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Charlie Kindel On Why Windows Phone Still Hasn't Taken Off 397

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An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft's weak share in the mobile phone market can be attributed to its mishandling of industry politics, not inferior technology or features, according to ex-Windows Phone evangelist Charlie Kindel. Microsoft's traditional strategy of going over the heads of hardware vendors to meet the needs of consumers and application developers does not work in the phone market, says Kindel, where the handset makers and carriers have the biggest say in determining the winners (Apple is an exception). Not everybody agrees with Kindel's analysis. Old-timers may remember Kindel, who recently resigned from Microsoft, from his days as developer relations guru for COM/OLE/Active-X."
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Charlie Kindel On Why Windows Phone Still Hasn't Taken Off

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  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:11PM (#38506286)
    Fool me once, shame on you, lock me into an inferior OS twice, shame on the whole industry.
    • by JDAustin (468180) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:18PM (#38506384)

      The thing is Windows Mobile is not a inferior OS (for once). But MS's history has burned so many in the past that people are just turned off by the idea of a Windows mobile phone.

      • Are you suggesting that Microsoft will no longer change the entire API every time the major number of the OS increments, causing everyone to completely re-architect/re-write their apps from the ground up? I suggest you go back and look at the history of every technology Microsoft has ever released, from DirectX to Windows itself, to .NET, to even their languages and compilers.
        • MS chief guru magician evangelist strategist thought it is a wise move to not let developers use proven technology like OpenGL and C language. Turned out nobody would want to develop for such a skilfully castrated system.
      • by Kazin (3499) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:50PM (#38506800) Homepage

        I'm not a user of Windows Phone, but I did just port an Android app I've written to WP7, and in doing so, I learned quite a bit about it... From my point of view (been an Android developer before the first phones were released), it seems like WP8 will be very nice, but WP7 is still lacking in a lot of ways. A few things I noticed:
            - there's not a whole lot of useful multitasking you can do right now, so complex apps that use background services are right out.
            - you can't disable the on-screen keyboard from activating when a text box is focused, so if you have a box that the user can select text from or position the cursor in, you always get the OSK covering half of your UI
            - the screen layout designer is difficult to work with, and doesn't seem like it has many features for supporting different resolutions, MS sure does love their absolute-positioning grid layouts
            - there doesn't seem to be a debug log viewer available in the development tools... or maybe the OS has no logging at all?

        I suspect an end user won't really notice a lot of my complaints, but they're there, and the whole experience was a bit disappointing to me, despite my preference for C# over Java.

        • It's iOS-style "multitasking" for the most part (as distinguished from desktop/WinMo/Android-style). You can technically abuse the background task APIs to get almost true multitasking (or, with sufficient permissions, modify the app-backgrounding suspend/dehydration behavior to get full multitasking), but that's really only useful for homebrew - Microsoft won't accept an app that does such things into the Marketplace.

          Marking a text box read-only should prevent the keyboard from showing up but still allow the user to select and copy text.

          The screen designer built into Visual Studio is a bit of pain. The one in Expression Blend (which is explicitly designed for XAML, and a version of it specifically for WP7 XAML is included with the dev kit) is much better, though it is a new UI to learn. As for resolutions, WP7 only allows a single resolution - 800x480 - so the concerns you have coming from Android aren't currently relevant. If/when they allow other resolutions, my guess is that legacy apps will just use the hardware scaler (which is required on WP7 devices) to enlarge the screen contents to the new resolution, while new apps will ahve the option of targeting 1200x720 or whatever new resolution they decide to allow.

          Visual Studio has a debug-output view, scrollable with history (I don't know if it can be redirected into a file, never tried). It's quite possible to print debug messages from within an app; they will only show up when the debugger is attached (of course) and appear in a VS window/tab. It's also possible to use MessageBox to show debug messages during development, though that's a hacky solution (it works without the phone being connected to the debugger, though). As for OS-level logging, it's not visible. That shouldn't be a problem when developing sandboxed apps, though.

