Windows Phone: 10 Things Microsoft Must Do to Improve Its Mobile OS

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2014-03-14 Print this article Print

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has said that the cloud is very important to him over the long term. But he also indicated that mobile could play a crucial role in how well his company competes in an increasingly competitive marketplace. After all, Android is still dominant around the world; Apple's iOS is a major threat; and now several other companies, including Samsung and Mozilla, are gunning for developing markets. To maximize its chances of success in the mobile space, Microsoft will need to find ways to improve Windows Phone. The operating system got off to an inauspicious start a couple of years ago, but Microsoft has improved the OS since then. Now the time has come for Microsoft to bring on more mobile device makers, leverage its impending Nokia buyout and demonstrate that Windows Phone is a serious alternative to Android. The trouble is achieving that goal won't be so easy. Microsoft will have to pull out all the stops to win market share in the mobile OS field. Take a look at this eWEEK slide show to find out what Microsoft should do to improve Windows Phone.

  • Windows Phone: 10 Things Microsoft Must Do to Improve Its Mobile OS

    By Don Reisinger
    Windows Phone: 10 Things Microsoft Must Do to Improve Its Mobile OS
  • Drop Licensing Fees

    According to reports, Microsoft has decided to eliminate Windows Phone licensing fees for two Indian carriers. The move is seen as a way for Microsoft to expand in the key India market, but it begs the question: Should the company follow such a strategy elsewhere around the world? One of the benefits of going with Android for vendors is that they can save on the licensing fees and offer products at cheaper prices. Maybe Microsoft needs to offer the same deal to attract more vendors.
    Drop Licensing Fees
  • Shift Its Mobile Business Strategy Deeper Into the Cloud

    It might sound highly unlikely that Microsoft would reduce or eliminate altogether licensing fees, but as Satya Nadella himself pointed out, it's time for the software company to look to the future and adapt. Microsoft needs to realize that its future is not in licensing mobile software, but in getting consumers and enterprise customers to use its cloud-based solutions. The sooner Microsoft realizes that it needs to use Windows Phone as a conduit to other revenue-generating products, the better.
    Shift Its Mobile Business Strategy Deeper Into the Cloud
  • Improve Nokia Device Design

    Once Microsoft takes over Nokia, it needs to improve the company's mobile device design. To its credit, Nokia has done a bit better recently in delivering hardware that customers want, but those products are still not on the level of the iPhone or Galaxy S5. Microsoft must change that to attract more people to its products.
    Improve Nokia Device Design
  • Embrace Dual-OS Vendors

    Huawei made waves recently by saying that it will offer a dual-boot smartphone running Android and Windows Phone. Microsoft was surprisingly tight-lipped on the idea, but perhaps the company should be more vocal in supporting such a move. People are buying Android in droves. To at least get in on that action and start to draw some people to Windows Phone is a step in the right direction for Microsoft. As of this writing, Microsoft has about 3.5 percent market share in the U.S. That figure won't grow without some out-of-the-box thinking. And embracing a dual-boot environment with Android might be just what the doctor ordered.
    Embrace Dual-OS Vendors
  • Focus on Developing Countries

    Microsoft's move in India to eliminate licensing was a smart idea, but more needs to be done for the company to generate revenue in developing countries. As Mobile World Congress showed, with countless companies showing off cheap handsets, there's a rush going on for developing countries. Microsoft needs to be ahead of that effort and improve its chances of generating revenue in countries that have historically been light on mobile purchases.
    Focus on Developing Countries
  • Remember Hardware Sales

    Apple should have taught Microsoft something: Hardware sales matter. With the right hardware strategy, Microsoft can generate serious cash on hardware sales and actually make a nice profit. While software might have been the horse that got Microsoft to the top, the market has changed, and hardware is more important now. Microsoft needs to accept that and invest heavily in hardware to be successful in mobile.
    Remember Hardware Sales
  • Catch Up to Google Play

    One of the biggest issues for Windows Phone is that developers are making apps for Android and iOS, and either moving to Windows Phone after that or not going there at all. Microsoft needs to find a way to entice developers to get their apps to its marketplace more quickly. Whether it's through financial incentives or using some of its size for leverage, Microsoft must do something to attract more developers.
    Catch Up to Google Play
  • Consider Strategic Acquisitions

    Perhaps one of the ways Microsoft can do a better job at improving hardware, upgrading its app marketplace and bolstering its operating system is to acquire companies that can help out with those efforts. Yahoo, Google and Apple have all been buying up mobile firms at a rapid clip. Microsoft, meanwhile, stubbornly sticks to massive buyouts, like Nokia. Sometimes, picking up small startups makes sense. And best of all, Microsoft has the cash to get it done.
    Consider Strategic Acquisitions
  • Make the Services Must-Haves

    One of the best ways to attract more people to Microsoft's mobile software is to make its integrated services, like OneDrive, must-use products. There's an old concept in the tech industry called the "Halo Effect" that describes how customers will buy into many company products if they've found one or two they love. If Microsoft can get people to truly desire its cloud services, its chances of getting more people into the mobile side will increase. Apple has done that with the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Now it's Microsoft's turn to respond.
    Make the Services Must-Haves
  • Spend Boatloads on Windows Phone Development

    Let's just be honest: Windows Phone is a fine operating system, but it's not nearly as full-featured as Android and lacks some of the design flair offered in iOS 7. The operating system is also in serious need of features, including a Notification Center-like offering, folder support, a Siri alternative and more. It's time for Microsoft to work exceedingly hard on making Windows Phone far more appealing.
    Spend Boatloads on Windows Phone Development
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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