The Econmist profiles Microsoft: Opening Windows

Nokia’s handset business, which Microsoft bought last year to save the last big maker of Windows-powered phones, now looks like a mistake after the changes in the firm’s strategy.

Vertical integration - even if mobile revenue for MS is dominated by apps and services on iOS and Android, that doesn't mean they're safe. Just as Google didn't trust Apple to always ship with Google search, you also can't be sure those companies won't leverage their control of iOS and Android to force concessions from software makers running on their platforms. Even if your own hardware isn't turning a profit, it's a form of protection - like funding a military is meant for protection. If Google is moving into Fiber, the relationship between phone manufacturers and carriers may be somewhat similar to that between software and hardware makers. No phone manufacturer has to dominate the carrier business, but if they can't guarantee friendlier relationships with existing carriers, they may be forced to ensure other ways to reach customers.

it is unclear how newer applications, such as Cortana, will make a living.

Webcrawlers themselves don't make a living until paired with other things. I see Cortana in a similar role - on the one hand, she can operate like a webcrawler on various platforms - and on the other, she's a feature that may be able to increase the value of any product she's added to (assuming she can gather and interpret relevant data in useful ways).

The gross margin of classic Office is 90%; that of Office 365 is currently only 53%.

Depending on how you calculate it, that 90% might be different if you also count pirated software. SaaS seems harder to pirate. [In the end, it's still somewhat sad though - if companies are forced to fish around for new business models because the old models can't pay the bills, it distracts them from doing what they do best, and instead funnels them down only the paths where they can ensure their economic viability.]

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