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        There is some truth to that, but it's also the case that we don't really know if Microsoft has actually learned a lesson or whether the current Windows Mobile is a fluke. Moreover, there's how the phone behaves in the store, and how it behaves when you start digging into it, and here again Microsoft has a reputation to overcome.

        And, there's still enough indication that Management believes "they'll buy it 'cause it's Windows and LIKE it" (from the article: "end users just do what they are told") type of hub

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ajo_arctus (1215290)

        Maybe it isn't inferior, I don't actually know*. I think Microsoft's problem right now is that they've become the embarrassing uncle of the tech world. Look at their 'impromptu' dancing in the Windows Stores (search for it on youtube and prepare to die a little). Look at the 'Windows 7 party pack' video they made (just thinking about it makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry), the Seinfeld thing, and there are dozens more examples (including just the other week, four white girls rapping about Windows Ph

      • by InsGadget (2092854) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:33PM (#38507402)

        The thing is Windows Mobile is not a inferior OS (for once). But MS's history has burned so many in the past that people are just turned off by the idea of a Windows mobile phone.

        This is pretty much the long and short of it.

        Also, WP7 is just competing against more mature offerings, with more features to entice new users. WP7 is quite nice to use (I have a Samsung Focus), and it does most tasks well, but it still falls behind when compared to Android and iPhone in a lot of tasks, simply because it's younger.

        IMO, WP7 (vs. Android or iPhone) is ideal for 3 types of people:
        - If you want a really simple but still powerful smartphone, then check out WP7. iPhone is a very close 2nd in this category, but WP7 is incredibly simple to use.
        - If you are heavy into Facebook or Twitter, then you should look at WP7. The Social hubs are unmatched.
        - If you love finding and downloading new music, then you should check out Zune Pass + WP7. Although they did just get rid of their $15/month-but-with-10-free-songs deal, the $10/month for a huge music library you can download to your hearts content is still quite nice.

        Otherwise, honestly, you will probably find more things to like about an Android or iPhone. Although you should still check out WP7 and see if the UI can swing you like it did me.

    • by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:34PM (#38506602)

      Fool me once, shame on you, lock me into an inferior OS twice, shame on the whole industry.

      Damn right. My last smart phone was an HTC XV6800 running Windows Mobile 6.0 and it was the biggest piece of shit I've ever had in my life.

      Never again...

      • by Osgeld (1900440)

        I have a windows 5 phone, works fine, but of course I am not in the garb of my handheld is a replacement of my desktop

        what do you want out of a phone, for me its to make calls and send a SMS once in a while, the fact it will play games and MP3 is a bonus

        • I want it to do what they tell me it is capable of doing without requiring a hard reboot due to locking up every other day. That alone was too much for my WinMo phone...
          • by Osgeld (1900440)

            sounds like you just bought a shitty phone, I have been using this thing since 2005 and its never locked up or crashed at all

            do you also blame windows when your e-machine blows out its power supply? I would be blaming e-machines, just like you should be blaming whoever made that worthless chunk of crap phone

            • It was an HTC XV6800 smart phone. It was one of the higher rated smart phones Verizon carried before Android hit, according to CNet and the other places.

              It was still a piece of crap. Seems my anecdotal evidence and your anecdotal evidence cancel out, but that's okay, I wasn't trying to convince people of anything; I really don't care. Just giving my own experiences...

            • sounds like you just bought a shitty phone, I have been using this thing since 2005 and its never locked up or crashed at all

              Really? So was the Motorola Q a "shitty phone"? Because mine did exactly what the parent was describing about a few months, as did those of most of the people I knew with them. This was not unexpected, as the various other windows mobile phones they and I had been using seemed to be about the same.

              I'm not sure what relevance this has to the latest devices as in what is being discussed here, but your experience seems to be quite out of the ordinary for windows mobile inthe '05-'07ish time frame from my ex

      • I used Windows Mobile between 2004 and 2010 and I owned lots of HTC devices (Wallaby, Himalaya, Blue Angel, Universal, Athena, Blackstone, Leo), also a few non-phone Windows Mobile devices (Toshiba E800, HP HX4700). I actually liked the operating system (well, except WM5, that one wasn't any good until AKU3.5 came out, and by then WM6 beta was better anyway). Now using Android on my former WM6.5 phone, and the only reason for it is that Windows Mobile was almost unusable on a capacitive display.

