OPINION – Microsofts Marketing Strategy

Credit: Microsoft
Credit: Microsoft

Last year Microsoft changed their company byline from a software company, to that of a ‘Devices and Services’ one, but what does that mean? It means that Microsoft are focusing more and more on the services that they can provide, such as online storage via SkyDrive, Office 365, which is accessible from anywhere via the web, and that’s just scratching the proverbial surface. Speaking of the Surface, Microsoft also now states that it is a devices company. Traditionally the only hardware that Microsoft sells are usually accessories such as keyboards, mice, webcams and obviously the Xbox 360 and coming Xbox One, but in 2012 we saw the release of the Surface RT and following that the Surface Pro, both designed and made by Microsoft and sold to the consumer.

So What’s the Plan?

To the standard everyman, Microsoft are mostly known for the Windows operating system, Microsoft Office, Xbox and Windows Phone. It’s unlikely that the sheer scope of services Microsoft provides to IT pro’s and company infrastructure (Windows Azure and Windows Server to name but a few) around the world is known by everyone, so what is Microsoft’s snapshot at marketing strategy to improve peoples knowledge of their products.

With the exclusion of the Xbox, the Microsoft product most consumers are most likely to buy is Windows 8 (by simply buying a new PC), then perhaps a Windows 8 or RT based tablet, or a Windows Phone. The beauty of Windows 8 on your desktop and tablets is that you can pretty much have a fully unified experience as you can sync both devices to each other, albeit to a limited degree (currenty its more of a graphical/design sync). With the advent of Windows 8.1 however, you’ll be able to sync apps across all your devices (that’s apps from the Windows Store, rather than traditionally installed files from a browser).

So imagine you’re at your desktop working on something, you can then switch to your tablet and continue working on that piece or work, be that by SkyDrive, Office 365, or work you were doing within an app. Even if your just browsing the web, bookmark it in your browser of choice and using that browsers sync options you can continue from your tablet device. Great.

Credit: Microsoft
Credit: Microsoft

What About Windows RT & Windows Phone 8?

Good question, what about them. Windows RT is much akin to the iPad, in so far as you can only install app’s from the app store. You can’t install traditional .exe files. You can sync the appearance of your tablet to that of your Desktop (providing it uses Windows 8) and if you use IE10 on your desktop you can sync bookmarks…and that’s about it. You can of course sync things via SkyDrive but Windows RT has a fairly limited app when it come to functionality on SkyDrive. (Windows 8.1 preview should contain a desktop version of SkyDrive for Windows RT, this is due to be released on 26th June)

Windows Phone 8 allows you to sync music via Xbox Music on either your Xbox console or Xbox Music app on Windows 8, and documents and photos via SkyDrive. Again with the coming release of Windows 8.1, you will also be able to sync bookmarks on Internet Explorer.

Credit: Microsoft
Credit: Microsoft

So Whats the Strategy?

Let me say first of all, that I have no inside track at Microsoft, I haven’t been told anything by anyone, but by reading hundreds or articles over the last few years, and simply examining Microsoft’s marketing, and product releases, its obvious the end goal is to allow you access to all your data, via their services, where ever you are in the world.

Imagine having eventually purchased your new PC (which will run Windows 8 or higher) and you are now looking to upgrade your phone, or purchase a new tablet. You walk in to your local electronics shop and see a row of Windows 8 tablets and phones. The interface is already familiar, it all syncs with your home computer automatically, just by logging in with your Hotmail/Live/Outlook account. It’s the ultimate in convenience and something that Apple we’re well on their way to doing, but then got distracted by incremental upgrades to their phone instead.

It actually works anyway you look at it. If you’re an existing Windows Phone user, and you’re in the market for a new PC, its likely that you’ll be looking to get a Windows-based PC. Windows 8 will already be familiar as your Windows Phone is graphically very similar.

This I feel is a snapshot view of Microsoft’s marketing strategy, but they need to stop focusing on just the USA and start ramping up their marketing all over the world. In fact if Microsoft actually opened some of their own retail stores here in the UK and in the major cities of europe, I think they would be surprised by how much their profit margins increase.

If you were looking to buy a new PC, or Windows Tablet, where would you go? Best Buy, PC World, or a Microsoft Store that has the PC’s set up correctly, and with no bloatware included, and with someone with actual knowledge about the product, and that won’t up sell you things you don’t need.

I know where I would go!

Credit: Microsoft
Credit: Microsoft
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