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Microsoft made Windows 10 free to help boost Windows Phone

That's one way to think about 'mobile first'

In an interview with ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella went in-depth on his strategy with Windows Phone. It has been the subject of much debate and no small amount of confusion thanks to the relatively vague statements Nadella made as he announced layoffs for 7,800 workers last week. As it turns out, that lack of clarity may be mostly a function of Microsoft trying something genuinely new in mobile rather than copying what most people expect. Instead of trying to fight against the unstoppable tide of popularity for Android and the iPhone, Microsoft is ensuring that it will be on those devices while at the same time forming a beachhead for its own mobile efforts with Windows 10 on the desktop.

"If you come to Windows, you are going to be on the phone, too."

"The free upgrade for Windows 10 is meant to improve our phone position," Nadella told Foley. He explained that his goal was to ensure that Windows 10 on the desktop was as popular as possible because it would drive developers to create apps — which would then turn into Windows Phone apps since they're essentially the same platform.

In fact, Nadella contends that the desire to drive Windows app development was also one of the reasons Microsoft re-emphasized the Start Menu in Windows 10. "It's not because I just want to bring back the old. It's because that's the best way to improve the liquidity our store," Nadella said. Apparently the Windows store is going to be very present in the Start Menu, and thereby drive app development: "Windows 8 was great except that nobody discovered the store. In Windows 10, the store is right there and done in a tasteful way."

Nadella wrapped his discussion about phones by comparing Microsoft to Apple right before it had its renaissance. That started with the "colorful iMacs" and he asked Foley (and, presumably, all the investors who are wondering what the heck Microsoft is up to in mobile) to give Microsoft a little space to get started again.

Nadella also addressed a number of other topics, including Azure and the new GigJam platform. On the cancellation of the Surface Mini, he said, "What I want us to stand for is not have envy for somebody else's success." It seems like he's applying the exact same philosophy to phones. Foley's wide-ranging interview is worth a read in its entirety.


Verge Video: Windows 10 hands-on