Microsoft wants to win back the consumers it let down

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales

Microsoft hasn’t exactly been winning over consumers recently, leaving many onlookers wondering if the company is switching all of its efforts to businesses and turning into another IBM. Over the past couple of years, Microsoft has killed off its Groove Music service, officially discontinued Kinect, scrapped its Microsoft Band fitness device, and finally admitted Windows Phone is dead. Other consumer efforts like Cortana have been left to fall behind rivals by chasing business users, and even the impressive HoloLens hardware has pivotedstrongly towards commercial users. Microsoft now has a new plan to win back the consumers it has let down.

While Microsoft has had a tough time with consumers that stretches back far beyond recent years, the company appears to be learning from its mistakes. ZDNet reports that Microsoft executives are now communicating their new plan at the company’s Inspire partner show this week. Microsoft executive Yusuf Mehdi reportedly opened up a presentation on the company’s new “modern life” initiative by admitting Microsoft’s consumer issues. “In the last couple of years, we’ve lost a little of that magic with consumers,” said Mehdi. During the session Mehdi also revealed that this “year we begin the journey to win back consumers with our vision.”

ZDNet reports that the vision outlined by Mehdi is focused on productivity. Microsoft will now target “professional consumers” or what are commonly referred to as prosumers. These are customers that typically buy high-end devices that are typically used for both work and home. Microsoft is committing to market Surface more at these types of consumers, alongside a new campaign to push Cortana more. While Alexa and Google Home appear on more and more devices, Cortana is set to debut on a new smart thermostat next month.

Microsoft will also use apps and services for its renewed consumer push, and it’s clear that features like the Your Phone app for Windows 10 will play a key role in this. Microsoft has committed itself to building cross-device features that bridge the gap between phone and PC, and the company continues to invest in dedicated apps for Android and iOS.

Xbox is still Microsoft’s strongest brand for consumers, despite the company’s rocky Xbox One strategy. Microsoft announced a big, multistudio push at E3 to create more Xbox exclusive games by acquiring four games studios and forming a fifth. Microsoft is now working on cloud streaming for its Xbox games, and the company is expected to unveil a next-generation Xbox console in 2020.

How successful this new plan will be will rely heavily on whether Microsoft targets its efforts on the people who care and use Windows in this “prosumer” space. While Microsoft might be looking at a world beyond Windows, the software giant has shown it’s willing to listen to feedback. Windows 10 has constantly been tweaked with new features and improvements over the past three years, and Microsoft is bringing some of the productivity-focused featuresthat Windows users expect to see in future updates. If Microsoft can keep fine tuning Windows and its cross-platform apps to those that use it heavily every day, instead of the general consumers that don’t even necessarily need Windows, then that alone could help the company win its productivity push.

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