Robert’s Ramblings

Robert Alonso’s Thoughts on Technology and More…

Archive for February, 2009

February-27-09

Touch a Windows Phone

Posted by Robert Alonso under Opinions, Software

Microsoft announced a new version of its Windows Mobile smartphone operating system last week in Barcelona, Spain. The new software will be rebranded to be “Windows Phone” and will feature a revamped user interface that is touch driven. The changes to the operating system, the addition of touchscreen support, a new Windows Marketplace for Mobile and a data syncing and backup service called, “My Phone,” should make Microsoft competitive again. If not competitive, at least it will help it catch up with the iPhone features set as of this writing. 

Early reports are that the user interface is superb and resembles the user interface in the Zune. Unfortunately, the user interface will lack the multi-touch features found on the iPhone.  This will have the anti-PC crowd snickering.  Even Microsoft supporters, like myself, think that the omission of multi-touch is a serious deficiency. After owning and using over half a dozen Windows Mobile phones, I am an iPhone convert. It would take an amazing improvement to Microsoft’s software and its partners’ hardware for me to even consider switching back.

Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s MobileMe service is currently being tested. It is a free service that they are calling “My Phone.” The company has an opportunity to beat Apple with this service. It is supposed to offer backups of contacts and photos onto Microsoft servers.

In other related news, Microsoft announced that LG Electronics will be putting the new Windows Phone software on 50 of its smartphones. This should help Microsoft establish this new version (6.5) of Windows Mobile. Microsoft currently trails Symbian and Research in Motion, but is ahead of Apple’s iPhone in terms of smartphone market share.

Although these moves may make Microsoft more competitive and help it maintain or gain market share, it really needs a new game changing user interface and hardware combination. Playing catch-up  is not the way Apple rocketed from no market share to fourth place. Apple’s game changing iPhone is arguably in first place in terms of “cool” factor, ease of use and momentum.

We’ll see soon enough what effect the new software and relationship with LG will have, but I believe that Microsoft needs to stop designing software in number increments. It needs to set up mini-Microsofts with creative designers and programmers to create new, innovative products outside of the myopic vision of the parent behemoth.

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