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Microsoft catches up in the smartphone race

Rory Cellan-Jones | 17:10 UK time, Monday, 15 February 2010

It was a packed news conference with desperate journalists clamouring to get in and hear Steve talking about a revolution in mobile connectivity.

No, I'm not talking about Apple's iPad event in San Francisco last month, but the Microsoft event in Barcelona; the man with the plan for your mobile future was not Steve Jobs but Steve Ballmer.

Screengrab of Microsoft Windows phone 7 seriesAnd Microsoft wasn't launching a new device - but yet another version of the Windows mobile operating system. This time, though, it's re-branded as "Windows Phone 7 Series"; Microsoft says it's "designed for life in motion" and will be both "delightful" and "fun".

So will this put Microsoft back in the smartphone game, where despite a whole series of shiny new operating systems dating right back to Pocket PC in 2000, it's failed to make much headway? The company has been going backwards over the last couple of years as Apple and Android have stolen the limelight.

Mr Ballmer left it to his younger cooler mobile vice-president Joe Belfiore to wow the crowd with all the features of the new system. He started unpromisingly: "We wanted to build a phone with the end user in mind..." Not exactly a radical approach - as a colleague put it, that's probably what Alexander Graham Bell said.

But what appeared on-screen looked clean, easy to use and attractive. The new operating system has at its heart the three must-have features of the modern mobile world - search, social, and location.

So there's a Bing button (I'm not clear whether you can customise that as a Google button) which gets you searching immediately. There's a People Hub, where you can see all your friends and their various social-networking activities. And location is built into a lot of the features, so that you can see local news, spot local services, and generally enjoy a localised web experience.

So far, so good - but also nothing that isn't being offered by the likes of Apple, Android and other state-of-the-art mobile OSes. What Microsoft is hoping is that two of its big brands - Xbox and Zune - will be the key to luring users back to a Windows phone.

Keen Xbox Live players - and there are plenty of them - will be able to play simple games on their mobiles, and every Windows Phone will from now on also be a Zune player, able to play music and video.

So Microsoft and its partners should now be able to build phones that can do everything the iPhone does in the same integrated way, while tapping into the still much larger population of Windows desktop users. But here's the hitch - there will be no devices on the market until late this year, in time for Christmas.

Over the rest of this year, the makers of other smartphone operating systems will not be hanging about twiddling their thumbs. Apps are becoming ever more important for phone users, and developers are now being invited to make applications for all manner of handsets - from the iPhone to new devices launched by Nokia and Intel under their new open-source MeeGo platform. Will they be devoting a lot of time to building for Windows Phone 7 when there will be quicker ways to reach an audience?

Microsoft has caught up with its smartphone rivals - but in nine months' time, those rivals may have sprinted off into the distance again.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    In practice, this MS phone will have two huge advantages over iPhone and Android:

    1. Exchange connectivity (real people use Exchange)
    2. Multi-tasking. Yep - you can leave apps running.

    For that matter the current Windows Mobile devices run rings around iPhone on these two points already. So combine that with a decent UI and this could be quite something.

    Then given the ease of developing for the Windows Mobile platform and a huge existing market of WinMo apps (not all under one Apple controlled roof - which would be a good thing?). This should, in a un-biased world. succeed.

  • Comment number 2.

    Wow! Windows on your mobile phone... How will we do a 'Ctrl-Alt-Del' to reboot it when it crashes...

    Seriously though, Microsoft has lost so much ground in the Smartphone OS wars that I don't see it recovering to the more stable Linux and Android based solution. The interface looks very "me too" compared to Google and iPhone and I didn't see anything that had any form of WOW factor. Couple that with the fact it's Windows and I'm sure people will continue to vote for reliability and functionality offered by the others.

    In essence, too little, too late...

  • Comment number 3.

  • Comment number 4.

    @Stuart

    All smartphones crash, chief. Don't let your prejudice get in the way.



  • Comment number 5.

    Whilst I currently have an iphone, I have been an avid supporter of windows mobile devices since 2000. They may have been buggy and they may not have been as cool as the iphone, they do offer a lot more customisability (!) than anything else.

    Same as laptops - windows machines may not be as cool as macbooks, but you can do almost anything with windows - whereas Apple are very restrcitive to the average user.

