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Is Windows Mobile 6.5 The Vista of Mobility?

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.

9 Comments

  1. Posted October 28, 2009 at 15:31 | Permalink

    Is Windows Mobile 6.5 The Vista of Mobility?
    No, it’s definitely not. It is, if well configured, much faster than any of its predecessors, along with devices that come with up to 1 GHz super fast Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU and a lot of RAM and ROM, all of which contribute to performance. The visible Microsoft apps and system interior behind the today screen still look completely outdated. But the system itself is still the most powerful on the market and ideal for integration into enterprise infrastructure.

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  2. Posted October 29, 2009 at 08:33 | Permalink

    Hi Franz,
    Thanks for the comment. You rais some great points, but you start with a powerful word: IF. The Windows Phone I’m trying out takes forever to start up and is not as snappy as other devices I have used recently that don’t need a Gigahertz processor. I also agree with you that the look is completely outdated – and hence why I say that perception is reality.
    Best,
    Philippe

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  3. Rich
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 12:24 | Permalink

    WM7 is going to be the mobile version of Vista. WM6.5 is Longhorn, except the mobile market wouldn’t tolerate a reset so it got released instead of buried. WM7 is the release that is forever being pushed back, doesn’t have a firm delivery date, etc. That is the opposite of Win7 which was a tight well-defined update done relatively quickly.

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  4. Posted October 29, 2009 at 15:05 | Permalink

    A better question might be, is Microsoft the General Motors of the software industry?

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  5. Posted October 29, 2009 at 15:09 | Permalink

    If you mean by that, that until recently their products were completely out of touch with the demands of the market and of sub par quality, then I would say no. Overall, I think MSFT has some good products…I really do.
    If you mean they see the writing on the wall, have completely refocused and are so proud of their product that they (GM) is now offering 60 money back guarantees…well, that could be another story. Like I said, we’ll have to wait and see what happens with Windows Mobile 7. I want them to see them succeed, but then again, I want all the players to succeed because in the end, it’s the consumers of (enterprise) mobility that win.
    Philippe

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  6. Posted November 1, 2009 at 12:07 | Permalink

    Well, we can only hope that Wm6.5 is better than WM6. It takes me nearly 2-and-a-half minutes to turn on my WM6-powered cellphone. The phone freezes 1-3 times per week, which makes me continually grateful that HTC at least had the presence of mind to make the battery easy to pull out. (You are joking about MS building a phone, right?)
    1-3 times per month, I get the dreaded “There has been a change on your computer” message from either WM6 or the companion ActiveSync software (I am not sure which). Recently, this complete re-syncing took me 42 hours, during which my phone was unusable and tethered to my computer.
    The phone number addressing on this phone is the slowest I have ever seen, and often I abandon it in-process, and just look it up on my computer.
    I love HTC. I hate WM6. Microsoft will have a real selling job to convince me that WM6.5 is any different.

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  7. Posted November 1, 2009 at 13:17 | Permalink

    Wow – 42 hours to re-sync? How much stuff was that? Regardless, I agree, there’s no way it should have taken that long.
    To a certain extent, this proves my point why I think MSFT needs to have its own devices. Now mind you, I did have one MSFT person a few years ago ask me if people really cared how long it took for a device to start. (cringe) In any case, I don’t think it’s a software issue alone. Sure, the OS needs a massive overhaul, but the hardware has to be there too. I’ve been playing with some new devices recently that still have (relatively) weak CPUs – that shouldn’t happen in this day and age of GHz processors, IMO.

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  8. Posted November 2, 2009 at 10:48 | Permalink

    I am in the camp that believes that WM6.5 is the Vista of WM, and here’s the main reason: Overall, the feature set implemented in this release is a laundry list of me-too items that Microsoft needed in order to compete with the Big Dog of the consumer phone market.
    I think, unfortunately, Microsoft engineers are being driven not by innovation at this point but by ego. There’s only so far ego can get you in this market space. Apple design engineers are still the best at designing a totally new product that has that “gotta have it” appeal right out of the box. Part of the reason that appeal is seemingly designed into the product is that it is clear that they approach every aspect of how the device will be used and think of the best way to make it happen in a FUN way for the user.
    In a way, I hope Microsoft never has those engineers. It is clear after 20 years of their version of computing innovation that they wouldn’t know what to do with them.

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  9. Posted November 4, 2009 at 20:01 | Permalink

    Timothy,
    I agree that Microsoft has copied a lot of things from Apple in the past. In fairness, Apple has also copied from Microsoft. I don’t think either company has the market cornered on good ideas. At the end, why does it matter where the idea came from, as long as the consumer gets to use it with whatever device they want to use?

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