Microsoft Windows 8 Update Paves Way For Phablet


Only eight days before the widely advertised Nokia event in Dubai, where Nokia is expected to unveil up to six new mobile devices, Microsoft has released a Windows 8 software update fit for a phablet.

Nokia's smartphone line, Lumia, has been loyal to the Windows operating system, a bond only expected to strengthen once Microsoft's $7.1 billion deal to acquire the Finnish company's device and services department is made final in the coming days.

According to Windows Phone Blog, Monday's Windows update is the third face-lift the mobile operating system has seen since its original release. In addition to a few minor touch-ups, the update has readied the operating system for devices with 5- and 6-inch displays that have higher resolutions. In addition, the update allows for support of a faster processor, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core.

[Related: Microsoft Cutting Azure Pricing For Enterprises, But Some Say Overall Costs Could Rise]

Douglas Grosfield, CEO of Ontario-based solution provider Xylotek Solutions, said he expects Microsoft's purchase of Nokia and the addition of form factors like a phablet will make Microsoft a better competitor with BlackBerry in the secure mobile space.

Pairing Nokia's hardware with the Windows operating system in a world where "Apple and Android are inherently insecure" will give Microsoft a big boost in the mobile game, Grosfield said.

Prior to the acquisition deal, Nokia released the Lumia 1020, a Windows smartphone loaded with a 41 megapixel camera with super zoom abilities -- a smartphone that has piqued the curiosity of consumers but was an overall miss in the channel.

"Nokia can produce some of the best hardware, like the smartphone with the 41-megapixel camera, but they still do not have all of the apps the end consumers want," said Chris Sammons, director of technical sales at Dublin, Ohio-based solution provider BizCarta.

"Microsoft was kind of late to the mobile game, and they have been playing catch-up for the last four or five years," Sammons added. "They need to engage their developers more."

Microsoft's inability to engage developers has been a thorn in the side of solution providers looking to promote hardware running on a Windows platform. Sammons said it does not matter what form factors Nokia is able to produce, if applications cannot catch up with Apple and Google app stores, the devices are doomed for failure.

In addition to the software update, the Microsoft Phone Blog stated the company is offering a "Windows Phone Preview for Developers" program, which will allow app developers to have early access to the operating system for future updates and releases.

"I want to see a game-changer device" come out of the Nokia-Microsoft acquisition, Sammons said. He added he hoped it would happen with the Oct. 22 event, but is doubtful.

"It all goes back to opening up to the developers," Sammons said. "If the devices are not going to have all of the apps the end users want, they are going to be useless."

Grosfield added he would like to see the operating system adjust to "open certain file types, like wav files, that, so far you, haven't been able to open on a Windows smartphone like you can on other Windows devices."

Sammons continued, "I cannot remember the last time I had a Microsoft conversation with a client around mobile devices. We rarely go down the Microsoft path."

PUBLISHED OCT. 14, 2013