Computer Business Review

Microsoft: Go mobile and cloud first, but forget about BYOD

Joe Curtis

14:30, June 9 2014


Tech giant endorses CYOD as it pushes Windows Phone 8.1.

Microsoft 's UK chief claimed he runs the British arm of the company from just two devices at a London event last week, as the tech giant touted Choose-Your-Own-Device (CYOD) as a successor to BYOD.

Michel Van Der Bel told an audience at the Business Transformed event last Wednesday that he uses a Surface Pro 3 tablet and Nokia 1520 Windows Phone to carry out everything he needs to do.

"Most of my day, I actually live in three apps," he added. "Outlook, Yammer, and OneNote. Everything that's relevant to me is pushed to OneNote. It's always up to date.

"The cloud is behind it all pushing things seamlessly to all my devices."

His comments kicked off a day when Microsoft pushed its cloud-first, mobile-first vision under new CEO Satya Nadella, with its universal app development platform allowing developers to build apps for both Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1.

Demos showed how people could work on a document in Office 365 on one device, and their data would be synced across devices via the cloud.

Chris Weber, who joined just a few weeks ago from recent acquisition Nokia to become Mobile Device Sales VP at Microsoft, pointed out big firms such as and Barclays were developing apps for use across phone, PC and tablet Windows devices.

"The ability to write an app and have it run across multiple form factors, whether that's your phone, tablet, your PC, we're really focused on allowing developers to do that," he said, adding that there are now 255,000 apps in the Windows 8 app store.

However, CIC analyst Clive Howard put the brakes on Microsoft's optimism, saying the universal app development approach was "something that had to happen".

"They released Windows 8 and people said in 2011 'if only we could build apps for this that use the same code [as Windows 8 Phone]," he told CBR.

As for its mobile-first, cloud-first push: "That message is getting a bit old. I'm not too impressed."

However, he doesn't think Microsoft has taken too long to adopt a more mobility-centric approach, seeing mobile and cloud as relatively immature markets.

But the message at Microsoft's event appeared to be that the tech giant will still push their devices to enterprises, rather than consumers.

That makes them - to a greater or lesser extent - reliant on businesses choosing to adopt a Choose-Your-Own-Device (CYOD) model over the more well-known BYOD model.

IDC's John Delaney, associate VP of European mobility, claimed BYOD was hitting a "plateau" in Europe as businesses started to dictate devices to employees instead.

He said: "You come up against this problem of compatibility of what you've got already. Firstly compatibility with devices like your desktop, the applications [on them]. You want a device which works in this system comparatively easily.

"People find having parts under your control and parts that aren't quite cumbersome."

This sentiment was echoed at a BlackBerry event the day before, where Markus Mueller, senior VP for Europe, said BYOD was "becoming a nightmare", endorsing COPE (corporate-owned, personally-enabled) as a replacement.

"COPE is a model we see broadly developing for the market," he confirmed.

Meanwhile, a study conducted last October by Shape the Future on behalf of Azzurri Communications suggested BYOD adoption had risen from 6% in the preceding year - just half of CYOD's 12% growth.

CIC's Howard, however, claimed there was little to distinguish between consumer-led device adoption and a more dictatorial enterprise-led approach.

"We're finding that all these things are happening," he said. "More and more enterprises are identifying use cases inside their organisations [for mobile devices]."

What is clear is that compatibility with legacy systems - which often run Windows - was a key requirement for customers present at the Business Transformed event.

Paul Russell, head of technical solutions & service design at managed IT services firm Ricoh, said: "We chose Nokia Lumia smartphones on the Windows mobile operating system because the Windows platform provided employees with access to applications they already use.

"Having Windows Phone devices also benefited our IT department, which was able to easily integrate the phones with existing infrastructure."


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