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Microsoft Businesses Cellphones

What Microsoft Must Do To Save Its Mobile Business 250

Posted by kdawson
from the take-two-cyanide-pills-and-call-me-in-the-morning dept.
GMGruman writes "Microsoft has tossed out its mobile management team (without admitting to doing so), but is that enough to make Microsoft matter in mobile? InfoWorld's Galen Gruman argues that a lot more is needed than a management change if Microsoft hopes to have a future in the emerging mobile world. In his blog, he lays out a tough five-point prescription for Microsoft to get back in the game. For starters, Microsoft has to get out of its well-established cultural mindset that it's OK to ship crap that it might fix later on."
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What Microsoft Must Do To Save Its Mobile Business

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  • Just give up. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by symbolset (646467) on Friday May 28, 2010 @09:37AM (#32375294) Journal

    I think maybe the best answer here is to just surrender. "Mobile? It's not our thing. We wanted it to be our thing - we tried. But we're not good at it." While they're at it maybe they should get out of search and online ads too.

    I'm symbolset and the lack of Windows Phone 7 was my idea.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      Nope.

      The answer is to find a Phone giant (Nokia) and take the best of both worlds and make an OS that utterly kicks arse.

      Nokia hardware rocks. Nokia's software as of late (S60) is buggy to hell and back. If they both got together they could make it big. Nokia making their superior phone hardware, Microsoft ditching the joke that is their mobile OS and starting over with a REAL os that has potential (and design it so carriers cant cripple it) they could give the other two a real run for their money.

      S60

      • Re:Just give up. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ErroneousBee (611028) <neil:neilhancock@co@uk> on Friday May 28, 2010 @09:52AM (#32375468) Homepage
        Nokia can do that for themselves, they don't need Microsoft. They've probably also seen what happens to companies that try to partner with Redmond.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Hognoxious (631665)

        I have an E71, and to me it looks like MS have already been playing with it. Especially when you consider what a lean and clean OS Symbian's ancestor (EPOC) was by comparison.

        • It't the S60 user interface which NOKIA puts on top of Symbian. UIQ which was used by Sony and Motorola as user interface was a lot better. But that water under the bridge and the next generation Symbian will have Qt as user interface.

          • by JanneM (7445) on Friday May 28, 2010 @10:20AM (#32375828) Homepage

            "the next generation Symbian will have Qt as user interface."

            Qt isn't a user interface, it's a UI toolkit. The interface is almost completely orthogonal to this. Almost - you need a toolkit that can easily support the UI you want to build. But Qt, or GTK, or the Windows or OSX toolkits are all made for producing windowing user interfaces. Which is the cause of much of the trouble for Microsofts phone and PDA business, which doomed previous Linux-based mobile devices and which pushed Apple and Google to start from scratch with new systems specifically for mobile devices rather than trying to adapt existing stuff.

            A heavily customized Qt - as in, forget source compatibility with desktop apps - may possibly work for a tablet-sized device. Qt for mobiles is likely dead from the start. If Nokia does make a serious go of it, it will have little but the name in common with the desktop toolkit.

            • Given that the E71 has a keyboard and a pointing device, anything that works on a desktop ought to work (sort of) on it. The controls might be the wrong size and difficult to hit with the cursor, but it's not like it's an entirely different thing like multitouch would be.

              But the problems with the E71 interface are at a higher level; it isn't the widgets and stuff, it's how they (and the apps themselves) are arranged and organized. Nothing is where you expect it to be. Common options are often three layer

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by tverbeek (457094)

          EPOC was wonderful. I bought one used Psion Series3 after another for 10 years as they kept breaking, and/or performed surgery to replace the exhausted batteries, just so I could keep using the software. I looked at Blackberry, PalmOS, and WinMobile devices from time to time, but couldn't stand any of them. I finally retired the Psion last year, replacing it with an iPod Touch.

      • Re:Just give up. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jawnn (445279) on Friday May 28, 2010 @10:02AM (#32375592)

        Nope.

        The answer is to find a Phone giant (Nokia) and take the best of both worlds and make an OS that utterly kicks arse.

        Nokia hardware rocks.

        No argument. That would be a sound approach, but for one thing. Microsoft has no experience in making an OS that utterly kicks ass (as we Yanks spell it), especially from scratch, and certainly not on a schedule that would be required to stay competitive in the mobile business, where "innovation" is real and ongoing. I know this sounds like stock /. MS bashing, but it's not meant to be. Microsoft's culture and business model is a poor fit for the wireless industry.

      • The next generation NOKIAs will be Linux+Qt and Symbian+Qt. Why would Nokia need Microsoft with Qt in there pocket?

        Martin

        PS: Symbain+S60E5 was just a stop gap, never meant to last. And yes that is cheaty.

      • by sznupi (719324)

        Why would you want them to ruin Nokia, too? They already beat MS at mobile game, and Symbian should get decently...cute after moving to Qt UI.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ZeroExistenZ (721849)

        Nokia did a "me-tooo!!" online software store. It couldn't engage developers and it flopped.

        Android started it smart with the summer code-challenges almost a year before the first phones came to the general market and have now the power to offer phonevendors the ease of NOT having to design an OS or upgrade/modify what they have for each phone model they release.

