Microsoft has long struggled to get its smartphone ecosystem off of the ground. While it has found some success and a decent following for the still rather niche Windows phone, it has done rather better in porting over its apps to Android. In its latest announcement, the firm said that over 74 Android OEMs were now pre-installing Microsoft apps as standard.
Acer was the latest company to add its name to that list, joining the likes of Samsung and Cynogen, with other companies spanning over 25 countries around the world. Some of the more popular apps include Skype, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook, Word and Excel – the Microsoft Office classics, as well as a couple of newer developments.
“This is a cornerstone of our broad services strategy,” said Nick Parker, corporate vice president of original equipment manufacturing at Microsoft (via NDTV).
He’s right, too. Microsoft has been making a much bigger play for getting its software into the hands of people, whether they pay for it or not. It famously gave free upgrades for Windows 7 and 8 owners to the newer 10 (and is still doing so, until July of this year) and has pushed for a subscription model on its Office 2016 platform as well.
Microsoft might be making bigger hardware plays than it ever has with the very successful Surface two-in-ones, but it is primarily a software company and it stands the best chance for sustained revenue by eliciting small subscription payments from people to continue using its software as a service, than it does from trying to lock consumers down and force exclusivity.
This is something traditional hardware manufacturers like Acer can get on board with. President of Acer’s Smart Businesses Group S.T. Liew said that he was excited to improve the productivity of Acer hardware users, giving them more software options on the go, with a “familiar computing experience.”
That’s something other hardware makers want to tap into as well. As much as the world of applications may have surpassed the days of classic Microsoft Office, it’s hard to find someone under 30 who isn’t at least passingly familiar with these programs. Getting them on smartphones and tablets allows people to tap into something they know, in a more contemporary environment, on their hardware platform of choice.
It’s a real classic case of if you can’t beat them, join them, and Microsoft may end up winning by doing so.