Top Ten Reasons Microsoft Should Drop Windows Mobile

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Let's face it, Microsoft's mobile operating system has had a successful and long life. Even history's most powerful warships eventually have to be retired to make way for newer and more technologically advanced ones. Windows Mobile on the other hand is more like an aging hipster that's trying to look cool around an increasingly younger and smarter crowd. Perhaps it's time for it to realize its best days are behind it and start looking at polyester jumpsuits and moving into the nearest leisure world village.

I've compiled a list of the top 10 reasons Microsoft should move its mobile OS into retirement like Palm has to keep itself current and not look like it's hanging onto its days of yore.

10. Identity crisis: Over the years, the OS has undergone name changes, primarily in name only and not functionality to make it seem current. Not long ago, Microsoft officially re-branded the OS' to Windows Mobile Standard and Professional Edition to differentiate its non-touchscreen and touchscreen versions respectively. Very similar to how Ford renamed the slow selling Ford 500 to the Taurus. It worked for Ford.

9. Synchronizing: ActiveSync has always been slow, clunky and a bottleneck for getting data to and from the PC. Microsoft's refusal to support any other PC operating system over the years left users looking to 3rd party solutions which actually work quite well in most cases. I don't even remember the last time ActiveSync was updated...

8. Partner problems: One big sore point is how the mobile OS gets implemented, tweaked and re-tweaked by each phone manufacturer and then by the carrier who strips out cool features and loads it full of toxic garbage that slows it down. Apple realized this when they went to market with the iPhone and made sure to protect its flagship product from being butchered. That strategy worked, however Microsoft seems to want no part of taking that route.

7. Clunky aging interface: The interface was definitely created by engineers and field tested by nerds. There's no grace to its look or feel and for crying out loud, lose the stylus input already. I grew up using a stylus but those days are long gone. Who else even has a stylus anymore. Palm always had one but even they saw the writing on the wall and have begun to retire their old OS. And let's not get started with that on-screen keyboard Windows still has...

6. Web experience: Anyone who's had the experience of using the mobile Internet Explorer browser can tell you that it's a slow and painful experience. Most users who have had to hit the web with IE mobile know that it's an uninspiring experience with limited website support and often resort to installing a 3rd party solution for browsing the web.

5. Memory management: One glaring problem is how running applications are closed after being used. Too many apps running in the background slow the OS down and can make it unstable so it's best to completely close them when you are finished with them. Unfortunately, this task is often handled by 3rd party applications for managing application running in memory so there is no consistency from Windows Mobile devices and some do it better than others.

4. Windows update: Here's a laughable feature that started showing up on Windows Mobile devices in the last few years. Like an appendix, doesn't appear to do anything but sit there and look curious. Go ahead, try to use it sometime and let me know if it ever finds an update. Microsoft has never really had a way or desire to support its mobile devices after they are released. Just like the majestic sea turtle that drops its load of eggs on the beach and leaves the buggers to their fate.

3. Performance: Even Viagra couldn't stimulate this mobile operating system to keep it up and running smoothly. Just like its PC counterpart operating system, it locks up, slows down and leaves users frustrated with rebooting to keep it going. Inconsistent performance and marginal battery life on many Windows Mobile devices leaves users cold.

2. Entertaining the masses: I've seen some very powerful Windows Mobile devices in my time that sported very fast processors and ample memory but for some reason could never render video in a smooth and satisfying method. The OS just wasn't designed to ever support gaming or media of any kind and it shows with the media player it ships with. By today's standards, it feels like a Walkman cassette player from the early 80's. With no application store which Apple, Palm and Google have successfully implemented on their devices leaves out a tremendous revenue stream for Microsoft. I'm sure one billion downloads is something they would like to see from their users too in less than one year.

1. Competition is killing it: The term, “Smartphone” really does not do justice to the current and upcoming breed of devices available. With Apple's iPhone, Palms new Pre, Google's Android OS and even others like BlackBerry covering the landscape, should Microsoft even bother to create a mobile OS? Sure they want to and have plans to create another incremental upgrade with 6.5 sometime later this year and eventually version 7, however in the Smartphone world only a few vendors even make Windows Mobile devices and honestly they don't sell well. I'm confident that nobody ever slept in line overnight to be the first to buy a Windows Mobile device like we saw for the last two iPhone launches.

