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RDP for iOS and Android: To what end does this serve?

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  • User profile image
    cbae

    I just read about this, and I'm really confused why Microsoft is doing this.

    I'm just spitballing here, but I can think of one overall mobile strategy that RDP for iOS and Android *might* serve:

    To diminish the value of native apps that run on the competitions' platforms in order to reduce the perceived "app gap" between Google Play/Apple App Store and Windows/Windows Phone Stores.

    This "app gap" is frequently cited as what is holding back the adoption of the latest versions of Windows as well as Windows Phone. By allowing the (virtualized) use of PC applications from the competitions' devices, the value of the wide-availability of mobile apps on the competitors' platforms can theoretically be diminished, if there exist a more-powerful PC-equivalent application that can be used through RDP on those devices.

    However, by releasing RDP for iOS and Android, I think Microsoft is making a huge tactical error. The reason is that people that they hope to convince that running a Windows application through RDP is better than an analogous mobile app have already given their money to somebody else. It does nothing to convince new buyers of tablets to go with a Windows RT device, and it essentially obviates one of the few unique selling points that a Windows RT device currently enjoys.

    One possible benefit to Microsoft is that iOS and Android users who happened to have a Windows PC sitting at home will be able to use their PC a little more frequently. If people decide not to dump their PC hardware, Microsoft might be able to sell an upgrade to Windows 8/8.1 on those PCs since Windows 8/8.1 are optimized for touch, which would be the primary means by which you'd be able to control a PC from an iOS or Android device. However, what are people actually going to run in this manner in the first place? A desktop application or a Windows Store app? IOW, the type of application that is best-suited to run through RDP from a mouseless iOS or Android tablet is a Windows Store app! *facepalm*

    Access to Windows Store apps obviously isn't going to be a big driver for upgrades to Windows 8/8.1. If anything allowing all of those iOS and Android tablet users to access an existing Windows 7 PC at home, clunky though it may be using touch, just gives those people a reason NOT to buy a new Windows 8/8.1 Ultrabook, hybrid, or tablet. In conclusion, I have no idea WTF Microsoft was thinking when they decided to develop these iOS and Android versions of RDP client.

    IMHO, the better strategy would have been to preserve the usefulness of the COMPETITION'S desktop hardware that people already own and in the process sell more of your mobile hardware as the gateway to that hardware. In order to carry out this strategy, Microsoft should have developed an RDP SERVER application for OSX and then allow remote access from Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets. IOW, you give existing Mac owners no reason to buy a new Mac should Apple ever decide to start offering touch-based Macs, but give them reason to buy a Windows tablet.

    Think about it. With RDP Server software for OSX, you can buy a Surface 2, and turn your existing Mac desktop into a touch-enabled MacBook as well as a tablet that runs Windows. This is the kind of guerilla tactic Google is using on Microsoft. Microsoft refrained from releasing IE9 and IE10 for XP in order to hasten the migration to Windows 7, but Google gave XP owners reason NOT to upgrade to Windows 7 by making Chrome compatible with XP.

    Granted, even the total number of people who own Macs is probably even smaller than the number of people who own iPads and Android tablets who also happen to own a Windows PC. However, this strategy at least gives *some* people incentive to purchase a new Windows RT device rather than to simply preserve the usefulness of an existing Windows PC.

  • User profile image
    elmer

    BYOD support in the business environment ?

  • User profile image
    cbae

    , elmer wrote

    BYOD support in the business environment ?

    Great for businesses, but that would be antithetical to driving revenues for Microsoft.

  • User profile image
    elmer

    Server-2012/HyperV and VDI means you can keep implementing Win7/8 clients regardless of the actual device being used to access the license. I think it's a reasonably smart move.

  • User profile image
    cbae

    , elmer wrote

    Server-2012/HyperV and VDI means you can keep implementing Win7/8 clients regardless of the actual device being used to access the license. I think it's a reasonably smart move.

    Software drives hardware sales--not the other way around.

  • User profile image
    elmer

    The business sector has a lot pf aging PCs that are due for replacement. I guess that if you can still run Win7/8 without needing to re-invest in PCs just to support that platform, then the question of ditching Windows for something else becomes less attractive.

  • User profile image
    PeterF

    Hope they will not forget about WP7/8... </s>

  • User profile image
    Blue Ink

    @cbae: I suppose it's more of a PR move than a business one.

    If you buy a tablet and you cannot do much because there are no apps, you blame the tablet maker and its poor app store.

    But if you own a tablet and you can do pretty much everything you need except for accessing your Windows machine remotely, you blame Microsoft for not making the app.

    Easy as that: not getting people mad at you is the first step in making a sale. Someday.

