ITProPortal spent the afternoon with Microsoft, attending its pre-Mobile World Congress press conference.
Joe Belfiore, the corporate VP and manager for the firm's Windows Phone Program Management division, took the stage, and shed plenty of light on the company's Windows strategy.
The main theme of Belfiore's speech was the way in which the Windows platform has improved across multiple devices over the last year or so. Not long ago, Microsoft released the Windows 8 operating system, which Belfiore described as "a significant update" designed to "acknowledge significant changes in the market."
To date, Windows 8 (and 8.1) holds a larger market share than all versions of OS X and attracts over four million app downloads from the Windows Store every day. Interestingly, around 40 per cent of Windows 8-running devices sold in the US are now touch-enabled, which has caused Microsoft to rethink its strategy, according to Belfiore.
He said that consumers using Windows 8 on touch-enabled devices are generally more satisfied than those running the software on non-touch products. To address this, Microsoft is bringing an update to Windows 8.1, which will roll out later this spring.
It is designed to improve the non-touch experience, allow cheaper, more flexible hardware options and improve compatibility and management in education and the enterprise. However, this does not mean that Microsoft is going to ignore touch users. "We love touch," maintained Belfiore, adding that Microsoft wants to "keep the value of the touch experience" while improving the situation for everybody else.
Similarly, Belfiore claimed that Windows Phone has had an impressive year, dubbing it "the year we ate our vegetables." He said that 2013 was about getting Windows Phone recognised around the world, before increasing its user base. The Lumia 520 was apparently key to this improvement, helping to generate 758 per cent year-on-year growth across the Middle-East and Africa, and 148 per cent growth in Latin America.
Windows Phone now has at least a 10 per cent share of six different markets, and outsold the iPhone in 10.
Belfiore also promised a major update to Windows Phone - again coming later this spring - which will aim to attract the enterprise, expand the ecosystem and lower overall device price-points. Finally, he offered a short teaser of Facebook Messenger, which will making its way over to Windows Phone within the next few weeks. Facebook recently acquired WhatsApp in a mammoth $19 billion deal, so this could be an app to keep an eye out for.
Dual-SIM Windows Phone devices are also coming soon.