The Spoon explains: Microsoft's Windows Phone strategy


Microsoft's exciting announcement about the Windows Phone 7 Series is the ending ceremony of one of the biggest revolutions in the mobile world.


Up until few years ago, companies like Palm and Microsoft truly believed that a smartphone is exactly like a PDA except it has a phone. It should have office capabilities, PIM, it may have some entertainment features, simple games, pictures and music, but it's mostly a working tool.

The iPhone started many revolutions, but the biggest one was the understanding that people want their phone to be something else, exciting, innovative, stylus free, fun.

For a few years Microsoft and Palm were trying to keep their old mobile operating systems relevant and competitive against the new generation of smartphones led by RIM, Apple and recently Google Android.

They failed.

Palm officially gave up last year with the release of the webOS.

Microsoft finally made a similar move few days ago with the release of Windows Phone 7 Series.

What does it mean?

It means that if you are a consumer, you want your phone to be cool, entertaining, innovative, but you probably don't need it to integrate with barcode scanners, produce invoices, run multiple enterprise grade applications in parallel etc. You want an iPhone, a Pre, and if you are a serious man you might want a BlackBerry.


On the other hand, if you are running an enterprise organization, you are probably looking for a slightly different device, with physical keyboard, a D-Pad, capabilities to run advanced tools, sometimes in parallel, with multiple options, buttons, menus, views, you need a platform that will bring a strong development model, and sometimes a rugged device.

For such requirements, by the way, Windows Mobile was (and still is) the best choice.

Microsoft (like others) understands it now.

Instead of wasting time trying to make Windows Mobile look like an iPhone by skinning the shell and hiding the usability problems but also strengths of the platform, Microsoft has decided to split forces, in favor of having 2 co-existence solutions, targeted to different audiences. Windows Phone 7 Series will fit perfectly to consumers.

Windows Mobile (now called Windows Phone Classic) returns to being a mobile OS for PDA's (or better than that: EDAs - Enterprise Digital Assistants used by field users, drivers, technicians, etc.), exactly where it belongs, close to where it started from, more than 10 years ago.


Parrotlover77 said…
I really like this strategy.  And I think you are spot on, but I would call it a 'two year plan.'

Short of any interesting announcements at MIX, it seems the longer term plan is to phase out 6.5/Classic for 7 completely.

I'm sure MS will find a way to make it right by the developers, but there are a lot of us that are concerned about the platform split being so foreign to each other.  It may make 'classic' irrelevant too soon.  Also, WP7S has no native code access to the amazingly robust and powerful Windows CE core.  I'm not sure what will end up with that.  I could honestly see MS backing off on that with maybe the understanding that time-to-market would be longer (and fees maybe more expensive) due to more extensive marketplace testing.  Who knows?

As much as I like WP7S: The Idea, I am also a bit concerned about the fact that WP7S will not be able to tap into the incredibly large back catalog of WM.  But, I guess iPhone didn't need it.  Although, honestly, Palm did.  lol.

We'll see.

My ideal outcome would be as follows where Windows Phone 7 Series has two pieces.

1. 'Zune' Phone - What we saw with the brand new silverlight UI and integrated Zune, etc.  All the consumer WOW whizbang and even some pretty cool Enterprise Junior features -- like that very intriguing screenshot where OneNote hangs ominously on the screen.

2. 'Classic' Phone - What we know as Windows Phone 6.5, BUT -- and this is a BIG but -- upgraded to CE 6 as the underlying engine, so we no longer have to deal with the limitations of CE 5 (process limit, memory per process limit, etc.), and the instability caused by the fact that it doesn't have rigorous as memory protection as CE 6.

I can dream, but WP 6.5 ontop of CE 6 would be a very, very powerful and stable non-sandboxed portable computing platform in phone shape.  :)
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