Windows Phone 7 and the Lost Generation

Carl Weinschenk

There always is a tremendous amount of interest in what Microsoft does. Indeed, things seem to be even more interesting in the mobile space, where it isn't the dominant force it is on the desktop.

The latest area of interest, of course, is Windows Phone 7. While an ABI analyst quoted in this Bloomberg piece, which was posted at BusinessWeek, says though Microsoft has paid developers to write mobile apps in the past, it seems like a particularly bad sign in an era in which Android-based devices, the iPhone and iPad family and other operating systems are so hot and attractive to the development community.

Indeed, the overall tone of the story seems a bit pessimistic. CEO Steve Ballmer's comment, posted in this story and elsewhere, that Microsoft has "missed a generation" with its mobile phones doesn't make the point that the generation that was missed may be the one that makes or breaks the mobile phone business for a generation or more.

InformationWeek blogger Ed Hansberry, also commenting on Ballmer's remarks at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference, observed that the company fell victim to the same mistakes Palm made with its PDAs a few years ago-and which played to Microsoft's advantage. Hansberry concludes, however, that he thinks Microsoft will end up making a better showing with Window Phone 7 than it did with the Kin.

Ars Technica provides deeper details on Windows Phone 7, including confirmation that it will require Windows Live ID and feature the new Windows Phone Live service. The story says this is a cloud-based online repository-it will access 25GB of SkyDrive storage, the story says -- and management service for photo albums, OneNote notebooks, calendars and other content. A service called Find My Phone also will be part of Windows Phone Live. The writer points out that similar, but not identical, services are offered to users of existing Windows Mobile devices through the My Phone service.

The evolution of Windows Phone 7 will be interesting. It is raising eyebrows, for instance, with the news that it won't offer multitasking. The bottom line is whether the might of Microsoft, the ability to align the new OS closely with its desktop universe, and the features it will offer are going to be enough to make up for areas in which it falls short-and for the head start enjoyed by the other mobile platforms.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jul 14, 2010 5:11 AM Janis Janis  says:

Everything points towards Windows Phone 7 failing in the market.

Microsoft should not need to pay people to develop apps. It just shows the world that developers don't want to create apps for Windows Phone 7. There is no natural app ecosystem.

Microsoft's payments to developers shows it is desperate and in panic mode about Windows Phone 7.

Windows Phone 7 is late to market. The time factor is its biggest enemy. When it is released in October, it will be missing many vital features, such as Cut 'n' Paste. It won't be as good as the more mature Android and iPhone. Windows Phone 7 also won't work on slates (tiny web tablets), a market that Android and iPhone (iPad) will have to themselves.

I expect Microsoft to exit the mobile business in 2011.

Jul 14, 2010 6:16 AM Jesse Jesse  says: in response to Janis

Paying for wares that users want is an age old business model. Microsoft wants some of the apps that are currently on competitors platforms so they are making a business push to get them. It should be applauded, not vice versa. I sure wish Android would do the same..

Jul 22, 2010 10:20 AM Ron Ron  says: in response to Janis

I think it's naive to count Phone 7 out. While Microsoft has certainly had their share of missteps, let's not forget that this is the company responsible for the proliferation of home computers and still vastly in control of personal computing. Apple also has had it's share of misteps and I believe it is poised to make another. The cool factor only goes so far and the tremendous sales of Droid prove that not everyone is  an Apple fanboy. The Zune HD interface is amazingly intuitive and the Phone 7 continues where it leaves off. Zune pass is an amazing bargain and having Zune on my phone is what I've been waiting for. I think detractors will have to eat their words on this one.


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