Terry Myerson is Windows Phone’s leading man. Though he didn’t appear onstage during Monday’s launch event in San Francisco, the Windows Phone VP has been in charge of the overarching strategy for Microsoft’s smartphone OS for nearly a year. Prior to that, he led all engineering efforts since the launch of Windows Phone 7.
Two years after Windows Phone 7 debuted, it still resides beneath Android, iOS, Blackberry and even Symbian in total users. Myerson sat down with Wired just after Windows Phone 8 launch event to talk about why he thinks the latest OS will change this.
Wired: Windows Phone 7 launched two years ago, and right now Windows Phone has about a 4 percent market share. How is Windows Phone 8 going to move those numbers?
Terry Myerson: I think there are five things coming together right now to make it a really special time.
We’ve always had this unique point of view that a phone could be such a personal device for the owner, and now with Windows Phone 8 we have what we think is the most personal smartphone ever.
We have the best support we’ve ever had from our OEMs. The devices which our partners have created are just fantastic. These are killer devices.
The third thing is the support and teamwork we have going on with our carrier partners. Today, we showed how these carriers range in so many Windows Phones at such great price points. And they will soon have their retail experience come to fruition there.
Steve talked about how we’re going to advertise Windows Phone. We’ve been kind of quiet; we haven’t told the Windows Phone story to consumers yet. The commitment to do that is exciting.
Last but definitely not least, the fifth thing is that Windows 8 is also available now, where you have an experience that is familiar across all of these devices. These devices work together with incredible photo, music, and gaming experiences. It’s just clear that Windows Phone is the best phone for Windows users. So you have these five things coming together right now, which has not been true up to this point.
Wired: How do you see the relationship between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8?
Myerson: It’s our expectation that there will be hundreds of millions of Windows 8 PCs around the world, and that makes the Windows experience familiar to all of those users. The fact that there are so many truly great consumer scenarios for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 users — obviously that’s great for Windows Phone.
Wired: What kind of scenarios?
Myerson: How you can take a picture on a Windows Phone and it’s automatically stored to SkyDrive in full resolution and never deleted from your SkyDrive. Or the Office scenario Joe talked about today where Office documents and notes you take on phones are automatically available on the PC. You even have the convenience — it’s a little magical thing — you start flipping through Powerpoint slides on PCs and you open it up on a phone and it actually starts in the same place. It’s one of those little delighters that crosses platforms and shows the magic of these things working together.
Wired: Joe said that Windows Phone now has 46 out of the 50 top apps. What are the four missing apps? And what do you say to the people who depend on those apps?
Myerson: I don’t really want to focus on the four that haven’t made it to Windows Phone. [Ed note: Wired learned that the four missing apps are Instagram, Pinterest, Wells Fargo and Viber.] Certainly we will continue to work with all app developers. We have a developer conference tomorrow where we work with developers from around the world to bring their applications to Windows Phone. And in many cases that’s about the long tail of applications. And we’ll continue to partner with the big branded ones.
Wired: The launch is a bit confusing with the phones being released on different days on different carriers. Why didn’t Microsoft make sure all the phones hit on the same day across all carriers?
Myerson: Well, they are all available within one month. Every carrier has its own marketing plan, and every OEM has its own launch-marketing plan, and that’s part of our goal — to enable the businesses of our partners and provide a diversity of options. I think being available in one month before Black Friday holiday shopping is good. It’s not precise on a date, but it’s a reflection of our point of view — that diversity is good, but there’s got to be structure to it.
Wired: How do you see Windows Phone fitting into a market dominated by Android and iPhone?
Myerson: Android to me is confusing. It doesn’t respect the privacy of its users, doesn’t respect the safety of its users by not testing for malware in the marketplace. It’s chaos, from a consumer perspective. Apple has one “this is what a smartphone is” option. It’s their way or the highway, and that is Apple. We believe the smartphone should be a very personal device. Everyone is different, and we want to allow the unique attributes to reflect in the hardware and experiences in the device, while at the same time respecting the privacy and the safety of the users.
Wired: Do you have any expectations in terms of Windows Phone 8′s impact? How many people do you want to get on Windows Phones?
Wired: Steve Ballmer has said that Microsoft is going to make more hardware beyond the Surface tablet. It’s not hard to imagine that the next thing would be a phone. Is this coming?
Myerson: I’m just a big believer in our hardware partners. I think that these devices are beautiful, and I am just very focused on launching Windows Phone with them right now. These guys have done a good job.
Wired: What about retail? Nokia says that it’s going to invest heavily there.
Myerson: At the end of the day, we can generate awareness through our advertising — we can generate knowledge about our point of view — but the experience in the store is critical.
Wired: How is that going to play out with all the phones in the Microsoft Stores?
Myerson: Microsoft Stores are an important showcase for us. I don’t know the precise numbers, but I believe there are approximately 5,000 phone carrier stores in the United States. And we have only 65 Microsoft stores. The Microsoft Stores play an important role in terms of having PCs and Xboxes and phones out there, showing how they work together in one great ecosystem. But I think over 80 percent of phones are purchased in one of those 5,000-plus phone stores, so that retail experience is critical.
Wired: What’s the next step?
Myerson: The next step for us are all those retail launches around the world. From a marketing standpoint that’s what we’re focused on. From an engineering standpoint we’re focused on the next platform.
The above interview has been edited for clarity and length.