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Sorting Out Windows Phone 7

Never count Microsoft out. We've said it here many times before, and partners know what we're talking about. Sure, Redmond slipped big time with Vista, but Windows 7 looks like a winner. Yeah, Microsoft had a few rough financial quarters, but its last earnings report was pretty spectacular. Again and again, pundits want to write Microsoft off, to say that the Redmond giant is on its last legs.

It's happening now with Windows Mobile (including in this space, sometimes)--or, at least, it was until Microsoft started talking about Windows Phone 7. Now, the Web is spinning about the new operating system that could put Microsoft right back in the exploding mobile game. Windows Phone 7 has some intriguing characteristics, which should differentiate it from the much-maligned Windows Mobile 6.5 (which, by the way, will live on post-Windows Phone 7), as well as help Microsoft stand out in a crowded mobile OS market place.

But the forthcoming OS has done more than just catch the attention of market-share watchers and gadget freaks. It has also cranked up a nice little rumor mill, with speculation that it might be in Microsoft's best interest to buy Palm, or, quite to the contrary, that Microsoft is heading down a path similar to the one that has led Palm to near disaster.

And then there are the inevitable conflicts and problems with third parties, the first of which has occurred with Mozilla. Firefox for Windows Mobile is in a coma at best and dead at worst, meaning Microsoft has already managed to tick off one developer with Windows Phone 7 and might be on the way to angering a few more. That's not unusual, though, and it has rarely hurt Microsoft in the past. Plenty of third parties will want to jump on the Windows Phone 7 bandwagon if the platform is even mildly successful. Plus, Microsoft does have a browser of its own (or so we hear...).

So, there's a lot to think about and observe with Windows Phone 7, but we at RCPU know this much: Microsoft has historically been pretty darn good at selling operating systems. And if the company and its partners are making Windows Phone 7 a real priority--and we think they are--then we're not ready to count Microsoft out in the mobile OS market. Windows Phone 7 might never be ubiquitous the way Windows XP is (and Windows 7 will be) given Microsoft's current position in the market and the competitors the company faces, but is it safe for partners to invest in Windows Phone 7? We're thinking that it is safe--and probably smart, too.

What do you want to see from Windows Phone 7? How successful do you think it will be? Answer at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 03/25/2010 at 1:22 PM


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