    Don't get me wrong I have a vaio and a macbookpro and love them both.

    I am looking forward to windows mobile 7. I may not dump my iphone but then again I might.

  • Comment number 6.

    Microsoft still has a chance to redeem itself. You might see some revisions to the interface before the lunch date. I feel developers will also rush to develop for the Windows platform since its not as over saturated as Apple App-Store. The corporate world will still choose a Windows Phone over the iPhone because of its integration with MS-products such as Office/ Exchange.


  • Comment number 7.

    Will Windows Mobile 7 be multi-tasking ?
    I'm hearing different things from different people.

    Anyone know for sure ?

  • Comment number 8.

    Rory you didn't mention the major benefit of multi-tasking. Also in respect of whether you can change Bing to Google, Bing is actually a very good search engine. On my iPhone I cannot change the default search engine (or browser), or download music from anything other than iTunes. Therefore though I love my iPhone I welcome developments that allow a wider platform of choice and compatability. Personally I would say the essential elements of a successful mobile phone implementation are ; ease of use; user applications; location services; careful integration between applications; good email integration with your home computer; music playing ability; decent camera ; ability to exchange data easily with your home computer. I didn't think voice would be at all important until I tried the Google app on the iphone - great speech recognition and very useful. Oh, and it should do the phone stuff as well!

  • Comment number 9.

    Also there are rumours that only the latest Windows Mobile aps will work on Windows 7 Mobile, with anything pre WM 6.5 not supported.

    If true, that will knock out a whole range of add-ons.
    Anyone know for sure ?

  • Comment number 10.

    Come next Xmas I will gladly drop my iPhone 3Gs like the hot brick it is: UncleB has it right. I wouldn't mind the lack of multitasking if it wasn't for the fact that the iPod software will run in the background, thus demonstrating multitasking is possible. I wouldn't mind having to use a pin no to lock/unlock my whole phone to protect my email access, if it wasn't for the fact that I can individually protect certain apps, thus demonstrating that such control is possible. I can only assume that if you allowed multitasking the user might find a different non itunes based method of listening to music. I can't imagine why they would fail to allow the protecting of email with a pin no - unless this is something with their premum mobile me package?
    Why do I have to jailbreak my phone in order to use my bluetooth keyboard? what kind of half baked bluetooth offering is that?
    When you hear Steve Jobs hold up an iPad (running the iPhone operating system) and say "it's like holding the whole internet in your hand." I felt like shouting "so you've flash enabled it then?" but no, like other false advertising claims about iphone internet access and OSX malware invulnerabitlity, I still have a phone that can't fully access half the web that I want to look at.
    There are a miriad of reasons why I will be switching to this phone OS.
    Most of them Apple.
    :O) x

  • Comment number 11.

    @UncleB
    "In practice, this MS phone will have two huge advantages over iPhone and Android:

    1. Exchange connectivity (real people use Exchange)
    2. Multi-tasking. Yep - you can leave apps running."

    My HTC Hero, running Android can already Sync with Microsoft Exchange servers, and it can also Multi-Task, so i dont see what your point about Android devices is?

  • Comment number 12.

    What's amusing is that they are desperate enough to be actually showing off a tacky prototype of something that's not even due for another 6 months time (or is that 12 months in microsoft years?). And it nearly does what current smartphone products already do anyway. And yes I can already link to exchange servers and edit ms office docs on my iphone, although I don't find a need to do either very often.

    So i just don't get it.

    Is it another "ipod killer" like the microsoft zune was hailed to be? Remember the zune? What an unforgettable name, indeed. Has anyone ever seen a microsoft zune?

    Meanwhile during the next 6 months the big boys in the smartphone world will be coming up with all sorts of new goodies for the late-comers to try to copy

  • Comment number 13.

    Rory's original article inadvertently hits the nail on the head. "So Microsoft and its partners should now be able to build phones that can do everything the iPhone does in the same integrated way, while tapping into the still much larger population of Windows desktop users." The problem for Microsoft is that its Windows desktop monopoly means little in the context of mobile phones - it could force Internet Explorer onto people by bundling it with Windows (likewise Windows Media Player) but it can't do this for mobile phones. This is why, despite Microsoft's massive resources, the XBox 360 doesn't dominate the consoles market the same way Windows does the desktop operating system market, and why Microsoft's previous ventures into consumer electronics have been costly failures (WebTV being the most notorious). They can't leverage their Windows monopoly in the consoles and phones markets so they have to compete on a level playing field.

