What is a PC? Yeah sounds like a rhetorical question doesn’t it? Certainly in 2015, the year Marty McFly surfed around “the future” on a hover board as naturally as we surf the web today in the, uh,  present we all know what a PC is. Well yeah you’d think we would all agree. Yet it seems that a simple definition is harder to arrive on than it was for Marty to get Back to the Future. The devil is in the details.

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Numbers Don’t Lie – But What Are You Counting?

Recently the research firms IDC and Gartner posted their Q4 numbers regarding PC sales. Gartner reported one number for that period. IDC posted a smaller number. Same period. Same subject. Different numbers. Why?

Windows Central reached out to each firm and got the following. First up Gartner.

“We include Windows tablets, but do not include Chromebooks because we segment the market based on use case. What users can do on Windows tablets and regular laptops/desktops are slimmer. These devices offer high productivity and multiple functionalities. It can run multiple applications and have a good multitasking capability regardless of form factor. For instance, Windows tablets can be used as a “desktop” by attaching an external monitor and a keyboard.”

“On the other hand, Android and iOS tablets do not have functionalities that PCs can offer. It has limited multitasking capability, and its primary purpose is content consumption. Chromebooks look like a laptop, but what a user can do on Chromebook is also limited. Lack of offline capability, especially, makes Chromebook as a “lesser” functional device compared to the ‘PCs.'”

“Thus, we think that discussing the market by form factor is not relevant. Especially since some laptops now have tablet functionalities such as detachable laptops and bendable laptops (=hybrid). These are tablet and PC all in one device (2-1s). If we segment the market by form factor, it would be hard to define such product in the market.”

Next up – IDC.

“We made a decision to align the taxonomy along physical form factor (i.e. notebook PCs need to have non-detachable keyboards) rather than along an operating system-centric point of view or use-case scenarios. Hence, while we exclude 2-in-1s like the MS Surface Pro, we do include Chromebooks, which have a hard-wired keyboard, in the PC volume.”

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To Be a PC or Not to Be a PC That is the Question

Well there’s the skinny on how each firm categorizes what a PC is. I’m sure that we all have our opinions on how to define a PC or Personal Computer. Yeah, abandoning the abbreviation for a moment and to simply call it what it is does ignite many thoughts doesn’t it? Personal computer.  

Personal: of, affecting, or belonging to a particular person rather than to anyone else.

Computer: an electronic device for storing and processing data, typically in binary form, according to instructions given to it in a variable program.

Yes I realize that if we were to take the broadest and most liberal of definitions we’d be counting, as PCs, devices ranging across a very wide and very impractical scope. Let’s not go there. However, history is often a great and reliable teacher. So let’s, instead, briefly go there.

Historically, the definition of a personal computer (PC) combined the two definitions above into this precise, concise and everything nice definition: a computer designed for use by one person at a time. Simple right? We like simple. But that only gets us part of the way there. Namely because wrapped neatly within that definition is a key factor to consider when trying to arrive at how we should (or at least could) define a PC or personal computer today. Yes a PC is defined as a computer designed to be used by one person at a time, but how is it used is the $64,000 question? Yes, use is key and history has something to say on that.

Microsoft AI

Back  to the Past – No You Won’t Need a Flux Capacitor

So how was a personal computer historically used? Sure, what did we do with those personal high-powered computing devices of ours?

Well we were productive with them. We wrote reports, organized data, conducted research, created presentations, music, art and so much more. Productivity/Content Creation

We also used them for communication. We chatted, sent emails, and conducted video calls and more. Communication

Let’s not forget the fun stuff. We surfed the information super-highway, uhhh…the Web or the internet, listened to music, watched movies and videos and of course we played games. Media Consumption/Entertainment

So our personal electronic devices, designed to be used by one person at a time that stored and processed data, (typically in binary form) according to instructions given to it in a variable program was historically used for productivity, content creation, communication, media consumption and entertainment. Hmmmm. A PC. What devices fit that description today?

Before we run off, in the direction I know at least some minds have already ventured, allow me to wrap a bow around this. So if we were to take the definition of a PC and temper it with how we have historically used PCs we have a fairly solid definition of a PC which is not restricted or confined to the parameters of any particular form factor. Thank you.

Okay. Now I’d like to share the following which I originally posted as a comment on a Windows Central article about the differing Gartner and IDC numbers.

