Microsoft is typically on the receiving end of a lot of criticism these days. The company’s Windows 8 operating system introduced a new swath of changes that both delighted and alienated longtime Windows users. Its Surface RT tablet cost the company $900 million in stock write downs. Very few of the company’s moves can’t be considered unmitigated wins for both users and the company itself.
Of those few wins, the biggest has to be its approach to other mobile platforms. Whereas the Microsoft of last decade would have forced users to buy phones in its Windows Phone operating system to get access to the company’s services, the Microsoft of today makes all of its applications available to users on multiple platforms. Here are the mobile applications you should have on your iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S4 right now.
Skype is available on both iOS and Android.
That they should install Skype’s for its nearly ubiquitous video and messaging service won’t come as a surprise to either Android or iPhone users. Google Hangouts and FaceTime are pretty excellent for connecting with users inside of Google and Apple’s ecosystem, but no other messaging service is as available as Skype. It’s even on BlackBerry 10. Simply download it and communicate with other users regardless of what device they own. It’s really that simple. [Download Skype in the iTunes App Store orGoogle Play].
OneNote for the iOS allows users to sync different notes to a wide range of devices for free.
Microsoft’s OneNote desktop application is an under-appreciated hero. The youngest of the applications created for Microsoft’s Office suite of productivity apps, it allows users to store notes created with a keyboard and a stylus. These notes are then automatically synced between devices, and users can also share them with friends and family. [Download OneNote in the iTunes App Store or Google Play].
Microsoft Office 365 for Android allows users to edit Word and Excel documents and sync them between devices.
Although I struggle to recommend users download Office for Android on iOS or Android, the hard reality is that users who find that creating documents and spreadsheets is mission critical shouldn’t accept any imitations. Paying $9.99 a month or $99 a year for a native version of the world’s most widely used word processor and presentation maker just makes sense for some users. [Download Office in the iTunes App Store or Google Play].
Xbox Music is the only streaming music subscription service from the largest-three tech companies that works on iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
In the past few months Microsoft has finally started to take baby steps toward creating an all-inclusive music service. Now with Xbox Music available on iOS, users can stream the service’s entire library of content for $9.99 without ads, or on the web for free with ads. With Google Play Music All Access still missing for iPhone users, it’s the only music service made by one of the three largest technology platforms that works with every mobile platform. [Download Xbox Music in the iTunes App Store or Google Play].
SkyDrive is available on iOS and Android.
Like subscription music, each platform has its own native cloud storage solution, but only Microsoft’s is as widely available natively. SkyDrive allows users to upload their files to Microsoft’s cloud storage solution free of charge. Those files are then available anytime on the web or by downloading them through a SkyDrive app. [Download SkyDrive in the iTunes App Store or Google Play].
Control your Xbox 360, using the Android and iOS versions of Microsoft’s Xbox SmartGlass app.
Microsoft’s Xbox 360 didn’t become a contender in the entertainment console market by excluding users on other platforms. Microsoft makes a version of SmartGlass for Android and iOS that allows users to monitor their progress in games, and control their Xbox without having to ever pick up a controller. [Download Xbox SmartGlass in the iTunes App Store or Google Play].
Halo Waypoint allows users to track their place in Halo 4 multiplayer.
While we’re on the subject of gaming, if you’re a serious Halo player there is nothing better than having a phone application to monitor your character’s progress, get updates on changes being made to the game’s multiplayer and connecting with the posts from the rest of the Halo community. Halo Waypoint provides such an experience to both Android and iPhone users. [Download Xbox SmartGlass in the iTunes App Store or Google Play].
Microsoft isn’t done yet, the company recently announced that it was planning to introduce a new Remote Desktop application that allows Android and iOS users to connect to their Windows device from anywhere. It’s also moved to bring Xbox LIVE achievements to devices that aren’t running Windows Phone through its introduction of Wordament for iOS and Android users.
One way or another, the company’s plans on making Microsoft users out of as many users as possible and each one of these applications are first-class experiences.