    As for every Windows phone being a Zune player... Wow! (not). The Zune has been a massive flop - they might have sold 3 million of them but that compares to over 240 million iPods. It hasn't launched outside the US and Canada yet, despite being launched well over three years ago. This might be a Zune in name only but that name carries a lot of baggage.

    The worst mistake they've made is that the management software for it will be Windows only. The Mac platform is creeping up in importance (especially amongst US college students, who are the big decision makers of tomorrow) and if Microsoft truly want to get into contention for mobile device market share it would have been better to swallow their pride and make it as widely compatible as possible.

  • Comment number 14.

    @UncleB

    "In practice, this MS phone will have two huge advantages over iPhone and Android:

    1. Exchange connectivity (real people use Exchange)
    2. Multi-tasking. Yep - you can leave apps running."

    1 Iphone has supported exchange since the V2.0 update. Android also supports exchange.
    2 It's strange with the Iphone as it's not a case that it is not capable of multitasking. It's a choice appple made justified by the perfomance of the phone. What you get is a stable and quick platform.

    It brings back the whole argument of netbooks being slow. Heat is the biggest enemy of electronics manufacturers.

    Ultimately smartphones have allways been aimed at Business users although more and more indivudals are picking them up. The iphone dispite apple's marketing power was never a business phone untill the day it supported Exchange which is the most popular E-mail server in the market.

    I don't feel Microsoft has really fallen back, although lacking some of the new fancy touches, a lot of recent 6.1/6.5 phones have been very decent, especially HTC based platforms.

    It's a ever changing market which for me, I feel people can be extreemly cynical about.

  • Comment number 15.

    WOW so much anti Microsoft commenting already. Steady guys, when Microsoft do actually launch a good product (like this truly is) your hate and bias starts to show for what it is..

    WP7 is lovely, ive been using betas for sometime and its not a 'me to' type affair. It interface is a million miles better than anything iPhone or Android has, its fully accelerated, super fast and easily the most functional of any current system. Heck, iPhone looks positively ancient these days.

    WP7 will be in devices by the 3rd quarter, prototypes are already being tested. This isnt a vapour-ware release or a long distant future concept, its pretty much ready now.

  • Comment number 16.

    As a Microsoft developer and technical writer I am a little excited to see this new os. However I can't help feel it is too little to late.

    Alot of people on here seem a little keen to critisise the iPhone but don't forget that without it there wod be not android and no windows series 7.

    Now for those that can't wait to dump their iPhone, just get rid of it. These devices are just consumer electronic devices. If the device doesn't fit with what you want then don't buy it. If you need a device that has Flash then don't buy an iPhone

    On the other hand if you need access to 170000 apps then don't get windows mobile.

  • Comment number 17.

    It should be noted that although Microsofts mobile market share has shrunk (which naturally happens when new competitors enter the market), it still sells by the multi million. WM6.1-5 is still a very big player, whether internet 'experts' think so or not.

  • Comment number 18.

    "Windows phone 7 series" God what terrible name.Anyway it's never been there strong point.

    I'm sorry people to people who havent actually watched the anncuouument but Cupertino is in trouble, Microsoft nailed it!!
    The UI has the simplicity and elegance of Apple's industrial design, while the iPhone's UI still feels like a colorized Palm Pilot.
    With the iPhone, Apple put together an extremely simple modal interface(this app does this,this one that) microsft has focused on the data too.
    In the process, they have created a beautiful user interface in which the data is at the center of user interaction. Not the apps—specific functions—but the information itself.
    History is on Microsoft's side here—we know what happened the last time Apple had a massive head start. Microsoft is, if nothing else, incredibly patient.
    Remember the first Xbox? Back when it was crazy that Microsoft was getting into videogames? It's cost them about a billion dollars and taken nearly 10 years, but now, with Xbox Live, Project Natal and their massive software ecosystem, they arguably have the most impressive gaming console you can buy.
    That was a pet project!!!!!
    Now, mobile is the future of computing. What do you think Microsoft will sink into that?
    Microsoft once again following their past pattern, letting others define a market, and then upping it a notch, and drowning everyone else with their capital.
    Microsoft is very bad, and lost when their competition is undefined, and very good when they can put a finger on what they need to do.