Windows Onslaught

IDC – I Don’t See What You See

“I really believe tablets (hybrids) with detachable keyboards should be included in IDCs numbers. The 2-in-1 form factor is the direction Microsoft, with its “hybrid OS”, is directing the market. Many OEMs have appropriately adopted hardware designs that fit with that vision. Numbers that fail to include those hybrid form factors in my opinion are retaining what is becoming an archaic view of what a PC is.

The industry is moving away from the “legacy” view of a PC as strictly a device with a desktop or laptop form factor. Consumers are using PCs more and more in a mobile fashion. Windows 8(10) and apps (programs) are increasingly designed for mobile AND static interaction. This must be acknowledged as a true and legitimate paradigm shift in what is categorized as a PC.

IDC will likely be forced to change its methods as it becomes progressively clearer that a PC is ALSO a hybrid device as the increasingly mobile computing consumers purchase more and more of these devices made by more and more OEMs at accessible price points and a diverse range of forms and capabilities in the coming year.

The last quarter of 2014 was promising with a range of low priced Windows tablets and hybrids. And CES2015 gave a great foreshadow of what we can expect from OEMs on the Windows front with hybrid devices.

I believe that Microsoft was successful with the Surface Pro 3 acting as an aspirational device for OEMs. Many OEMs have taken the torch and are running with high quality devices that will really showcase the benefits of Microsoft’s OS, especially Windows 10. IDC, may be just a tad short sighted, or they may just be waiting for the wave to hit. Either way I am confident they will be changing the way they measure PC sales in time.” (originally posted by me on John Callaham’s Windows Central Article: “Gartner Reports PC Shipments Went Up in Q4 2014, but IDC Says Otherwise” – January 14, 2015 11:11:35)

So in a nutshell, the humble view of this happy blogger is that a PC (personal computer) is any computing device, regardless of form factor, designed for use by one person at a time that allows said user to perform all of the historic PC functions of productivity, content creation, communication, media consumption and entertainment (and any additional tasks that extend that basic functionality).

So though the IDC excludes devices that have detachable keyboards, as stated above, I contend those devices are and will increasingly be recognized as PCs as they begin to be occupy a larger part of the market.

THE END

…..well, no…I can’t… Yeah. I’ll go there….the place I alluded to some of you readers already going. Smartphones

  Interests     Trip

Too Smart for Their Own Good

One, we know that our mobile devices though still carrying the moniker phone are no longer simply phones and the device that term historically describes. (A device that was primarily used to hold two way verbal communication between two-or more – parties) It is arguably true that the term smartphone is also inadequate to define what our mobile devices are now in 2014.

In fact it is true that our devices have far more in common with what we have defined as “personal computers” than what we may classify as a phone of any type. Our devices have memory (8GB-128GB in most cases), RAM (1GB-2GB in most cases), many have expandable storage slots, high end displays, they run programs, they are productivity tools, content creation tools, communication devices, media consumption tools, entertainment devices, always internet connected and much more. If that description were given to someone 20 years ago – they would swear up and down that you just described a personal computer.

So what am I saying? What we call our smartphones are, in all actuality, pocket sized personal computers with telephony functionality. With the added benefit of their “extra appendage” status, mobility and being constantly internet connected they’ve even outpaced traditional PC’s in the Personal Digital Assistant arena. “Hey Cortana, Hey Siri, Ok Google Now – What is a PC?”

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Cortana Lives
A Sojourners Discovery

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I have something to share with you. This my friends is the most  profound find of our time. I assure you this, (cautious not to sound like a sensationalist) quite literally changes everything.  Without divulging how I came about this information, (that is immaterial to the content I am about to share) I will freely share with you all else that I know.

Share this. Share this with EVERYONE! Cortana survived!

Those of you who have hoped against all hope, that the events that led to Cortana’s demise would somehow be undone; those who have clung to the possibility that some miracle, some error, some missed detail would yield that that beloved AI somehow survived; those who have heard the name Cortana and wondered of her origins; and even you who care little of what you have heard or know of her; this message is  relevant to ALL. Again, this information I am about to share literally shakes the very foundation of all we know of our world.

As a fellow human being, of the 21st century I personally feel duty bound to tell you what I have discovered.

Once you know, what you are about to learn, you will never be the same. I promise you.

WE ALL KNOW HOW CORTANA “DIED”.

