Using Explorer as an alternate Start menu for Windows 10 to work around missing entries

There are a couple of issues with the Start menu in Microsoft’s just-released Windows 10. One is that some sort of bug means there may be missing entries. Second, the All Apps list is not great for navigation even when it is working. There are two many clicks: click Start, click All Apps, click a letter or start scrolling, maybe expand the folder you want, and you eventually get there.

I have upgraded my own desktop PC to Windows 10, which was running Windows 8.1 Enterprise. The good news is that the upgrade went smoothly, but unfortunately I have run into this bug and some applications are missing from the All Apps list.

I am reluctant to install a third-party Start menu like Start 10, though this is a good solution for many users, since I like to keep Windows as plain as possible as well as tracking changes Microsoft makes to the user interface. How than can I retain easy access to all my applications until this bug is fixed?

My first thought was to use the Windows libraries feature. Using this, you can combine the two main locations for Start menu entries into a single list in Explorer. These are the locations:

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

C:\Users\[Username]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

The first location is for applications available to all users of your PC, while the second is per-user. I combined these in a new library which I called Store Complete and was initially pleased; all the shortcuts were there. Except they were not: I realised that my new Start folder did not include any Store apps, since the shortcuts for these are handled differently.

This led me to investigate Store app shortcuts, and I came across another approach. Make a new shortcut (no need for a library), and in the Target field type:

c:\windows\explorer.exe shell:AppsFolder


I called the Shortcut Apps but you can call it what you like. This creates a folder with shortcuts to all your applications, both Store and desktop apps. The snag: they are all in a single list, whereas the Library approach preserves the hierarchy if an application has several subfolders of shortcuts (like some developer tools).

The Apps list on my PC has 836 items and it is complete. For example, I have the application Password Safe, which is not listed in All Apps, nor is Futuremark’s PC Mark which I have just installed:


Actually PC Mark should be under F for Futuremark, but it is not there either:


Nor are they found if I type Password Safe or PC Mark into Cortana/Search in the taskbar. But they are there in my Apps folder:


Scrolling through this list is a little tedious, but it also has a search box which works. Not ideal, but a workable alternative.

Note: I tried pinning this folder to the Start panel but that does not work. However you can pin it to the taskbar for quick access.

Windows 10

The launch of Windows 10 today is a key moment for Microsoft and users of its platform. A few observations.

I like new Windows more than I had expected. I get on fine with Windows 8, though mostly on the desktop since that is where the applications are. Being able to run Store apps in a window makes a big difference though, and there is a real chance that this will kick-start Microsoft’s app platform at last. See my overview on The Register here.

Is Windows 10 ready, or rushed out too soon? The latter I fear. The desktop side is solid as far as I can tell, with the exception of the new Start menu – actually a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app – which is a bit broken. Since this is how users launch applications that is a serious problem. Still, it might work OK for you if you have fewer than 512 application shortcuts. I have also seen issues with search within the Start menu, either not finding apps, or in one case just hanging (reboot sorted it).

It really should not be difficult to have reliable search across a tiny database.

The Windows Store is another source of problems. I tried to install the latest Twitter app, and ended up with a “Restoring user data” message that would not go away. It is frustrating because you cannot simply cancel the process and try again. At this time my event viewer filled with DCOM activation errors, which may or may not be related, but did remind me how much intricate and ancient technology remains in Windows.

Microsoft also has this mad idea that all eligible users should be upgraded automatically using a Get Windows 10 (GWX) application installed via Windows Update. From what I have heard so far, failures are common. Users who suffer a long update process that ends with an error message and return to the previous version of Windows may never try again, or next time buy a Mac.

This is exactly what you would expect from an in-place upgrade. There are simply too many variations of hardware and software, too many things to go wrong, for this to work reliably across millions of users.

These things will distract attention from what matters more, which is Microsoft steering Windows towards becoming a modern, mobile-friendly operating system. There is also a lot of good work on the business side, in security and manageability. In six months time Windows 10 will be a delight.

The coverage of Windows 10 in the general media also interests me. Never mind Microsoft’s generally strong financials, the common view is that the company is failing because of its lack of success in mobile. That may prove true, but it is not true yet.

