Microsoft’s long awaited Windows Phone 7 OS should be hitting the market in late 2010.
Windows Phone 7 is the latest offering from Microsoft in their bid to get into the smartphone market in earnest, and appears to be a legitimate challenger. The new OS features a completely revamped look from previous Windows Mobile versions, which is certainly a good thing. Early reviews also indicate the touch screen is very accurate and responsive, no small thing considering it will have to go head-to-head with the iPhone 4’s vaunted touch screen.
Whether or not Microsoft can overcome the mistakes of their past will be the biggest factor in determining their success with Windows Phone 7. Many have suggested that people will simply not buy a Microsoft phone. However, outside of Apple users, there is no anti-Microsoft sentiment among general consumers, Microsoft just has not made any devices consumers want to buy.
A great deal of this stems from what have always been very clunky software offerings from Microsoft up to this point. Try searching a web page for something on a Samsung Blackjack II, or copying and pasting text, and you will find yourself frustratingly unable to do so. The email systems have generally been horribly inefficient and the browsers have been nearly featureless. They have also had a complete lack of efficient phone shortcuts, something far more necessary than most people realize.
Shortcuts are a big reason why RIM, for example, has done so well. It is extremely easy to perform most operations on a Blackberry, with multiple ways to perform every operation, and the same goes for Android and iPhone. If Microsoft can bring their extensive use of shortcuts over from their massively successful Windows PC software, it would go a long way in bringing them back to relevance in the mobile market.
Microsoft is not without its successes though, the aforementioned Blackjack II for example, had Adobe Flash player available over two years ago, something Blackberry and iPhone still do not have. This is a company that has led the market in computer operating systems for two decades, they have profits that are the envy of everyone, and they have the talent pool to match. Their biggest problem is that it will take near perfection to break into this market.
Another thing that would go a long way in attracting customers would be to offer more peripheral services, like RIM’s famous email system, or Apple’s iTunes. Microsoft seems to have taken a step in that direction this week, announcing the ability to link up to your Xbox 360 account and play games.
The iPhone is positively brilliant, Android and Blackberry are too, the distance separating them is almost non-existent. When one company makes a mistake, like Apple’s iPhone 4 problems or RIM’s issues with melding their business and consumer interests, the other companies are quick to step in and steal a bit of market share. Because of this, Microsoft is going to have to offer something people can’t already get from the more established competitors, and they are going to have to be nearly flawless in their execution. Neither task is an easy one to accomplish.
Microsoft released a list of partners that will produce the phone at the end of last month, including Samsung, LG, Dell, and Android success story HTC. Making sure their software only gets shipped on well made phones would go a long way in getting them some credibility. Shipping an underpowered or poorly made piece of hardware is a sure way to kill any momentum the OS is able to build, as problems with the hardware will, at least in part, be blamed on the operating system.
The software giant has an uphill battle against industry heavyweights Apple, Android, and Blackberry, but if any company is up to the challenge it is Microsoft. They have not yet been able to find the kind of success they are used to seeing in other industries, but seven may just be their lucky number.