It is good to appreciate Microsoft and the windows phone 7 seeming anomalous marketing. It’s no one’s secret that windows mobile phones have been doing badly in sales as of recent. With the advent of the iphone and android in the mobile phone world, the fortunes of the windows mobile have been dwindling even further.
To understand Microsoft’s policy of appraising itself competitively against these behemoth “foes” you need to appreciate the diametrically opposing world of the Google Android Smartphone and the Apple iphone. One is closed and the other is open source. One has defined offering and quality assured products throughout the retail units of their mobile devices while the other have a powerful OS but ubiquitous mobile products.
Apple feels that users should have the same user interface on their device. This OS can be thus used across similar devices as part of a large ecosystem of Apple products. On the other hand, Android provides a solid open-source approach to their powerful Smartphone line-up, and many manufacturers are allowed to alter them and use them at their will.
You see in some instance, Samsung, HTC and even Acer, adding their own UI on top of the Android OS. So, when you buy an android product, you cannot predict to 100% accuracy what you get in terms of functionality or user interface. A Samsung Android phone may be different in operability from a Samsung or Motorola’s Android device. Even an android application that runs well in a HTC phone for instance may fail to launch on a Motorola Android phone. Perhaps Microsoft wants to avoid this!
Now, Microsoft wants to regulate and strictly enforce a minimum standard for their windows phone 7. They want to use the model depicted above for the Apple iphone into their Windows Phone 7 series. They want to have a closed ecosystem complete with even an apps store known as the windows phone 7 market place, where you can buy monitored apps, analogous to the Apple apps store format.
They want a situation in which if you buy a windows phone from Samsung in Lagos, Nigeria and buy another windows phone from HTC in the UK, You will have the same user experience and you can predict the UI, functionality and similar apps would run in both phones impeccably.
One of the problems facing the windows mobile is the same that may lurk out at the Android platform later on. This is an inherent problem in open source OS, which is a lack of standardization. And possibly, universality. With this new approach by Microsoft, they intend to bring about uniformity in their products and perhaps they will ensure a quality assurance too.
When you buy a windows mobile phone you are sure of the minimum RAM (256 MB), in built Memory (of at least 8GB), No removeable memory card, One of the three hard ware requirements and possibly upgradeable OS via later firmwares. There is also a quality regulated application store, where apps from third party manufacturers are scrutinized and approved ala Apple apps store format. Microsoft even promises a more open approach to its apps store.
This system also serves their enterprise partners well. There is nothing better than consistency in their Business enterprise users. Their core business enterprise users will have a choice of different manufacturers and third party applications with the assurance that they will get a single OS, the same UI, and apps interoperability, no matter the source of the Windows Phone 7 series.
This attempt by Microsoft to revamp its OS is not without criticism albeit forthrightly. For one, it is not all about updating and repositioning, but taking into account the preferences of their users and customers.
This new policy has its controversies because Microsoft in their zeal to bring about their new OS, have dived headlong into it, and have ignored some of the mistakes of their arch rival, Apple. For the sake of simplicity this will be enumerated below:
1. No multi-tasking at launch. Microsoft does not want to include multi tasking ab initio in the WMP 7 so as to emulate this function of the iphone and for simplicity. Whether it is to improve battery life or just for a simple interface, no official reasons were given in the MIX event. Not long ago, the Apple iphone was criticized for lack of multi-tasking and from the intensity of this it was clear that users love this feature. Why Microsoft should ignore such as an astounding feature seems difficult to appreciate.
2. No removeable memory card. This is self explanatory.
3. No copy and paste; even the iphone corrected this shortcoming in their OS 3.0. update.
4. No flash in browser; The lack of flash baffles me. In fact they were able to put silverlight (Microsoft version of Flash) in the OS and UI but exclude it in the most important area that mattered which was the mobile internet browser.
5. Tightly regulated Apps store; this may serve as a strength as well as weakness. The Apple apps store has been criticized for its lack of openness. Let us see if that would not be the case with WMP 7 marketplace.
6. The closed environment or ecosystem; There are many people who love the Apple closed system. Others prefer openness and carrier/ manufacturers configurability of an existing OS. That is why the likes of IG (with due respect) will prefer to jailbreak their iphone to get an increased user-configurability. But whatever model you choose, the most important thing a user may prefer may be quality assurance and similar User interface and ease of use in all the Operating systems of one product.
You do not have to start learning again and mastering the User interface of an android phone or a windows mobile phone each time you change a Manufacturer. I, myself prefer a closed but quality assured user interface. Like the PC Windows 7 for instance. It is closed for instance, yet accepts so many third party software/applications.
Whether you buy windows 7 from Dell or Acer or HP, you know what you’ve bought. It has a single OS and UI in all and similar software will run similarly in all three manufacturers. Perhaps that is what Microsoft is after. But then, they should not starve the OS of features!
New devices running WMP 7 would not be out until the “Holidays”. Perhaps it is too early to tell if Microsoft has a winner in its hands. But suffice to say that their policy has merits and demerits. Microsoft has created an easy to use platform, and also removed the lackluster UI of windows mobile. They want to attempt to create a successful mobile model in line with their PC OS model.
The WMP OS is simple enough and allows developers to make good thirdparty applications. The iPhone was criticized before but they have gradually improved their features and are still improving and selling in droves. Perhaps Microsoft will tow the same line if it has a compelling and fluid UI like the iphone.
The taste of the pudding is in the eating, and perhaps we should just wait and see how all this turn out. What will surely help Microsoft will be further improvement of features with subsequent firmware or OS update. If their policy is well thought out, and if they offer accompanying compatible customer support, we just might have a winner in our hands.