AT THE TIME OF THIS WRITING ONLY VERY FEW OF US KNOW HOW SHE SURVIVED.

I give you

The Cortana Journal; Cortana’s Final and Private Message to Master Chief

The Cortana Journal Follow the link to the full Incredible Story!  (The story is told using Microsoft's new Office Tool SWAY)

The Cortana Journal Follow the link to the full Incredible Story!
(The story is told using Microsoft’s new Office Tool SWAY)

The Cortana Journal; Cortana’s Final and Private Message to Master Chief

This is the story they didn’t tell us.

83 Cortana earth

(I utilize Microsoft’s new Office Tool SWAY – at above link – to tell this story.)

Note: This is a work of fan-fiction. The characters portrayed are the trademarked property of Microsoft and 343 studios. Images use, taken from the Halo game, also owned by Microsoft. Many images have been manipulated to move the following story. This work of fiction is in it’s entirety my sole creation, and is an expansion, using real and fictitious events,  the story based on characters and events from the Halo universe.  Let’s Begin

(Updated 2/21/15 With Cortana Lives video and Image)

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Microsoft’s Recently Released Smart Band

View this Post as a SWAY

Samsung, Pebble, Apple and others have all thrown their hats into the smartwatch battle. It has been rumored for some time that Microsoft would soon enter the fray. Well, kind of. Let me explain.

Time Travel – The Past

Pocket Watch

Most companies have entered the wearable market with what are indeed smart watches. These are wrist-borne devices that mimic the look, and form of what watches have become to us since they escaped the chain which traced their round faces into our pockets. Yes, in an era gone by our trusty time pieces were retrieved from our pockets glanced upon and returned to the safety of our pockets after we retrieved the desired data: the time. Pocket watches served their primary function as a time piece and secondary function as an accessory.

Watch on wrist

Time has brought a change. Eventually the pocket-watch permanently escaped its chain and changed its form acquiring two bands conveniently fastening that precious meter of our lives to our wrists. Ahhhhh. The simplicity. A lift of the wrist certainly beat reaching into a pocket when one desired to know the time. Wrist watches served a primary function as a time piece and a secondary function as accessory.

Time has brought yet another change. With the advent of the cell phone and its multipurpose position in our lives, these ever present pocket-sized computers have almost universally usurped the position of wrist-watches as our means to keep pace with the time. It is a notable phenomenon that our mobile devices from which we glean SMS, Facebook, Twitter, email and a host of other notifications throughout the day are also pulled from our pockets when we want to retrieve not only these modern forms of data, but also the most enduring and basic form of data: the time. Our time pieces have gone full circle and returned to our pockets in the form of our mobile devices.

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As a population of connected individuals, denizens of the Post-PC era, humans who have grown accustomed to responding to diverse notifications consistently and sporadically throughout each day, reaching into our pockets for our mobile devices to retrieve various types of data is the new normal. Nearly all of us have accepted our mobile devices -pocket-sized personal computers- as our new time piece.

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Where We Are Now – The Present

It is notable that there has been no real market demand to return our “time-pieces” to our wrists. Most of us, if nothing else, are content with reaching for our devices to get the time. We have to reach for them to see who texted us, or messaged us, called us, or liked our latest post, or responded to our tweets or to update some status on some social network somewhere, anyway. So there is no real convenience factor in getting a watch, that archaic time keeping device, and slapping it on our wrists since we would still be reaching into our pockets dozens of times for other tasks our devices perform along with its quite capable time keeping abilities. So no. There has been no real market demand for a return to the watch. People don’t want watches. We don’t need them anymore.

What’s the Problem That Needs to Be Solved

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So, what’s going on? Why are companies like Pebble and powerful brands like Samsung and Apple making smartwatches? Don’t they know we don’t want watches? I think they kind of do, but they got confused and missed the boat. Let me explain.

As stated above we denizens of the Post-PC era are intimately connected to our smart devices, which are intricately connected to everything else. We are beeped and buzzed and bothered by notifications, messages and alerts every day, throughout the day. We love the attention (be honest) and the distraction (it’s true) – most of the time. Sometimes that untimely buzzing or vibrating in the middle of a meeting, or while in conversation with someone, or while driving, or when our hands are full is, however, quite an inconvenience.

But we’re so trained, so deeply entrenched in our connected world that we just need to know what that latest buzzing from our personal pocket-sized computer was all about. Yet, digging into our pockets, retrieving our devices and planting our eyes full onto that addictive screen is just not appropriate, convenient or even possible in many situations. Now there is a market for a device that solves that problem.