My list primarily focused on the end user experience and I'm sure there's tons more to contribute on what's wrong with Microsoft's mobile operating system. This list simply illustrates a point that Microsoft needs to come up with something modern and useful or gracefully exit the mobile device market for consumers. In its current form, it just can't compete effectively for market share in a growing and highly competitive Smartphone arena. Despite this, Microsoft claims it has no desire to produce its own branded phone device to bring to market. I find that hard to believe though it may be true at this stage since they're focused on a successful Windows 7 launch this fall. Microsoft has a history of being late to the game but pulling out all of the stops to come roaring back from behind. Let's all hope that when they finally realize that the number one selling computer's in the world are in fact mobile phones, they will focus like a laser beam on making the mobile experience from Microsoft an innovative and pleasing one.

 

Personally I think this was

Personally I think this was simply posted on the wrong side of our blogs. Steve probably meant to post over on the iPhone side of the house... ;) Where to start...hmm.

Well, according to a recent Gartner report I read on worldwide phone sales in first Q 2009, RIM and Nokia frankly trounce Apple and MS both.. I guess the world at large is not hip enough yet, either... but I digress.

1. Consider: HTC, the designer of the Google G1 that runs the Android OS you mention above...The CEO of HTC in France has recently announced (as reported on Smartphonethoughts.com) that WinMo devices will firmly remain their flagship product. That's a strange move considering the G1's relative success? Does he know something that we don't?

2. Windows Mobile is a lightweight version of Windows that evolved from older versions like Windows CE (back when Steve Jobs was still working on just creating a good portable audio player). It's not some shiny new product that just popped up in the last year or 2, and may just as quick become the last new thing. It's a product that was devloped and designed to be run on multiple portable devices, not un-like a lightweight Linux distro, for example. It's used across a pretty large spectrum of hardware actually that happens to include phones. I for one can tell you from experience, that switching the underlying OS drastically in many industries would likely cause some issues. The sales guys at the Apple store for one might have an issue scanning in your next purchase, for example...

3. Think tools....when you need a hammer, you get a hammer, and when you need a screwdriver, you get one, right? The unknowing consumer thinks he needs that next cool thing to show all his friends, and he probably does (the hammer). The WinMo smartphone consumer might need more than that, which is where Active Stynk, Mobile Office and MS's framework comes in, not to mention ready integration with domain tools like Office Comunicator, and better security. You unfairly didn't mention that A/S has morphed to Device Center with Vista or Win 7, nor that the functionality is improved. I have many times groused about A/S myself, but you can do a hoard of stuff (even connect via Bluetooth) with it. In most cases these tasks are faster than waiting for iTunes just to start:

PIM information with Microsoft Outlook 2003 and later

Photos with Windows Photo Gallery

Videos with Windows Media Player

Music with Windows Media Player

Favorites with Internet Explorer

Folders/General files with Windows Explorer

Windows Mobile programs and version updates

"While Windows Vista has a base driver built-in to interface with Windows Mobile devices in Windows Explorer, Windows Mobile Device Center offers afront-end for users to integrate their data in multiple Windows applications.The base driver in Windows Vista allows browsing the device, copying files and syncing with Windows Media Player. For complete functionality including synchronization of tasks, calendar data, contacts, email etc. with Microsoft Office Outlook, Windows Mobile Device Center needs to be downloaded which includes the additional drivers as well."

So, to be fair it has been updated... Active Sync is for older desktop OS's like XP, and in fact WM will allow you to do a lot more with your WM device than iTunes does with iPhone. With Vista or newer OS, you can access the file system without it completely. Ok, so next time you get a new Apple device, try pluggin it into your computer without iTunes and see what you can do with it? And with a few developer toys I can even drive my WinMo unit from my desktop using my mouse and keyboard. Geekified, I know but there it is.

