Microsoft kicked off its Build developer conference in San Francisco with a focus on Windows 10, bots, and developer tools, but there was something missing: Windows Phone. A single demo of Skype running on a Windows Phone was the only time a phone running Windows 10 Mobile appeared for longer than a few seconds, and it felt like Microsoft was more focused on Windows 10 for Xbox and HoloLens. I got the chance to speak to Windows chief Terry Myerson briefly after today's keynote, and it's clear Microsoft's focus isn't on phones this year.
"We're fully committed to that 4-inch screen, there will be a time for it to be our focus, but right now it's part of the family but it's not the core of where I hope to generate developer interest over the next year," explains Myerson. "There's no lack of recognition to realize how important that form factor is, but for Microsoft with Windows and for our platform it's the wrong place for us to lead."
I pushed Myerson on his focus for Windows growth, and he was refreshingly honest about Microsoft's own mobile share. "If you wanted to reach a lot of phone customers, Windows Phone isn't the way to do it," admits Myerson. "If you want to reach a lot of Windows customers, then this is the largest install base of 9 to 30-inch screens. If you wanted to do new and exciting things, then the Xbox and HoloLens is the place to have a discussion."
This realistic approach realizes where Microsoft's strengths are: its domination of the PC market. That doesn't mean Microsoft is giving up on Windows Phone, it's just not a focus for this year. Who knows what that really means for the future, but Myerson hinted that it's not the end. "We're going to do some cool things with phones, but this year phones are an important part of our family but not the tip of the spear."
Microsoft Build: HoloLens Mars demo