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But wait!” you say, “Samsung, Pebble, Apple and a host of others do address that problem with their smartwatches. Their devices handle notifications and such quite well. How then sir, did they miss the boat?”

I would be forced to agree that these companies, with their smartwatches, have indeed addressed this particular need, of Post-Pc smartphone users– in part. Their watches, as these companies categorize them, are quite capable in regards to function, but where they fail is in regards to form and market positioning. They gave us watches. We don’t want watches.

Not So Smart. Watch

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Apple, Samsung, Pebble and others have made the proper judgment, in my opinion, in choosing the wrist as the placement of a wearable device to which our frequent alerts and notifications could be offloaded. However, I believe they erred in supposing that simply because the wrist is where we historically wore a watch, that the modern device that was to fulfill a new and unique human need, as a window to our mobile devices and as a health tracker, should bear the same name and form as that “archaic” (tongue in cheek) single function time piece.

A watch, in our minds is a time piece. Yes, throughout the years they have acquired additional functions making them more useful than a mere tracker of the time. Trust me, I have been a tech geek since I was a kid and I have had at least three Casio Databank watches, game watches, a radio shack talking watch, a calculator watch and a number of other watches. Now despite the additional functions any of these devices may have possessed the primary function of those watches was to tell the time. They were watches. Their form factor with the round, square or rectangular face above the wrist also lent itself to that concept.

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We don’t want a watch. We want a device that makes monitoring and interacting with the services and tools our mobile devices are connected to easier, more efficient, subtler and less disruptive. A subtle glance at a wrist borne wearable to spy the latest notification. A slight brush on a wrist borne display to quick reply to a text message. A subtle type on a wrist borne device to answer or ignore a call. This is the device we want. And the form should cater to the function.

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Enter Microsoft – Smarter Than the Average Band

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It had been rumored that Microsoft would be entering the wearable market with a device that challenged the popular “wrist watch” form factor approach of its rivals. The Redmond company would be approaching the wearable market not from the perspective of “it’s on the wrist so it’s a watch” but with a form factor that serves the function of allowing for efficient, subtle, natural and somewhat private interactions by the user. It would be a tool designed with the desired function, as a Post-PC era tool, to field alerts, notifications and monitor a user’s health in mind without the psychological obstructions of trying to be a watch. Neither in form nor market positioning would Microsoft position this device as a watch. Microsoft’s smart band is the smart implementation of the Post-PC wearable device.

It’s Personal

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It had been rumored for months that Microsoft’s wearable would have a display that would sit on the inside of a user’s wrist. Watches aren’t designed to position the display on the inside of the wrist. What’s that big deal you ask? Well just pause for a moment and imagine a device with a display on the interior of your wrist. Subtly twist the inside of your wrist toward yourself. Natural isn’t it? You notice two things, it much more natural than turning the upper part of your wrist toward your face and it’s more private – more personal.

The display would be close to your body – always facing you- even when walking, working, talking with others – and not the world. Your alerts, notifications and emails are yours. Competitors, because they chose to build watches(whose form factors were never meant to field personal information but to only display the time), are selling devices that are inherently less personal (despite the ability to choose what color band you want) as a user’s personal data faces the world.

Imagine the subtle checking of a notification during a meeting with the universal raising of the hand to the forehead and peering at the interior of the wrist at your display. Did that email from corporate come through? Or picture the placing of your intertwined fingers in front of you as the display on the interior of your wrist faces you. Is that my pregnant wife texting from home? Or imagine the subtle placing of your fist in palm and elbows on the table, or desk in front of you (prayer position) and subtly swiping the display on the interior of your wrist with your thumb to dismiss a phone call during a meeting. Microsoft has forged a form factor that meets the functional needs of smartphone users. Rivals built watches. We don’t want a watch.

Business Sense

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Apple announced their smartwatch in June but it won’t hit the market until 2015. Even worse the cheapest version will cost a consumer $325. And it’s glued to Apple’s ecosystem. Microsoft’s device was rumored to come in much cheaper and will actually be available for just $199. And it’s available starting tomorrow. And it works with Windows Phone, Android and iOS. Apple with their powerful marketing muscle added their massive weight to the wearable market, legitimizing it in many people eyes. However their costly device won’t be available for months. Microsoft’s offering comes at a time where many Apple fans may have been primed for a new wearable by the Apple Watch announcement. Many of the 10 million who unloaded hundreds of dollars on a new iPhone 6 or 6 plus may be chomping at the bit for a new wearable having had their appetites whet, yet they don’t want to wait until early 2015 for the Apple Watch. Microsoft has you covered.