    Win 7 is beautiful. Zune HD is top-notch PMP(no its not the same as ipod touch it's trying to be something different.My iphone is for apps, zune is for 1080 movies:)
    Xbox 360 has won console war thanks to Xbox live(yes wii won but it just created new market). Natal is coming.

    Mircosoft is back on form and going to crush apple between it and android.

  • Comment number 19.

    Why did someone who wants multitasking, wants more granular security than a single PIN, doesn't like the iTunes/iPod interface for listening to music, wants to use a bluetooth keyboard, and wants to see Flash websites as they were intended, ever end up with an iPhone? Let's hope he researches his Windows 7 phone a little more thoroughly before spending his money!

  • Comment number 20.

    At 7:10pm on 15 Feb 2010, D7029 wrote:
    "The Mac platform is creeping up in importance (especially amongst US college students, who are the big decision makers of tomorrow)"

    Decision makers of tomorrow. Yes maybe.. but when they grow up they go to work and they sure as hell dont use macs then.Windows rules the business enviroment because IT can control it.IE 6 which is a piece of crap is still the biggest browser because IT systems can group control it.Macs are fun but not if you work in IT.

    "and if Microsoft truly want to get into contention for mobile device market share it would have been better to swallow their pride and make it as widely compatible as possible."

    Arguably that was their biggest mistake with WinMo as it led to uneven user experience. iphone did well beacuse of tight software and hardware intergration. Windows can never offer that(unless they build a phone themselves) but more stringent hardware requriements is a step in the right direction.

    Windows 7, Android and RIM will be the big three in 10yrs.Iphone and maybe symbian left hanging on.

  • Comment number 21.

    I do hope it retains the C> prompt - lurking, 80s-style underneath the rigid "we know best" tile layout.

    I'd hate to see the dinosaurs get upset while they still have some mobility...

  • Comment number 22.

    both android and iphone licence the activsync tech of microsoft, so they can indeed sync with exchange.

    @Clevor Trever

    You username says it all really! The reason many people haven't heard about the Zune HD is that it's only available in the US and it is successful there. Your able to buy the Zune Pass, it's $15 a month for unlimited music/video listening. I think thats a pretty damn good deal!

  • Comment number 23.

    With how restrictive Apple are i can see the iPhone starting to slide down in the next 3-4 years.

  • Comment number 24.

    The past has arrived! Windows Phone 7; like an iPhone, only 4 years late to the party!

    The big question is, once you drill down a couple of menus, does it revert to WinMob 6?

    Epic FAIL!

  • Comment number 25.

    @JimmyJammy It doesn't revert to anything - it's a complete rewrite. That brings advantages (such as the inability to find stuff dating from 2000, deep in the settings somewhere), but it also brings disadvantages - all 20,000 apps for Windows Mobile 5 and 6 are almost certainly incompatible.

    @Rory Cellan-Jones Unsurprisingly, your iVision is stopping you from seeing many of Microsoft's points here. Functionality is not an issue - Windows Mobile has had apps for everything iPhone OS and Android do, from localised search to social networking, for years. What Microsoft has done is take a leaf from the books of manufacturers of its devices, and bring that content and information to the surface (in particular, features like people-centric communication is very HTC-like). Unlike iPhone OS and early versions of Android, the home screen is not a collection of icons - it's far more useful. (There is the issue that Microsoft has actually always done that, but this is a comment - not an essay)...

  • Comment number 26.

    Rory!

    How can you say they've caught up? They've just given a single presentation, some of which was full of silverlight design mock-ups! Blimey if this is catching up I'm getting cracking tonight on some pre-vis work. I reckon by about 3 this morning I'll be pretty close. "Type in Sushi and it will find Sushi restaurants nearby?" The WOW is right there... no hang on it isn't... I've heard that somewhere before... sometime around January 2007?

    Let's also not forget Microsoft's notorious scheduling woes. I might just get my hands on one of these when Steve Jobs announces IphoneX from an old folks home in Cupertino. Can't wait .... oh dam! I have to...

  • Comment number 27.

