Microsoft's 2015 is turning out to be a good one, although by the company's fiscal year calendar, it's already 2016. (Microsoft's fiscal year begins in July.) Among its highlights are the release of several new products, including its new operating system Windows 10, new Windows phones, a Microsoft laptop and a new edition of Microsoft Office, growth in the tablet market and a 30% increase in Xbox sales from the last fiscal year. However, despite all these successes, Microsoft still has made a few moves that could be considered missteps. Here are 10 of those moments from this year.
1. Mobile mistakes lead to quarterly losses
While it could be argued that Microsoft's purchase of Nokia in the first place was the error, the fact that technology firm posted a loss at the end of the 2015 fiscal year over the summer, writing off approximately $7.5 billion related to the purchase of the Finnish mobile firm. Microsoft also recently announced that it is cutting 7,800 jobs mostly in the mobile division. These announcements are not a great way to kick off a new fiscal year.
However, it doesn't look like Microsoft is going to be giving up on its Windows Phones product line anytime soon, with two new models slated for release in the near future.
2. A white flag in the smartphone market
Despite the announcements of job cuts, Microsoft intends to stay in the smart phone market. Like many major technology firms, Microsoft produces multiple products across several product categories with varying degrees of success. Microsoft is scaling down its smartphone efforts, "fundamental restructuring" in the words of an email written by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
Some business media outlets even argued that Microsoft continuing to stay in the smartphone business is a mistake.
3. Where are all the apps?
Windows Phones are in the market, but where are all the apps? Consumers decide whether they want an iPhone, a Samsung Galaxy or a Windows Phone based partly on the apps available. Microsoft has made major strides in its app selection. Facebook, Instagram, Google, Netflix and several other majorly popular apps are now available for the Windows phone. Yet, the app store selection is still lacking in comparison to its much more popular competitors. A wider variety of apps, especially gaming apps, would help bolster mobile device sales. More exclusive content, say more mobile app games from one of its signature Xbox franchises, could also provide a boost.
4. Patching software
Microsoft's mobile division is trying to make more apps available to Windows Phone owners. The company is even offering support to help app creators make Windows apps using code intended for other platforms. There was even speculation that future Windows phones would run Android apps, which was received as good news.
At the end of September, Microsoft released an update for Windows Phones that closed the loophole that some users were using to run Android apps on their phones with a security patch in late September, confirming that Android apps would not be a part of Windows immediate future. Microsoft should have nipped that rumor in the bud sooner.
5. Where's Windows 10 for Mobile?
Microsoft's continuing strategy to regain lost territory has been based on running universal apps using the same operating system and to become a more cloud-based company. Windows 10 is out already for computers, but mobile device users will wait until November to upgrade to Windows 10. While it is understandable that the PC and the mobile version of the operating system will have their differences, releasing both at the same time would have helped underlay those two goals. Instead, consumers with both a Windows PC and mobile device may be running Windows 10 on the former and Windows 8.1 on the latter.
6. Automatic updates for Windows 10 Home users
Windows 10 is now available for PC users. Those users with the Home edition of the operating system have discovered that the operating system is programmed to update automatically when a new version or update becomes available. Unlike Windows 10 Professional or other operating system users, Windows 10 Home Edition users cannot defer these updates. So regardless of whether a PC user is actively using the computer or not, when an update is available, it will be downloaded. As this news sparked complaints and several "How to disable automatic updates" articles, it would be fair to call this a misstep.
7. What does Microsoft make again?
Microsoft is primary known among the average consumer for its Windows operating systems, Microsoft Office and the now-defunct Internet Explorer browser. While its no secret Xbox is a Microsoft product nor that Microsoft produces mobile devices like tablets, smartphones and an upcoming Microsoft laptop, there appears to be a gap between what the company produces and what people think of as Microsoft products. While advertising for Windows 10 is important to the company's success, more campaigns could have been dedicated to other Microsoft products. With the upcoming release for the new Windows Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, this may change.
8. How To play DVDs without Media Center?
With any new operating system, some programs from the previous version are dropped. Windows 10 is no exception. The one change that some users have been vocal about is the Windows Media Center, software that helped users watch DVDs on their Windows computers. The new operating system also lacked the software to enable users to play DVDs, although this will be available latter this year according to Microsoft's Gabriel Aul, WDG Engineering Systems team's Vice President. While other software options exist, streaming is only growing in popularity and DVDs can be played on other devices, this seems like an error.
9. How are Xbox One sales really doing?
In the latest generation of the console wars, Microsoft's Xbox One is the runner-up. PlayStation 4 is still outselling its competition. Microsoft has some exclusive franchises, such as Halo, which has helped bolster sales, but gamers are still buying more PlayStation 4s, more than a year later.
While Microsoft ended its fourth quarter of its 2015 fiscal year with stronger Xbox sales, the numbers Microsoft cities include both the Xbox 360 and Xbox One, making it hard to tell which console consumers are buying. However with the holidays coming up, a new bundle and accessories are around the corner.
10. Not preparing for Surface Hub demand
Microsoft clearly underestimated its projections for its Surface Hub, a device that looks like a supersized and more powerful version of its Surface Tablets, intended for business and enterprise use, particularly for conferencing. It will run on a customized version of Windows 10.
The product first became available for preorder in July 2015, with an estimated delivery start date of September 1. That same month, Microsoft announced that the product would not begin to reach consumers until 2016 because the preorder demand exceeded their expectations. Preorders continued after this announcement with a new ship date start of New Year's Day 2016.