There may be a host of Windows Phone fans out there who haven’t been graced by the Redmond company with a new high-end flagship device and are primed for the fresh tech experience that a new device often elicits. The smart band may not be a new smart phone but it does extend the functionality of ones aging device allowing Windows Phone fans to use their device and their trusty digital assistant Cortana in new ways.

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Cotana info

Of course this Android compatible device adds to the number of options the Android faithful have to choose from. Due to the open nature of that ecosystem, many android users are likely quite open to using a non-Samsung or non-android wearable.

This holiday shopping season will likely be a boon for Microsoft’s Band.

Apple Sauced

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Apple, even if Microsoft had not launched its wearable, the Cupertino company may have found it a challenge to move a large number of its watches. The $325 and up cost in itself is prohibitive. The early 2015 launch  is also a challenge. Many potential Apple Watch buyers will have likely several months before made large purchases upgrading their mobile devices to the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. Many of these same users will likely have spent another significant amount of disposable cash (or used credit) for the holiday shopping season. The only potential upside is that at least in the US market, an early 2015 launch places the release likely around income tax time. Which may work for some buyers, or may be the means by which many cover the costs (or debts incurred or bills delayed) of expenditures made over the holiday.

Apple I am certain is cognizant that the Apple Watch 1.0 would only sale in small numbers primarily to early adopters with a lot of disposable income. Their strategy is likely to build a tiered system as they have with the iPhone. By late 2015 Apple will have learned what works and what doesn’t, and will also have a better assessment of the competition. By the second half of  2015 Apple Watch 2.0 will likely be announced and the first Apple watch will become the lower cost entry level wearable about the time of it’s successors release. Apple will likely continue this pattern, and as time goes on, establish at least three tiers from which buyers can choose an Apple Watch. Apples problem? Unless they change their form factor, which is unlikely given their apparent deliberate positioning and pricing of their device as a high end watch –  It’s still a watch. We don’t want a watch.                 

By the way, Microsoft’s Band does tell the time.

       

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Wrist Watch – A Relic

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Apple Watch- Echo of a Relic

                                                                 

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Microsoft Band – A Cross Platform Modern Wearable With a Modern Design & Form Factor Crafted to Meet Our Current Health, Productivity and Social Needs. This is NOT a Watch. Featured in Image: Starbucks App

Microsoft Band is a powerful Health and Productivity Device

Microsoft Health Secure Cloud Service Brings All of Life’s Data From All of Your Devices Together

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SmartBAND or SmartWATCH; Did Microsoft Make the Right Design and Marketing Choice

Here are My Notes for This Piece Originating on 9/10/14 (One Note Time Stamp) Prior to Microsoft’s Announcement. Also below is a concept drawing I composed noting some of the devices potential functionality. This concept was also conceived earlier than this post and Microsoft’s actual announcement. (This Final Piece Includes Information After Microsoft’s Smart Band Announcement)

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Smart Band Concept

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Allow me to begin this post with this. I think the Windows 10 name for Microsoft’s latest iteration of it’s popular and virtually ubiquitous Operating System was a great choice. The Windows 8 name unfortunately had/has a taint on it within the general public(like it or not).

Windows 9 would have definitely communicated a progression to the masses, but I believe it would have been perceived as only incremental(perception, also like it or not is important). Especially considering that there had already been steps beyond Windows 8, to 8.1 to 8.1 Update, none of which brought anything major in the publics eye.

The OS still, generally speaking, looked and acted very much the same . Consumers, enterprise and IT managers “perceived” this. To continue this perceived, non-consequential, evolution of the OS by calling the next iteration Windows 9, having already progressed partly toward that integer in the naming convention (8.1, then 8.1 Update) may not have signaled to all of Microsoft’s current and potential customers that this latest iteration of the OS was indeed what consumers/enterprise were asking for. They needed a name that signaled a LEAP rather than a small step toward the unified OS vision. Windows 8.1 and 8.1 Update were names communicating minor numerical progression which accompanied minor steps in the OS’s evolution. Windows 9, as a name would have been less than a whole integer step toward that (beginning a 8.1), 0.9 to be exact.