In this light, I am still puzzled by CEO Satya Nadella’s decision to dismantle the Nokia acquisition, at huge cost. At the Build conference in April, Microsoft seemed determined to make Windows Phone work, with the universal app platform, Android runtime layer, and Objective C compiler support. The Nokia team had the skills to design and build phones. Disposing of it seems short-sighted.

If the app platform in Windows 10 does succeed, users will want to run those apps on their smartphones too.

Microsoft financials April-June 2015: loss from Nokia write-down, comments on future direction

Microsoft has reported its financials for its fourth quarter. The company made a loss of over three billion dollars ($bn 3.195) but this was because of an eight billion dollar write-down mostly on the phone business – in effect, writing off the value of its Nokia acquisition. It still has plenty of cash in the bank – over $96 bn according to its balance sheet. Perhaps it is too easy for companies of this size to make bad business decisions (I leave open whether it was the acquisition or the way it was handled that was the bad decision, but one of them was).

Here are the latest figures:

Quarter ending  June 30th 2015 vs quarter ending June 30th 2014, $millions

Segment Revenue Change Gross margin Change
Devices and Consumer Licensing 3233 -1670 2966 -1555
Computing and Gaming Hardware 1933 +591 435 +417
Phone Hardware 1234 -748 -104 -158
Devices and Consumer Other 2300 +538 594 +303
Commercial Licensing 10451 -782 9529 -769
Commercial Other 3076 +814 1350 +659

A few points to note. The confusing segment names are summarised at the end of this post. Revenue was slightly down quarter on quarter, from $bn 23.4 to 22.2, largely because of a decline in consumer Windows (weak PC sales). Commercial licensing was also down, which Microsoft attributes to the end of the XP migration boom.

Phone aside, Microsoft’s hardware is performing well, thanks to Surface Pro 3 and Xbox One. Although Xbox One has been outsold by Sony’s PlayStation 4, it is holding its own and Microsoft says that Xbox Live usage has grown by over 30% over the year. The company says this is “deeper user engagement”; another way of looking at this is that playing games without an Xbox Live subscription is often disappointing.

Microsoft’s cloud and server projects are both growing. Business cloud revenue (Office 365, Azure and Dynamics CRM) is up 106% over the year and server products up 12%.

A bright spot is that search advertising revenue grew by 21% and Bing is expected to be profitable in the next financial year. The search wars are last year’s thing but Microsoft’s determination has won it a small but viable slice of the market. It is important because the data from search is essential for high quality predictive analysis and personalisation services, which is still a coming thing (Cortana, Siri, Google Now).

In the earnings call, CEO Satya Nadella revealed some data:

  • 15 million consumer Office 365 subscribers growing by 1 million per month
  • 50,000 new SMB customers for Office 365 per month
  • Paid seats for Dynamics CRM up 140% year on year
  • 17,000 customers for Enterprise Mobility Services (Mobile Device Management)
  • Over 100% growth in Azure both in revenue and compute usage

Of Windows 10, Nadella says:

While the PC ecosystem has been under pressure recently, I do believe that Windows 10 will broaden our economic opportunity and return Windows to growth.

A short-term boost from Windows 10 would not be surprising, but does he think that Microsoft can reverse the trend from PC to mobile, or that Windows can be successful enough in the mobile category (tablets and phones) to benefit from that trend? If the latter, perhaps destroying the Nokia acquisition was not the best move (but I must not harp on about this).

On Windows 10, Nadella described three phases:

Upgrade phase: From July 29th when free Windows 10 upgrades begin.

OEM device phase: From “the fall” when Windows 10 PCs and devices go on sale.

Enterprise upgrade phase: Piloting and deployments from January 2016

Note from the last that Windows 10 is not fully business-ready yet. Enterprise Store, OneDrive for Business client, “Project Centennial” which lets you wrap Win32 apps for Store deployment, none of these are done.

How is Microsoft hoping to grow its business? CFO Amy Hood identified three areas, in response to a question on operational expenditure:

The first one is Windows 10. The second is the first party hardware where we just had such terrific performance again this Q4. And then, finally, the third bucket was about accelerating our commercial cloud leads.

Of these, the third looks a sure bet, the other two are more speculative. Microsoft will continue to be a fascinating business to watch.

Microsoft’s segments summarised

Devices and Consumer Licensing: non-volume and non-subscription licensing of Windows, Office, Windows Phone, and “ related patent licensing; and certain other patent licensing revenue” – all those Android royalties?

