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Microsoft unveils its latest bid for mobile relevance

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL

Tech giant Microsoft finally addressed the mobile segment having been preoccupied with Windows 10 for much of the year.

While Windows 10 has been billed as the first truly unified Microsoft OS for all devices, the focus to date has been very much on its PC manifestation, with barely a mention of mobile. Today’s event was designed to redress that balance, although the focus was primarily on new devices.

Top of the list was the first significant Lumia smartphone of the year, following the total overhaul of the division acquired from Nokia, including a purging of the incumbent senior management. There was some concern that Microsoft might just write the whole thing off as a massive piece of corporate misadventure, so the launch of new flagship smartphones at least addresses that concern.

They are called the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, in keeping with the current fashion for launching a supersized device at the same time as the regular one, and have 5.2-inch and 5.7-inch screen respectively. They both have dual antennas, which claim to provide better continuity of coverage, and run Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs. The main point of them, however, is to showcase Microsoft’s mobile productivity credentials, so there is as much emphasis on how great they are for Outlook, Office, etc as their hardware specs.

Other than the Lumias, Microsoft also launched a couple of new Surface tablet/laptops with an emphasis on being thinner, lighter, more powerful, etc. There was also a new version of its wearable, appropriately called the Microsoft Band 2, which was pitched as the ultimate exercise/sport companion, churning out data on your every movement and gesture.

“With Windows 10 and these new Microsoft devices, you are at the center of magical new experiences,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “We’re moving people from needing, to choosing, to loving Windows, and these devices promise to fuel even more enthusiasm and opportunity for the entire Windows ecosystem.”

Microsoft is no longer trying to compete directly with Android and Apple for significant global smartphone market share, which was the plan when it acquired Nokia Devices. It has realised, however, that it can use Lumia in a similar way to Surface – to catalyse the Windows ecosystem around that device category.


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