With the launch of Windows 10 this week, the term ‘platform’ seems out of place in the world we live in today. Microsoft, Google and Apple may have ‘platforms’ that people can use and develop for, but what they’re really selling is an ecosystem of services and devices. Though apps and cloud services make it possible to live across different ecosystems, with a consistent experience, users who stick within one ecosystem will ultimately have the best overall experience.
If you buy an Android phone, a Chrome notebook will help you get the best out of both devices. You can buy a car that syncs up with your phone with Android Auto. ChromeCast or Android TV that lets you control how you view your content from your phone or tablet. For the home, Android Home lets you control it with other devices running Google’s operating systems, such as Android Wear.
Living within Apple’s Ecosystem means that you can keep your phone in a bag or pocket and make or receive calls across all your other Apple devices. This has always been Apple’s USP to have tight integration of hardware and software. Apple’s apps, such as Pages, Keynote, Numbers, Notes and Reminders all sync across each device seamlessly. Users can also start an activity on one device and pick it up from exactly the same place from another. Apple devices will only work with Apple TV, letting users mirror their screens onto projectors or TVs. CarPlay, Apple Watch and HomeKit are all designed around Apple’s ecosystem, only working with Apple’s devices.
And then there’s Windows 10. Windows 10 is designed to be a universal system that delivers a consistent and joined up experience across desktop, laptop, tablet, phone (later this year) and Xbox. With Windows 10, Microsoft’s services, such as Cortana and data syncing works in the best possible way, allowing Xbox owners to play games from their laptops or desktops.
Unlike Apple and Google, Microsoft isn’t trying to market its ecosystem with separate mobile devices and computer operating systems. Instead, Microsoft is offering the same user experience across any of devices running Windows (which includes OSX users running parallels, enabling them to run both OSX and Windows on one computer).
Of course, across these ecosystems, it’s possible to own an iPad, Android Phone and Windows computer. Apps make it possible to have a joined up experience across devices, as long as each platform supports the apps (or websites) users want to use. Though it’s possible to move from one ecosystem to another with apps, it does come with some obvious caveats. For example, if it’s a paid for app, users would need to pay for each ecosystem they want it to run on. The app experience may also differ slightly depending on the ecosystem they are using.
This can be a common occurrence within businesses, where employees may bring in their personal Android device, use a Windows PC and be supplied with a work iPad.
Microsoft and Google have both created a suite of their own apps for Apple users, providing a pretty cohesive experience where it’s possible to stay within the respective apps (clicking on document links within the Gmail app will open Google Drive, whilst Microsoft offers its suite of productivity apps to iOS and Android).
Following the demise of BlackBerry’s smartphones over the past seven years, companies have been looking for corporate owned alternatives, which Microsoft is hoping to fill. However, there’s a lot more competition now for the business market, especially when it comes to what can be done with mobile.
With Windows 10, Microsoft is making it possible for developers to optimise their iOS or Android apps for Windows 10, rather than trying to get them coded natively. Windows 10 marks a shift in Microsoft’s strategy to be more universal and flexible for business and consumer users.