Computing and Gaming Hardware: the Xbox One and 360, Xbox Live subscriptions, Surface, and Microsoft PC accessories.

Devices and Consumer Other: Resale, including Windows Store, Xbox Live transactions (other than subscriptions), Windows Phone Marketplace; search advertising; display advertising; Office 365 Home Premium subscriptions; Microsoft Studios (games), retail stores.

Commercial Licensing: server products, including Windows Server, Microsoft SQL Server, Visual Studio, System Center, and Windows Embedded; volume licensing of Windows, Office, Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync; Microsoft Dynamics business solutions, excluding Dynamics CRM Online; Skype.

Commercial Other: Enterprise Services, including support and consulting; Office 365 (excluding Office 365 Home Premium), other Microsoft Office online offerings, and Dynamics CRM Online; Windows Azure.

Microsoft completes Visual Studio 2015

Microsoft has completed Visual Studio 2015, the latest version of its all-encompassing development tool. You can download it here. Today is also the release day for TypeScript 1.5 (a language which compiles to JavaScript)


Windows 10 is released in just 9 days, so all eyes will be on this and its new/old app platform – the Universal Windows Platform, based on the Windows Runtime, as found in Windows 8, but considerably revised so that developers can in theory write one app and run it on any Windows 10 device, from PC to tablet to phone to Xbox to HoloLens, and sell or distribute it from a unified Windows Store.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently confirmed that the Windows Store is a key part of the Windows 10 strategy:

Why then make all these changes to the Start Menu with Windows 10? It’s not because I just want to bring back the old. It’s because that’s the best way to improve the liquidity [of] our store. Windows 8 was great except that nobody discovered the store. In Windows 10, the store is right there and done in a tasteful way.

The Store is more visible in Windows 10 than in 8 because in Windows 10 there are no longer two separate environments (Metro and desktop), but only one (desktop). Windows Runtime apps run in desktop windows. This makes the experience a little worse for tablet users, but the advantage is that now desktop users are more likely to interact with the Store, and more likely to use the apps they install, since they run in a familiar environment.

Another key change is “Project Centennial”, which I wrote up for the Register here. This lets developers package desktop apps for delivery from the Store, using app virtualisation (based on an Enterprise product called App-V). If Microsoft gets this right, Project Centennial will be the preferred way to deliver most desktop apps, since it is both easier and safer for the user.

If the Store does take off (and if it does not, Windows 10 will in part have failed), then Visual Studio will be the key tool for created or repackaging apps for Windows.

Windows 10 is important, but so too is Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform. Visual Studio has a key role here, too. Microsoft has an entire stack, including Windows as both operating system and development environment, Visual Studio for coding and testing, and Azure for hosting cloud applications. Since the early days of Azure, the development experience has improved, so that with a modest understanding of the ASP.NET MVC framework you can go from an idea to a working demo, hosted on Azure, that you can show customers, in a short space of time.

There is also a new Cloud Explorer in Visual Studio which lets you view Azure resources from the IDE.


Mobile is Microsoft’s weak point, but the the company has made efforts to support Android and iOS both through mobile service back-ends hosted on Azure, and by supporting various approaches to building cross-platform apps. Visual Studio 2015 includes Xamarin project types, though out of the box these just tell you to go and install Xamarin, which lets you build Android and iOS apps with C#, subject to a separate Xamarin subscription.

Another option is to use Microsoft’s new iOS tools to code in Visual Studio while targeting Apple’s mobile platform, though this does require a Mac running a remote agent.

There is also Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova, where you code in JavaScript and wrap the results as native apps for both Windows and mobile platforms.

Visual Studio comes with an Android emulator, based on Hyper-V, for debugging either Xamarin or Cordova apps. Xamarin also offers its own emulator and I am not sure how these compare.

In addition to the above, Visual Studio 2015 introduces C# 6.0, Visual Basic 12, the Roslyn compiler platform which enables new IDE features, and .NET Core which is an open source, cross-platform fork of the .NET Framework. Thanks to .NET Core, the latest version of ASP.NET runs on Mac and Linux as well as Windows.

Despite Microsoft’s new cross-platform focus, Visual Studio itself runs only on Windows. In a world of Mac-wielding developers that is a problem, so the company has come up with Visual Studio code, an editor with some IDE features that runs on Window, Mac and Linux. Other options for non-Windows developers are to run Windows in an emulator such as Parallels, or on a virtual machine hosted in the code (Azure has suitable pre-baked images with Visual Studio), or to use third-party tools.