        Microsoft still looked like they buttkicked PalmOS and went into a comfy zone "no competition. We know it sucks balls, but hey, what are your alt

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          Nokias store fails all around. Apps and music smashed all together. Searching for things is near impossible. Allowing apps to be released for only certain phones is dumb, there is no reason the 5800 and 5530 phone cant run the same apps except for the GPS they are identical... yet you cant get the Facebook app on any phone less than the 5800 to "entice" you to get the better phone. My daughter whined big time over that.

          Plus nokia pissed off their developer base. requiring everything to be signed basica

      • Problem is, Microsoft is probably better at hardware than software as well. I guess if you are talking about comparative advantage, then yeah, Microsoft probably should do the software if Nokia is their partner. Frankly, it doesn't sound like a very good match to me.

      • Re:Just give up. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday May 28, 2010 @10:35AM (#32376052) Homepage
        The reason apple works is because there is exactly 1 phone model. Developers know what to target, and are able to ensure their app will work properly. The reason Windows never worked in the mobile industry is because of such a large variety of phones available. Phones with different screen sizes and resolutions. Phones with differently available keys. Some phones have touch, some have accelerometers. Different processor and memory specs. Every phone is different. As long as there is this much variation in the hardware, it will never take off. Desktop is different, because you can depend on everyone having a monitor with a certain minimal resolution, keyboard with 104 keys, and mouse with 2 buttons. That gives you a good base line platform. They should do the same with phones. Define a screen size the phones must use. Define that all phones can have a keyboard, or use an onscreen one, and ensure that all phones must have a certain processor and memory spec, or they don't get to run new new Windows Phone OS. Make the phones more similar, so that developers have something easier to target, and they will come.
        • you know there are a surprising variety of android devices, and android seems to be doing okay with it.

          i agree the single phone model plan makes it easier on developers, but it doesn't allow vendors to differentiate themselves. it works for apple because they are the only vendor selling their phone.

          this boils down to how cell providers compete in the US. not on service, or features, or even service costs. rather, they lure customers into long term contracts with shiny new phones. they wouldn't buy in to a p

      • by Z00L00K (682162)

        Many mobile phone manufacturers seems to avoid Windows Mobile these days.

        And I suspect that there are several reasons for that. Microsoft tries to control the manufacturers but are providing a platform that is insufficient and that lacks functionality.

        Windows Mobile has for too long been like a car where there are features missing that aren't obvious. Somewhat like you have low beam on the headlights but no high beam because a wire is missing. And that's the obvious flaw. They have also forgotten a few weld

      • by mspohr (589790)
        ... so you think that substituting buggy Microsoft software for buggy Nokia software will a big win for Nokia?
    • by goombah99 (560566) on Friday May 28, 2010 @09:54AM (#32375496)

      The reason microsoft succeeded was because they wrote a great application called Word. In it's time it was truly great compared to the competition (word perfect for example). Other than being comprehensive and less clunky than open office it's not such a remarkable product anymore. But if you are bussiness or Govt you have to have a copy of it. It's the standard and you always get some document that the emulators don't open correctly, so you have to use it no matter what processor you prefer.

      Windows I think rode on the coat-tails of this. Windows mac was a superior product up through version 5 but it was not fully compatible with the Windows version. As a result, windows OS became the preferred operating system for providing compatibility of word documents. This choice was cemented by the fact that windows ran on cheaper computers. But I think it was Word that was pulling the buggy, not the OS.

      Ironically, Word 6 made the Mac and PC versions more interoperable by removing the advanced features from the mac product. But by then the product offered an integrated environment on the PC with outlook and server systems. So it still was better to use the PC than the Mac version for business.

      If you were starting over today, the huge standardization on word probably would not happen.

      This is the boat MS is in now with mobile computing. Word is behind the curve on being a first rate mobile product. If they don't get something better out there people may start to standardize on something else once the reasons become compelling enough.

      I think that microsoft is fully capable of producing a first class mobile computing set of tools. Why they haven't is mysterious to me.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Ironically, Word 6 made the Mac and PC versions more interoperable by removing the advanced features from the mac product. But by then the product offered an integrated environment on the PC with outlook and server systems. So it still was better to use the PC than the Mac version for business.

        It was the version that broke away from being a native Mac application and used a Windows cross-development library, resulting in a bloated, under-performing piece of crap derided by users and reviewers alike.

        I'm sure

      • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Friday May 28, 2010 @12:59PM (#32377936)
        You really have no idea about the history of personal computing. MS became the dominant player in Personal Computers because they owned the OS that ran on IBM compatible PCs. Before MS DOS, every computer manufacturer used a different OS (slight oversimplification) and a propietary hardware design. This meant that software vendors had to either pick one to develop for or port their ap to every new player that entered the field. Businesses wanted computers that they could count on. IBM was viewed as being that, so software vendors developed aps for the IBM PC. Since IBM made their PC using an open architecture, off the shelf components and the licensing terms allowed MS to sell other PC manufacturers the same OS as they sold IBM (or near enough as made no difference), this meant that other manufacturers could build "IBM compatible" PCs.
        When MS started selling Word it was a poor imitation of Wordperfect (which was an improved imitation of Wordstar). The other key element of what is now MS Office, Excel was a poor imitation of Lotus 1-2-3. Excel was able to gain market share since every new version of DOS would break some of 1-2-3s functionality. MS failed to make as much progress penetrating Wordperfect's dominance until Windows 3.1 came out.
        Wordperfect was unable to easily develop a GUI based version that maintained backwards compatibility. MS did not have such a problem since they had developed Word for Windows in conjunction with developing Windows 3.1.
        Sorry for such a long response but Word took over because of Windows (and the fact that MS was the only major player who had both an established word processor and an established spreadsheet when Windows came out) not Windows because of Word. When Windows came out MS already owned the PC OS market.
    • Re:Just give up. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by areusche (1297613) on Friday May 28, 2010 @09:56AM (#32375524)

