How Microsoft could save their mobile business

I feel bad for the winphone product team at Microsoft. On a purely technical basis, in many ways, the current MSFT phone OS is superior to both iOS and Android. However, none of the ISV's trust MSFT not to pull the rug out from under them, again. How many times has Microsoft abandoned their mobile OS ISVs this way, developing, marketing, pushing, and then suddenly EOLing a mobile OS with no sane forward path? At least seven. Sometimes very abruptly. Microsoft could still possibly get a win in this space, but they will have to keep their mobile phones and mobile phone OS in the market for at least 2 more years, before any ISVs start trusting them again.

If it was me tasked to save the winphone, I would do the following things, all at once:

  1. make the developer experience for developing for their phone seamless
  2. give the all the developer tooling and training away for free
  3. hire several parallel teams of app developers, and put them to work grinding out useful apps.
  4. Focus the security model and app priority list on the actual needs of business and users and IT departments. (Which means a lot more than just "port Office to it".)
  5. And then, the big one: open source all those apps, and the dev tools, and the mobile OS itself.

In fact, Microsoft could do something both amazing and good for themselves, and GPL the winphone OS, and GPL the HALs for all their Nokia hardware. Since they would be the copyright holder, the GPLs stickiness works *for* them, instead of something they would be terrified of and fight against.

They are not going to do any of this, of course. Instead they are going to do something stupid, like try to "converge" their cloud server OS, cloud guest OS, data center server OS, desktop OSs, tablet OS, and phone OS all to the same code base. Which is one of those things that seems like a great idea at first, until thinking through it more deeply.

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