Not so long ago Microsoft was a “closed shop” … you used Microsoft services (Exchange, SQLserver, and so on) with Microsoft clients (Windows on the desktop). Fast forward to 2016 and things have changed dramatically. Yes, you still get the “richest” experience with a Microsoft client but things are pretty sweet for other non-Microsoft clients as well.
On my desk right now I have the following devices:
– my Lenovo Win10 Enterprise PC
– a Mac Mini running macOS Sierra
– my trusty Lenovo Yoga S1 running Linux Mint 17.3
– an iPad 2
– my ancient Samsung Galaxy tablet running Cyanogenmod
– my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge phone
Every single one of these devices can access Microsoft driven services and content thanks to Office 365 and all except the Yoga (Linux) have actual Microsoft software installed. So that is a total of five different operating systems (Android, iOS, Linux, macOS and Windows) running and/or accessing Microsoft software and Microsoft-delivered services.
The two “richest” experiences are on the PC and the Mac with their “full fat” Microsoft Office installations (Office 2016 on the Mac is a rich and powerful as its Windows counterpart, no more “second fiddle”). The Office apps on the iPad and the two Galaxy devices aren’t exactly slouches, either. Add a Bluetooth keyboard to either the iPad or the Galaxy Tab and you can do “real work” in the Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote apps. And don’t discount the ability to get work done in a browser using the online versions of the Office apps as well as the extended online only apps in Office 365 such as Planner on any of the above listed devices.
This is real flexibility or maybe I should say ability; you can move between your devices without feeling like you are a second rate citizen because of the device at hand. I’m finding myself using my non-Microsoft devices more and more with less reliance on my Windows PC’s but with no loss of access to the apps and the data that I need to do my work. In fact, I’m only taking my phone and my Linux-based Yoga to the upcoming Microsoft MVP Summit as they both travel “light”. I’ll be able to take my notes in OneNote Online on my Yoga and it won’t matter at all that I’ll be using a Linux client in the heart of Redmond. No one will even bat an eye. That is monumental change and something that is to be applauded.
I give Microsoft full marks for doing all they can to make the experience as similar as possible across all the devices. Yes, there are some differences and as I said at the outset of this post, the full-fat clients have the most to offer, but the experience across the board is far more homogenous today than it was even at the beginning of 2016.
I think it is safe to say that we are moving more and more towards a “device-agnostic” world and Microsoft along with many others has recognized this. While they do what they can to preserve their client OS market the reality is that applications, services and content delivery are now the primary drivers, the device used to access applications, services and content shouldn’t matter. We are not quite at the point where the device itself doesn’t matter but we are getting very close as my above-listed devices demonstrate.