    Good to see MS have been using their time well. They've fallen behind but they're nowhere near down and out. Hope this pushes everyone else to keep upping their game.

  • Comment number 28.

    Oh UncleB, I'm sure you mean well, but you are so mistaken about this latest effort from Microsoft, and about the rival Apple iPhone. To wit:

    1) The iPhone has been able to interoperate with Microsoft Exchange for -- oh, I don't know, a couple of years now.

    2) Sadly, "Windows Phone 7 Series" devices will, it seems, have the same level of multitasking as the iPhone -- you'll be able to play music in the background and receive calls, emails and TXTs while you use other applications -- but that's it. Like the iPhone you won't be able to run more than one third-party application at a time, alas.

    Worse for users of earlier versions of Windows Mobile is the news that old applications won't work at all with Win Phone 7. That's a bit sad.

    On the other hand, the mock-ups Microsoft has shown look very attractive and certainly far better than any earlier version of Windows Mobile. At last Microsoft has come up with something competitive.

    Assuming, that is, that Apple or Google don't come up with something even nicer between now and the Win Phone 7's scheduled release at the end of the year.

    Hint: Apple seems to like to announce new iPhones around the middle of the year. Pip pip!

  • Comment number 29.

    Well, it's hardly innovative but then again Microsoft hasn't been innovative since circa 1979. Microsoft doesn't need to be innovative. In fact, it's a bad idea for them to be innovative because I can't recall them ever getting it right. It's wasted energy and resources as far as they're concerned. Microsoft performs better when it has superior competition to chase. If it doesn't then it just stagnates. I do like the UI I have to say but it's not going to be enough in this ultra competitive market. So I think price is going to be a big factor in its success. If it costs considerably (at least £50) less than a HTC Hero it could do well.

  • Comment number 30.

    My better half has just upgraded her Sony X1 (Win. Mobile) for a N97 Mini... The X1 was rubbish! it took 5 mins to load Opera (IE didnt work properly for some reason) and multi talking was a joke! Also, (dont know if this can be blaimed on Windoze) but by the end of its 18 month life, the battery couldn't last one full day, even if everything was shut down (even turned on Flight Safe mode...)
    My point is, it better be a vast improvement from that!

    What i want to see is more involvement in the XBOX side. I dont care about playing Live games, becuase i'l do that on my xbox... I want it to work with my xbox (like the PSP / PS3 idea) - use it to view my friends list, or send msg's over XBL. Even turn on the machine remotely to start my downloads!!! that would be worth buying. But all of the above are just toys. If the OS can't handle being on the phone for an hour, then loading a program or two, il stick with a non-smart phone and accept some things have to be done from a laptop (or work PC ;) )

  • Comment number 31.

    @ #30 (me) - i meant multi tasking, not talking. Excuse any other typos / spelling mistakes...

  • Comment number 32.

    " On my iPhone I cannot change the default search engine "

    That's not true - go to settings, safari and there's an option for the search engine

  • Comment number 33.

    "In practice, this MS phone will have two huge advantages over iPhone and Android:

    1. Exchange connectivity (real people use Exchange)"

    The iPhone has Exchange support too.

  • Comment number 34.

    I haven't seen the announcment or any information other than Rory's article so I'm trying to sift the noise out here (the usual Apple and Microsoft camps having a go at each other).

    First point, I'm a little bit nervous about the provision for Zune, Xbox and Bing, I'd like to know what my options are for switching because it's rather pointless changing from the locked down iPhone just to go to another locked down system.

    Second will be price, one of the things that always seems to get lost on the arguments over smartphones is price, and they are VERY expensive. I'm quite in favor of something cheaper that has the functionality I need.

    Third, looking at the offering here I think everyone's missed the point. Microsofts closest competition isn't Apple, it's going to be Blackberry. Apple 'fans' are never going to switch, period. However Microsoft's strengths are its business platforms, they don't often get entertainment right. A windows phone that can interact with Outlook, Office and OneNote in the cloud, with music, video, internet and some games on the side, now that is a compelling product for me.

    Lastly, I like the concept of pulling the various data streams together as long as you can seperate them out again to back up /change phones.

    All in all I'm quite optimistic, now to see if anyone can match it with hardware.

  • Comment number 35.

    iPhone users: Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Exchange support is limited to email and (maybe) calendar sync. Does it include tasks and contacts - does it support categories and all the other aspects?

