As you might know, Windows Mobile 6.5, the latest incarnation of Microsoft maligned mobile operating system was officially released, along with a bevvy of new Windows Phones at CTIA a couple of weeks ago in San Diego. You know, the place I was going to when my plane ran out of gas…not that I am bitter or anything. There was an interesting blog post that was sent to my inbox yesterday via Google Alerts that I found fascinating…if only because I was asking myself the very same question a couple of weeks ago.
So is Windows Mobile becoming the new Vista? What a great question. I think the answer is very simple: Yes it is.
Windows Vista was panned almost from its inception. Delayed many times, incompatibilities with drivers when it originally came out, slow, sluggish…I could go on and on. For the record, I have three machines that came with Windows Vista Home Premium pre-installed. Two were the 32 bit version, while my latest machine came with the 64 bit version pre-installed. Given all the stories, blog posts and discussions that I have seen over the years, I’m convinced I am in the minority to say that I have had no problems with Vista and that I actually think it’s a very fine OS. But that’s irrelevant because perception is reality. So what was Microsoft to do? They just launched last week Windows 7, which many have called Vista Take 2. Some say that as a criticism, while others say it with a positive tone. Either way, I agree with the statement and am eagerly awaiting my copy to install on my big desktop. In fact, most press has been very positive on Windows 7, especially because the hardware requirements are pretty much the same for Windows 7 as they were for Vista when it originally was released…that’s a rather impressive feat in the world of bloatware.
So let me be one of the first to say it. If Windows Mobile 6.5 is the new Vista, then I think Microsoft will make Windows Mobile 7 the new Windows 7.
Yup, you heard me people. I think Microsoft will actually get it right with Windows Mobile 7. They have to. Their backs are, for all intents and purposes, up against the wall. If you look at history, this is actually one of the best places for Microsoft to be. When they finally see that they are in trouble (which admittedly does take time), they do something about it and they do it in a big way.
Now mind you, there are still many challenges out there for our Redmondian friends. Even with their new commercials, where “Windows 7 was my idea” does not get the same attention that an Apple commercial will. That’s because in this day and age, Apple can do no wrong, and Microsoft can do (almost) no right. Perception is reality.
The beauty of mobility is that things can change so quickly. Look at Palm. Left for dead two years ago and now on the comeback trail (if only they had more money to go on a full court press). Microsoft has that money. If Microsoft can create a great mobile platform (and I already offered my $.02 on that), then the winds of change can very quickly get behind them.
Now mind you, I still don’t agree with some of the things they do:
- Choice, choice, choice. There is actually such a thing as too much choice.
- I still think that the skins that companies such as HTC and Samsung put on the devices do no good for the Windows Mobile brand (I think the same thing is true for Android).
- I still think that Microsoft should make its own phone (not Pink). Google is rumored to be doing it as well.
- I also think that Microsoft has a huge problem to solve in the ruggedized space – how do you make a great consumer experience work in the blue/gray collar environment?
- The marketplace is not as elegant as those found on other platforms (and please don’t take 7 versions to get it right).
There are a lot of smart people at Microsoft, and they have a lot of great technologies that if they could only combine and leverage where 1 + 1 is more than 2, would make it an incredibly compelling platform. That’s a lot to ask of Redmond, but I think Windows Mobile 7 will bring them back into the game.