      I'm trying not to sound condescending here, but are you kidding me? Have you ever used a Windows Mobile phone before?

      I've been using Windows Mobile since the 2003se days and it has been light years ahead of whatever competitor was pumping out. Things like multitasking, a somewhat open platform for development, and an interface that makes sense.

      The only downside has been the long time insistance from manufactures to only use 64mb of ram. Nowadays that number is up to 256mb.

      HTC has a number of drool worthy phones that spec wise pound the iphone to dust and anything that Palm can come up with.

      And finally Microsoft leaves its homebrew ROM kitchen development alone. Sites like PPCGeeks.com and xda-developers are two that come to mind.

      It's sad that people disregard Windows Mobile. It is nothing like the desktop crap. And seriously what major software or hardware manufacture doesn't pump out crap and fix it later? At least Windows Mobile works out of the box.

      Disclaimer: My first PDA was a Sony Clie. I loved Palm and used it for many years, but it's time to use a real device and software.

      • Re:Just give up. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TheKidWho (705796) on Friday May 28, 2010 @10:06AM (#32375634)

        Windows Mobile is alright if you're into pen based computing. The iPhone/Android devices are touch based devices though, different paradigms apply.

        Note: I've been using Windows Mobile since it was called PocketPC back in 2000. Yes, I still have an original iPaq, sleeves and all.

        First smartphone was a Windows Mobile device, next one was an iPhone, currently using a Palm Pre, and next month I'm about to purchase an HTV EVO 4G(Android device).

        • by areusche (1297613)

          TheKidWho I understand where you're coming from and I certainly remember how the older versions relied heavily on the stylus. Go to a Verizon, AT&T,etc store and try out some of the newest models they have on display. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

          On top of that too, if you have an older Windows Mobile based device you can set up the D-Pad keys to function with one-handed thumb control kind of like a blackberry by mapping the Start Menu, ok/cancel, and other keys in the settings. I know tho

      • by sznupi (719324)

        Using UI quite a bit in the style of desktops, quite similar to desktop Win at least and basically requiring a stylus for optimal operation was "an interface that makes sense"?
        And not the only OS with multitasking back then...

      • Re:Just give up. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by randomaxe (673239) on Friday May 28, 2010 @10:16AM (#32375782)
        That's funny, because every Windows Mobile phone I've ever used has had me on the verge of throwing it against a wall more times than is acceptable for any gadget that isn't still in beta testing. I've had them mysteriously lose settings, crash repeatedly, and lock up -- sometimes right in the middle of a phone call.

        There may be WinMo phones that "spec wise pound the iphone to dust", but impressive hardware is nothing if the software on top of it drives users into fits of rage. There may be a lot of things that a WinMo phone can do that my iPhone can't, but one of them happens to be "piss me off on a daily basis." And I'm just fine with that.
        • by jo42 (227475)

          every Windows Mobile phone I've ever used has had me on the verge of throwing it against a wall

          And I thought I was the only one that wanted to do that - and with any Windows CE based PDA device I tried to use. Talk about a real POS.

      • Re:Just give up. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by thedonger (1317951) on Friday May 28, 2010 @10:29AM (#32375964)

        I dislike "proof by anecdote" at least as much as the next guy, but I do not know one solitary person with a Windows Mobile device. On the other hand, I know at least a dozen with either IPhone OS or Android. Personally, I don't care if MS manages to make it in the consolidated computing (my new term for mobile) market, as long as they ship a browser with CSS3/HTML5 support and then transparently - to the user - keep it up to date.

        I see the future in hardware/OS-transparent computing, in other words, don't ever ask if I want to upgrade to the latest version of the browser - that is too much info. Apple had it right from the beginning - ship a box with a keyboard and don't require the customer to figure out the hardware. And with the current generation of hand held devices one need not think about browser, file systems, etc., to have a rich experience. That is the future where literally everyone operates a hand held computer every day for even the most common tasks, and in that world people need not worry about anything but how to turn it on.

        • Sometimes "proof by anecdote" is actually quite accurate. While you do not know any person with a Windows Mobile device, I know many (including me) - all switched quickly and cursed Microsoft every day before. Now everybody is using a Blackberry, Palm, or the iPhone. Nobody is ready to go back to any Windows Mobile version anytime soon - it was just too painful.

          So, my advise to Microsoft: redo it from scratch. Rename it. And, damned!, do usability tests before releasing it into the wild.

      • Gosh, Windows Mobile is the dogs bollocks? Pity that nobody is going to find out because absolutely nobody buys WM phones. Check the sale statistics. EVERYONE does better. Even linux has a larger share (especially if you realize Android is based on it).

