Welcome to 2015: A look ahead as Microsoft faces perhaps its biggest year, ever

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Welcome to 2015: A look ahead as Microsoft faces perhaps its biggest year, ever

In many ways, 2014 was a year of survival for Microsoft.  With a new CEO, a newish “One Microsoft” mantra, a giant acquisition of Nokia’s phones businesses, the Xbox One, Microsoft Band, and even a surprising winner in the third generation of Surface, Microsoft spent 2014 setting expectations, re-aligning, and laying the groundwork for an even bigger year ahead.

There’s no doubt, 2015 will be the year of Windows 10, and all its permutations.  While Windows 10 may finally deliver the Windows 8 we wanted all along, it will even more importantly offer up the first incarnation of a “unified platform”, where apps can ship to desktops, phones, tablets, and Xbox, all based on a single code base, tweaked only for form factors. 

It’s a make or break year, too, for Windows Phone: either it gains some traction, or we mark 2015 as the beginning of the end for the troubled mobile ecosystem. Windows 10 is a bit of a last gasp for Windows Phone, and if a unified apps platform doesn’t do it, maybe nothing will.

Build 2015

This year, we’re not going to have to wait long for the action to begin, and Microsoft’s 2015 calendar is filling up fast.  Here are some highlights:

  • January 6-9: CES
    Microsoft pulled out of making a big splash at CES a few years ago, but the first big show of the year is still important.  Expect new third party devices, and hopefully a few surprises.
  • January 21: Windows 10 Consumer Preview press event
    Microsoft released a Tech Preview of Windows 10 last fall, but expect lots of fireworks in Redmond on the 21st.  News about an Internet Explorer successor, our first look at a new Windows Phone OS, and lots of consumer features for Windows 10, including Cortana on the desktop, Continuum, and lots more (we hope).
  • February 17: Chinese New Year – Joe Belfiore has promised some Office love for Windows Phone by this date
    Microsoft has placed Office on iOS and Android, but now it’s time to see more of what Office has in store for Windows.
  • March 2-5: Mobile World Congress
    Microsoft has never had a huge presence at MWC, but Nokia did, and it will be interesting to see how Microsoft courts the mobile tech community at this seminal event.
  • April 29-May 1: Build 2015
    We’re expecting lots of news from Build, too – as Microsoft completes the developer picture for its “unified platform” of app development.  We should have a pretty full picture of Windows 10 by the time Build is over.
  • May 4-8:  Ignite
    Microsoft has combined a number of conferences into “Ignite”, and the former Tech-Ed / Management Summit / Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Project conference should clear up the Windows 10 picture from an enterprise standpoint.
  • June 16-18: E3
    E3, as usual, will be all about games, games, and games, and Xbox will need to make a big splash in order to capitalize on the momentum it created with the holiday sales blowout of 2014
  • Late Summer (?): Windows 10 RTM
    For us Windows enthusiasts / early adopters, this is when we’ll get our hands on the final Windows 10 product. 
  • Late Fall (?): Windows 10 General Availability
    Just in time for the 2015 holiday season, Microsoft and its partners will begin to ship new Windows 10 hardware by late September or early October.
  • Holiday Season 2015: lots of new devices
    With Windows 10 out the door, it’s time to sell, sell, sell!

Somewhere in there too should be the introduction of a new member (or new members) of the Surface family, an updated Band, some new brand names and maybe even some new services, renewed emphasis on Bing Maps, a better Skype, a touch-centric Office, and hopefully even a few surprises.  This is going to be a big year for Microsoft, a year of rapid innovation and deployment.  For the first time in a long time, all the shackles are off and Microsoft will be moving full speed ahead.  We can’t wait!