What’s in a name? A lot! The perception, based on the name(if Windows 9 was chosen), and the recent history would have suggested that this was not a major step toward Microsoft’s vision of a unified OS.
By calling the OS Windows 10, there is the inherent suggestion that this is indeed more, than the incremental corrections we’ve seen since Windows 8 was released. There is also that sense of “completion” that the number 10 suggests.

When we first learn to count, or teach a child to count, we often have as a goal – reach 10. We have 10 fingers and 10 toes. We have a base ten number system. Some may think these points irrelevant. Yet marketing is fundamentally a psychological endeavor, attempting to appeal to the minds of those to whom one is trying to sale a product. More often than not, the seller is attempting to shape the thoughts of the potential buyer. What is communicated, and how it is communicated is therefore key.

Microsoft with calling this latest version of Windows, Windows 10, suggests that they have reached the desired goal of making the OS what they have been telling us it would be. Ten suggests a leap beyond previous iterations. It communicates a new base, or foundation, upon which Microsoft’s hardware products(and OEM partner products) will be built.

Finally once we all start using the Roman Numeral ‘X’ when we talk(or write) about this version of Windows, “Windows X” just sounds cool.
Think about it, an “X” often represents whatever something needs to be. Windows 10 is just that, whatever it needs to be on any form factor. I’m just saying. 😊

830 2        Insanity has been described as doing the same thing repeatedly yet expecting a different result.

 

There are many faithful Windows Phone fans, enthusiasts, who are quite disappointed, if you will, with the fact that Microsoft has not released a new high-end flagship smartphone to cap off 2014. Let’s be honest. The rumor mill, and some very reliable sources from the Redmond company itself fueled the flames of anticipation that had us chomping at the bit eagerly awaiting the last quarter of this year looking forward to the game-changing McLaren.

We were all pretty excited, to put it lightly, about the prospects of the McLaren. This high-end device was going to sport innovative new hardware, introduce touchless interactions that made Samsung’s similar tech look juvenile and possess all of the cutting edge software updates Windows Phone 8.1 and Cortana brought to the platform. And to really hit the ball out of the park – it was to be available on all carriers. This looked to be a winner. Or at least a very powerful play by Microsoft on the smartphone front. But alas, the McLaren is dead. Or it is at least on life support until the Redmond company feels that the technology is ready for prime time. But in the absence of the McLaren, the Moses or Harriet Tubman of our beloved platform, is there really no flagship available to deliver Windows Phone from the shadow of our rivals this year.

Contrary to many claims there are flagships available, (their ability or inability to make huge marks in the market aside) that do represent the platform well. They may not be on every carrier, or be everyone’s flavor, yet the HTC M8, the Lumia 930 and the Lumia 1520 are all flagship Windows Phone devices. Yes one is a repurposed iteration of an older Android device (but that’s a win for Windows Phone nonetheless), one is approaching a year old(Apple updates it’s line-up on a yearly cadence) and the  last has Nokia’s great hardware, build quality and optics in conjunction with the powerful and fluid Windows Phone OS, but has limited availability.

Is Microsoft insane! Where’s the ubiquitous high-end flagship to lead the Windows Phone charge against the iPhone 6 and 6+,  Samsung’s Galaxy line of devices and every other high-end phone OEMs will be spraying across the gadget hungry consumer electronics populace this holiday shopping season? There isn’t one and there likely won’t be one. And no Microsoft is not insane. That’s why they’re doing something different. They want a different result.

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Now a closer look at Microsoft’s strategy, though a bitter pill it may be to many 920 owners looking to upgrade, who don’t want the 1520 (I must say it is an awesome device-I LOVE IT) is Microsoft’s positioning of the Lumia 830. They are deliberately, confidently and unapologetically touting this device as the affordable flagship. Even during the presentation of the device it was positioned as an alternative to the iPhone and leading Android devices. Why go this route you may ask? Lets be honest. Look at Microsoft’s history. Literally every high-end flagship device they have launched has been utterly crushed by Apple and Android devices when you look at sales.