        So either you are wrong or everyone else is. Somehow I think you are.

        Really, if you go and defend a badly selling product, come up with counters as to why it sells so badly other then the defence "I bought it, so it must be great because else I must have b

      • I'm with you. Windows Mobile offers features that NONE of the other mobile OS offerings can do. It gives up nothing in terms of capability and functionaliry. Where it has a problem is the UI; I solved that with SPB Mobile Shell [spbsoftwarehouse.com], and now I have a UI that is what the iPhone and Android would be lucky to copy. And a great phone (HTC Touch Pro 2) as well.

        .
        What Windows Mobile needs is a better UI, not a change in feature-set or functionality. They should partner with SPB and give them free reign on the U

        • by adiposity (684943)

          You can't just change the UI. All the apps depend on the old style ui, so you have to scrap them, too. So you might as well start from scratch at that point.

          Coming from someone who used iPaqs, SCH-i760 (love that hardware), and HTC Touch Pro (sprint model). I've tried every addon shell in the book, and IMO, they are all terrible--even while being better than stock WinMo 6.5. Touch-flo is pretty but not a great design.

          After using my Droid for a while, I've realized that styluses just suck. Sure, there's

      • by Wingsy (761354)
        Wonder why this wasn't modded Funny. The guy IS joking, right?
      • I have to say, I'm shocked to hear such positive things about Windows Mobile. I've used Windows Mobile phones, and my experience is that they're frustrating, slow, confusing, and crashy. I wouldn't know where to begin. I've also supported Windows phones (I'm an IT guy) and the user experience is universally bad.

        If I had to choose between all the major smartphone operating systems, then Windows would be in last place.

        • Well, there are actually many people who happen to like Windows Mobile because they prefer a handheld personal computer to a phone or an appliance, and this is exactly what Windows Mobile gives you.

          I've used Windows Mobile phones since, oh, 2004. They had their share of problems, but most of them were due to faulty hardware. I mean, even my mother has got two Windows Mobile phones and never had problems with those.

    • Re:Just give up. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MBGMorden (803437) on Friday May 28, 2010 @10:30AM (#32375986)

      That's not really a viewpoint that a company should take. "Microsoft" is a nebulous entity. To say "we" aren't good at anything from a corporate is stupid, and ties a company too tightly to it's current staff.

      If the company's current staff isn't doing well in a market that they wish to be a player in, then you replace them. There's no reason to assume that merely having the Microsoft logo embroidered on their company shirts is going to make a talented group of people perform worse than if Google or Apple's logos were on those shirts.

      I just think that whatever group that goes in, needs to understand - WINDOWS does not translate well to a mobile device. The world doesn't need a Mobile Windows OS. What they need to do is develop a completely new Microsoft mobile OS from the ground up, with mobile in mind.

      And for goodness sakes, get some good UI people on board. Their latest attempts - those damned "Kin" phones, look like the UI people were playing around while designing it and thought: "I wonder just how much we can fuck with this and get away with it?" My 2 year old niece has Leap Frog toys with better UI's than those phones.

      • I actually agree with you about this in every other case, but Microsoft is a special case. Analysts are already saying that "Failure is not an option." [reuters.com] Sigh. I guess we'll have to have one more iteration of this. Here's how it goes:

        Normally I'm not one to praise Microsoft's end results, but I'm not stupid. They hire the brightest minds from the best schools with strong foundations in classical IT art as well as contemporary vision and they work them to death because that hazy zone between exhaustion and

    • Having owned a Zune HD, I was one of the first people to experience the "Windows Phone 7" platform. From a UI standpoint, it is a very intuitive, well thought out experience. Zune HD runs on the Tegra SOaC, and was an extremely capable device from a hardware standpoint. Battery life was excellent, and the games I played were graphically impressive -- more so than anything I've seen on the Android platform running on my Nexus One which I sold the Zune to purchase. The device was also extremely stable.

      Fro

  • Bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday May 28, 2010 @09:38AM (#32375300) Homepage Journal

    For starters, Microsoft has to get out of its well-established cultural mindset that it's OK to ship crap that it might fix later on."

    That is pure bullshit. It works for literally everyone else, including Apple. Or is all the stuff in iPhone OS 4.0 that Steve said wasn't included because it would make the iPhone suck not sufficient evidence for you? How about all the functionality in Android 2.1 that seems mandatory? This story is (-1, Troll).

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      Your "essential" features != Broken Crap.

    • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RKThoadan (89437) on Friday May 28, 2010 @09:54AM (#32375498)

      I think your Apple example is counter to your point. They new it would make it suck, so they didn't ship it. The article is asking for any software that ships to be well-designed and to leave it off otherwise.

    • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Uksi (68751) on Friday May 28, 2010 @09:55AM (#32375504) Homepage

      Bullshit back on you. False comparison. Lacking features != a crappy product. It just means a product that does less. First iPhone OS version didn't have exchange integration or copy/paste, but what was there worked well and was designed to work well. In fact, until Apple was convinced that it could do copy/paste well, it didn't release that feature. That's just not biting off more than you can chew.