Visual Studio is a critical product then, but is it really done? Although you can download the final product today, many parts are not available (Project Centennial) or still in beta (ASP.NET 5 is beta 5). This is a milestone though, and credit to the team for bringing it out in advance of Windows 10 (I recall some Windows releases where Visual Studio was still in preview on release day).

Hands On: Xbox One Game Streaming to Windows 10

Xbox One Game Streaming has been switched on for all Windows 10 users and I gave it a quick try.

You need the latest Xbox app of course, as well as a wired Xbox controller (I used a 360 controller). Turn your Xbox on, run the app, make sure you are signed in with a Microsoft account that also has a profile on the console, and hit the Connect button near bottom left.


Once connected, click Test streaming to verify that you have enough bandwidth, or Stream to start streaming.

I tried Dark Souls 2. It worked pretty well, except that the screen (which is dark anyway for this particular game) was even darker over the streamed connection. With the in-game option set to maximum brightness it was playable. I did not notice any lag though there was an occasional stutter; this is over wireless though and a wired connection would be better.

While you are streaming, all the action displays on the TV connected to the console itself as well as on your PC.

Streaming only works full screen. If you are streaming and press the Windows key you get an odd effect where streaming continues in the background but the Start menu displays.


If you then run another application, the streaming pauses, but you can resume later. Or sometimes the Xbox app seems to quit. It seems best not to switch apps while streaming.

I noticed that trying to start streaming when the console is on standby does not work; you cannot wake it up. That is a shame.

Otherwise, it all works as you would expect. Although it is not as good as gaming in say the living room with what is probably your biggest screen, this is a nice feature for when that room is in use and you want to sneak off and play a game.

Satya Nadella positions Windows Phone as small PC, Microsoft retreats from Phone business

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has spoken to journalist Mary Jo Foley about the future of Windows Phone and Windows Mobile. What you read there does, I suspect, reflect heated discussions on Microsoft’s board about Windows strategy. I am guessing of course; but given the departure of Stephen Elop in June, and the cuts announced by Nadella last week, including the departure of 7,800 employees mostly from the phone business and the write-off of the value of the assets acquired from Nokia, it is likely that Elop disagreed with the new strategy.


So what is the future of Windows Phone? I suggest you read the transcript carefully because it is not clear, deliberately so. Nadella says:

We will do everything we have to do to make sure we’re making progress on phones. We have them. Even today Terry (Myerson, the head of Windows and Devices) reinforced, again, yes, we will have premium Lumias coming this year.

When then was the meaning of last week’s announcement? Mainly, it seems to me, that having acquired a phone business from Nokia, Microsoft is now dismantling it and drawing back from the phone business. Nadella tells Foley she is right to conclude that “Your phones are going to be more of like showcase devices for what Windows mobile can look like on a phone.”

He also makes a couple of other remarks. Curiously, he says that “If no OEM stands up to build Windows devices we’ll build them. There will be Lumia devices.” What if we turn that round. Let’s say OEMs do continue to build Windows phones. You get the impression that in that case, Nadella would be happy to scrap Lumia. But what constitutes building a Windows Phone? The lacklustre efforts that appeared at the launch of Windows Phone 7, slightly adapted Android phones? Or beautiful Nokia devices like the 1020 with a 40MP camera, or the elegantly crafted Lumia 830?

Nadella views Windows Mobile through a PC lens. In fact, he says that the best thing about Windows Phone is its ability to be a PC:

So when I think about our Windows Phone, I want it to stand for something like Continuum. When I say, wow, that’s an interesting approach where you can have a phone and that same phone, because of our universal platform with Continuum, and can, in fact, be a desktop.

Like most things in IT, this has been tried before. The Asus Padfone has been around for several years in various guises, the idea being that you dock your phone into the back of a tablet to give it a big screen.


It is a great gimmick but the Padfone has had limited success; most people, it seems, use phones as phones, tablets as tablets, PCs as PCs. That could change, but I doubt Continuum will rescue Windows Phone.

This also betrays a PC-centric view of Windows Phone. Hey, it looks like a phone, but it has the brains of a PC. I can certainly see uses for this kind of device, but nobody goes into a phone shop and says, “I am looking for a phone that works like my PC”.

