How is Microsoft using its mobile strategy to enhance its windows like app for smartphones?

Windows 10 mobile strategy by Microsoft

This year 2018 Microsoft had major decisions. Though Windows Phone was killed but Microsoft found other ways to make its way onto mobile devices. It started investing in new app called Your Phone as one of its mobile strategy to enhance its windows like app.

Your Phone app is a migration of Windows 10’s PC Timeline productivity feature to phones; and an update to its launcher app for enterprises. Timeline is the feature that tracks your work in the Office apps or Edge, recording your activity in what Microsoft calls the Microsoft Graph.

Timeline is part of the Windows 2018 Update, also known as Redstone 4. Chances are you already know where it’s found, even if you’ve never used it: Down in the taskbar, next to the Cortana search box, there’s a small icon called Task View within the Fall Creators Update. A slightly different icon identifies Timeline within the latest version.

Redstone 4

Timeline was added within Task View was because few users were using Task View. Task View hasn’t gone away; if you open Timeline, you’ll still see the gigantic icons representing the windows that you currently have open on your screen. But beneath these, you’ll likely see a new subheading: Earlier Today, which marks the beginning of your Timeline. Microsoft sounds like it wants to elevate Microsoft mobile applications to the level of importance of a PC making the actual hardware, and operating system, irrelevant. Here are the few apps and latest enhancements from Windows.

Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365

Microsoft isn’t positioning the new experiences as part of Windows, but as a core component of Microsoft 365, a business solution that includes Windows, Office 365 and a mobile device management solution. It’s a subscription service for enterprises and educators that Microsoft launched last year, tying together the nearly 700 million Windows 10 devices and the 135 million commercial users that use Office 365.  Expect Microsoft to characterize these as what it calls “the intelligent edge,” complementing the “intelligent cloud” of Azure and other enterprise services. Microsoft wants to unite everything: cloud, device, business, consumer.

The new Your Phone app sounds like one of the first manifestations of that vision. Recall that Microsoft tried, and failed, to make phones into PCs with Continuum which projected the phone’s Windows 10 Mobile OS and apps onto a monitor. With recent versions of Windows 10, Microsoft has gone the other way: You can now reply to texts sent your phone from your PC.

Your phone app Windows and mobile user app

Your phone app Microsoft

With Your Phone, you will have “a window into a user’s phone right from your PC,” allowing you to text from your phone, share photos, and view notifications, letting you work without distraction from your phone. Sharing photos would be a new capability for the Windows platform (though photos snapped with a phone, and automatically uploaded to OneDrive, are already viewable with the Windows 10 Photos app moments later).

YourPhone is live in the Microsoft Store and you can connect your smartphone and the PC, in much the same way Windows already does. The app encouraged users to download Microsoft Launcher after sending a link to the app by text.

Note that the Microsoft Launcher app for Android (formerly the Arrow Launcher) already provides a Microsoft desktop of sorts, complete with quick access to Cortana and Edge, as well as a personalized feed of news, calendar appointments, and other relevant details.

Microsoft Launcher

Microsoft launcher

Microsoft Launcher would include enterprise features. Microsoft Launcher’s enterprise version will also include Timeline, giving Launcher another aspect of Windows on a mobile device. According to Google, over 10 million users have installed Microsoft Launcher and the company may see Microsoft Launcher as a Trojan Horse of sorts, sneaking Windows into the Android ecosystem.

The Sets the tabbed interface on Windows

Microsoft sets

Microsoft has already released ten new builds of the “Skip Ahead” track of Windows, also known as Redstone 5. Most of the work has been done around Sets, the tabbed interface that Microsoft debuted in the April 2018 Update, then pulled back for further development. Sets now supports Microsoft Office apps, as well as more basic apps like Mail. Other improvements include a handy feature for monitoring the battery life of Bluetooth devices within Windows itself, and support for the High Efficiency Image File Format, a potential replacement for the JPEG image format.

Sets trades the windowed interface that your are used to for an optional one that looks more like a tabbed browser. It’s just another way of working within Windows.

Sets will be applied to Timeline, so in addition to the Web pages and apps you were working on, Timeline will show Sets, too. As more apps will contribute to the Microsoft Graph, those apps would show up within Timeline. Cortana will make an appearance within Timeline, too, suggesting what she thinks you might want to work on.

There’s one interesting feature that will change the behavior of Sets, but also Windows, too: ALT+TAB. While the current Alt+TAB keyboard command switches between apps, it sounds like you’ll at least have the option to do something new: use Alt+TAB to switch between tabs within Sets.

Other few mobile strategies and updates by Microsoft

Microsoft teams

Microsoft has some updates planned for other Windows and Office apps, too. Teams, the collaborative Slack competitor that Microsoft began rolling out in 2017, will gain new APIs and deeper SharePoint integration. Both Outlook and Teams will also see new Adaptive Cards arrive, the name Microsoft uses for the snippets of text and graphics that can allow developers to create rich interactive content—allowing, for example, someone to approve an expense report without leaving Teams. Expect more on PowerBI visualizations in Excel, as well as updates on Windows Machine Learning (Windows ML) to smarten up Windows and your other devices.

Microsoft teams

All of the intelligence Microsoft is adding to apps is part of the Microsoft Graph, part of the comprehensive matrix of information Microsoft began talking about three years ago. Microsoft calls the Graph a way for developers “to connect the dots between people, conversations, schedules, and content within the Microsoft cloud,” and add insights.

Microsoft Graph

Also in a bid to entice more Windows apps from third-party developers, Microsoft plans to aggressively raise the revenue cut that developers can earn—up to 95 percent in certain cases, Developers will get 85 percent of revenue if Microsoft sends a user to the Store and buys an app, and 95 percent if they find it with the developers’ help and this will undoubtedly be more exciting for the developers by the prospect of making more money.

With these various ways Microsoft is using its mobile strategy to enhance its windows like app for smartphones.