Windows Phone 7: Why it's a disaster for Microsoft

Microsoft's beta was full of shocking omissions, and what shipped is even worse -- but there's a glimmer of hope

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There was every reason not to jettison the business customers -- Microsoft should have decided to develop a new OS that pleased its Windows Mobile business market and extend out to the consumer and professional markets. After all, that's the successful strategy of its Windows and Office products and ostensibly the strategy around its cloud efforts. A "have it all" platform with an elegant interface would have gained strong traction by Microsoft's many customers, especially those business users tempted by the iPhone but not so sure about Apple and unhappy with RIM's slow move beyond messaging.

Strategy miss: Sticking to a plan that no longer made sense
Again, I can see the reasons for a consumer-only strategy in fall 2008, when the hot competition was a then consumer-focused iPhone. But by winter 2010, when Microsoft was ready to show beta versions of Windows Phone 7, the world had changed. Apple had transitioned the iPhone in to a multimarket device, and businesses were starting to accept the new reality. Microsoft's largest mobile competitor in the business world, RIM, also was moving in this direction.

Microsoft wouldn't adapt. It admitted all the deficiencies that winter, but said it would not address them before product release in the fall. It was clear that the OS development effort was locked -- Microsoft was on a schedule for holiday 2010 release. As a result, we saw a triumph of schedule over successful product development, and an indication that Microsoft is unwilling or unable to be agile, nor actually trying to win.

The reaction to the omissions among the developer community should have been Microsoft's first clue that it was letting schedule triumph over successful product development. By then, the "bring your own device" phenomenon was declared a reality by Forrester Research and others -- another clue that maybe it should not release Windows Phone 7 with its current focus.

However defensible Microsoft's assumptions might have been in fall 2008, they weren't valid in winter 2010. And they wouldn't be when Windows Phone 7 shipped in fall 2010.

Now Microsoft is selling a crippled product that can't be used in business, while its intended customers -- individual consumers -- are all gaga over Android, which is slowly moving to be business-capable as well.

The results is that Windows Phone 7 is now failing both its intended customers and the company's historic customers, even as its competitors keep getting better and more entrenched.

This is a Titanic-style disaster.

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This article, "Windows Phone 7: Why it's a disaster for Microsoft," was originally published at Read more of Gruman et al.'s Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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