With the impressive launch of Windows Phone 7 today, Microsoft made it clear that after several years of fading from the back of the pack, the company is back in the race. The question is whether it is the right race.
The new Windows phone at least gives Microsoft a chance to run with Apple, Android, and BlackBerry. but while the phone has some very nice features, such as Office integrations for business users and Xbox integration for consumers, it’s not clear that these will be sufficiently compelling to give the Windows Phone a real edge over its entrenched competition. The stringed thing is that Microsoft is still declining to compete in tablets, the emerging mobile market where it could make a differen
I caught up with Windows Phone Group Product Manager Greg Sullivan at he Microsoft launch event in New York and asked about the use of the phone software in larger devices. The answer was the same unequivocal one that I have been hearing from Microsoft for many months: Windows Phone 7 is for handsets, Windows 7 is for tablets.
This Is a mistake, maybe a catastrophic one. Although the rest of the Industry has given Apple an enormous head start, the field is wide open. Magical though it may be, the iPad has large flaws. I am writing this post on an iPad using the WordPress app, a setup that makes me acutely aware of its major limitations as a content-creation device.
Apple has proved two important things with the iPad. One is that the market for mid-sized devices, especially tablets, is real. The other is that these devices work much better with software scaled up from handsets than scaled down from desktops.
Windows 7 will never be satisfactory on a slate-type device. Hewlett-Packard gave qit it’s best shot and failed to produce a viable consumers slate (Disclosure: I consulted on the project.) The lack of deep support for for a touch user interface in Windows 7 is fatal, as is the operating system’s sheer bulk–do you really want a tablet with the Windows Registry?–and its dependence on the power hungry x86 processor.
The weird thing is that Windows Phone 7 seems to have great potential as tablet operating system. Office integration, including support for the SharePoint collaboration system, could give a WP7 tablet great appeal in the enterprise. A larger display could make Xbox Live gaming even more attractive.
But for reasons that I cannot fathom, A Windows Phone tablet apparently is not to be. This is a loss to the market and an even bigger losqs for Microsoft, which seems to be dealing itself out of the most dynamic and fasteSt growing market around.