    On multi-tasking: It is possible that MS have deliberately limited this. However, Windows Phone 7 and Windows Mobile before it are UIs built on the Windows CE kernel. Windows CE v5 and v6 are pretty good, fully multi-tasking kernels.

    The really sad part of this announcement is that back in 2000/2001, MS bought a UK company in the mobile phone space. As part of MS, that company demonstrated a live home screen carrying email updates, live weather/traffic - it even had location awareness and the code was developed to do such things as provide offers from shops as you went past. Sadly, Mr Balmer decided that this was "not strategic" and closed that group down. Think where "Windows Phone" would be today with a more visionary CEO.....

  • Comment number 36.

    Apple vs microsoft

    Core issue for normal users (not geeks)

    the iphone is user friendly, it does not crash, it does not make users wait, it works with email, internet, music and all those funny little apps my friends talk about, i.e. it works with little or no frustration, which is the main issue with most norms have with microsoft software.

  • Comment number 37.

    @TimmyNorfolk. Yes the X1 wasnt great, but thasts not Microsofts fault, it was SE fault for giving it as sluggish interface. Batteries do die, ask an iPhone user how much of a pain that is when theirs starts to go, they cant even swap theirs out easily!

    MS make the OS not the hardware or the custom interface, that is entirely the responsibility of the manufacturer. MS realise the experience has been variable with Winmo 6.x, thats why it set a minimum for the hardware and has locked out custom interfaces.

    Really to be competitive winmo 6.5 only needed a decent interface, HTC has one thats much more useful than iPhone OS or Android, but its not complete right down to all levels. WP7 is a complete re-write from the bottom up. It fully support modern CPUs and is much faster. In terms of functionality it probably isn't higher than Winmo 6.5 because that already has everything all the others have and more, its just not always easy or nice (read Pretty) to get that functionality. The old Winmo 6 is closer to a full desktop class OS than any other mobile OS.

    One more thing. Winmo 6.x is going to be free once WP7 comes out. This is a BIG deal thats seems to have been ignored. After Googles fall out with China Winmo 6.x has a massive chance to clean up there. It supports resistive screens and therefore proper handwriting recognition that is so very important to the Chinese. The push into China has already begun and Winmo 6 may soon be the largest mobile OS in the world by weight of numbers.

  • Comment number 38.

    @ChrisM
    As you've been "using betas of WM7 for some time now" can you clear up the multitasking argument once and for all. On that note can you also provide some details of the memory management architecture adopted by Micrsosft to support this?

    Either way WM7 is "brand new from the ground up" so effecetively, by Microsoft's own admission, WinMob 5 & 6, and any before, have been such abject failuires that they need to be completely abandoned and not 1 line of code is worth reusing. Gulp, was it really that bad Mr Ballmer?

    The user experience has never been Microsoft's strong point otherwise why would they ask you to first press the "Start" button on order to "Shut Down" your PC. Does anyone at Redmond every think these things through?

    Of course it will sell in large quantities because many manufacturers will create a wide range of devices on which to run it. Users will encounter a wide range of experiences from satisfied to completely fed up with the damn thing, just like the Windows desktop or note/netbook experience.

    That's why Apple's more focused approach works, it guarantees a level of quality in the user experience, there are no cheap shoddily implemented clones. Apple's approach may not be for everyone especially if you are of a "bargain basement, quality doesn't count, can I download a free pirate version from the net?" mentality. Quality has it's admirers, there's no such thing as a "pc-switcher".

  • Comment number 39.

    "iPhone users: Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Exchange support is limited to email and (maybe) calendar sync. Does it include tasks and contacts - does it support categories and all the other aspects?"

    My iPhone is linked to our company Exchange, and it links to Calendars, Contacts and Mail.

    It's a really good, easy to use solution.

  • Comment number 40.

    @UncleB

    You are quite right, Ballmer is a complete fud. VERY noticeable that he did not give the presentation yesterday because he's awfull at it, did you see him at CES?

    Unfortunately whilst Ballmer remains in charge at Microsoft it will continue to exhibit it's recently heavily documented "avoidance of innovation".

