Windows Phone 7

I’m truly a Microsoft fan. I don’t like at all Apple’s attitude towards users that understand one or more things. I always thought that Windows Phone would be a mobile OS that would prove most of us Apple’s criticizers, that they were just being arrogant. Since the announcement of the platform I have noticed a Apple like marketing strategy much like the one with the first i-phone. I one of those that acknowledge the spectacular UI of iPhone but also criticize its lack of supporting enterprise applications because I can’t really accept the true need for a maximum 4in functionality. And 4in is not exactly mobile.

Today I came to be verified, because I went to a Dev Day for Windows Phone 7 in Greece. I’m underlying Greece, because we all know that the platform will not be full available at once in all countries.

There was a lady evangelist, that presented one of these many power points that are at their disposal to promote the product. At some point came the slide that presented the map with the countries that would have access to the marketplace (orange color) and the countries that would be be able to upload only (green color).

The slide could actually be used in a demotivator or a FAIL joke. The reason was that it launched a severe critic towards the globality of the device and the marketplace. During the pressing questioning that led to some people leaving the presentation, it became clear to the Greek community, that there would not be a Greek keyboard on the device and Greek consumers would not be able to use the marketplace, because the is not an option for a global marketplace. Even Apple has one. All innuendos were implied about a jail-break like solution or creating fake live ID or masking your IP, but the puts as exactly at the target of those you criticized Apple’s choices.

It also became clear that the presentation in fact, was done in order for Greek developers to develop applications for every other nation except Greece it self, which for me is somehow strange. I can’t argue that there is real money to be made from the Greek customer base, but consumer products such as a Smartphone tend to become streamline once they achieve a critical mass in the country. As an enterprise we can’t really sell an application to a customer, when his country is not supported both at the marketplace and with the OS itself.

During the questions, I made one regarding the enterprise target of the platform. I work for enterprise solutions and for my line of work, enterprise applications are critical for the platform. One of the things I hopped for the Windows Phone platform, would be that with a small learning curve one could produce enterprise grade applications in order to give an added value for the hole solution. Of coarse you need the consumer based users critical mass, to make the platform enterprise aware because at the end normal users will be the ones using the applications. But what I asked the question in hand, the answer was “no you cannot enter an application outside the marketplace”. I could accept that consumer applications could only be inserted on the device through the marketplace, but If I wanted to install a private enterprise application to all mobile handsets of a company there should be a another way.

Being the marketplace the only way to install an application on windows phone, makes the platform only a consumer device. They mentioned a coming feature of the marketplace for private enterprise applications, but there was no timeframe given.

Regarding the device, there won’t be multitasking something that I also can’t understand. Also the native browser won’t support not only Flash but also Silverlight. That means that all rich media Microsoft based sites won’t be accessible through the platform. When asked about it, the answer was we do not have an answer.

To summarize I say some really great things on the platform, and some really silly things that truly let me down for the platform. The good thing was the ease with which Microsoft knowhow could be used to create relatively similar applications, especially with XNA for gaming. The best part was the notifications part. Instead of background processing, one can ask for a cloud based service to do the work and when finished, receive a notification from the device that when pressed would launch our application. This was natively supported by the platform and at some point one could argue that is a better solution from background processing.

But the things that really let me down are:

  • No localized support. Can’t even send sms on native language.
  • No localized support for the marketplace.
  • No Flash or Silverlight support
  • No Copy Paste. How hard can it be? My Sony Ericson K700 (not a Smartphone) could do it

I firmly believe that Microsoft is copying Apple Marketing strategy, but there is a difference now. Apple gained a free advertizing through the buzz made about their methods, because at the time they presented a truly new approach to the mobile platform with great UI and a marketplace that was more than enough for the normal commercial user. At present even Apple has covered the ground for most of the critic it received and there is also Android platform that focuses on the functional side of the device and also it can be used to created enterprise grade applications. Microsoft copies an old strategy basing their strategy on some new features of which none are truly ground braking except notifications maybe. So on the Apple vs Microsoft side of the matter, for me there is nothing new and Microsoft is trying to win an already lost market. On this matter there was also the criticism made by indirectly Microsoft for Apple’s choices, that will blow on their faces because they really did not deliver anything of what they criticized. That left the enterprise market, which they also loose because by their own words and choices the platform is only commercial oriented.

It was really disappointing to see a potentially great platform to be just a copy of already wrong choices.

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