Killing off products like the Groove Music service, Microsoft Band fitness tracker, and Windows Phone have left many questioning whether Microsoft's grand plan is to focus on business users and leave consumers to its competitors.
But at the company's recent Inspire conference, Microsoft execs told their partners that Redmond isn't giving up on consumers.
Yusuf Mehdi – whose new title as of June 2018 became corporate vice president of Modern Life and Devices – led a session at the partner show in Las Vegas, Nev., where he outlined the company's vision for what officials plan to christen "Modern Life Services."
"Modern Life” and "Gaming" are the two new additions to Microsoft's core digital solution areas that its sales force and its partners are meant to target in fiscal 2019 and beyond. The others, which Microsoft announced a year ago at Inspire, are “Modern Workplace,” “Business Applications,” “Applications and Infrastructure,” and “Data and AI.”
In teeing up his presentation, Mehdi acknowledged that "in the last couple of years, we've lost a little of that magic with consumers," according to attendees who asked not to be named.
Most consumer companies are laser-focused on one thing, Mehdi said. Amazon is focused on shopping; Spotify, on music; Netflix, on movies. Microsoft's core value proposition is productivity, he said. The company's job is to try to make productivity sexier.
Microsoft is targeting so-called "professional consumers" with these services, Mehdi said. These are people who already know how to use technology but need to figure out how to use it better to make them more productive. The goal of these services will be to give users back time and help them focus on what matters to them.
Microsoft officials believe because the company already "owns the work calendar with Outlook," that it has a foothold in working to blur the line between consumer and commercial activities.
What, exactly, will qualify as a Modern Life Service? Mostly they will be apps, services, and features that Microsoft already makes available or soon will in Windows, Outlook, and PowerPoint, but which officials will attempt to position as well suited to the needs of professional consumers on Windows PCs, iPhones, and Android phones.
One example is the Microsoft "Your Phone" app, which Microsoft execs first showed off at the Build 2018 developer conference earlier this year. Your Phone on Windows 10 will allow users to respond to text messages on their Windows desktops, as well as drag and drop photos from their desktops and send them via their phones without actually having to access the phones. Microsoft believes that by not having to interrupt their workflow, users will save time and be more productive.