    If WM7 devices were on sale today and were selling by the truckload and if it offered 100,000+ apps and if it offered a music store to it's global users then this could be described as "STARTING to catchup", but very obviously it's not.

  • Comment number 41.

    @TheElegantCaryGrant No of course i cant, NDAs are still in place. WP7 isnt an Open Beta. Suffice to say though that although its not the same as Winmo 6.x (my HD2 can have 100+ apps open at the same time, and be stable), it ain't no iPhone either..

    WM6.x isnt bad as such. It does everything, but it is based on an out of date version of WinCE. In order to give it the complete overhaul it needs for the future, especially with regard to hardware support, APIs and interface, it would need a very heavy re-write, so they might as well go all out.

    For what its worth there are still a LOT of users who want to keep Winmo 6.x. Those who actually like the stylus, which is actually more accurate and gives you options a capacitive screen doesnt give, especially professionals who need a PDA phone in the work environment, Asian language users those who need full office functions.

    Did no one wonder why Microsoft has bothered to develop Winmo 6.5.5 when it would only be out a few months before 7? Its more finger friendly than 6.1/5 and is for use in devices targeted at those users.

    TheElegantCaryGrant.. There are those that dislike the Apple method, money isnt the point. My PC cost me a LOT more than any Mac could ever cost. Oh and yes, people do abandon Apple for Microsoft, all the time.

  • Comment number 42.

    By the Way, that 'Start Menu' issue is really lame. If it really bothers people that much then they need therapy. Besides, Start is perfectly valid, you are Starting the shutdown process!

  • Comment number 43.

    I see the Iphone bashers are out in force. Remember how awful Windows Mobile and Symbian were before the iPhone. I am pleased this looks good (so far), the more competition the better. I wouldn't write off Apple just yet, but they will have to raise their game with Android, Blackberry, webOS and maybe windows 7 competing. I hope they do raise their game and then all the others will have to do thern same and we consumers will win.

    One final thing isn't it funny that all of the new hardware look very much like the iPhone!!

  • Comment number 44.

    I don't really care what the software is like. I had thought about buying myself one of these whizzy new smartphone things, but then I read one of Rory's earlier blogs about how unreliable the network coverage was.

    Thought I'd do the experiment of seeing whether I could connect to a website on a colleague's iPhone. I couldn't.

    Until the mobile phone companies sort out the connectivity, I don't really see the point.

  • Comment number 45.

    Dear Apple fanboys

    If you like the Apple approach of closed hardware, and the case of iPhone OS, closed software, because of the benefits it offers, fine. But please do not be so arrogant as to assume that it MUST be related to quality and that you as sophisticated users cannot lower yourself to the level of those proles who cannot afford the finer things in life. There is another way to regard Apple owners and it has nothing with quality. More money than sense is a term which springs to mind. Highly susceptible to advertising, branding and the RDF is another. Add that to the fact that you often engage in straw man arguments by equating PCs with Windows whilst conveniently leaving out Linux - because it negates any arguments about malware and stability. Actually, no, I'm being a tad unfair here. Most Mac users haven't even heard of Linux because they're too ignorant and/or arrogant to expand their knowledge of computing.

    Yours faithfully, A triple-booting (Linux, OS X, Windows 7) netbook and gaming PC owner.

  • Comment number 46.

    Martin Oliver .. I LIKED Symbian and Winmo before Apple ruined the market with their fingers only way.
    Isnt it funny how the iPhone looks a lot like the SE P900i?

  • Comment number 47.

    Chris M.... Didn't the 900i have a fold down keyboard?. I loved the original Psion software at the time but Symbian just stood still and the 2 Nokia smartphones I owned were not easy to use. I still shudder at the problems I had with windows mobile running on Ipaq's and my last HTC smartphone which was a great handset with awful software. Personally i much prefer using my finger than a stylus, but appreciate that isn't for everyone.

    I am no Apple fanboy and not an Apple hater either and actually think competition is great and will get the smartphone which suits me best for business and as a media player. I think Blackberry and Apple really shook the market up and now we have Android as well. Nokia and Microsoft will have to respond and that is great for all consumers

  • Comment number 48.

    My point was that no phone looks like the iPhone, certainly no more than the iPhone looks like any older device (The P900 keyboard was removable so it was a pure touch screen if you wanted it to be). I cant think of any device that looks like the iPhone in a 'copycat' way. I guess the HTC HD is a similar size, but having a large touch screen and no buttons doesn't make an iPhone clone, such phones existed before, much like all the iPhones 'features' existed before.

