Catch Vineet Durani, Director, Windows Business Group, Microsoft in a conversation with Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst & Group CEO, Greyhound Research on Greyhound Research’s knowledge sharing series ONTrigger.
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Sanchit Vir Gogia: We were talking of upgrades. In India, there are pirated versions of Windows 7 and Windows 8, how does Microsoft plan to support that?
Vineet Durani: The way the experience will work is that if you are Windows 7 or a Windows 8 user, you do not deprecate your experience, you will be potentially able to upgrade to Windows 10. What will happen is that your experience is consistent with what happens today i.e. let’s say you upgrade to Windows 10, you have a tattoo on your desktop with says that this is non-genuine copy of windows and you will keep getting notifications that will ask you to upgrade or move to a genuine version.
Nothing is really different. We don’t want the user to go through a deprecated experience. Hence, the user will potentially get to upgrade to Windows 10. Subsequently, they will keep getting notifications that they need to buy a genuine copy of Windows.
SVG: Assuming that I do, not that I do (laughs), have a pirated version of Windows 7 or Windows 8, I can upgrade to Windows 10?
VD: You could potentially upgrade to Windows 10, it’s no different than getting a pirated copy. If your intentions are to pirate, there are more than enough ways to get a pirated version of Windows 10, that never deters users. We do believe that it’s not the right experience. It’s also potentially prone to malware and prone to issues that could happen with your device. In the current context, even as a consumer, all of us are shopping online and we are doing a bunch of things, why would you want to comprise with that?
We have a great experience with Windows devices, we started this with 8 .1 and this continues with Windows 10.Today you get a windows tablets for INR 5,000. A great example is the Micromax Canvas laptop which has been launched for INR 15,000 and we’ll have cheaper and cheaper Windows devices coming in, so when you get a device, as low as INR 10,000 to INR 15,000, why would you want to buy a pirated version. You might as well go buy a brand new device at those affordable devices and it comes with Windows.
If you buy a 2 in 1 device, it comes with Office Apps which offers you Powerpoint, Excel & Word. This alone shouldn’t give a reason to anyone to pirate Windows anymore because we have such great innovative devices that are there and that’s what we would like user to really go from.
SVG: Even I use a 2 in 1 and I think it’s a fantastic device and the fact that I’m running on 8.1 as it’s a production device. I think it’s a fantastic device. It really helps my productivity.
VD: Just because you mentioned 2 in 1, one of the great experiences on Windows 10 is continuum experience. With windows 8, there was a lot of feedback from users, one when you are in a keyboard and mouse mode, you had a jarring experience form your desktop world to your modern apps. Then when you switched to touch mode, the experience wasn’t any different.
With continuum, with the device that you are carrying or the detachable one of a different version, you will essentially switch to a different version of User Interface. Your UI switches to the context of where you are. So if you are in this tablet mode where you are holding, it’ll be in a touch centric mode and when you go back to your keyboard and mouse mode, it will go back into that mode. That’s a great experience and a big values that you get when you switch to Windows 10 in a 2 in 1 device.
SVG: I’m really intrigued by the vision of Windows-as-a-service. Help me understand, is it the Microsoft store that is going to be on forefront of this change?
Clearly, the traditional licensing mechanism is under a pressure. We have seen it from your financial results as well that there is a decline in your traditional licensing mechanism. How is that going to pan out?
VD: There are two ways to look at it. One, like I said, there is a range of innovative devices that you get with windows and the traditional business models continue as well. The other way to look at is that the windows store is a great example. We have this new ways of building apps for the windows 10 ecosystem which we are calling it as the Universal Apps Framework and that allows any developer to create experiences that would run and traverse across these range of devices that I spoke about.