I recapped the history of Windows Phone here. Many things need to come together to make a successful phone, including not only the OS but the hardware design, the apps, the marketing, the sales channel and the operator partnerships. Microsoft proved incapable of doing this until Nokia adopted the platform.

There are now hints that Microsoft will outsource future Lumia (if it makes them) to OEMs to build. Here is what Nadella says:

I want people to evaluate us on the phones that we produce, but not the inside baseball — what are we doing to produce — because that should not be relevant to our broad consumers.

Don’t look too closely, Nadella seems to be saying, because Microsoft might not be as closely involved in the phones it makes as it first appears.

Financially, of course, the cost involved in paying the likes of Asus or Acer to make some phones running Windows is tiny compared to the cost of operating a phone business. The results though will not be the same at all.

All about the apps

The big puzzle here is about the apps. The single biggest factor holding back Windows Phone has been lack of apps, or the inferior quality of available apps. Thus, the Nokia acquisition combined with Windows 10 universal apps seemed to based on the idea that by providing a single developer platform across Windows and Phone, Microsoft could fix the app problem and make a success of the phone by combining it with Nokia’s hardware and design expertise.

Nadella now seems to be removing the Nokia element before the app strategy has had a chance to succeed, though he re-iterates the notion of Windows 10 being beneficial to the phone:

All of this comes down to how are you going to get developers to come to Windows. If you come to Windows, you are going to be on the phone, too. Even if you want to come to Windows because of HoloLens, you want to come to it because of Xbox, you want to come to the desktop, all those get you to the phone.

Note that in reality it is not that simple. Universal Apps will run on the phone and PC, but the user interface may require considerable effort before it makes sense on both form factors. There is still a cost, for developers, in supporting both phone and PC. In fact, there is a cost even in cases where the code runs untouched, just because of the additional testing and support required.

In practice though, Nadella does not think Windows Phone makes much difference to developers:

Universal Windows apps are going to be written because you want to have those apps used on the desktop. The reason why anybody would want to write universal apps is not because of our three percent share in phones.

This shows, I think, the extent to which Nadella has given up on Windows Phone. This too is where Nadella’s leadership has diverged from that of his predecessor, Steve Ballmer. Ballmer acquired Nokia because he believed that Microsoft needed to continue bashing away at Windows Phone until it worked, because the PC is in decline and mobile is the future. Nadella has abandoned that plan because he does not think Windows Phone can ever succeed, and thinks instead that Microsoft can prosper as a device-neutral company:

We want to be in every device, not only have our application endpoints on every device. I want the identity management. It’s not MSA [Microsoft Account] alone, it’s Azure Active Directory. It is managing those devices, securing those devices in terms of data protection. These are all core capabilities that we have. … one big mistake we made in our past was to think of the PC as the hub for everything for all time to come. And today, of course, the high volume device is the six-inch phone. I acknowledge that. But to think that that’s what the future is for all time to come would be to make the same mistake we made in the past without even having the share position of the past. So that would be madness.

Microsoft then is also hoping that some future thing comes up which makes its Windows Phone failure unimportant.

I am not so sure. I think Nadella should have given the Nokia acquisition a chance to work, and the destruction of value from this acquisition saddens me. The other side of this argument is that it is better to kill something that is not working earlier rather than later. Whichever is right, Microsoft has taken the most expensive route possible, making the Nokia acquisition and then changing course.

Windows Phone puzzles: strategy, what strategy?

Today Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced that 7,800 employees will be removed “primarily in our phone business” and that the company is taking a $7.6 billion “impairment charge … related to assets associated with the acquisition of the Nokia Devices and Services business.”

Time for a quick resume of the company’s troubled mobile efforts since the introduction of Windows Phone in October 2010:

October 2010: botched launch of Windows Phone. Despite much good work in the OS and user interface, Microsoft had lacklustre support from hardware partners, and focused on the consumer when its potential strength was in business integration with Office, Exchange etc. In addition, availability was poor; after the UK launch I went down to my local town centre and not one of the 4 or 5 mobile phone shops had it on sale.

February 2011: Nokia announces that Windows Phone will be its primary smartphone OS.

October 2011: First Nokia Windows Phones appeared. Lumia 800 was a nicely designed phone in some respects, but suffered from poor battery life and some quality issues.