  • User profile image
    DeathBy​VisualStudio

    @Blue Ink:I wouldn't consider it just a PR move -- more of keeping the Microsoft hook in people's mouths. Windows devices aren't selling and there are millions and millions of iOS and Android devices out there. Windows devices might make marginal gains on their competitors (like Bing) but their not going take the world by storm with the continued bumpy evolution of their devices strategy. So I think they're making the smart bet by unhitching the horse (Office apps, etc.) from the wagon (Windows). If the Windows division can get some excitement going for their OS and related devices that'd be great but they shouldn't limit the other divisions in making profit off the backs of Apple and Google.

    Besides who wants to run an app through RDP anyway? I can't wait for Microsoft to release Office Touch (not mobile) for Android and iOS. Go Microsoft!

  • User profile image
    RealBboy360

    I thought a better selling point of RT or a windows tablet was that it has RDP.  Now that iPad has a good RDP, uh well.  RDP on tablets isn't that great anyway.  Just good for emergency access really.

  • User profile image
    RealBboy360

    Also, what does it matter once the Nokia 1520 phablet comes out.  That's gonna rule.

  • User profile image
    cbae

    , DeathBy​VisualStudio wrote

    @Blue Ink:I wouldn't consider it just a PR move -- more of keeping the Microsoft hook in people's mouths. Windows devices aren't selling and there are millions and millions of iOS and Android devices out there. Windows devices might make marginal gains on their competitors (like Bing) but their not going take the world by storm with the continued bumpy evolution of their devices strategy. So I think they're making the smart bet by unhitching the horse (Office apps, etc.) from the wagon (Windows). If the Windows division can get some excitement going for their OS and related devices that'd be great but they shouldn't limit the other divisions in making profit off the backs of Apple and Google.

    Besides who wants to run an app through RDP anyway? I can't wait for Microsoft to release Office Touch (not mobile) for Android and iOS. Go Microsoft!

    I don't recall that Microsoft officially announced that they'd be releasing an iOS or Android version of Office. So far most apps that Microsoft have released for iOS or Android have been tied to a service. Tying software to a service is pretty much the only way to monetize software developed for mobile platforms. Apple has succeeded in devaluing the work of software engineers by fostering the proliferation of the 99 cent fart app.

    Microsoft is well down the path taken by Apple, which is to rope people into a service and selling the hardware that serves as the gateway to that service. As I said earlier, the best way to sell more of your own hardware is to convince existing owners of your competitor's hardware that it's still useful and doesn't need to be replaced. Releasing RDP for iOS and Android does the exact opposite of that.

  • User profile image
    spivonious

    @elmer: If MS wants to be a services company, they need to get their software out to as many platforms as possible. The Windows-centric thinking of the past 20 years is killing them.

  • User profile image
    kettch

    @RealBboy360: I've been thinking about this whole phablet thing. I recently realized that 6 inches crosses a threshold for me. At that point with the logistics of carrying the thing around, I could easily go to 7 or 8 inches. An 8 inch ARM tablet that can make voice calls and a good Bluetooth headset starts to make as much sense as a 6 inch phone.

  • User profile image
    DeathBy​VisualStudio

    , cbae wrote

    *snip*

    I don't recall that Microsoft officially announced that they'd be releasing an iOS or Android version of Office.

    Ballmer said the iPad version was coming out after WinRT version. I'd hope the new CEO would accelerate than and remove the dependency of waiting for the WinRT version. I guess in any case they need a good working model for a rich touch version of Office so you have to pick a platform to start with. I tend to think that they'd find a few more buys for that in the iOS or Android camp. 

    So far most apps that Microsoft have released for iOS or Android have been tied to a service. Tying software to a service is pretty much the only way to monetize software developed for mobile platforms. Apple has succeeded in devaluing the work of software engineers by fostering the proliferation of the 99 cent fart app.

    Microsoft is well down the path taken by Apple, which is to rope people into a service and selling the hardware that serves as the gateway to that service. As I said earlier, the best way to sell more of your own hardware is to convince existing owners of your competitor's hardware that it's still useful and doesn't need to be replaced. Releasing RDP for iOS and Android does the exact opposite of that.

    If I were a betting man I'd bet on the idea that when Microsoft says it's a "Devices & Services" company they really mean "Software (on any device) & Services" company. You sell software tied to services and you can make money on both ends. Now I'm sure there are stalwarts within Microsoft that see the company as Windows-centric but as spiv stated that's old school and what is killing them [in other divisions]. Windows was once the driving force for Microsoft is now a boat anchor for the other divisions. Sure I'd live a nice unified Windows as some suggest that Microsoft is moving to but as we've seen over the last few years it's too little too late and a lot of pain for everyone as they learn how to build an OS for devices.  For me the Windows and Devices divisions need to learn to stand on their own two feet and put out a product that can stand on its own -- hopefully with a re-imagined way of looking at computing.

