned to my iPhone end of last week and I already miss that Windows Phone 8-over-HTC 8X experience.

Amir Zmora is the Vice President of Products & Marketing for the Technology Business Unit at RADVISION, an Avaya company.

*Opinions presented in this blog post represent the author's personal views and not necessarily those of his employer.


March 7, 2018

Video collaboration is experiencing significant change and innovation-how can your enterprise take advantage? In this webinar, leading industry analyst Ira Weinstein will present detailed analysis

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

February 7, 2018

Enterprises are starting to grasp the critical importance of security and compliance in their team collaboration deployments. And once the risks are mitigated, your enterprise can integrate these n

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.