        Windows Mobi

  • So having a phone that is so tightly integrated into the service holds no interest for me. Same reason I wont get another Motorola Android phone.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:24PM (#38506452)

      Do what I do. It's a fairly complicated process, but the results are well worth it.

      1) Don't open the Facebook application.

      This is all from memory, so hopefully I didn't skip anything!

    • Who said you have to use Facebook? If it really irritates you, you can always root your Android phone and remove it entirely.

      I've just turned off automatic updates to it, uninstalled all the updates that were there, and don't ever touch it. Works just fine for me. Same with Twitter and the other social networking garbage. Nobody is making you use the shit. The only thing that was forced on me when I got my Droid was a gmail address, and I already had one of those, so no harm, no foul...

      I don't have fir

  • by teh31337one (1590023) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:14PM (#38506330)

    Wait, why is it superior?

    Windows Phone is Superior; Why Hasn’t it Taken Off

    ex-Windows Phone evangelist Charlie Kindel

    Oh, right

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      well,

      it's superior because techwise it does less than series 40.
      it's superior because it's less extensible than bada.
      it's superior because it's less nerdy than meego.
      it's superior because it's got less choice than blackberries.
      it's superior because it's more expensive to release sw for than symbian.
      it's superior because it has less coding options than mophun devices had.
      it's superior because there's no dual sim model to confuse you.
      it's superior because the memory card is glued in.
      it's superior because 2 ye

  • by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:16PM (#38506342) Homepage Journal
    Not everybody agrees with Kindel's analysis. Old-timers may remember Kindel, who recently resigned from Microsoft, from his days as developer relations guru for COM/OLE/Active-X

    Is the submitter trying to imply that his judgement doesn't matter because COM/OLE/ActiveX was somehow bad?
    • Never mind "Welcome to hell, here's your accordion"; can you imagine the hell that is "developer relations for COM/OLE/Active-X"?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Is the submitter trying to imply that his judgement doesn't matter because COM/OLE/ActiveX was somehow bad?

        I wouldn't have submitted the article if I didn't think his opinion mattered.

        can you imagine the hell that is "developer relations for COM/OLE/Active-X"?

        Heh. For the first 2-3 years about the only thing we ISV's had was the incomprehensible "Inside OLE" book from MS Press, and the reference pages on the various interfaces and methods. Charlie helped by answering our emails, he seemed to be the guy in Redmond who knew the most about it. Then IIRC Charlie was the lead author of a long MSDN paper describing the COM architecture which revealed a kernel of elegance under the morass of

    • by bhcompy (1877290) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:46PM (#38506746)
      Somehow bad? SOMEHOW? Obviously you've never worked with COM+ applications.
  • Well.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Penguinisto (415985) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:18PM (#38506378) Journal

    Well, let's see here...

    * The delivery is about three-four years too late
    * World+dog who has used Windows-based phones in the past have experience with WMP 6.5 (*shudder*)
    * App developers are looking at 'safe' (marketshare-wise) platforms to write apps for. iOS and Android are among them, while WP7 is not.
    * The UI tiles may be pretty, but that whole right-hand side of the screen is sitting there unused, making the whole thing look narrower, and therefore smaller
    * The ads aren't quite cutting it, and tend to be (IMHO) full of snafus. For instance, the latest sends the subtle message that only whipped boyfriends willing to wear yoga tights will use a Windows Phone.

    There's lots more, but those stand out immediately...

    • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Funny)

      by nwf (25607) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:29PM (#38506530)

      For instance, the latest sends the subtle message that only whipped boyfriends willing to wear yoga tights will use a Windows Phone.

      In all fairness, if they could garner half of those, they'd double their market share.

