Why are we not excited by Windows Mobile 7?

25 02 2011

I have read numerous articles now on Windows Phone (or Mobile) 7 which essentially say it’s a failing, dead platform. What’s more worrying is that any blogs and articles I read on Mobil 7 and the Nokia deal are often greeted with comments such as “good, I love the fact its failing”. When we read articles about the Nokia deal with Microsoft, all we read are points that essentially “want Nokia and Microsoft to fail”…Why is this?

Why people hate Microsoft

I think a lot of this is from years gone past and has nothing to do with current products and services Microsoft offers. Many hate the big corporate and as such, Microsoft will always be hated by them as a big corporate. Many claim that windows itself is poor, I still receive jokes about blue screens, which I haven’t actually seen since Windows XP was released. Others hate Microsoft simply because they aren’t Apple and aren’t Google. Then we come to those, mainly tech geeks, who claim they hate all things Microsoft because it’s not “open” or because they believe their products to be second rate, or there is some hidden agenda to bully small companies and destroy them. Finally, it seems many hate Steve Ballmer (I can see why on that one)…

So with this in mind, it makes it hard for Microsoft to launch new products with a bang and to some excitement in the consumer world these days (perhaps the exception is Windows 7).

But, how many of these reasons are actually valid? How many are actually previous experiences or how many are just based on rubbish we read online?

Well in years gone by perhaps you could argue the case for many of these reasons, but if we actually compare like for like experiences, I think most people (when not being biased) would opt for products delivered by Microsoft, and that includes Mobile 7. The issue is, at the moment, they don’t. Most of us now “presume” Apple experiences are better (because they were considerably compared to Mobile 6 or even Windows 3.11 … remember that? I think thats where the blue screen jokes are still coming from). People also presume that “Android” devices must also be cool and great, after all there are so many of them and it has such a great name, “Android”. Anything with that name must be out of this world…But Windows? Huh, we have all seen Windows, it’s nothing new…

The mobile market

It seems many consumers hate Microsoft, and within the mobile market, there are real options to not use Microsoft products. I know there are different platforms available for PCs but if you actually start to use them, it’s like being on mySpace while all your friends are on Facebook, almost pointless. However, in the mobile world, well the smart phone mobile world, we have real choice of operating systems, and because a mobile OS is “limited” compared to a real PC, the providers can really deliver good usable solutions.

I remember my Nokia N95 and I was very impressed with it. But I also remember my Windows Mobile 6 which, to be fair, wasn’t great but was an improvement on my Nokia 95 user experience. Sure it wasn’t a patch on the iPhone, but the mobile market needed a good kick in the bum at that point, and hats off to Apple for doing it…But user experience is king in many ways, and the iPhone and iOS massively outstripped the rest when it comes to usability (if not functionality). Apple here has lead the way and all are playing catch up. This coupled with the real Apple lovers (no matter what Apple delivers they claim is the best thing since the wheel was invented) makes it hard for others to compete initially, or launch with a massive bang and queues round the block.

That being said, we should throw in Android, which many hail as the greatest mobile OS around, but it really isn’t. In many ways it looks clunky and delivers a poor imitation of the iOS. Imitation is the biggest form of compliment, but it isn’t the real deal, and Android feels like it isn’t the real deal. The reason it is so popular is because its available on so many handsets, basically because it costs pennies (don’t think its because manufacturers can tailor it to their needs, they don’t want to, but they need to, to try and differentiate their devices from the competition). Android also taps into the open source bunch of consumers and lovers of Google. So where does this leave Microsoft?

Windows Mobile 7

All this leaves Microsoft launching a product into an environment where Microsoft doesn’t exist in many ways, its an environment with bloggers and tech geeks who essentially hate Microsoft and one that is dominated by the iPhone and Android. This all means it is hard for Microsoft to get real exposure of their platform. An example of this was the launch date. When Apple released the iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4, we had lots of ads on TV, lots of ads online and each mobile store that had hold of the iPhone made the most of it, advertising with massive window displays and billboards…What did we see with Windows Mobile 7? Nothing…O2, Organge etc in the UK didn’t even make it clear it was now available! Thats madness, and makes it hard to actually show consumers what the product is, and what it can do…

In many ways Windows Mobile 7 is the best OS on a phone out there. It delivers a unique user interface, it looks great and its performance is very good. In addition it has an app store in Marketplace which seems to be growing by the minute. All in all, it’s a great platform. When, as an end user, you compare it like for like you soon realise that it’s a big rival to the iPhone, and if anything, is far better in many areas. (Android for me just is too beta and doesn’t compete in terms of look, feel and functionality). But, it’s version 1.0 at the moment, sure there are things still to come and big improvements but that’s part of a platform evolving. Now, many people at this point will be shouting, “it doesn’t even have copy and paste” etc etc etc blah blah blah. They have a point, it doesn’t, but it’s not something I can say I have missed. Sure I want it there and I am sure it will be there very soon, but shall we just forget that the iPhone released without copy and paste, oh and without the capabilities to send MMS or even forward SMS….