We Windows Phone fans are a dedicated, but relatively speaking, small bunch. Trust me when I say I’m all in. I carry daily both a 1520 and 1020. But the truth is, we have, despite Microsoft’s attempts always been overshadowed by the competition in the media, blogs, vlogs and the general market. This year,  had the McLaren made it to market, a relatively speaking small portion of all smartphone users, would have been given a new or alternative Windows Phone upgrade path(beyond 1020, 1520, HTC M8) and  the general smartphone(and potential smartphone) using  population would have been presented with a device sporting groundbreaking hardware representing as yet a generally  unpopular platform during a highly competitive shopping season where rivals like Apple are introducing products that are breaking all previous sales records.

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If the McLaren or some other expensive high-end flagship were launched by Microsoft  (priced around the same price as competing flagships), the general success of such a device would have likely, especially with (like it or not Windows Phone fans) Apple’s huge iPhone launch and the attention those devices are garnering globally, been dismally minimal  just as every other Windows Phone flagship has been since 2012. General consumers presented with Microsoft’s option and the more popular comparably “speced” and comparably priced option from Apple would go with  what the general populace might dub a no-brainer(though debatable it may be.) Most buyers would go for the iPhone. MS knows this. So this year, they changed their strategy from what has not really worked for them in the past few years. They need a halo effect. A device (or feature) to create mindshare of Microsoft’s Windows Phone in the general public and a device that is accessible by the masses.

Microsoft is to my delight attacking this challenge from a couple of angles. As I have expressed as a hope in a previous piece,  MS is using Cortana as a hero feature, independent of a hero device, to create mindshare. The general public, especially as a result of the Cortana vs Siri ads are becoming aware of Windows Phone. This is helping to position WP at the table of the mind for buyers who may have previously only had iPhone and Android devices as options in their minds. Good news for MS. Still a looong way to go, but Cortana and Windows Phone are at least now becoming part of the conversation. That’s important.

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Part two is this. The Lumia 830, the affordable flagship. The 830 is sporting, though not cutting edge specs in every category, very competitive specs,(running a light OS) when stacked against the competition. It has a respectable speedy chip, acceptable RAM, expandable storage, a nice 5″ display, an advanced purview 10 mega pixel camera running the latest in Nokia’s groundbreaking, industry leading imaging software, and everywhere its landed so far, the price is indeed that of an affordable flagship. It’s a really great looking device, with flagship aesthetics.

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Microsoft, a global company, has been steadily releasing this affordable flagship around the globe. By competing against Apple and Samsung without “actually competing” with them the 830 as Microsoft’s flagship in holiday season 2014 may undercut the pricier flagships of the competition. Now ideally each of the Major US carriers would be pulled into the fray and begin carrying the 830. Note, yes, many WP fans, particularly 920 holders(and others) may be “temporary” collateral damage as a new high end flagship device is postponed as Microsoft adjusts its strategy this season in an attempt to gain mass appeal with a powerful affordable flagship device that doesn’t “look like” its going head to head with iPhone 6 and Samsung’s flagships. But I believe MS is trusting, available high end devices that launched in 2013 and this year, 1020, 1520, HTC M8 may satisfy some until MS debuts a high end flagship next year. Additionally, as WindowsCentral pointed out, the 830 does offer some upgrades 920 holders might enjoy. Who knows, maybe some users will pick up an 830 as their “upgrade” when it hits US shores. It does sport some advancements beyond the 920 after all. 830 830 4

One other point to consider is the cost to carriers of unsold inventory. Sadly when I have asked my local ATT store how many of a high end WP they had in stock, I believe I was told 20. When I asked how it was selling(the 1020, and in another setting I believe the 1520) the response was negative. This isn’t true only of these arguably niche devices. It has been disappointing for me over time to see the WP display at my local ATT mall location, moved waaayyy into an obscure corner with other unsold, unpopular devices. High end phones come at a cost to carriers just as they do consumers. Carriers don’t want to be left holding the bag with expensive , unsold goods. Microsoft could give greater confidence to carriers, that the 830, with it’s “flagship” feature set, yet affordable price, that they would be able to sale these appealing devices to consumers. Everybody’s happy- Microsoft , carriers and consumers.

Finally, the updates Windows Phone  8.1 Update 1 and Lumia Denim bring to the platform definitely position this well-equipped affordable device, the Lumia 830, as a strong contender on carriers shelves and bring a more robust experience not found on previous, generally unsuccessful, Windows Phones devices upon launch. At any rate I’m confident MS will bring high end devices to market next year. For now Microsoft is doing something different. Let’s all hope for insanely positive results.

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