    • by lord_mike (567148)

      Your first explanation is the biggest reason Windows Phone is hurting... They are coming in waaaay too late to the party. They couldn't even manage to get Nokia to release a phone in time for Christmas this year. (shakes head) The reason why Android took off was that they were the only viable anti-iPhone product out there that was desperately looking an alternative, especially on Verizon. Palm blew it by tying itself to Sprint, so Android came in and became the yin to Apple's yang. Now, Microsoft has to

    • It seems to be a Samsung ad. Does Microsoft have editorial control?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ciQ4vdsGvA [youtube.com]

    • Kindel may be right that a reason is that carriers and manufacturers are not promoting WP7 as much as Android; his flaw is that he seems to think this is the only reason and that there are not multiple factors coming into play. Certainly Kindel didn't go into why manufacturers aren't promoting the phone. I don't know the licensing agreements but if they have to pay MS at all, cost is a big reason. The second part is that manufacturers are only doing the bare minimum to avoid being sued by MS. Remember M
  • by manekineko2 (1052430) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:24PM (#38506450)

    What is the audience for Windows Phone at this point?

    If you want a smooth, uncomplicated user experience and don't mind lock-in with a tyrannical corporation, get an iPhone.

    If you want things like freedom and openness and ethics and value and don't mind not having the "cool" phone that gets all the buzz, get an Android.

    What exactly is the core audience for Windows Phone, and what are the traits that they value? I can't really think of anyone for whom Windows Phone would make more sense than either iOS or Android.

    • by nwf (25607)

      What exactly is the core audience for Windows Phone, and what are the traits that they value? I can't really think of anyone for whom Windows Phone would make more sense than either iOS or Android.

      The other category: people who get talked into buying one by a sales person, by even they won't push them.

    • by jjohnson (62583) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:32PM (#38506584) Homepage

      If you want a smooth, uncomplicated user experience and don't mind lock-in with a tyrannical corporation, get an iPhone.

      Windows Phones are pretty clearly aimed at this segment, for those who don't want to pay the premium price to get locked in. They're aiming to beat Apple doing the same thing, "just good enough", for a lot less money.

      It worked for PCs. It's not crazy to try it with phones.

      • One small problem:

        Back in the day, the difference between a mid-range 386 box with 'good enough' Windows 3.1 on it, and a low-end Apple PC? About $500 or more. Nowadays, we're talking a difference between $49 for an iPhone 3gs (via AT&T), and the same or higher cost for a mid-range WP7 phone.

        In other words, what premium price?

        • Windows Phones go on sale all the time. The top of the line HTC Titan was available for $0.01 over thanksgiving. The Samsung Focus Flash was recently available for the same amount. And the 3gs? Really, a phone that's two generations behind?

    • I chose Windows Phone for a couple reasons... some against the other two OSs, others for with Windows Phone OS. I don't like iOS mostly because I don't like Apple. I don't like iTunes, I don't like their hardware, I despise their marketing, and I feel like a tool holding their products. In terms of iOS specifically, I also feel like it's starting to show its age, and the app launcher OS paradigm seems really old and boring to me.

      Against Android, it's always seemed like a bad iOS clone to me. You say it's th

  • by rathaven (1253420) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:30PM (#38506546)
    The facts are probably that WP was:
    a) Late to market
    b) Lacking developer support as many had already moved to iPhone or Android or developed mobile skills on these platforms
    c) Not allowing hardware manufacturers to best utilise existing hardware by being proscriptive
    d) Trying to be different after the market had already led in specific directions (iPhone then Android). Lets face it, it wasn't going to be easy to get in on this without using a similar interface to iPhone or a good weight of device support (Linux)
    e) Less than interesting on most of the original hardware
    f) Poor Marketting
    g) Leaving carriers being carriers - little value add and little gain.
    h) Using the names "Microsoft" and "Windows"


    Anyone think of any others? I think instead of arguing between posts I think we can just add a big list together, post it to Microsoft and see if they learn any lessons.
    • by dunezone (899268)
      I have a Windows Phone and you know what I hate about it? I have to buy a flashlight app. Thats right, I cant even program a simple application with a button to turn the camera light on. I instead have to purchase this through the store. I went online and read through the forums and the only way to make your own flashlight application is to use undocumented API calls. But with the Android or Apple phone they either come with a flashlight app by default OR their API documentation allows you access to the fla
  • going over the heads of hardware vendors to meet the needs of consumers and application developers does not work in the phone market

    Say what? Hello, Apple? Seems to be working for them, last time I checked.

