A focus on Windows security distracted Microsoft's mobile efforts during the time Apple launched the iPhone.
Microsoft development director Craig Mundie recently talked with Spiegel about the launch of Windows 8, the company's new Surface tablets, and the measures it's taking to get a foothold in the smartphone sector. He blamed "executional missteps" as the reason why Apple has dominated the smartphone sector since the 2007 launch of the iPhone.
"We had a touch device before the iPad," he said, pointing to the Windows slates that really never caught the consumer's eye. "And we were leading in the mobile phone space. So, it wasn't for a lack of vision or technological foresight that we lost our leadership position. The problem was that we just didn't give enough reinforcement to those products at the time that we were leading. Unfortunately, the company had some executional missteps, which occurred right at the time when Apple launched the iPhone. With that, we appeared to drop a generation behind."
Microsoft has been criticized for its lackluster push in the mobile sector, especially after the iPad arrived and took consumers by storm. Windows Mobile 6 was on the market when the iPhone arrived in 2007, and the company has yet to catch up even after launching an entirely new mobile platform, Windows Phone 7, which was primarily focused on the consumer market. Windows Phone 8 looks to change that, connecting Windows 8-based tablets, PCs and even the Xbox in Microsoft's 4-screen vision.
Mundie said at the time when Apple launched the iPhone, Microsoft was going through a difficult period. Cyber crime started to escalate ten years ago, and Windows became the prime target due to its sheer number of users worldwide. That pushed Microsoft to shift a huge amount of focus to security engineering and thus delayed the release of Windows Vista and ultimately Windows Phone.
"I believe that Microsoft never lost its relevance. I always tell people we're almost 40 years old now, fighting against every venture-funded good idea on the planet in the world's most competitive industry, and we're still here, OK? So I ask, "Do you think that's just an accident?" I don't think so." he said.
The interview goes on to talk about what role Microsoft will play in the next decade. What will the computer do ten years from now, and will we even recognize it? He said Microsoft's goal is to make the computer act more like its users, and act as helpful as an expert. To do that, the computer needs to learn to be more human – to see, listen, speak and even feel using tactile sensors. That's where Kinect comes in.
"We believe that our 3-D motion sensor Kinect will be a big part of that. The computers and the back-end cloud services are powerful enough now that we will see more of this type of technology very soon," he said.
To read the full interview, head here.