Microsoft is getting back on track
As we all know Microsoft is an underdog in the consumer market. Windows Phone is slowly gaining traction and Windows tablets are barely selling. From all the reviews I've read, the hardware is good but the apps ecosystem is lacking. People don't want to switch to a Microsoft product because they can't find equivalent apps and developers don't want to build apps because there aren't any customers. It's a catch 22. However, with the release of Windows 8.1 and XBox One, this should become a non-issue within the next 12 months.
Windows 8.1 is the result of a lot of criticism towards Microsoft's bold decision to merge Apps into a desktop environment. They refined it in many ways but also stuck to their strategy. They want Apps on the desktop. They also want a concise UI across all of consumer products. Many people don't seem to understand why but if you think about it from the perspective of a developer instead of a consumer it all makes sense.
As Windows 8.1 rolls out to more desktops and laptops, this market becomes impossible to ignore. The longer a developer waits the more competition they face. It is unprecedented to be able to write an App and have it work in a tablet, desktop, phone and eventually in your living room, sans web apps. At this time iOS and Android are mobile operating systems with no relevant representations on the desktop. Microsoft, however, has merged them together and given developers all the tools they need to build apps everywhere. It's only a matter of time before the developer ecosystem wakes up.
The XBox is another huge market that Microsoft will leverage. There are rumors of WinRT coming to the XBox and if that is true, you can only imagine the number of developers that will get on-board. Microsoft is shooting for one API across all form factors and they are almost there.
After the Apps ecosystem is flourishing, the next big thing I see are Intel x86 chips coming to phones and Windows 8.x working on them as well. Imagine a Windows Phone that has the power to be a desktop computer the same way the Surface Pro can act as your desktop today. When this is possible, are you going to go with an iOS or Android experience or the full blown Windows experience you've been using for the last 25 years?