Microsoft’s Modern Life Puts People First
Last week at an event in New York City, Microsoft introduced in a bit more details the concept of Modern Life. It is always hard when hardware is on stage to get any attention for anything else, especially so when one is trying to articulate a concept that has not been entirely fleshed out. This was not the first time Yusuf Medhi mentioned Modern Life, but it was the first time Microsoft made it a little more clear as to what it meant by it.
Microsoft’s Difficult Relationship with Consumers
After the recent reorg, many jumped to conclude that Microsoft’s decision to no longer gravitate part of the business around Windows was a clear indication that Microsoft was done, once and for all, to try and cater to consumers. I explained at the time that the change was far from signaling a lack of interest in consumers. It was quite the opposite, at least from an opportunity perspective. It indicated that Microsoft was getting ready to look at the experience that comes with Microsoft products. These are products that might be running Windows but which build on Microsoft services, first-party apps, and cross-device features to deliver a more engaging Microsoft experience.
The “I am a PC, or I am a Mac” world has evolved and, as much as the ecosystems that build on those operating systems matter a lot to users, experiences delivered through services and apps are becoming more and more cross platforms. This is why Microsoft deemphasizing the OS in favor of enablers such as cloud and AI is a smart move. Such a shift away from the underlying OS and onto apps and services you use is what is prompting Microsoft to build “bridges” for Android and iOS so that when using Microsoft apps and services your experience does not have to end when you want to move off a PC.
Such cross-pollination of these apps and services also means that, more often than not, we use the same apps and services at work and home.
Consumers Are People
It is this blurring of our work life and our personal life that Microsoft is addressing with Modern Life. Because of its history with consumers and the lack of mobile presence, Microsoft comes to this from its position of strength which is work and the PC.
Within its enterprise play, Microsoft has been focusing on helping organizations transform the workplace with its “Modern Workplace” initiative. From cloud adoption to workforce transformation, what has been different from the past is a renewed attention to the experience of the final user of the service, app or experience. Microsoft has always been catering to IT departments, but as technology buying centers started to shift, especially for new tech, and BYOD started to include BYOA, Microsoft began to pay more attention to the overall experience that made its offering manageable and secure but also valuable to the end user.
Modern Life takes those users who Microsoft caters for in a corporate environment and addresses their needs before and after they get to the office helping them achieve what they want to achieve: finish a presentation, dialing into a call on the way home, planning a weekend away or juggle the after school calendar.
In other words, Modern Life recognizes that I am not a “worker” between 9 and 5 and a “consumer” for the rest of the time. I am a human being 24 hours a day doing different things depending on time and place but still with the same goals, values, and aspirations.
Being Mindful, not Forceful
What Microsoft is not saying with Modern Life is that one should have no boundaries between work and play. The video Microsoft opened its event with showing some of the challenges that our modern life brings might have resonated more with young millennials than Gen Xers. At the end of the day GenX is who comprises the majority of the workforce and also who will be holding the majority of buying power. For this generation boundaries between work and play are certainly much more fluid than they were for the previous generation and what they are looking for is technology that will help them be in control rather than being controlled.
Being able to share devices, technology, apps, and services across work and play does not mean one has to share data and information across the two. Keeping private what is personal and secure what is work does not have to be compromised just because we share tools like an assistant or a calendar. What sharing tools and experiences does, however, is making our life easier. Modern Life will help you do all the little things that consume your time and aggravate you so that you have more time to focus on the things you want to do.
The Advantage of Trust
Not many companies are in the position Microsoft is in when it comes to its presence in the enterprise and the trust consumers place in the brand. Apple has the latter, but their presence in the corporate environment is still limited. This is why Modern Life has the potential to drive meaningful engagement with Microsoft across the board shifting the narrative away “from using to loving Windows” to “using and loving Microsoft.”