      There's a gulf of difference between shipping something that's limited in functionality to something that is crappy. Have you ever used the PocketPC PDAs back in the day? I've used a Palm OS-based Handspring and a PocketPC Dell Axim, and let me tell you, the Handspring, with its limited feature set and a slow CPU, did the core PDA things (calendar, todo) a lot better than the Axim. The Axim felt slow (despite a several times faster CPU) and it was harder to work with the calendar (more taps to do things, weird options I didn't need). I hated using it and wrote off PocketPC after that (which is why I never bought a Treo with Windows). That's what "shipping crap" means.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        Bullshit back on you. False comparison. Lacking features != a crappy product. It just means a product that does less.

        Not multitasking == crappy, and even Steve knows it. But you can make excuses for hypocritical backpedaling all day if you like. I already know you're an iFanboy.

        First iPhone OS version didn't have exchange integration or copy/paste, but what was there worked well and was designed to work well. In fact, until Apple was convinced that it could do copy/paste well, it didn't release that feature. That's just not biting off more than you can chew.

        Comparing Exchange integration and C&P is extremely disingenuous. Copy & Paste has been with us even longer than the GUI. Not implementing it is stupid, especially when the meaningful competition universally has it.

        Have you ever used the PocketPC PDAs back in the day? I've used a Palm OS-based Handspring and a PocketPC Dell Axim, and let me tell you, the Handspring, with its limited feature set and a slow CPU, did the core PDA things (calendar, todo) a lot better than the Axim.

        Having owned a Palm Pro w/2MB upgrade and a Visor Deluxe, as well as an iPaq H2215 (putting aside my GRiDPad 1910 and 2390) I t

        • Re:Bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

          by intheshelter (906917) on Friday May 28, 2010 @11:15AM (#32376484)

          If you hate Apple then just have the balls to say it and move on, but your rant is not relevant to the discussion. Apple shipped a very good initial iPhone OS. It may not have had the features you wanted, but it was solid, stable and worked well.

          You're just a hater, and that's alright, but at least be honest about it. You're equating a buggy, shitty product with a product that doesn't have the features you think it should have, and to you use your own phrasing, that is disingenuous.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            You're just a hater, and that's alright, but at least be honest about it. You're equating a buggy, shitty product with a product that doesn't have the features you think it should have, and to you use your own phrasing, that is disingenuous.

            Don't get me wrong, I think Windows Mobile blows, too. I also think it has inherent strengths against at least former versions of the iPhone OS. I will reserve my judgement for how much it blows when I see how much Microsoft tries to be Apple. If they lock the phone down to make it difficult to install my own software somehow, then they will have lost their most important competitive advantage and I'll give up even trying to defend their defensible traits. My "money" is on Android.

            As something of a speculat

      • by sznupi (719324)

        why we don't hear people using such style of defense for some of the so called "feature phone" platforms?... (no, not the version castrated / never brought to you / uglyfied by US carriers)

      • by Tapewolf (1639955)

        I've used a Palm OS-based Handspring and a PocketPC Dell Axim, and let me tell you, the Handspring, with its limited feature set and a slow CPU, did the core PDA things (calendar, todo) a lot better than the Axim. The Axim felt slow (despite a several times faster CPU) and it was harder to work with the calendar (more taps to do things, weird options I didn't need).

        The Axim was Windows Mobile 5, which was slow as molasses. They did some major architectural change from PocketPC 2003, and it totally killed I/O performance. I have this weird feeling it was to do with the way they used flash instead of DRAM for the filesystem. PocketPC 2003 was fast, but if you pulled the battery, everything went down the drain.
        WM6 and later versions of WM5 got it back to some semblance of performance. Still not as good as 2003, but far more usable than the original WM5 release and i

    • Depends on your definition of "crap". Your definition is that the iPhone didn't have some features you wanted or you thought was important. "Crap" to the me is the shoddy, unstable software that Windows Mobile still is at version 6. I have a WM phone from work. I got it around the iPhone release. It crashes all the time for no reason. That's crap software.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 28, 2010 @09:50AM (#32375428)

    I can't help but feel Microsoft has been wedged out of the mobile market by competitors that are specialized at doing everything better then they do.

    Wanna be a cool kid with a pretty phone?
    Apple has you covered.

    Need something uber business savvy but easy enough for a monkey in a suit to use?
    Get a blackberry

    Want a phone that doesn't hold you down?
    Get an Android phone

    Want a phone that runs on POS hardware and can barely handle anything?
    Oh crap, umm...no.

    What they do have, however, is excellent proprietary stuff like ActiveSync that's integrated into all these other cell phones. If I was them, I would focus on developing technology like that. Let the mobile market work for you, not the other way around.

    The Kin is an interesting attempt to wrangle the teenybopper market but I think they've already fallen to the iphone.

    • by sunderland56 (621843) on Friday May 28, 2010 @11:08AM (#32376426)
      Since most businesses run Microsoft servers, and use Exchange for email, it should be easy for a Microsoft phone to rule the business space. A phone with built-in versions of Word/Excel/PowerPoint, and of course Outlook, would be easy to market. Put specialized phone management capabilities in their server-side tools to make the IT department happy (right now, IT usually detests supporting iPhones).