    • by msauve (701917)
      Apple is hardly going over their own heads (they are their own hardware vendor in the context of the quote, you know). Quite the opposite, just about everything Apple does has Apple's interests as the primary consideration.
  • by Pontiac (135778) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:33PM (#38506596) Homepage

    I tested a windows phone 7 device for my company..

    We don't allow storage of corporate data on 3rd party servers so right off the bat it's web based storage system was useless..
    The OS offers no USB storage options and no removable SD cards.
    It had no way to upload videos from the phone other then tethering it to PC and using the MS Zune app to download the off the phone.

    Overall we found the OS to be to restrictive for our needs and standardized on Android based phones.

    • in effect, it's braindead right from the start... and to cap it all, they have to force it on users by taking over companies like Nokia from inside...
    • by roc97007 (608802)

      (I have to say, you're more polite that I would have been.)

      Hear that Charlie? It was the IMPLEMENTATION that sucked, not your relationship with the carriers. The hilarious thing is not meeting enterprise standards, which was pretty much Microsoft's only market for phones in the past, due to the perception (incorrect, as it turns out,) that there would be an IT advantage to having Windows on portable devices.

    • by yuna49 (905461)

      I'm curious whether you have an Exchange server, and whether you were a Blackberry shop before?

      I ask this because I've thought Microsoft's biggest opportunity would be to drive RIM out of the market by selling Windows Phone to existing Blackberry customers who have Exchange in place. The BB outage some weeks back should have hastened this transition. So I was puzzled by Randel's article where he seems to ignore the corporate market entirely to focus on the appeal, or lack thereof, to consumers.

      For those of

  • The Apple success in the mobile market is the success of vanity. I know kids who don't have enough money for lunch but who own a brand new iPhone because "it's cool". The price of the handset, and the unlimited voice and data plans, for a teenager? Jeez!.... Android-based handsets are cheaper, and the hardware quality is different. Now, Microsoft decided to adopt the Apple business model. However, they don't seem to realise that they target a different audience. Frankly, for the same price I would buy Apple
  • I hated OLE ActiveX COM so so much. It would be one the main reasons I left windows programming. I must have spent 1000's of hours fighting with those technologies either in trying to make them do something or trying to build an install package that worked. So anything this guy has to say is instantly discounted to zero. ActiveX was one of those classic silver bullet technologies that got you to 90% on the first day of development and the other 10% took months and often resulted in rebuilding whatever the A
  • by Bozovision (107228) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:51PM (#38506828) Homepage

    Firstly, he thinks that consumers are stupid: "They don’t know what they hate. All they know is they buy phone service from mobile carriers and/or buy a phone from a carrier. They love speeds & feeds and will generally buy anything they are told to by television ads and RSPs (Retail Sales Professionals)."

    No: consumers ask their friends. Their friends are Slashdot readers. They know full-well what a phone Market dominated by Microsoft would look like, they know how Microsoft has behaved. Repeatedly. And they are not going to recommend a MS phone to anyone: friends don't screw friends. They all know it's just about protecting the desktop market, and the moment that MS has achieved that objective they'll screw the user. The clue is in the name: 'Windows Phone'.

    Secondly: "My hypothesis is that it also enables too much fragmentation that will eventually drive end users nuts." I guess that's how it's worked out for x86 choice in the face of the Apple desktop monoculture. Nope? It turns out that we value openness. It's one of the variables we play with when making a choice between systems: given all else equal, we'll choose the system that's more open. Advantages of openness far outweigh the disadvantages like fragmentation. So all that Google has to do is keep Android at rough parity with Apple in terms of UI/features. But they are doing better than parity - it's cheaper for better.

