When it comes to app development and support, there’s little question that major software players have to channel resources where it makes sense for the best return on their investment. This generally means supporting their core offerings on platforms that will drive the most volume or have the largest install base footprint. This goes almost without saying except for one caveat; you also don’t want to miss opportunities in the market as new disruptive platforms evolve, so it’s critical to stay ahead of the technology curve as well. It is with respect to this equally-important dynamic that I am thoroughly perplexed at the glaring omissions from some of the key software developers in support of Snapdragon powered Windows devices and the Windows on ARM ecosystem in general. Further, if Microsoft’s new Surface Pro X doesn’t speak to critical mass and commitment to the platform, I’m not sure what does. Native app support is obviously crucial for an optimized end user experience and the evolution of a new platform but apparently we’re not quite there yet for a few key software players.

So what gives Adobe, Slack, Dropbox? And heck, while we’re at it, let’s throw some very popular mainstream, graphically-efficient game titles like Fortnite into the mix as well. The writing is on the wall with respect to Windows on Snapdragon and its always-connected, highly power-efficient advantages. However, one of the key sticking points in the early reviews of devices like Microsoft’s Surface Pro X and other Snapdragon-powered machines, like the Lenovo Yoga C630, is the lack of full support by a few key apps beyond just Microsoft Office. And why are these major software as a service subscription plays, like cloud storage from Dropbox and other popular subscription model apps like Adobe Creative Cloud, late to the party? Microsoft has been vocal about the fact that Adobe is going to bring a native 64-bit ARM version of Creative Cloud but there’s no committed timeline for it yet. Meanwhile, Dropbox will install on the platform but currently has limited functionality.

Are we not going to be even more hyper-connected in the days ahead, with the vigorous roll-out of 5G? I’m scratching my head at the missed opportunity and short-sightedness here.

Microsoft, Samsung, Lenovo, HP and others have all demonstrated Windows on Snapdragon platform commitment. The Surface Pro X is a fantastic looking 2-in-1 convertible that will undoubtedly be very attractive to mainstream consumers at its price point, with integrated LTE, a touch screen and stylus pen support. However, if the apps aren’t there to complete the experience and provide critical tools, we’re all going to miss out, not just Microsoft.

It’s surprising to me that software is trailing the hardware in the always-connected PC space. It’s typically the other way around, as hardware designers hustle to enable new devices and experiences that bring the software to life. It’s also inexcusable, in my view. It’s not trivial, obviously, but if Microsoft can get its entire OS ecosystem behind a new, promising technology that will give consumers new options in the marketplace, then popular 3rd party app developers should be able to do the same.

Would I go so far as to say that the bigger players like Adobe, Slack Technologies and Dropbox are stifling innovation? Yes, indeed, I would. Let’s fix this, soon.

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