Microsoft so wanted Windows Mobile to take over the world like its desktop OS. Throwing money at the failing Nokia to take on Windows Mobile did no good, neither did buying the company when it eventually said enough was enough. That doesn’t mean they are sitting idly by in the mobile world. With Satya Nadella at the helm, they have another plan.
With no flagship Windows smartphone for months, many have criticized Windows Phone for being ‘stuck in neutral’. Apps remain stagnant, updates few and far between, and features are promised in the future – so you can see why even high profile users are abandoning . It’s clear to see they have placed importance on something different – Android.
They at least entertained the idea of funding Cyanogen in part to help them ‘wrestle Android from Google’. Showing that they are willing to go much further than their Garage program, already making a play for Outlook being the email app of choice, and even bringing Cortana to Android and iOS. Not to mention producing more apps for Android than for its own OS, they instead are ‘partnering’ with Cyanogen Inc so apps are at least offered at boot – if not pre-installed.
Microsoft is beginning to somewhat quietly bundle their apps on other devices too. Beginning with Microsoft apps pre-loaded on new flagships from Samsung and HTC. Although this practice is not new, many manufacturers have produced their own alternatives before, but using one of Google’s biggest rivals is bound to not go down very well with Mountain View.
Microsoft may see this as an amicable way they can begin to take over services, while OEM’s are still able to use Google’s own flavour of Android. Any OEM choosing to produce Android with any service other than Google’s, or ‘put a bullet in Google head’ as Cyanogen so eloquently declared they are to do, can as well wave goodbye to ever producing a product with Google services on again.
Microsoft is in the process of inking a deal to pre-load MS services on handsets from several manufacturers – including Samsung and Dell. Although mainly emerging manufacturers, “These 11 hardware partners will pre-install Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype on Android devices coming to market later this year.”, said Peggy Johnson (Microsoft vice president of business development).
These types of deals to preload software and numerous applications ark back to one of Android’s most detested issues. And that issue is ‘Bloatware’. Bloatware is a practice that was first dictated by the deflation of prices in the PC market. Much like the vast majority of PC makers, Android returns very little money without sidelines and commissions from preloading. Comparative handsets against Apple shows Android makes very little profit from sales, so income from Microsoft and even companies such as Cheetah Mobile is very much needed in a world where handsets can be picked up for next to nothing.
The real issues is where is the line between Samsung’s own apps to Microsoft’s for acceptability – or the line between Google keyboard or Swiftkey? When Google subsidies its own services with adverts from any company it can, why shouldn’t Android manufacturers make similar deals. Even if it simply lowers the royalties it must pay for Android using Microsoft patents.
Duplication services indeed seems futile, but when you actually look at it, choice is always a great asset as a customer. Many average users simply do not know that they don’t have to use Google Drive to store their photos, nor Gmail for their email and so on.
Competition over your usage almost always leads to better service, and perhaps if Google were more open to choice on their handsets, Android wouldn’t be under the spy glass of the EU right now.
Much like Microsoft itself knew about the Windows PC bloatware problem, and tried to combat it with its ‘signature’ line, your only option to completely avoid bloat on Android is going with a Nexus product. With the supposed death of Google’s attempt at ‘Android Silver’ and Play Edition devices not aiming for network stores, choice for those loving a blank canvas may end up being restricted.
In a strange twist of fate, some handsets produced by US networks are sporting less bloat than unlocked versions. Yet the stark reality is that a level of bloatware is unavoidable.
Sure, no one likes any tech bloated full of software you are never going to use, but your bloatware may be someone else’s staple app to use. Much as the PC power user must spend the first hours removing half of the software on their new PC, it’s something you must accept if you want to buy the tech for the price you do.