Tag Archive for ‘Windows Mobile’

Windows Phone is Now Officially Windows Mobile Again ➝

I have no idea why they would want to return to the Windows Mobile branding. Wasn’t it universally panned as the worst mobile operating system in the Blackberry and Palm OS days?

Windows Phone 7 Series

I’ve watched a few demos of Microsoft’s newly announced Windows Phone 7 Series and while I’m glad that Microsoft finally did something new, I’m not sure how I feel about the actual design of the software.

I’m glad that they finally decided to break backwards compatibility, especially since (whether Microsoft knows it or not) Windows Mobile died years ago. The lack of backwards compatibility might be the kick in the pants Windows Mobile developers needed to build better applications. Nothing helps developers build great software than an interesting platform to write for and this is certainly an interesting platform.

The most striking difference between Windows Mobile and Phone 7 Series is the home screen which uses tiles. I don’t really like the home screen as it doesn’t seem to fit with the design of the applications. While the home screen clearly indicates what can and can’t be tapped making use of the tiles, the typographic interface of the applications themselves doesn’t really differentiate between tappable, un-tappable, and swipe-able text with any type of visual cue.

I haven’t actually used the device and the experience could be completely different once I get my hands on it, but I don’t see the interface as being very inviting to use. It looks like it was designed as something to look at, but not something to interact with.

I’m happy that Microsoft finally built in Zune integration, but this is a predictable move, and I can’t imagine the amount of complaining that would occur if Microsoft didn’t build in Zune integration. Windows Mobile has never really had a great Microsoft-built desktop syncing interface and I hope that the Zune software will be that software.

Microsoft has been very hush hush regarding multi-tasking for this platform. The rumor is that Windows Phone 7 Series won’t have “true” multi-tasking, instead implementing it similarly to how Apple does. In other words, if there is multi-tasking it will likely only be enabled on the music app, email app, and a few other default apps.

One of the most interesting aspects of this announcement is that Microsoft will be setting minimum specs for handsets. This isn’t something Microsoft has really done in the past and will certainly help push the platform to where it needs to be. Microsoft will be dictating the aspect ratio of displays, Wi-Fi is required, AGPS is required, along with standards on what buttons you must have. My first worry here is that every manufacturer will be building essentially the same device. Competing based on price is exactly what’s plaguing the PC market — I don’t think this is the direction Microsoft needs to be going if they expect there to be any innovation. However, I might be eating my words if Microsoft continues to raise the minimum requirements of handsets and somehow manages to keep people interested with further software updates. I’m weary of these types of requirements but they could end up being a blessing in disguise (no matter how much handset makers hate them).

I think Microsoft did exactly what they needed to do in order to breathe new life into their stale mobile division. This is what Microsoft should have done years ago. It’s unfortunate that it took Apple and Google jumping into the cell phone game for Microsoft to finally do this. Microsoft is a software company filled with really smart developers — sometimes I just can’t understand why they’re unwilling to innovate unless someone else is beating them to the punch. It’s almost as if Microsoft can’t actually get anything done unless there is a sense of urgency.

Windows Mobile Market Share Drops by 30% ➝

David Meyer of ZDNet UK:

According to figures released by Gartner on Thursday, Microsoft’s mobile operating system had 11 percent of the global smartphone market in Q3 2008. A year later, it had 7.9 percent of the market, while the iPhone’s share had risen from 12.9 percent to 17.1 percent, and RIM’s share had risen from 16 percent to 20.8 percent.

Symbian’s market share fell from 49.7 percent to 44.6 percent over the same period — a 10 percent drop.

That means that while Apple’s market share increased by about 30%, Windows Mobile market share dropped by roughly the same amount. They’re not exactly on track for their goal of 40% global market share by 2012.

Windows Mobile 6.5 ➝

Reviews of Windows Mobile 6.5 have been published and things aren’t looking good. Motorola has already passed on it and I haven’t managed to find a positive review in the whole bunch.

Here are some choice bits from John Herrman’s review on Gizmodo:

Windows Mobile 6.5 isn’t just a letdown—it barely seems done. […] It’s a superficial update, and not a very thorough one. It’s an interim product, and a vain attempt to hold onto the thinning ranks people who still choose Windows Mobile despite not being somehow tethered to it until the tardy Windows Mobile 7 comes out, whenever that may be. And it won’t work.

I’ve never been too fond of Gizmodo but I can respect the fact that they get right to the point, the above quote lives within the first three paragraphs of the review.

Regarding the Windows Mobile Start Menu:

This one, though, feels more like a design concept than a final product. For example! The only tool you’re given to sort apps is a “Move to Top” command—no dragging, no alphabetical sorting, nothing except this bizarrely-chosen menu command that makes organizing apps feel like completing some kind of horrible puzzle game.

On the majority of user interface changes in Windows Mobile 6.5:

The remaining interface changes are subtle, and intended almost solely to make Windows Mobile 6.5 bearable to use without a stylus. (Though don’t get me wrong—most WinMo 6.5 devices will, damningly, still come with styluses.) It doesn’t really feel like a redesign—it feels like someone went through 6.1 and adjusted a few values. Add a few pixels of menu spacing here, some plasticky highlight graphics there, and BOOM. 6.5. Let’s go to lunch.

After looking through the screenshots of 6.5, it almost looks like Microsoft could only be bothered to fix areas that users will see most often. Go any deeper and it looks like a hybrid of 6.5 and past versions of Windows Mobile.

Herrman sums it up nicely with this:

I’d like to think that 6.5’s stunning failure to innovate is a symptom of a neglected project—maybe Microsoft just needed something, anything to hold people over until the mythical Windows Mobile 7 comes out, whatever it is.

No wonder the world’s biggest maker of Windows Mobile phones’ profits are down.

Update 10/9/09: Microsoft’s Windows Mobile Marketplace “copy protection” has already been cracked. And, the developer who circumvented it claims that it only took him 5 minutes to implement.

Update 10/14/09: Regarding the Microsoft/Danger Fiasco

Update 10/14/09: Microsoft’s Pink project is on the verge of collapse. Electronista regarding the project:

The very existence of the project is also thought to have caused (or soon to be causing) problems with many partners of both Microsoft and Danger. Just by developing a self-branded phone, Microsoft is expected to mirror what occurred with the original Zune and alienate remaining Windows Mobile hardware partners, such as HTC. It may drive these supporters further towards Android, Symbian and other competing platforms, the newer source said.

Microsoft insists on keeping the project separate from from other teams within Microsoft, inevitably causing the Pink team to repeat work and ignore any advice from the Windows Mobile or Zune teams that could have benefited the Pink team in the long run. Microsoft’s mobile strategy is by far worse than any other company’s and, unless it gets changed, could render all of their efforts in the space completely useless.