Print 56 comment(s) - last by Smilin.. on May 24 at 5:03 PM

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer addresses a crowd of developers in Japan.  (Source: Microsoft)
Update could be a game changer for Microsoft in war against Android, iOS

At a keynote at the 2011 Japanese Microsoft Developers Forum today, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer had exciting news for smartphone fans.  He announced some of the first known details about the company's next major release of its Windows Phone OS, Windows Phone 7.5.

I. Everybody Loves the Mango?

Mr. Ballmer says the upcoming OS, codenamed "Mango", is part of Microsoft's vision of "transforming the future of communications."

The chief executive admits that it's been a struggle over the last couple years for the prominent OS maker, but promises great things to come.  Mr. Ballmer comments, "We came to market with Windows Phone a year later than I wish we had, shame on us.  But we're moving forward very actively.  We launched Windows Phone last November, we've done a set of upgrades, we have a release that will come to market later this year in Japan.  Not only is it a release that is much more global, but we've added over 500 new features to Windows Phone."

"We have a big launch event to talk about the next release of Windows Phone tomorrow, so that information will be forthcoming, including some of the particulars about who is going to be building Windows Phones and which carriers are going to be offering them here in Japan."

Details about what "Mango" might hold haven't been specified, yet, but it's pretty easy to guess some of the items that may be on the menu.  Microsoft has long promised opening up multi-tasking for all third-party apps, pending a future update.  And Microsoft also promised connectivity with the popular Kinect motion sensor and Mobile Internet Explorer 9, a much-improved mobile browser.

Other improvements could be hardware dependent, such as Near Field Communications (NFC) technologies for wireless billing.  Rival Google Inc. (GOOG) has been pushing NFC particularly hard with its industry-leading Android platform.

Tie-ins with recent acquisition Skype, including video-chat services could be on the agenda, as well.

II. Windows Phone 7 Sees Poor Sales

Microsoft finds itself in a slightly curious position, in terms of sales.  On the one hand, its current sales are rather abysmal.  Of the approximately 100.8 million smart phones sold in Q1 2011, only 1.6 million were Windows Phone 7 handsets, according to a report by market research firm Gartner, Inc. (IT).

Microsoft is actually selling more Windows Mobile handsets than Windows Phone 7 handsets.  In Q1 2011 it sold 2.1 million Windows Mobile handsets, thanks to its drastically reduced prices on the phones, in an attempt to clear the way for Windows Phone 7.

On the other hand, the world's largest phone maker, Finland's Nokia Oyj. (NOK), has a deal with Microsoft to phase out Symbian OS and replace it with Windows Phone 7 over the next couple years.  If Microsoft can pull off a smooth transition, that move could catapult the company to second place in global phone sales, ahead of Apple, Inc. (AAPL).

Thus the future of Windows Phone 7 -- much like its upcoming update -- remains an enigma.

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Competition is good....
By NicodemusMM on 5/23/2011 1:59:24 PM , Rating: 5
... and this is a case where Microsoft cannot just assimilate the competition. Both Google and Apple are too big for MS to purchase and neither has any need/desire to merge with MS.

This is a win for consumers as MS will force Apple and Google to innovate and vice versa. Maybe this will help Google focus and get over their recent issues with Android.

~ Nicodemus

RE: Competition is good....
By Chaser on 5/23/2011 2:55:07 PM , Rating: 1
This is a win for consumers as MS will force Apple and Google to innovate and vice versa. Maybe this will help Google focus and get over their recent issues with Android.

In the case of phones I don't think Microsoft is going to "force" Android or Apple to do anything, today and in the near future.

RE: Competition is good....
By Mitch101 on 5/23/2011 3:23:09 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think Microsoft is going to "force" Android or Apple to do anything, today and in the near future.
They dont have to what Microsoft needs to do is be their own device and leverage the things that will be exclusive to Windows Phone 7.

Sharepoint, Exchange, X-Box, Lync/Skype for starters.

RE: Competition is good....
By mcnabney on 5/23/11, Rating: 0
RE: Competition is good....
By retrospooty on 5/23/11, Rating: 0
RE: Competition is good....
By snakeInTheGrass on 5/23/11, Rating: 0
RE: Competition is good....
By mcnabney on 5/23/2011 5:00:06 PM , Rating: 1
How old are you? Must not have been conscious in the 80's and 90's.

The default monopoly of DOS (provided my IBM not thinking outside of the box) allowed MS to use the IBM PC-compatible monopoly to leverage the developing Windows platform (which ran ON MS-DOS).

Microsoft used the Windows monopoly to copy and sabotage Lotus 123, Wordperfect, and Harvard Graphics. Microsoft copied all of their competitor's features (they literally demanded their code to confirm Windows compatibililty) and tweaked the OS to run Microsoft's programs more efficiently (and reliably) than other vendors. This is perhaps a perfect example of using one monopoly to create another.