      One huge disadvantage of a Windows phone today - the OS cannot be upgraded. Apple and Android come out with new versions every few months, with shiny new features, and people download and enjoy them. Since Microsoft doesn't sell Windows Mobile to consumers (it sells to phone manufacturers) when Microsoft releases new version of the OS, you are usually out of luck.
    • by Miros (734652)

      The technology isn't all that interesting though, at the end of the day, it's all just software. All of those nifty technical innovations that they may have on a low level can be replicated or even improved upon by competitors given sufficient time, and it is in their interest to get Microsoft (as well as anyone else playing at that level) out of the stack if practical.

      However Microsoft does have a tremendous amount of engineering talent, seasoned business leaders, and top notch marketing and research depa

  • by DarthVain (724186) on Friday May 28, 2010 @09:51AM (#32375452)

    Invest in Apple?

    • Or at least stop trying to crowbar Windows in a mobile platform? If I were Ballmer I think I would have bought Palm.
  • by alen (225700) on Friday May 28, 2010 @09:55AM (#32375512)

    it's called ActiveSync. Apple and Google both license it. Google even licenses it for Google Docs sync over the internet and have extended it. Microsoft doesn't need to pour money into R&D and market a phone since they probably make more money by taking a cut of every iphone, ipod touch, ipod and most Android phones sold.

    as far as shipping crap, Apple and Google do the same thing. Only reason Apple shipped the iPad during the slowest shopping time of the year is to work out the bugs before the next holiday season and get market share before everyone else. my iphone hasn't been completely stable until 3.1.3. there are reports of Droid phones rebooting for no reason. The Nexus One had all kinds of problems. It took HP 2-3 years of firmware and driver updates to make their Proliant G5 servers stop rebooting due to a bug in the iLO firmware. OS X 10.6 hasn't been out a year and it's almost on service pack 4 where all the updates are larger than the OS that shipped last year. everyone ships crap these days.

    the big mistake that Microsoft seems to be making is they have given up the low end of computing. Smartphones and tablets. historically every time a new competitor takes over a market is by getting the low end first and then using that to attack the high end of the market. MS did this with Windows. it was crap compared to other OS's but cleaned house because it was easy to use and deploy. now with Windows Server 2008 R2 Microsoft is finally shipping a server OS with features that UNIX had in the 1990's. SQL Server is the same way. not as good as Oracle of DB2, but good enough at the right price for a lot of customers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by thijsh (910751)
      ActiveSync is used to synchronize with the PC, when synchronizing with a server it's called Exchange... and Google has that for the e-mail, agenda and contacts. The best part of it: It has PUSH functionality and it works great with my WinMo phone. It generally just takes 3 to 5 seconds to see a change in Google Calendar appear on my mobile's screen. Since it's widely used in companies the Exchange server model is one of the few Microsoft products that works (fairly) rock solid...
    • by jedidiah (1196)

      > SQL Server is the same way. not as good as Oracle of DB2, but good enough at the right price for a lot of customers.

      This idea depends on a whole host of false assumptions that are certainly not true now and may never have been.

      It depends on the idea that Microsoft is always cheap and Oracle is always expensive. Neither is
      necessarily true and probably have never been. A lot of this depends on ignorance of the actual
      products and how they are priced and dependent on taking naieve observations from Microso

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Don't forget Symbian, with almost half of smartphone sales and also licensing quite a bit of MS tech. But I guess MS would be prefer to have a bit more...leverage.

    • nly reason Apple shipped the iPad during the slowest shopping time of the year is to work out the bugs before the next holiday season and get market share before everyone else.

      There's also the possibility that they've got some other big product release coming up before the end of the year and didn't want their products competing for attention.

    • my iphone hasn't been completely stable until 3.1.3. there are reports of Droid phones rebooting for no reason. The Nexus One had all kinds of problems. It took HP 2-3 years of firmware and driver updates to make their Proliant G5 servers stop rebooting due to a bug in the iLO firmware. OS X 10.6 hasn't been out a year and it's almost on service pack 4 where all the updates are larger than the OS that shipped last year.

      that's all pretty much BS, sorry.

      we have an iphone and it's completely stable i can't even remember the last time it has needed a reboot. it's more like an appliance that a computer in that respect.

      i own a nexus one and have had very, very few problems with it. i follow android news pretty closely and have seen no reports of the droid being unstable.

      i've been running OSX 10.6 since shortly after it was released and it's been extremely stable and i've had zero compatibility problems. i just did an uptime on

  • by fermion (181285) on Friday May 28, 2010 @10:02AM (#32375596) Homepage Journal
    The traditional MS model is to supply a limited set of software and depend on third parties to integrate and expand the selection to meet customers needs. While this has many advantages when customizing a general purpose computing device to serve a specific purpose, it does not work well when dealing with highly available and reliable embedded devices. We see this when HP abandons MS Windows 7 for tablets and when MS becomes a system integrator to deliver a video game console. MS did not deliver a set of tools to create a console, they create the console.

    What is clear is the mobile phone industry does not support the concept of a closed software base on which hardware is hacked to make it work. Two of the major mobile phone OS, Symbian and WebOS were derived from code that was developed to support an integrated PDA device, and is now open so it can be customized to a device. iPhone OS of course is completely open to Apple who can do as they wish to create an completely integrated product.

