TechEd to show Microsoft's shift to devices and services

TechEd to show Microsoft's shift to devices and services

Microsoft says this year's TechEd conference in Auckland will be all about showcasing its transition from software firm to devices and services company.

"The company is transforming from being a software products company and handing that to others to build solutions on top of," says local boss Paul Muckleston. "We have a strong position in the devices market with consoles, phones, tablets and big screen devices. We'll see further evidence of it changing to devices and services - the company we're transforming to become.

"In some cases we'll build the devices ourselves and in other cases we'll license to OEM (original equipment manufacturer) partners."

Microsoft aims for a consistent user experience across devices and platforms, says Muckleston. He says that extends from consoles and phones to the Surface, PCs and tablets, on-premise and cloud software and enterprise social technologies.

"These used to be standalone technologies but that's changed by the move to devices and services. This TechEd is about bringing that to life."

The conference heavily features local speakers - including Microsoft partners and customers - giving examples of hands-on experiences of Microsoft technologies, says Muckleston.

The conference keynote yesterday featured companies that had joined the local BizSpark programme, which gives growth companies access to Microsoft software, like its cloud platform Azure.

There are now 550 Kiwi startups enrolled in the scheme and some that featured in the keynote video were cloud firm GreenButton, transcription startup TranscribeMe and cloud-based management tool Timely.

Microsoft is also gearing up for the Christmas retail season, with Muckleston saying it has a good array of Windows 8 devices available ahead of the local release of the 8.1 OS refresh next month.

The company will invest locally in a team of 15 to 20 marketers to support retailers offering a small number of 'hero' Windows 8 devices, Muckleston says. He adds the company wants to bring Microsoft's PC retail experience more into line with Apple's and move away from the historical focus on PC sales based on price.

Microsoft has gradually been gaining market share with Windows Phone since the introduction of Windows Phone 7, he says.

A year ago it had two percent local smartphone market share and has grown that to between four and five percent in the last 12 months. Market share has now reached double figures, he says.

"It's still a small number but when you get to double digit share you start to find you get developers building apps for the platform by default," he says.

Muckleston says the market share achievement has been helped by partner Nokia releasing well priced entry level smartphones like the Lumia 500 and 600 series.

In his keynote session the director of Microsoft's developer and platform group, Nigel Parker, told the conference Windows 8 has more users than all versions of OSX globally.