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Why enterprise developers could save Windows 10 Mobile

Bill Snyder | April 25, 2016
Microsoft continues to bleed mobile market share with Windows 10 Mobile, so why are some enterprise developers betting big on the platform's eventual success in the corporate world.

Microsoft's Windows 10 Mobile platform, formerly known simply as Windows Mobile, has less than 3 percent mobile OS market share, and it is so far from the center of Microsoft's focus that it was barely even mentioned at last month's Build developer conference in San Francisco. The company also recently released iOS versions of some of its most popular apps, including Office, that were greatly improved, taking away one of Windows' traditional advantages over rival platforms.

So why would a savvy software veteran like Alfredo Patron devote precious corporate resources to port enterprise apps to Windows 10 Mobile? "We're making a bet," says Patron, the vice president of business development for TeamViewer, a company that develops remote access software for enterprises. 

Patron used to work for Microsoft as a marketing executive, but he isn't betting on the floundering mobile OS for old times' sake. "Businesses have always used Windows applications, and Microsoft has made it much easier to write for Windows mobile devices," he says, adding that he and other TeamViewer execs carry Windows 10 Mobile phones.

Windows 10 Mobile strengths evident to enterprises

Developers and IT services companies that, like Patron, are betting on Windows 10 Mobile say Microsoft's new Universal Windows Platform (UWP) is particularly attractive. Apps created for UWP run on any Windows 10 device, including PCs, phones, tablets and even the HoloLens "holographic computer," according to Microsoft

DocuSign, a provider of electronic-signature and digital transaction services, supports Windows 10 Mobile, along with the more popular iOS and Android platforms. "Our customers say they want choice of platform, and for the larger businesses that includes Windows Mobile," according to Brad Brooks, DocuSign's CMO.

Brooks says the number of DocuSign customers who use Windows 10 Mobile is relatively small, but the cost of maintaining Windows code is low enough for it to make economic sense for the company to support it. DocuSign was also so impressed with Windows 10 Mobile's implementation of digital ink that the company decided to use it to demo its own products. 

Microsoft is well aware of its market share problem and the related shortage of quality mobile apps, of course, and it purchased Xamarin in February to make it simpler, and thus cheaper, for Windows developers to port their desktop applications to iOS, Android or Windows 10 Mobile. "This is not for people who write iOS or Android apps, but if you are a corporate Windows developer and you have held back on mobile applications, now you have the possibility of building your applications for third party mobile platforms," according to Wes Miller, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, who spoke with last month. 


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