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Yes! Windows Phone lives: Microsoft to pump the device Kool-Aid

Mobe juice with slices of Surface coming

WPC 2015 Microsoft will this week try to convince thousands of partners to invest in Windows Phone despite taking the axe to its hardware manufacturing operation.

“Windows Phone is and will continue to be an important component of our hardware portfolio,” Phil Sorgen, chief of Microsoft’s worldwide partner group told The Channel, adding: “We will continue in a very focused way to pursue success in the phone market – nothing has changed in our ambition to have a range of devices.”

Sorgen was speaking ahead of Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference, in Orlando, Florida, where he said Windows Phone would be a central message.

Trying to bolster Microsoft’s mobile credibility will be Terry Myerson, exec veep of the Windows and Devices group, who’ll be speaking at WPC. Myerson added devices to his operating systems engineering group last month. It had been under Stephen Elop, who has now left Microsoft.

The re-org came before Redmond announced its biggest single round of layoffs last week – 7,800 – with the affected jobs mostly going from the phone hardware unit it bought from Nokia.

The unit has done so badly, Microsoft will also write off the cost of that 2014 acquisition – $7.6bn – another record for the world’s largest maker of software.

And yet Microsoft will attempt to look beyond all of that and try to convince partners that mobile means more than the lack of a market-shaping Lumia. Actually, Microsoft hardware Windows Phone partners have outsold Lumia – albeit their numbers are significantly overshadowed by the competition.

“We have been talking about [how] the Windows ecosystem is significantly bigger than any single device category,” Sorgen said. “When we talk about more personal computing, we are not just talking about mobile – we focus on mobility of the experience.”

According to Sorgen, that means things like Office for iPad and Android – not just for Windows Phone or the Windows tablet or PC.

Sorgen denied Microsoft apps on non-Windows platforms is confusing for partners, who are used to promoting the Microsoft package or apps and operating system. He also claimed Microsoft has managed to attract partners from outside its traditional ecosystem, in the fields of Linux, for example, on Azure.

“We are not confused about the footprint in the market,” he said. “We know the customer and we know they want mobility of experience.”

Microsoft will also evangelise about the forthcoming Windows 10.

With many customers ducking Windows 8.X for Windows 7, Microsoft has its work cut out. It must work with partners to have customers move, and thereby ensure Windows 7 doesn’t become its next Windows XP – a de-facto standard for business that delivers the goods and is safe in that it avoids the pitfalls of the new.

That said, there won’t be any Windows 10 news at WPC beyond the launch of a Windows 10 competency for partners, which tells its own tale.

Among the news Microsoft will announce at WPC is an expansion in its Surface channel strategy: the number of Surface resellers will be expanded to “thousands” later on Monday, up from the current several hundred.

Interest in Surface 3 is growing but the inclusion of the wider partner channel is something that should have happened when the device was launched two years ago.

On the cloud, Microsoft will “fully launch” its Cloud Solution Provider programme, Sorgen said. The programme is to be rolled out beyond just Office 365 and Intune to include Azure, Dynamics and CRM Online and employ two models: direct service provider and as a partner working with others from a list of distributors. ®

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