Microsoft easily crushed Novell in the server marketplace by using Windows compatibility. As dumb terminals grew into full workstations (running something like NT) it was simple for MS to break compatibility and complicate everything for Novell. The rapid integration of client-side software to support MS networking protocols and servers doomed Novell.


Embrace, Extend, and Extinguish ~ MS core philosophy

RE: Competition is good....
By kingmotley on 5/23/2011 8:22:49 PM , Rating: 3
I suspect you were doing way too many drugs in the 80's and 90's, because you obviously have no clue what was going on then.

WordPefect shot itself in the foot with its compeltely abysmal 5.2, and 6.0 releases. They sucked on DOS, and they sucked worse in Windows. Microsoft didn't have to do a darn thing but watch that blundering mess sink itself. No font support except their own, absolutely horrid performance, and they only supported printers they had drivers to (wouldn't work with the standard windows drivers).

Lotus 1-2-3, got taken to the cleaners by Paradox, not Excel. It wasn't until much later that Excel started to do well. Blame that blundering on Paradox that refused to continue innovating, and refusing to support OLE, or updating their UI to a standard GUI.

Harvard Graphics wasn't ever a big package, sorry.

RE: Competition is good....
By retrospooty on 5/24/2011 8:33:36 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly... Thanks.

MS takes alot of heat, but no other company has been able to do what they do. Apple? pfapf!. Apple has their niche, and I am glad for the competitive alternative, but they have a closed platform. They have a small handful of models with a controlled set of hardware/drivers and software - a cake walk for MS. If they were to be open and allow 1000's of companies to make hardware and write drivers and run open software that any of 10's of thousands of companies write, you would see a totally unstable, out of control product. That doesn't even touch on enterprise applications. MS takes alot of crap, because they are the biggest and the best, that goes with the territory.

RE: Competition is good....
By snakeInTheGrass on 5/24/2011 10:55:57 AM , Rating: 2
Biggest != best. It's amazing that people really equate the 2 as though there has to be a logical tie.

Microsoft got the DOS deal with IBM, borrowed liberally from the Apple Mac tech they had access to (legally - lawsuit was ruled in their favor, right?), then used that installed DOS base to push the new UI paradigm as PCs got fast enough to handle it. At times their efforts were incredibly bad (Windows 1.0, 2.0, 3.0? Do you remember those?), 3.1 was good enough to mostly work. Hope you weren't trying to run more than 1 network protocol or anything fancy, because with the DOS underpinnings it was an unstable pile of crap, but as the PC had spread through the business world, and people wanted something that would work with their work machines, Microsoft had an inherent leg up. There were certainly better operating systems out there - OS/2, NeXTstep, Solaris, etc. etc., but with that business tie-in and cheaper PC hardware, the overall market was going to go to Microsoft.

Saying that Windows / Office are not proprietary is delusional as well. The only reason you can NOW get access to the documentation for the networking, filesystem, and document formats is because courts ordered them to open those up.

Big and proprietary does not equal a 'standard', it equals dominance. And Microsoft would have been remiss to not try to use that as leverage - it's because they are the largest and were using it to stifle the competition that they got hit with anti-trust violations. If they had been small, they could have done it with impunity. 95% OS market share will get you some extra scrutiny, you know, because it's pretty easy to use that to kill any chance of someone beating you.

But all of that doesn't mean 'best', it means biggest. There's more Ramen consumed than handmade pasta on a given day, more GM cars than Ferraris, and more Bud sucked down than Boddington's.

But you do have a point that if Apple opened their hardware and let others write all the drivers, you would have an unstable mess - which is what Windows pretty much has been through Vista. It sounds like Win 7 finally is a reasonable OS - and it certainly took them long enough, and it took a market where there was competition to get it there. FWIW, you can certainly write whatever software you want on the Mac, the platform is open for that, it's the hardware side that is more locked down - and has been the better for it. Lowest common denominator isn't the thing that pushes the industry.

And look, I have 2 360's, they're nice now that they have the cooler running chipsets. I had a PocketPC years ago that was ahead of Palm at the time. Having engaged in monopolistic practices doesn't mean everything MS has done or does today is crap either ('95 was better than MacOS back in the day, .net is a much nicer framework than JDK, IMHO), but big doesn't automatically mean everything they write is golden. Jesus, how many years behind were they on live scrolling in documents? Drag and drop of graphics? Buffered windows? Fixing their attempt to kill OpenGL? Etc.

RE: Competition is good....
By retrospooty on 5/24/2011 12:24:11 PM , Rating: 2
No, biggest does not mean best, but the topic was "successful" not which is best. You cannot say Windows or office isnt successful.And all I meant by open, is that any company can make hardware and write software for Windows. The same is true for Linux, but not Mac.

