When it comes to tablets and smartphones, most consumers avoid Windows.
On Wednesday, Microsoft hopes to drum up excitement over Windows 10, the new version of the operating system, which comes out later this year. The company plans to show off its consumer features, including how it will play on phones and tablets, at its Redmond campus. It already has demonstrated the desktop version of Windows 10 and released an early preview version.
The stakes for Microsoft and its chief executive, Satya Nadella, are high. It is a major test of his influence on a flagship product which contributed nearly 25 percent of the company’s revenues in fiscal 2013, the last year in which the company separately reported revenues for the operating system.
The last big overhaul of Microsoft’s operating system, Windows 8, left consumers and corporate buyers cold. The software delivered a user experience based on touch — an approach that worked well on tablets, but failed to catch on with desktop users who rely on a keyboard and mouse. Many corporate buyers avoided the upgrade and continued to use older versions of the OS.
“Microsoft swung for the fences and struck out with Windows 8,” said FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives.
Windows 10 represents a do-over. It will return some of the features that Windows users have grown accustomed to since the days of Windows 95, such as the Start menu. It also will introduce a single operating system for desktops, tablets and phones — though the software will be adapted for screen size and device capability.
Microsoft previewed some enterprise features of the new operating system at a September event in San Francisco, in hopes of getting back on the good graces of corporate buyers. Early reaction seems to be positive, based on the comments chief information officers gave to TechRepublic.
“They’re relieved,” said Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy.
If Windows 10 gains a foothold in the office, Microsoft is hoping that also might translate to success with consumers who are exposed to the software every workday. But it’s a long leap from the cubicle to a consumer’s pocket.
The most recent figures from IDC show Microsoft holds a less than 3 percent share of the smartphone market that is dominated by two mobile operating systems, Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.
“Microsoft’s core business around PCs and selling PC operating systems … is not at risk. That part of the market is pretty safe,” said Al Gillen, a systems and software analyst with IDC. “What’s at risk for Microsoft is their ability to be relevant in devices that are not PCs.”
Microsoft’s paltry smartphone marketshare has limited the number of developers willing to devote resources to create apps for Windows phones — which, in turn, hurts the appeal of the devices. It bought Nokia’s handset business last year for more than $7 billion in an effort to improve its standing. Windows 10 is an attempt to eliminate another hurdle, by creating a uniform environment that allows third parties app-makers to “develop once, and deploy everywhere — with relatively minor tuning for the device,” said Gillen.
This new version of Microsoft’s well-known software sets the stage for Nadella to move the company from one focused on the desktop to one anchored in the cloud, and delivering a consistent experience across multiple devices.
“This provides the gateway or bridge for Microsoft to go from that traditional PC-focused legacy company to one that’s more cloud-centric and cross-platform,” Ives aid. “Ultimately [that] could help bridge the divide between consumer and enterprise for Microsoft.”
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.