So what does Microsoft have to do? Well unfortunately the Microsoft “brand” in the eyes of many consumers is the real issue, so much so that the carriers in the UK I believe are nervous of making a big thing of the Windows Mobile 7 launch and platform, rather trying to see what happens…

Microsoft hatred in many ways has spread opinions about Microsoft products and services without people actually experiencing them for themselves, or even making informed decisions. So much so, that they just presume windows mobile 7 is poor, or they heard it was poor (probably from an Android or iOS lover), and haven’t actually bothered to look at the platform or a device running it. So when people say Windows Mobile 7 is dead, I’m not sure it is, rather they are trying to kill it off. Why? Because they hate Mircrosoft. It has nothing to do with the platform at all…

Nokia deal

Nokia traditionally has a good brand name in the mobile world; it still does, being the biggest player in the mobile industry. However, in the world of smart phones Nokia doesn’t exist it seems. I have to say I believe Nokia has a strong brand loyalty, almost everyone I know who used to have a Nokia would swap back to a Nokia, if they delivered a smart phone that competes with those iPhones and Android devices….For me, this points to the Nokia Microsoft deal as a good thing…

Its a shame that Windows Mobile 7 was called Windows. Let’s face it, it isn’t a sexy name now, its fine for the PC because we expect that to be the name, especially as everything is delivered in a window environment. However, on the mobile device it isn’t Windows. I think Microsoft missed a trick here and should have opted for a different name, shame Android was already taken….

Nokia Windows Phone 7

Nokia and Windows Mobile 7 could be a great match

With Nokia, Microsoft though have the chance to showcase their Windows Mobile 7 platform to more and more consumers. Once consumers start to see that platform and use it, then more and more people will start to say it’s a good platform (rather than forming opinions based on old Microsoft mobile experiences or here say from others). Why? Because it is. Just spend a small amount of time using it, using the live tiles and you will start to like it.  Its also great for business, linking Outlook to exchange, synchronisation with my desktop and working environment and on top of that, the option to store, utilise and share content via the cloud.

We also can expect with Nokias clout to see Windows Mobile devices being rolled out on cheaper contracts, hopefully being able to compete with Android devices, but on superior hardware. Then throw in to the mix that, Nokia has a strong brand loyalty, and you may well find that Nokia and Windows Mobile 7 aren’t dead at all; rather they are a sleeping giant waiting to reclaim the mobile marketplace…

Conclusion

We really should judge solutions based on merit, as opposed to perceptions of a company or particular brand look. It seems Mobile 7 is being reviewed by the masses based on misconceptions of Microsoft, of Windows and previous Windows Mobile experiences…Hopefully with Nokia, we will see more and more people judging based on merit…

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3 responses

28 02 2011
Phil Smith

Hi Andrew,

Another great post that reflects my own opinion. I currently have an HTC HD2 which thanks to some “workarounds” meant I have been able to give Android and WP7 a go, as well as the Windows Mobile 6.5 that came installed. Overall it is a good phone, but let down by the OS, even with HTC Sense running on top there are performance issues that mean reboots are necessary. I bought an iPad and rather thought after using iOS that my next phone would be an iPhone – that was until I tried WP7!

I agree that Microsoft have missed a trick with the naming of the OS, however one trick they haven’t missed is the deep integration with Facebook in the People hub. Sure, HTC Sense can do it to a point, but not so effortlessly and so reliably. Then there is performance. I tried Android, it stayed on my phone about as long as it took me to realise it was essentially a rework of Symbian, with a very poor knock off iOS interface. But it was nowhere near as fast as either! Great name though, but cheap for a reason!

Personally I don’t care that there’s no multi-tasking, no copy and paste etc because it’s a 1st release. iOS took ages to get these, and when WP7 matches iOS for features I am pretty sure it will be a better OS. I wonder if Microsoft should port it to a tablet like the iPad? Maybe the familiar Windows name would sit well there, and open the marvel to a new market? I also wonder if developers will jump on board and realise you can put a simple app together in a couple of hours? I certainly will be increasing my XAML / Silverlight knowledge!

28 02 2011
Phil Smith

I missed my opinion on the tie up with Nokia – inspired! Nokia can still outclass any handset manufacturer not only in their phones, but also in the optics. Carl Zeiss goodness brought to WP7?? I cannot wait!

Phil

28 02 2011
Andrew Smith @onedegree

Hi Phil,

I believe that there is a great deal of investment in WP7 mobile apps from mobile app software providers. It is pretty easy to get good apps up and running with the Silverlight side of things, and I think that is why market place seems to be growing by the hour….

You are right in your second comment, Nokia can still outclass all the other manufacturers when it comes to hardware (mind you Sony Ericcson has always delivered good camerras too). I think once Nokia has WP7 it is a very desirable option, I for one would move back to Nokia and away from Samsung (probably)…

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