by David Sobeski

Windows Everywhere, Strike that, Android Everywhere

January 8, 2014
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I recently read on GigaOM an interview with Marc Benioff where he chimed in on the search for the next Microsoft CEO.

Marc Speaks Out on GigaOM

Marc has an interesting view on the industry and has a good vision of where it is going. But one thing stood out from this article: his critique on the Windows Everywhere strategy.

“Microsoft needs to push the reset button on vision because the concept of Windows everywhere was interesting 20 years ago but doesn’t work today.”  

When Android was first released, I went to various VC's pitching that Android was really an embedded strategy more than a phone or tablet strategy. Sure, the bulk of the early devices will be phones (and tablets), but the true power of Android is that you finally have a visual embedded operating system that is easy to approach. We have seen this come true with Kindle using Android as an embedded OS (for the same tablet market), but we see Android embedded everywhere. At CES 2014, you are seeing it appear in cars, 3D printers, Drones, kiosk machines. It is the embedded OS.

Getting to Marc's comment. Here is where he is wrong. The Windows everywhere strategy was right, it was dead on. The problem (again) for Microsoft was execution. The second problem was charging for Windows CE in a cost restrictive manner. The other was distribution. It was just hard to figure out how to get it and experiment with it. You couldn't just go to MSDN and download it. And, the source was not available so you could not change it, adjust it for your embedded needs.

In classic Microsoft fashion, we had three competing operating systems: DOS (yes, it was still used by a majority in embedded applications, Windows CE and Windows Embedded. Making a single bet and moving it forward would have helped Microsoft fulfill its dream of Windows Everywhere.

The accidental strategy that Google's partners are on (not Google) is Android everywhere. Take the core, change it for the embedded need and still allow for a robust application ecosystem. Google, however, seems to actually be on an anti-Android strategy. From the outside, it looks like Google loves Chrome and ChromeOS and that is its true strategy.

When it comes to the client, the Android Everywhere strategy is working. All of the consumer electronics and embedded devices are going Android. We are not seeing a server Android OS, but on the client, where it interacts with actual customers, Android Everywhere seems to be working.

©2014 by David Sobeski