  • Comment number 49.

    Why is the unveiling of Windows Phone 7 being announced as a 'launch', when the phones (and the 'launch' OS') are at least 6 months away?

  • Comment number 50.

    @19
    It's very sweet of you to comment on my lack of research, but you miss my point. I had already accepted that the price of getting a larger screens size was to downgrade my capability. I also wished to make use of the spotify app which is my preferred way of listening to music. I was ready to accept the lack of multitasking, but found it irritating when it became apparent that multitasking was possible - but only to those applications which would increase the revenue stream. I don't mind having to unlock my phone with a pin number (providing an admittedly low level of security) but found the decision to allow pin blocking of certain aspects but not the email puzzling. What kind of design process thinks it worthwhile to allow restrictions to safari, you tube, itunes but NOT email?

    It is true that it hadn't occured to me that a blue tooth enabled device would NOT offer bluetooth connectivity - you got me there. To then discover that it could work with a jailbroken phone makes me ask again Why not with the 'full version'.

    The lack of flash comment was merely pointing out the consistent dishonesty of the various claims made by the organisation which, up until I actually purchased one of its prducts, had little or no relevence to me.

    You are right though - this is my first foray into the 'Apple' experience. It is a mistake I don't plan on repeating.

    Ironically, last night my friend drew my attention to the iconic 1984 Apple Macintosh advert. Who would have thought that Apple would become Big Brother?

  • Comment number 51.

    Apple was Big Brother in 1984 too. The Macintosh 128k was as closed, if not more closed, than any Mac available today. Even by 1984, Apple had lost its humble renegade beginnings.

  • Comment number 52.

    Skashion... You have just posted the best quotes I have read in ages...

    Well done and keep it up.

    Apple are doing a bang up job emptying peoples pockets.

    I hope Windows 7 mobile phones will be able to increase competition and thus improve services.

    Although most of us know people just love the Apple sandbox with electrified fence installed to stop you getting out. Sad really.

  • Comment number 53.

    For me there is a huge difference between the iPhone and this software. The iPhone is a complete product which combines hardware and software. This is just new Windows mobile software. I say "just" but this is so much more than that. Apple takes on two competitors with the iPhone, the hardware supplier and the software supplier. So far there have been much better handsets on the market but the software has been pretty grim iPhone clones. I think this will mix it up a bit.

    I have an iPhone 3GS and it's a good phone. It has 32Gb of memory for my music and the applications are fun. Would I get another iPhone when this one dies? Probably not. The iPhone is good but it (and this isn't just my phone) crashes quite a bit. Screen Freezes are hugely annoying for every iPhone owner I know. In addition to this I just hate iTunes.

    Apparently Adobe are working with MS to provide a version of Flash for this OS.

    I'm looking forward to this operating system being released later in the year and seeing what spec handsets use it. A 32Gb Sony Ericcson smartphone handset running this would be great in my opinion!

  • Comment number 54.

    This ongoing race to develop smart phones,smarter phones etc. is one that I feel is catering to a dwindling number of tech fans who use these devices simply because they are available and provide another aspect to the pose in the pub(winebar).The huge majority of phone users just want to make a call,send a text,whatever.The average phone will do a person for as long as they look after it.While these smart phones may be perceived as cool things to have by some ,to others they are almost a joke.You can spend hundreds on these phones only to find that some manufacturer has come up with an inovation that renders your smart phone out of date,old!Yet it still funtions as well as the day you bought it.What value are you getting for your money at the end of the day?Has it made a significant difference to any aspect of your life.In most cases I feel the answer is no.Granted some will benefit,though that number of users will be small,very small.

  • Comment number 55.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 56.

    Microsoft were always seen as the professional's choice when it came to smartphones. That mantra is now owned by the Blackberry. In this attempt, MS has decided to try to bridge the gap between cool and functional, yet it offers very little over the iPhone. Actually it offers less. Why would anybody buy this?
    I don't imagine anyone will be spending their time and/or money updating their marketing tools to include this.
    Perhaps it's time for MS to exit this market, unless they can produce something innovative

 

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