    If Google can gain real traction with Android then there might be a little hope for MS. Even though Android has the advantage of being open to manufacturers, it has the same disadvantage of being at least partly controlled by a company that does not count the end user as the primary customer. Both Google and MS are tried to jumpt start the market for it's products by creating a reference device(the nexus one and kin) but it is not clear that either attempt will work. In the Android case it might become so fragmented that Apps are not going to be compatible across the devices. For MS, there is frankly little reason for a manufacturer to use the mobile product. Such a phone would either directly compete with Blackberry or Android, with little differentiation, and, unlike xBox, the manufacturer will have little incentive to sell the phones for a loss.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      > The traditional MS model is to supply a limited set of software and depend on third parties to integrate and expand the selection to meet customers needs.

      Compared to what you get on a mobile device, what MS provides is actually pretty comprehensive.

      Mobile vendors have taken something as simple as printing and turned it into an optional extra that has to be cobbled onto the system with bad hacks.

      This notion that Apple caters to the user any more than Microsoft or Google is just self-serving mythology.

  • How the hell did they ship a phone OS which answers phone calls in your pocket? Touch-screens are not a hard concept, MSFT.

  • I think Windows Phone 7 OS UI (or lack of it) is really nice. There isn't much UI to it. It is very basic and minimalistic. When they introduced in March, I did not like it that much. Now playing with the emulator, I think it is very good and stable to work with. I agree with the article on removing the name Windows from it. This is not Windows OS
  • Microsoft and Intel seem to be similar in that neither company is any good at making "consumer-grade" products.

    OK, I admit, Microsoft's keyboards, mice, and Xbox are fairly consumer friendly, but that's about it.

    Intel did take a crack at the consumer market for a while with USB microscopes and that stupid Intel Reader device. The verdict from those experiments was, nice try - stick with making chips and software development tools and others will build products using your stuff.

    I see Microsoft slowly evolvi

    • by alen (225700)

      when you get to be the size of MS and Intel the way things are done is you take an existing product, dumb it down so it won't compete with higher margin products, run it through a few dozen MBA's and ship. no one would dare say lets build it from scratch and do a complete reboot. MS seems to have done it with WinMO 7 though. Intel seems to want to sell Xeons and their dumbed down Xeons otherwise known as Core i3, i5, i7 and Atom. To create something fresh like Arm with a new instruction set would mean setti

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Friday May 28, 2010 @10:45AM (#32376166)

    The problem with Windows Mobile is that MS has tried to leverage the Windows philosophy to mobile when it wasn't appropriate. They purposely made the OS be more Windows like even though the codebase has no relation to the Windows NT codebase. Yet at the same time it was sufficiently different from Windows desktop to frustrate users. While touch is available to WM phones, they didn't design the OS to use a different UI instead relying on the desktop UI with a few tweaks. In that aspect they just switched a mouse for a stylus and called it done.

    They got away with it for a while because there wasn't much competition for them because they were really the only game in town for corporate users. Then RIM came along. But they weren't worried. But MS didn't think about for consumers as much.

    Apple didn't bother to compete with MS in the corporate smart phone arena; they were making a consumer smart phone which was an under-served area. Apple when designing a smart phone realized that a consumer has different needs than a corporate user. They designed the UI and OS to be different.

    Also in terms of hardware, MS has followed the same philosophy. They just make the software and other companies use it on their hardware. Problem for MS is some of their hardware partners put out crap. While Windows Mobile isn't the most stable OS out there, some of their partners exacerbate problems with their shoddy hardware. Apple doesn't have this problem because they control the whole stack. I'm not saying that MS should do that but they should do a better job of working with their partners to make sure Windows 7 isn't sabotaged by the hardware.

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Friday May 28, 2010 @10:53AM (#32376258)

    Slow, unresponsive, shittastic. An utter embarrassment. A wank-stain on the face of technology. Windows Mobile products make the users want to kill themselves as opposed to iPhones which only make the people who build them suicidal; in use the iPhone is actually quite enjoyable.

    • Which HTC did you use?

      I don't own an iPhone or an HTC but the ones I've used both (iPhone 3G and HTC Hero and Desire) seem pretty good.

      What's that got to do with Windows mobile anyway?

  • Microsoft is quietly getting rid of its old mobile business because it's replacing it with Silverlight. Windows 7 has a mobile edition that will evolve into whatever supports Silverlight. Which means that Microsoft's mobile business will use the same developer base as its desktop and server .Net business. And with things like MonoTouch, its mobile business will include the iPhone, just as Microsoft has always been one of the biggest developers for Mac desktops.

    Silverlight puts .Net everywhere. The rest of M

  • Seriously, is that not the way that msft has conquered every market in the last ten years, or more?

    Msft is very clever in leveraging it's monopoly in one technology, to almost force you to buy other msft technologies. For example, outlook will not really work right without exchange. You can not view certain websites without having the right version of msie, which in turn requires you to have to have the right version of windows.

