Microsoft Goes Android

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“Microsoft needs to run across Apple and Android platforms,” said a recent research note Nomura’s analyst Rick Sherlund. The company, which derived about half of its 2013 sales of $77.8 billion from Windows and Office software products, it might be looking to expand its services business to Android and other platforms.

Rumored to launch in October, Microsoft’s smartwatch will contain 11 sensors and sport a slim band design that is said to resemble a thinner, flatter version of the Nike FuelBand. The device is also said to be iOS/Android-friendly and to have a display on the inside of the wrist as opposed to the outside. The easier accessibility to already popular Android apps is expected to make the device more popular among consumers.

A cross-platform smartwatch would represent another bold move by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to create a product that works across other rival platforms, but not just Windows. His first public unveiling of a product in April was of a suite of Microsoft Office products that worked on Apple’s iPad.

Google showed off its Android Wear smartwatch platform last week at I/O and Samsung, LG, and Motorola are among the initial backers. In addition, Apple is widely expected to launch an iWatch or even two this fall. Wear only works with Android devices for now, and Apple has a long history of limiting support for non-Apple hardware.

The next major version of Microsoft’s operating system Windows, which is expected to be called Windows 9. It will look and work differently based on hardware type, in order to appease keyboard/mouse users unhappy with Windows 8’s changes. The traditional Windows desktop UI will be placed “front and center” on regular PCs; 2-in-1 devices will switch between desktop and Metro modes, and phones/tablets will be Metro-only. As indicated at the BUILD conference, the Start menu will return, replete with embedded live tiles, and users will be able to run Metro-style apps in desktop windows. A public preview is expected this fall ahead of a spring 2015 launch.

According to latest data, the Windows Phone hold approximately 3.8% smartphone market share in the U.S., in China 0.6% share, and in Japan 1.4% share. It’s faring a little better in the top 5 EU markets with a 8.1% market share.

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