    As for RDP specifically IMO it's a crutch until they get native apps out for those devices. Since Microsoft's tablets already run Office & RDP there is no need for the crutch.

    , kettch wrote

     

    @RealBboy360: I've been thinking about this whole phablet thing. I recently realized that 6 inches crosses a threshold for me. At that point with the logistics of carrying the thing around, I could easily go to 7 or 8 inches. An 8 inch ARM tablet that can make voice calls and a good Bluetooth headset starts to make as much sense as a 6 inch phone.

    Amen to that. I went from a 7 inch tablet + 4 inch phone to a 5.5 inch phablet and it's been great. I too would love a 7 or 8 inch phablet. Hopefully if/once Microsoft has finished adding WinPRT stuff to WinRT they'll put out a phone capable WinPRT mid-sized tablet.

     

  • User profile image
    PeterF

    @RealBboy360:

    , RealBboy360 wrote

    Also, what does it matter once the Nokia 1520 phablet comes out.  That's gonna rule.

    Only if it runs Windows RT, since WP has lacked VPN and RDP since day 1 and no sign of improvement yet... I hope to be pleasantly surprized but I've been quite disappointed until now on not having these feature which were present on WM6.x

  • User profile image
    cbae

    , DeathBy​VisualStudio wrote

     *snip*

    If I were a betting man I'd bet on the idea that when Microsoft says it's a "Devices & Services" company they really mean "Software (on any device) & Services" company. You sell software tied to services and you can make money on both ends.

    The money to be made from selling software to consumers is chump change, and to be quite frank, so is the money made from selling services to them, because it's almost a requirement to base the monetization of services on a freemium model. Until Microsoft develops an ad network as successful as Google's, Microsoft won't be able to make any money off the cheap bastards, which describes 90% of consumers. Until then, the real money has to come from selling hardware. Services merely serve as a way to keep people tied to an ecosystem and the hardware that can access those services.

    Now I'm sure there are stalwarts within Microsoft that see the company as Windows-centric but as spiv stated that's old school and what is killing them [in other divisions]. Windows was once the driving force for Microsoft is now a boat anchor for the other divisions. Sure I'd live a nice unified Windows as some suggest that Microsoft is moving to but as we've seen over the last few years it's too little too late and a lot of pain for everyone as they learn how to build an OS for devices.  For me the Windows and Devices divisions need to learn to stand on their own two feet and put out a product that can stand on its own -- hopefully with a re-imagined way of looking at computing.

    Ironically, Microsoft more than ever needs Windows to succeed. The OS is what ties users to a specific brand of device. Before, when Microsoft was truly a software company and people were actually willing to pay for software, they could have created .NET for Linux and .NET for OSX and sold software to run on top of those frameworks. People are no longer willing to pay any real money for software--especially not on Android or iOS. 99 cents for an app? Hell yeah! $1.99 for an app? Why not? $49.99 for an app? Hell, effing no!

    Now that Microsoft's decided to be "device and services" company, they'd be slitting their own throats if they want to be software arms dealer. The only software that they should be producing for other platforms are titles that directly tie users into their services and HOPE that when it's time for a hardware upgrade, these users will consider a device that Microsoft themselves manufacture.

    As for RDP specifically IMO it's a crutch until they get native apps out for those devices.

    A crutch for what? The copy of Office installed on a Windows machine sitting at home is already paid for. Providing RDP access from iOS or Android generates zero revenue for Microsoft and provides a disincentive for purchasing a new Windows RT-based tablet and/or replacing that machine with a new Windows 8/8.1 hybrid device that could serve double duty as both a tablet and desktop.

    Since Microsoft's tablets already run Office & RDP there is no need for the crutch.

    Windows RT tablets don't run any desktop applications other than Office and tools that are part of the OS. RDP on Windows RT essentially allows you to use applications like Visual Studio, Photoshop, and [insert any Windows-based LOB application here] from a tablet.

  • User profile image
    TexasToast

    I think it is a great idea.  You still write your windows apps but now if you are stuck with a company iphone, you can RDP into your machine and use your application.    This is huge for engineering and business.  Consumer not so much.  Also gets a company that already has software that runs on windows to just ignore the iphone and android platforms and have the user RDP into his business computer and use the software already developed.  This is Microsoft expanding its usefulness.   Just keep writing your cool Windows programs and access them through iphone using RDP.    Screw IOS and buying a Mac and rewriting your app for it.

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