As a developer if you are using the Universal Apps Framework, you can write and application that will run on the PC, run on the phone, on the tablet, run on IoT device or a holo-lens and tailors the experience across the multitudes of those devices. That’s a great way to bring your applications to the Windows platform because most ecosystems are very centred on only one kind of device but what’s more important is that from a user perspective, is that as we are using and moving across different kinds of devices, like right now you are using this 2 in 1, the moment you step in your car, you won’t be using this device instead you’ll be holding your phone. How does your experience move from here to the phone if you want to continue doing the task that you are doing. Universal Apps allows you to build that experience.
A great example of this would be, in the traditional windows, we had a control panel where you could change the settings. In Windows 10, you have this app called, settings, and that the same app that runs on my phone, runs on my PC, runs on my Tablet and runs on other windows 10 devices.
I, as a developer, just have to build this once. The same way we are building our own apps in our own Windows platform, the first party apps. It’s the same way we are asking the developers to build the apps. That is a great way for developers to monetize their applications and services versus paying at various places versus sort of having this experience.
We are also bringing all other experiences into the same store, so that you’ll have unified windows experience that you’ll get across all devices which will not only have apps and games but other digital assets like movies and music as well.
SVG: The content part as well?
VD: Yes, the content part as well.
SVG: Talking of games, we have the Xbox live here. Tell me how does Windows integrate for gamers with Xbox users as well?
VD: There are new kinds of experiences that we bring to Windows 10 and Xbox live is a fantastic service that you will see in different facets and shapes coming to Windows10. A great example is the whole Xbox companion app coming as a whole comes on windows 10 and allows you to share your gaming stats or if you are an avid gamer how you are sharing your gaming clips with others across social media as well.
We have another experience, you could use your Xbox control to play games off Xbox on windows10 as well as stream your games on Windows 10 from your Xbox console. For instance, I’m sitting on one place in my house, I can be streaming a game from my Xbox One console to my windows 10 device.
Then there will be a lot of PC games, as you know we are very strong on the PC games franchise, and how do we bring about the gaming experience and enhance that with windows 10. There’s a lot of focus on gaming and we believe bringing the Xbox Live experiences here would be a lot of value that scales beyond the Xbox franchise.
SVG: That would make gamers very happy. Considering the feedback that came in from gamers, was not a very happy feedback.
We spoke about multiple devices, multi-screen phenomenon as well. I see a range of devices here. How far are the wearables a part of the Windows10 strategy because Microsoft doesn’t have a decent significant claim?
VD: We have just started with wearables. Like I said, Windows 10 enables scenarios from Internet of Your Things to the largest of devices, it offers a great capability for our ecosystem partners to even start building devices, like wearables that they could build and they could build their own experience. We have our own wearbale strategy which is our own first party strategy but it also offers a unique opportunity to anybody to build wearables using our IoT devices. So there could be a potential player there.
Wearable’s is right now a very early stage phenomenon. I think there’s a lot that people will do with this and we are looking forward to our ecosystem partners doing some amazing things with windows10.
SVG: Yeah, it’s interesting. We are seeing Google come back with Google Glass for the enterprise and clearly there’s a lot of noise there as well. Not so much action on the ground but yes, definitely noise for sure. But that is one area where a lot of noise is expected from Microsoft as well because your play in the Enterprise is significantly larger as compared to all other peers in the market as well. We were talking of upgrades and I love pick your brains for the Enterprise because that is a little more complex strategy.
We did a survey over the last three months about a 150 Enterprises in Asia Pacific and over 70% said they will wait for at least for 2-3 quarters before they even planning or strategising for a Windows 10 because 30% of these users, when I say users I mean Enterprises, are those who have just migrated to Windows 7 or a 8 in the last 6-12 months. Now how do you really plan to go about fighting such situations in the market.
VD: Actually our experience is little different especially from an India perspective which ever customer that we have spoken to. We have spoken to most of the largest customers that we have in India. They are all excited about Windows 10. So they are all evaluating and running different stages of proof of concepts and pilots with a lot of our customers and they are really excited because there are couple of things that are really unique.
One is Security is handled in a very different way with Windows 10; it’s built into Windows 10. A lot of functionality and capability especially for our Enterprise customers which is very critical considering the fact that security is a prime concern from a CIOs perspective and just for that one thing alone it would make great sense for them to move to Windows 10.