Lastly, there are a ton of great WinMo games (go check our awards site from last year) or simply read Werner's blog. On the topic of video playback, the Core Player, kinoma player and SPB TV play live streaming video as well as my ipod touch.

I'm not saying there is a WinMo Phone out there that can compete in a straight up contest of performance and ease-of-use with iPhone, but I do believe that WinMo has a little longer history and varied background for a reason. News of it's demise may be a bit premature.

 

 

Nate, I may be guilty of

Nate, I may be guilty of using a broad brush here for my lament with Microsoft's mobile OS. I do realize its flexibility for use in consumer level and specialized devices and that it works well and it is very cost effective for IT departments to deploy and maintain for larger organizations. It certainly does have a number of successes in its corner.

My primary focus and really source for complaint in the post was strictly with consumer level Smartphone’s for daily use. When I see the current crop coming out and they still have the same stale underlying OS, I have to wonder what's going on at Microsoft. Especially when I read that version 7 (expected in late 2010 possibly) will have an accelerometer and multi-touch, I can't help but think to myself, "why bother". By late 2010, just about every phone over $99 on the planet will have those features and some will have had a 2 to 3 year head start.

My expectation is that an enormous powerhouse such as Microsoft really should have a significant offering for consumers that rivals the best Smartphone’s on the planet. I am surprised at their complacency at being beaten out by rivals at Apple, RIM and increasingly by Google. I'd go far is to say that when Windows Mobile 7 does come out, it will be far enough behind in technology that it would be the equivalent of asking folks to upgrade from their current luxury car to a refurbished 1975 Ford Mustang.

 

Steve, I think when people

Steve, I think when people point to the iPhone or G1, they often forget that it's harder to blaze a new trail in a particular market, than to come along and improve on an idea using the latest available technology. Essentially Apple and Google both had a great use-case (being WinMo mainly) to start with when they began creating their own handheld development. Everything WM got right and wrong, they were able to learn from and improve (especially the GUI). Actually what Google did was to me more astounding in some ways. I never expected a purely java-based phone (even if it's Google's java) to be a serious contender. I suspected Apple would do essentially what Windows did. Port a compact version of their Darwin OS to a mobile, and the difference would be fast and stable (and since it's Apple, look nice). Then they had to go and greatly hobble the control the user has with it, being Apple. You ever try to remove the back of an iPhone or Touch? Sheesh! You'de think it was some kind of top secret blackbox or something. I changed the hard drive in an old iPod to a bigger one. Took me half the night to get the back off without scratching it. If I want to change the screen background on my touch, I have to break into the operating system like a criminal. Of course, the consumer doesn't much care that he has to jailbreak it to make it work like he wants, because the geeks out there will figure out a way for him to do that. Apple and MS built both computing products from the backs of other tech, so neither is 100% original anyway, so not sure what I'm rambling about... One thing is for sure, there will be a new paradigm coming. Probably some kind of flexible 3-D surface that hovers, defies gravity or something. It will be interesting to see who gets there first, whatever it is...

Well taken,        My

Well taken,

       My teenage daughter thought i-phones were revolutionary until I showed her  my 4 year old i-mate that did everything she could do and much more. The only thing the i-phone had going for it was the 'cool factor' looks.

  

 Steve Green's supposedly

 Steve Green's supposedly objective critique is an example of how a slick distortion of facts about something takes place on the internet. People like him do not realize that the culture of "Reality Distortion Field"  is meant only to give a certain group of people the misinformation that they expect to hear.

Also, he does not seem to realize that objectivity is as obvious as bias. There is nothing that we can do to convince people such as him that they don't have "Actual Facts" and that while they are entitled to their biased opinions that they are not entitled to their own facts.The sad facts about all of this is how a group of anti Microsoft bloggers have completly distroyed the reputation of the Windows Mobile platform and how this clueless guy,Ballmer, has allowed that to happen.

Windows Mobile is a micro operating system; the other cell phone os'es available now are mere phone interfaces aimed at those who worship the shifting of "visual gunk" around. So, let's start by no comparint apples to oranges.

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