The standard computer, whether Mac or PC, has always been a machine meant for geeks and professionals. But when Apple released the iPhone, a new class of computing was born. With fullscreen apps, a hidden filesystem, limited configuration, and entire ecosystems designed to store and serve one’s digital existence, and to provide all the media, games, and apps that one could possibly want, these were truly consumer devices. The lines between software development, hardware manufacturing, and book, music, television, and film publishing had blurred.
Apple was quickly joined by Google and then Amazon, and smartphones were quickly joined by tablets of all shapes and sizes. These new devices, with their unprecedented power, convenience, and entertainment value, and lacking the intimidation factor and cost of traditional PCs, were soon in demand by pretty much everybody. In a few short years, the market went from non-existent to huge, and Microsoft was not part of it.
Microsoft finally joined the competition with Google and Apple in 2011 by releasing Windows Phone 7, many years behind its competitors. It was a tiny system with a radical new UX called “Metro”, praised by designers and journalists and almost completely ignored by users. That was the small beginning of Microsoft’s new consumer strategy.
The full strategy is only appeared in 2012 as Microsoft created one unified consumer platform for tablets, smartphones, and computers. Much like iPhone and iPad – the same technology and UX powers Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8. However, unlike Apple, the Windows 8 operating system unifies the ecosystem between traditional computers and tablets, as well as smartphones. In so doing, it unleashed a wave of so far unseen hybrid devices – PCs that turn into something like tablets, and tablets that can really replace PCs.
No one knows if Microsoft’s experiment will work, but their dominance in the enterprise, the fading of RIM, the presence of Xbox’s in many homes, and Microsoft’s ample cash supply are all a cause for optimism. Furthermore, everyone buying a computer that’s not a Mac and many buying a tablet thats not an iPad will have soon have Windows 8, and that adds up to a huge audience. Where Windows 8 goes, so goes the entire Microsoft ecosystem, including Windows Phone.
Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 are powered by Microsoft’s exceptionally powerful C# and XAML languages. Microsoft has carried their development platform prowess over from the enterprise to the consumer world, thus allowing us to build beautiful, sophisticated, and robust apps for both platforms at once, for enterprise and consumer audiences, quickly and efficiently: “We love to make you Appy!”