Everything else for Windows was architected for a different era of security, you look at people doing from simple mischief kind of things that were happening around 10 years back where people were hackers would do stuff to just make it painful for you or they would do it for a financial game point of view but now there are these nation groups and terrorist groups that keep targeting your networks and its of paramount importance to customers to think of that in a different way.
So if you are a bank or if you are any customer which has got huge focus on customer data or information that is intellectual property then you would want your network to be extremely secure and so that is one big reason that the customers are very positive looking at this even though they have made this shift to Windows 7 just about 12 months back or 18 months back.
The other is opportunity of the new deployment model that we have built with our Enterprise customer that they have this same ability of staying on a continuous cycle of upgrade, kind of almost look at it like customers are able to go away from this massive pain of deployment that they would have to go every 3-4 years when they would go a version of Windows and that always meant that they were running on an n-1 or n-2 version of Windows so when we would bring out a version and they were running a version behind or a couple of versions behind because they had to plan this entire deployment cycle. They wouldn’t need to do that with Windows 10. So once they move to Windows 10 they are actually on the same continuous innovation cycle of update. And we built tools and we built capabilities for our Enterprise customers to sort of leverage that whole deployment model which is very different, very unique reduces their cost of deployment, reduces their cost of migration, significantly, and there are far more other things that are of value. For example a very simple thing like Windows Hello.
Now if they do a hardware refresh and start changing their devices to devices that have capabilities like Hello. One of the larger costs that IT faces is password reset. Average cost is almost like $25 for a reset that IT has to go through in the support cycle for being able to reset user’s password and that happens pretty often inside a network. And just brining those capabilities in allows you to sort of reduce cost over a period of time and so there are a lot of costs benefits and there is a completely new innovative deployment model. So you deploy once and you don’t have to ever deploy again.
SVG: But you know there are these lots of long tail apps, we have a few customers who are a part of the learning industry who are a part of other banking industries as well and they are very cautious. Before significant investments and just to set some context here. They have built these courses; they have built these long tail apps which are built in to the ecosystem let’s say Windows 7 sometimes IE9 IE10 as well. They are dependent on those architectures and for them to be able to migrate those architectures is a lot of effort, money and time.
VD: So think of it this way. Normally what would happen from a deployment perspective is that the reason an Enterprise would stay on a previous version would be that they would really focus these misson critical legacy applications that potentially might break because you are moving to a new version and the cost of sort of changing over that was way too high.
So we have got three different variants of distributions variants of Windows that an Enterprise could deploy. You have something called a Current Branch, Current Branch for Business and a long term service branch. So think of it, the long term service branch is the one version that you could run where you could run all the critical applications. The Current Branch for Business is for business and Current Branch is for regular users who you could treat as consumers.
So normally what a company would do in an era before Windows 10 is that if they have 10,000 users they would want to make all 10,000 users run on the same version of Windows because they are solving for the mission critical applications but that potentially impacts may be 2000 users. So in the Windows 10 world you can say hey I have these 5,000 users who are just like consumers. They are just browsing, they are on the field, they are sales guys, they just need a few bunch of applications that are on the browser. They are using Microsoft Office applications and they should be running most current because these are to realize we are in an era of millennial that they want a familiar experience that they have devices at home and then back at work and you can choose that all 5,000 run pretty much the same way.
SVG: So role definition has to be lot more tighter?
VD: These are three different roles Mission Critical Applications go with long term service branch, then business users who might need a little more things like financial applications. So more core business users and then a user which is pretty much like a consumer.
SVG: We will see Microsoft store at the centre piece for all of this from an app deployment perspective.
VD: Yes, so Enterprise customer get an Enterprise store and then they can deploy an enterprise store and then they can get all those application into the Enterprise store and distribute it via Enterprise store so that is a great way to do that. As part of the Enterprise agreement if they also have the option to run those application on non-windows devices using VDI so that is another way to have a very consistent experience across different devices even if you get our own personal devices into the network.
