How Microsoft Got its Groove Back(?)

So everyone is talking about the news from Barcelona: Microsoft is flirting with relevance again in the mobile space.

How? By burning the house down, throwing the baby out with the bath-water or any other cliche that describes them abandoning their ancient, god-awful legacy-ware that was Windows Mobile. Although the ‘Softies are keeping WinMo 6.x for enterprise which makes no sense to me, because it will eventually drive enterprise users–WinMo’s bread and butter–to a more modern platform. But regardless, the real news is that about three years too late, Microsoft seems to actually get what consumers want. Not a stylus, not an unresponsive resistive screen, no ridiculous start button.
I’ll reserve final  judgment on Windows until I get to use it, but right away I have three comments that I can’t hold in.
  • Why even call it “Windows”? Microsoft acknowledged today that the way you interact with a mobile device is wholly different than how you use a PC. I agree with this and that was a huge problem with how Windows Mobile of old was set up (and it reinforced what we’ll call the “stylus paradigm”). So if Series 7 is not a shrunken version of Windows, but a separate Microsoft product, why call it Windows Phone Series 7? Does Microsoft really want to associate itself with WinMo 6.5 and below? Why not call it something else, like Microsoft SuperDuper Phone 1.0?
  • Execution and timing. Yes Series 7 does look impressive. But that is compared to Android 2.0 and iPhone OS 3.2. I haven’t heard anyone say Series 7 trumps either of those current OSes, and by the time it is actually released (in time for the holidays 2010), it will be measured against Android 2.x and iPhone 4.0. Also, Microsoft has been known to miss ship deadlines. Often. This is why Apple doesn’t announce products earlier than they have to–it builds expectations for ship dates, tips your hand to the competition and the product is stale by the time people are finally able to purchase.
  • No Mac support. Really, Microsoft? This may change eventually, or even by shipping date, but seriously, Microsoft? Swallow your pride, and let the cool kids buy your products if they want to. Like when you finally acknowledged that the Zune should have “PODcast” support.

But, these concerns not withstanding, if the mobile world wasn’t exciting enough, it just got excitinger. So sit back with a bag of crisps (UK readers only) and enjoy the show.

3 Responses to How Microsoft Got its Groove Back(?)

  1. Stuart Bruce February 16, 2010 at 8:42 am #

    Personally I don't get this anti-stylus brigade. What I want is a CHOICE. A stylus is an efficient and neat way to work, it's like a pen so it's natural. I want to move precisely and swiftly from one screen to the next, one at a time. I don't want the demented swooping backwards and forwards you get on the iPhone. It just isn't intuitive. Also the whole Windows and start button issue makes it incredibily easy to use. If you can already use a Windows PC you can guess how to use the phone. Other OSs have a steeper learning curve. The rest of Windows 7 looks exciting, but I'm concerned about the divergence of enterprise and personal. That's not the way the world is moving as people's personal and professional lives become more and more intertwined.

  2. Michael Selvidge February 17, 2010 at 6:50 am #

    Well, as far as the stylus goes, different strokes for different folks I guess. But you bring up a good point about enterprise. Is MSFT just throwing in the towel by saying they'll keep 6.x alive for enterprise? I mean are they really going to keep updating that ancient platform for business users?

    MSFT seem to be aiming straight for consumers with Series 7, are business users going to stick with 6.x, or will they just go BlackBerry?

  3. Ewan February 17, 2010 at 8:04 am #

    It's not exactly a glowing vote of confidence for the future of 'business Windows Mobile' is it?

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