Mobile Windows – too little, too late
Yesterday saw the much trumpeted launch of Windows Mobile 7, the latest attempt by Microsoft to break into the mobile phone marketplace. A lot has happened since its initial release over 10 years ago, but not a lot of it has been positive for Microsoft. The advent of the iPhone, Blackberry and latterly Android have firmly pushed Redmond’s OS down the pecking order for both consumers and phone manufacturers.
And while Windows Mobile 7 has had a generally good reception from press and analysts, I think it is a case of too little, too late for Microsoft and mobile. I honestly just don’t see why anyone would get a Microsoft-powered phone in this day and age. Here’s the top five reasons in my opinion why Microsoft hasn’t succeeded in mobile:
I was an early Windows Mobile adopter, but at the time there was no iPhone, no Android and Blackberries were expensive and totally aimed at the business market. So if you wanted a cheap smartphone, Windows Mobile was the logical choice. But (as Symbian has also found) the mobile world has changed and Microsoft didn’t adapt quickly enough.
The original Windows Mobile came from the PDA market (remember those?) so was stylus driven, involving poking a pen-like bit of metal at a relatively tiny screen and hoping you hit the right indistinct icon. Things have improved and Windows 7 Mobile has got a touchscreen, but it has taken too long.
There’s an app for that – well there is if you have an iPhone or Google Android-powered device. In contrast Windows Mobile apps split into those created in a garage with dodgy quality assurance and rather tedious business applications. Not many people buy a mobile phone solely to use Word…….
4) User (un)friendliness
My two year old can use my iPhone (potentially worrying as I watch him flicking through screens) but it doesn’t take a PhD or 1,000 page manual to access the features within it. In contrast Windows Mobile was painful to understand and use. Essentially similar to Windows itself. But the difference is that while Windows is pretty much compulsory on the business PC, in mobile people have a choice.
Previous versions of Windows Mobile had versions of Microsoft Office apps, while Apple had the entertainment power of iTunes. Which would you rather have? Microsoft has now woken up to this and Mobile 7 has music through Zune and you can play special versions of Xbox Live games. Smarter thinking, but how has it taken this long to include fun stuff on the phone?
Windows Mobile 7 looks like a nice, feature-rich operating system. If it had been launched five years ago then Redmond would be sitting in the pound seats. As it is with six previous failed attempts from Microsoft to go mobile, I can’t see this being seventh time lucky……….