SVG: VDI is a very strong mechanism.
Let’s us talk about support for the enterprise and that does fascinate me because you just spoke about device specific support. So does that also somewhere apply to the Enterprise licensing scheme as well.
VD: Yes. So when you get the long term service branch for example that has a long term support which is very critical for Enterprises to support their legacy applications etc. We also have a dual browser strategy for Enterprises so that they can continue to run all their apps on IE11 which has an Enterprise mode which allows them to get backward compatibility with IE 8,9 and 10 for a lot browser based application and they can also built new apps for the modern browser which is H. And at the same time they can also built apps, modern apps that they can put on the store and distribute. So there are lots of permutations and combinations that an Enterprise has which is an assurance for them to make sure that they bring forward their legacy application as well as they get the benefit of whatever’s new in Windows 10.
SVG: Lots of my CIOs customers also ask us about the support in terms of till when the Windows 7 and 8 be supported because you know Windows XP support just died because you stopped officially supporting XP now.
VD: So we usually have a cycle of 5+5 so you get a ten year support. So at this point of time we have publicly available documentation on what is the support level for Windows 7 and 8 and that will continue for all our Enterprise customer. There is no change in that.
SVG: For the Enterprise again, truly as I said earlier I love Cortana. I think it is very powerful. First of its kind and especially how you construct Cortana from an Enterprise perspective is going to be significant as well. Are there any specific use cases you see which are very relevant for Cortana?
VD: I don’t think we will look at it from a perspective that our applications are for Enterprise or applications for consumer. The way we are looking at pretty much most of our services and Cortana is one of those experiences.
At the end of the day, almost all of us are dual users. And a dual user could be in two scenarios, one I am doing stuff for my entertainment and then one I come to work and do stuff for my business perspective. I could be a student that is writing a term paper or doing a project and that is his/her version of commercial usage versus entertainment usage and so all our experiences travel across the boards so if you have a one drive for example a cloud storage, I have OneDrive for my personal work and I have OneDrive for business and the experience is very similar. So as a user I don’t find it very difficult to traverse between those two worlds because we are literary doing those things interchangeably.
It is not like hey I am only 9 to 6 I do all my cooperate and doing all kinds of things interchangeably especially with this whole idea of mobility across different kinds of devices so Cortana goes in the same space. It is a very unique experience; it is your personal digital assistant so it needs to do everything for you. So it means finding the right file on the desktop for you. Cortana should be able to do that. If it means reminding you of doing something that you need to do like go pick up groceries when you go back home, it needs to do that. Cortana needs to also snap on to power BI etc to be able to give you data insights or data in your Enterprise as well. So these are just the beginnings and the promise we have with Cortana. So there are a lot of services that light up on Windows 10 and you will see more and more of that happening because it is in the space where it fits your truly digital assistant that it needs to find and do things for you that you could literally offload to Cortana it could do things for you that you don’t need to do here.
SVG: Sure, But you know Vineet workspace definition is really important; their security rules and from an Enterprise perspective where there are strict firewall issues from a classic MDM over device mobile management perspective as well. If Cortana probably let’s say as a personal assistant also has access to the Enterprise files and vice-versa that clearly is a security breach and thinking what it differently is important.
VD: Actually we have a great functionality as a part of Windows 10. We are building Enterprise data protection deeply into Windows 10. A lot of that functionality light up as we go along. But we obviously are taking care of that so Cortana only knows what you tell Cortana to know and Cortana also knows what your group policies and what your ideal policy allow you to get access to. The fact, that I have the ability to do that from an MDM perspective end to end.
We have a great services part of Azure which is called Enterprise Mobility suite which is a great MDM functionality that really leverages the power of Windows 10 as well and is able to allow the enterprise to manage all of these things between the personal and the workspace handset. So Cortana fairly understands that and will essentially go where either where you have given access to or what your Enterprise has given access to.
SVG: That helps to know.