    Over the five years, or so, it seems that msft is more of a litigation company t

  • by gearloos (816828) on Friday May 28, 2010 @10:56AM (#32376286)
    What Microsoft must do to save their mobile buisiness: Simple, in Microsoft Fasion, Download the Android ASOP Standard Source. Recomplie with every reference to Android replaced by Windows 8 Mobile. When anyone complains just wait until they sue. The judgement will be much less than the profit. rinse, Repeat. Ohh wait that was Win 3.x err Win95.. err Sorry Win2k ohh wait no Excel, oh nm must have been defrag.. oh dang I must have meant Internet Explorer... well, you get the idea...
  • It seems to me that Microsoft ought to try to follow IBM's path. They should accept the world that they live in -- a world with multiple vendors, and open standards -- and be the guys who own lots of really key assets, and who are really good at making things work well together.

    First, they should accept Android and build a stack on top of that OS, rather than trying to push their own system. They have to be hard nosed enough to accept reality, and the reality is that a second rate locked down proprietary

    • by wfolta (603698) on Friday May 28, 2010 @03:44PM (#32380524)

      I never would have thought I'd be in this place. I love linux. I want computers to be open.

      And Apple COMPUTERS are open. Full and free set of developer tools included on every MAC OS DVD. I have a whole host of open software on my laptop, ranging from R to Virtualbox. It depends on what you call a "computer" and what that means in terms of how you use it, how you interface with it, and what it does.

      And now I really want Microsoft to stand up and push back against the closed Apple iPad model. I want them to come out really hard, and push something more open, and I want them to run ads explaining why Apple's way is a bad idea.

      Apple is delivering an incredible and unique experience NOW. Microsoft, Linux, Android, etc, will not deliver a comparable experience this year (though there will be first-attempt slates based on these, just not comparable)... perhaps next year, eh? Meanwhile, I have four different book/research-paper apps, three comms/network apps, a RPN calculator, multiple drawing apps, multiple photo editing apps, a word processor, a spreadsheet, a presentation program (VGA output, too), photos, movies, music, multiple Twitter clients (and multiple other-social-media clients), games, flight tracking, GPS, multiple network sync/disk options, games out the wazoo, email, web browsing, task list managers, calendar, etc, etc. All on my iPad. Now.

      It has a long battery life, incredible build quality and beauty, a wonderful feel, is totally natural to interface with, and I use it all day long. Apple's way is a "bad idea", how exactly?

      Yes, yes, open is good. I just joined the OpenStreetMap site today, for example. But "open" is not necessarily as open as you think: cellphone restrictions on Android devices, for example, or the inability to upgrade an Android device to the latest OS, or apps being removed from the Android store, though people claimed that could never happen. And "closed" is not necessarily too closed for intended applications.

      The whole point is that the iPad is not a computer in the traditional sense of the word. Just as your car is not a computer, even though it has an incredible number of CPUs in it and multiple networks connecting them. Who knows, perhaps iMacs will become iPad-like computers, with full MacOS, including developer tools, on it? But iPads are a different KIND of device and waiting years for open, general-purpose computers to look and feel a lot like an iPad doesn't really make sense. (And to repeat myself in a more metaphorical way, "'Open', you keep using that word, but I don't think it means what you think it means."

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Friday May 28, 2010 @11:17AM (#32376508)

    Microsoft lucked up, then fucked up. Palm had the market cornered, but their OS didn't scale as well when people were starting to look to their phones for more functionality (the Treo came out a bit too late to save their dominance). Windows CE was an inefficient behemoth with an interface that was not at all tailored to small mobile screens. But, it had the features people wanted at the time and when hardware caught up with it, Windows CE dominated for a while. The familiarity and comfort of their brand was enough to get people using misplaced UI metaphors like start buttons and microscopic icons. Then, for some screwball reason Microsoft decided to effectively stick their mobile development in the backyard shed. They didn't do anything to address the serious bugginess and quirkiness of their support libraries like ActiveSync and the Windows Mobile Device Center app just complicated the desktop/device synchronization problem. If mobile development was a basketball game, I'd call the FBI in to investigate them for point shaving. But, I have to assume that their leadership simply didn't want to deal with it, just as they didn't want to deal with the Internet back in the late 80s.

    So, just as they had sat idly by as fortune smiled upon them, they sat idly as their flawed platform drove more competitors into the market and customers away from them. Unlike sappy romantic comedies, you can't piss in your cornflakes, then expect a heartfelt speech will make everything alright by the time the credits roll.

  • Sorry, but shipping crap that may or may not get fixed later on is how the entire industry works. Enterprises know to NEVER buy a *.0 release of anything, because it's guaranteed to suck.

    The biggest problem, in my mind, was creating a business model that required constant upgrades. No longer is it possible to improve or develop a product, since as a developer, you have to replace it completely in three years.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wfolta (603698)

      Sorry, but shipping crap that may or may not get fixed later on is how the entire industry works.

      Actually, no. And the iPad is a good example. Quite a few no-brainer things were left out because they could not get them right: camera (there's a hole there for it, it's just not there), stock app, weather app, Book/PDF markup, printing, over-the-air sync'ing, etc. What is delivered is elegant and works well.

      Yes, there are bugs. I have had apps crash. (Though interestingly, perhaps because of the lack of multi-tasking at this point, I've not lost any data.) No software is perfect, and certainly there will

  • It worked wonders for the Xbox 360, so why not? Especially the not fixing it part.

  • The people they fired (or let step down or whatever) seemed to be intelligent people. Perhaps not fully successful, but brighter than your average Microsoft employee. They should have fired S. Ballmer. What good ideas has he come up with?

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