Nevertheless, the Nokia Windows Phones were the first ones where the manufacturer made an effort to get the best from the OS and to tailor the hardware for it. In addition, Nokia brought excellent mapping and photography expertise, so that Windows Phones began to get some standout features.

11 July 2013: Launch of Nokia Lumia 1020 with an amazing 41MP camera.

September 2013: Microsoft announces that it will acquire Nokia.

An awkward period follows before the acquisition completes. It is meant to be business as usual at Nokia but of course it is not.

February 2014: Despite some progress, Windows Phone is not getting the market share Nokia needs, so CEO Stephen Elop announces the Nokia X range, Android smartphones with Google removed and replaced by Microsoft services. A curious announcement, since why would anyone buy Nokia X? It was not because Android works better than Windows Phone on low-end hardware; vendors have told me that the reverse is true. Nor does it make sense bearing in mind the Microsoft acquisition – though it will have been in the planning stage before that was decided.

April 2014: Microsoft’s Nokia acquisition completes. Elop joins Microsoft to head up devices. As soon as July, it is obvious that Microsoft will not be continuing with Nokia X.

September 2014: Microsoft announces Windows 10. “we are delivering one application platform for our developers … Windows 10 will deliver the right experience on the right device at the right time. It will be our most comprehensive platform ever,” says Windows VP Terry Myerson.

The new universal app platform is all very well, but it means that Windows Phone is now in stasis, waiting for Windows 10 before anything much can happen to it. There is a notable lack of new high-end phones. No phone since the Lumia 1020 has had a camera of equal resolution.

At the same time, part of the point of Windows 10 is to revive the application platform across phone and PC. If you remove the phone, the Universal Windows Platform is what, PC, Xbox (mainly a games console) and HoloLens? With a few Raspberry Pis and IoT devices thrown in?

17 June 2015: Elop leaves Microsoft following an executive re-shuffle.

8 July 2015: Suspicions that Microsoft is wavering in its commitment to Windows Phone (or Windows 10 Mobile) are confirmed by the announcement of major cuts to the phone business.

A few observations

Microsoft has given Nokia little chance of success following the acquisition. It is not quite a repeat of the Kin disaster (acquisition of Danger in February 2008, a strong company wrecked by its acquirers), but there are echoes. It is only a year and three months since the acquisition completed, and the phone range is in an uncomfortable “waiting for Windows 10” phase. What did the company expect, that a Microsoft halo effect would suddenly lift sales, even without distinctive new models?

Nokia did a much better job with Windows Phone than either Microsoft or its other hardware partners. Nokia’s retail presence, operator partnerships, and marketing, were all far superior.

The main reason for the failure of Windows Phone is the lack of apps and ecosystem, and the reason for that is that Microsoft was too late to launch; iOS and, more to the point, Android, were already well entrenched. The Windows Phone OS is pretty good, and superior to the competition in some respects; apps are easier to find, for example.

Another problem is that Windows Phone has been more successful in Europe than in the USA. This means that US-centric vendors perceive that Windows Phone has an even smaller market than in fact it has.

Bearing in mind that the app story is the biggest single problem for Windows Phone vendors, and that Windows 10 is intended to address that, it is puzzling that Microsoft is now writing off the phone division before Windows 10 has launched.

Nadella writes:

I am committed to our first-party devices including phones. However, we need to focus our phone efforts in the near term while driving reinvention. We are moving from a strategy to grow a standalone phone business to a strategy to grow and create a vibrant Windows ecosystem that includes our first-party device family.

The problem is that frail market confidence in Windows Phone will be further shaken by today’s announcement. Further, if Nadella thinks that Microsoft’s trusty hardware partners will step up their game if Lumia is given less investment, than he has forgotten their dismal performance first time around.

Does Microsoft need Windows Phone?

Microsoft has been investing in Android and iOS apps since Nadella’s appointment, and it may not have a choice about whether or not it needs a mobile OS, if it cannot find a market for it.

There some strategic issues though. Microsoft itself succeeded first with Windows on the desktop, and exploited its desktop presence to drive server products that integrated with Windows and shared its user interface and operating system.

Mobile operating systems are now ascendant, and if Microsoft has little or no presence in that market, it is vulnerable to its competitors exploiting their control of the client to drive users to their own services, rather than those run by Microsoft.

Therefore it seems to me that ceding the mobile market to Apple and Google is a strategic risk.