    Thirdly: Carriers know full well what happens to companies who partner with Microsoft. And so do device manufacturers. I guess some companies (cough, Nokia, cough), like the idea of handing their future to Microsoft, but it turns out that most think that's a bad idea. Sendo, anyone?

    Then I'm sure we can find a bunch of people who will dispute that WP is the best technically. Form an orderly queue in the replies please.

    But finally, even if you were to consider that WP was technically the best, the idea that the best tech is the winner has been roundly disproved again and again. Everyone, including Charlie Kindel, knows it's about the whole package. We all know that MS on the desktop isn't the best technically (it can't be - it has to satisfy everyone) but it is the best at the whole package.

  • ...Apple is an exception...

    I think that sums up the story.

  • 1) Microsoft has backstabbed almost every "partner" it has had, which means it only gets voluntary partners that are: a) stupid, or b) greedy.

    2) Microsoft could go over the heads of the carriers, just like Apple, if it actually had something compelling for consumers. Instead, they used their default strategy of pushing carriers around while assuming that consumers would be drawn in by the fact that "It's Windows!". They didn't want to stand on the boat, and they didn't want to stand on the dock, so they end

  • Sorry, but face the facts. WinCE is a terrible OS, and it always has been. If you have a decent product you don't need to change the name every few years.

    If customers just did what they were told Android wouldn't be popular.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:11PM (#38507080) Journal

    From Kindel's blog: "Remember that end users just do what they are told (by advertising and RSPs). "

    Yeah? Really? Screw you, Charlie, and all the devices you flogged. Go on, TELL me to buy a Windows phone. Go on. I'm listening. What? Louder. Ok, I hear you. I understand the instruction. The answer is NO.

    Arrgh!

  • exception (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:15PM (#38507142) Homepage Journal

    Apple is an exception

    The real question is: Why isn't Microsoft?

    "My better competitor is an exception" is a cop-out. Find out what makes them the exception, why they could break the rules and not only get away with it, but be successful doing so. Just saying "they're an exception" is on the same order as "these are not the droids you are looking for" - if you're not a Jedi, it just makes you look stupid. Because you didn't explain anything, and least of all the failure you're trying to cover up.

    • by Junta (36770)

      Well, for one, they aren't an 'exception', they just don't do the distinct hardware and software vendor thing at all. It's an amazingly stragihtforward reality than MS can't seem to grasp. They aren't a company trying to serve the consumers needs in spite of the hardware vendor (incidentally that adversarial view of your 'partners' is probably a significant obstacle in your path), they are one company with any hardware/software disagreements settled behind closed doors.

      MS wants to have the detached relati

    • by arkhan_jg (618674)

      They were an exception because apple were coming directly from a position of strength - the ipod + itunes combo was incredibly popular (and still is for people who don't want or can't afford an iphone) and demonstrated apple were capable of making desirable consumer products. The idea of an ipod with phone service and 3g was always going to be a mega seller in the USA even if it was completely non functional in a number of areas compared to the Asian competition. (cut n paste, native apps, multitasking, dec

  • by JustNiz (692889) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @06:10PM (#38507852)

    The reason I'd never buy one is simply because its a Microsoft product.
    Microsoft have a long history of screwing their customers. I don't trust Microsoft or Ballmer especially to ever put small users interests first. Simple as that.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @10:55PM (#38510864) Homepage

    Microsoft faced a similar problem in automotive systems. At one point, Microsoft wanted to control the in-car entertainment and navigation system market. The problem was that they wanted to have a direct relationship with the car buyer. (Think "OnStar, by Microsoft"). This did not go over with the auto companies. (A QNX sales rep once told me that an auto exec went through the roof when shown a demo with the Microsoft logo appearing on screen when the car was started.) Microsoft remains active in that sector, but has neither a dominant position nor control over the auto companies.

  • by Shoten (260439) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @12:05AM (#38511428)

    Charlie Kindel was once a Windows Phone evangelist, and he thinks that inferior features or user experience are not the reason why Windows Mobile isn't capturing the market. To me, these are two solid pieces of evidence that he's never actually USED a Windows Mobile device!

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