Monday, February 15, 2010
Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone Software" @ 07:00 AM
"Today at Mobile World Congress 2010, Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled the next generation of Windows® Phones, Windows Phone 7 Series. With this new platform, Microsoft offers a fresh approach to phone software, distinguished by smart design and truly integrated experiences that bring to the surface the content people care about from the Web and applications. For the first time ever, Microsoft will bring together Xbox LIVE games and the Zune music and video experience on a mobile phone, exclusively on Windows Phone 7 Series. Partners have already started building phones; customers will be able to purchase the first phones in stores by holiday 2010."
It's here. It's finally, really, truly here: Windows Phone 7. To say that this has been a long time coming would be a severe understatement. In fact, it's been such a long time coming that I'm unsure of how to even frame my feelings about it finally being announced. It was 2004 when I first saw conceptual screen shots for what was then code-named "Photon". Year after year, MVP Summit after MVP Summit, and Mobius event after Mobius event, I was shown screen shots, Flash demos, and even live code running on devices, of a truly next-generation user interface and operating system. This operating system was supposed to be fast, fluid, finger-friendly, and have features that nothing else on the market had at the time. It was originally supposed to be released in 2006 - and here we are, four years later, and it's only finally coming to fruition and won't be on devices until the end of the year.
The question of "What took so long?" is a complex one that I'm ill-qualified to answer in a post such as this. Looking back over the years, I think it comes down to one thing: leadership. Microsoft is full of smart people, but unless those smart people are led in the proper fashion, things aren't going to get done. I believe Microsoft had a great vision for mobile devices from 1997 to 2003, when their operating system evolved rapidly from the very first greyscale HPC's (Windows CE and a Velo 1 was a great combo back then) to powerful Pocket PCs. They seemed to have a vision for moving forward with innovation...then something happened.
At the time, the overall market was nascent, and more focused on PDAs that mobile phones. Microsoft had Palm in their sights for years, and made massive progress against Palm in the market. The market, however, shifted to mobile phones, and competitors such as RIM, Nokia, and Apple got to market with compelling products while Microsoft floundered, seemingly unable to move forward with anything competitive. Windows Mobile certainly has some great advantages - the chief among them being choice of hardware designs and the flexibility of the operating systems - but over the past few years those have become disadvantages as the platform fragmented and lost momentum. Will Windows Phone 7 herald a return to the glory days, or will it be Microsoft's last attempt at a mobile operating system? Only time will tell. Read more...