Microsoft We Screwed Up Windows Mobile, iPhone Competitor Silverlight Mobile 2010

I just returned from the round table discussion Microsoft MVPs and MVP Alumni had with S. Somasegar the Senior Vice President of the Developer Division at Microsoft, at the Sheraton Hotel in Chennai. I was the first person to land there and the only one dressed up casually in a T-Shirt and Jeans not surprising since most of the MVPs had regular jobs or worked as developers for companies.

S. Somasegar the Senior Vice President of the Developer Division at MicrosoftS. Somasegar VP at Microsoft

Its very rare to see an executive of such high level come down to meet with developers and mix and mingle with them. Its people like Somasegar who connect and engage with the community that increases the appeal Microsoft has as a Company and separates them from Apple or Google. A down to earth person he candidly answers all the questions that were fired at him.

He began by explaining Microsoft’s Vision and how they always plan and develop things which would be relevant 5 years down the line, the next version of .NET 4, Visual Studio 2010, new features introduced the completely redesigned UI based on WPF for the IDE. Most of the discussion centered around .NET and the developer tools. But Missing from the whole talk was Windows Mobile. While I been a .NET developer for 3 years before I quit to become a freelancer, I was more interested in what Microsoft was doing with Silverlight and its Mobile Platform, and how they were looking to compete with the iPhone OS and Android Platform.

Yes We Screwed up with Windows Mobile

I pointed out Windows Mobile and the lack of innovation and stagnation with regards to features, User Experience, Design and interface his answer was extremely candid and frank. “Yes we screwed up Windows Mobile, and let it stagnant. In fact you are being very polite in pointing this out.” He went to say how the initial vision of Windows Mobile had been long term and well planned but along the way the lost the game.

Microsoft Secret Plans For Windows Mobile, Silverlight for Mobile

While he was very mum and secretive about what Microsoft had planned for Windows Mobile, he did let out that a few things about what Microsoft was doing for the mobile platform, they had revamped the whole Windows mobile team and rebooted the process similar to what they had done with Windows Longhorn. I see it more like a comparison of what happened with Windows Vista Vs Windows 7.

Some of the Key Points he made were.

  1. Rebooted Windows mobile Strategy.
  2. Brand New Windows Mobile Team
  3. Microsoft is laying its bet on SilverLight
  4. Silverlight for mobile will be the competitor for iPhone and Andriod.
  5. Silverlight for Mobile will be announced at MIX 2010

Things Microsoft got wrong

  • They are too late in the game.
  • They are taking too long to come out with a competing product and keeping with the trends.
  • Billions spent on R&D hard to believe nothing concrete on the Mobile front has come out yet
  • Clear Disconnect between Microsoft Design team and products. Do they even have a Design R&D team?
3 Responses

Well, that was a breath of fresh air. That said, how competitive do you think Silverlight is going to be in comparison to a customized version of OS X on the mobile and the development power of Google for Android.

While I certainly hope that Microsoft can bring its game up and produce an easy platform for mobile developers to get running into the game, they really need to redefine what they do best. They bring out amazing development tools and also amazing platform development tools. What they need to get right is the platform and the ability to bring some more well thought out passion and design for this platform. I am hoping they get it soon and up their game. I would love to see a Windows running phone competing with the iPhones and the Droids.

well knowing Microsoft it should be something better than the Android platform, and open development platform with a great bunch of development tools. But from the discussion we had with Somesegar it looks like it going to take more than a year for them to come up with anything concrete, because as far as the visual studio 2010 tools are concerned then are not building anything specify for the mobile platform, When the mobile team comes up something it will be an addon or a plugin for VS 2010.

As far as the User Interface is concerned I don’t expect it to beat the iPhone OS in any regards. Unless they reuse the Zune platform for the Phone they did a pretty good job with the ZUNE.

I think the problem with Windows Mobile is the performance first, usability second, then the interoperability with their (MS) other platforms. They need a light and fast OS for scaled down devices. Booting my Sprint Mogul takes a good minute which doesn’t seem right (percieved performance). I know the HTC device isn’t a powerhouse anyway but still…

I’ve had to download third party UI enhancements to make it “fun” to use but they just layer the slow system so it goes from occasionally slow responding to slow responding pretty much all the time.

I’ve been surprised that WM6.1 seems so isolated, like a whole different computer. Yes I can sync things but there seems to be a disconnect between using my phone and using my computer.

Ever use the emulators when developing apps for Windows Mobile? I’d like to see some kind of UI on my desktop where I can get right into my phone, drag and drop documents, even make a call from my computer (if possible) using my phone. I guess I’m looking for a way to take the features of both blocks of hardware and interlace them in a more seemless way, so I get the best of my phone on my PC and the best of my PC on my phone.

And why can’t the UI for WM Outlook and Office Outlook mesh better? Drag and drop, right click context –> Add to my phone tasks etc…mesh, please.

Pie in the sky perhaps. MS is in the right ballpark to play but they need to step up their game if they actually want to compete.