RE: Competition is good....
By Smilin on 5/24/2011 9:38:16 AM , Rating: 2
I suspect you never left the 80s and 90s even though your recollections are wrong. That EEE company died in the courtroom.

RE: Competition is good....
By SPOOFE on 5/23/2011 6:12:07 PM , Rating: 4
Microsoft has never succeeded in anything that they couldn't use one of their existing monopolies to the disadvantage of their competitors

I'd like to know what metric you're using to determine that the Xbox 360 is not a success. Barring that I'd like to know how you think one of "their existing monopolies" managed to make inroads against the market-dominating juggernaut that once was the Playstation brand.

RE: Competition is good....
By retrospooty on 5/24/2011 8:34:59 AM , Rating: 2
"I'd like to know what metric you're using to determine that the Xbox 360 is not a success. "

This guy may not have ever heard of Windows or MS office either, a couple of "slightly" successful products. LOL

RE: Competition is good....
By tayb on 5/23/2011 10:38:54 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft gaming divisions says hi.

RE: Competition is good....
By rudy on 5/24/2011 1:58:28 AM , Rating: 2
You can call it something bad or good just depends on how you want to spin it. In business it is called vertical integration. Is M$ any different than any other company? You take what you are good at and use that as an advantage. The one thing you have to give M$ credit for is they keep trying.

Is apple any different they have a near monopoly on the advertising and creative arts industry they use that to sell ideas they steal from others. Take the ipod, steal mp3 player idea advertise to masses, use money and power to force music industy to allow you to sell more songs than anyone on itunes, then use itunes and ipod to force att to allow the appstore stealing the once profitable app business from the phone companies.

Sony is the same they bought up half the film studios then used that in combination with the PS3 which they sold at a loss to dominate the HDDVD and kill it for the good of blu ray. But why is it no one talks about that?

You call it monopoly creep but others call it smart long term moves. Buy up industries and products and assimilate them into a solution. You can view it as bad or good, the problem is most people pick when they want to view it one way or the other based on if they like the company or not.

RE: Competition is good....
By InvertMe on 5/23/2011 3:26:07 PM , Rating: 2
In the case of phones I don't think Microsoft is going to "force" Android or Apple to do anything, today and in the near future.

Android and Apple are both ripping off the Metro interface from WP7 more and more. At least their developers are. MS interface blows iOS and especially Android (android is a clunky mess) out of the water.

RE: Competition is good....
By Smilin on 5/24/2011 5:00:53 PM , Rating: 2
Meh. Nothing new. Android and iOS already ripped off Microsoft to make their current interfaces. Mind you Metro is much better than Windows 3.1 so it might be a good idea this time.

RE: Competition is good....
By Mitch101 on 5/23/2011 3:14:56 PM , Rating: 1
I see apple taking a big dive by the end of the year.

Here is where Apple makes its money.

The iPhone is no longer the device to have its been replaced by the Android. Windows Phone 7 might start to cut into the market a bit more with Mango. Blackberry is starting to get some decent touch style devices. Cant imagine whats left in the iPhone they can do. Maybe Blue iPhones? Im sure the iPhone 5 will be neat but each version seems to be more of the same.

In the tablet market Android again there are numerous tablets out now from ASUS and ACER that are nicer devices than the iPad 2. Plus you have the foxcon facility blowing up which will cause iPad shortages which the company will probably spin as popularity selling out. Wait long enough for a device you eventually go elsewhere and discover that the google devices are pretty good. The foxcon problem helps apple if they were already falling short of thier investor predictions which I suspect you cant open the paper without seeing 5 other tablets next to an iPad or next to themselves.

Finally in the PC arena you have 5% of thier machines are infected with Malware. The term virus is thrown around but everyone knows Anti-Virus is for multiple threats not just Viruses. Throw on a sprinkle of thier geniuses blaming users and not supporting them. When the dose of reality hits that Mac's are infected and have similar issues to PC's the run to Mac over the PC will be over.

The final question over the next year is will a chrome pc gain any traction?

RE: Competition is good....
By cjohnson2136 on 5/23/2011 3:18:30 PM , Rating: 2
The final question over the next year is will a chrome pc gain any traction?

If the prices stay high I don't think so.

RE: Competition is good....
By michael2k on 5/23/11, Rating: 0
RE: Competition is good....
By snakeInTheGrass on 5/23/2011 5:00:10 PM , Rating: 2
The fact that there is viable competition now is a good thing for everyone. The incremental releases were surely driven by the fact that nobody else had managed the breakthrough change in touch-screen driven phones that Apple did.

At this point, Apple will have to really push new stuff every year given that Google has copied as much of iOS as they could. And from a hardware integration with software perspective, they haven't been beaten yet.

RE: Competition is good....
By rudy on 5/24/2011 2:05:52 AM , Rating: 2
Which of those is not possible with any other platform. iPhone is at a dead end because it takes them almost a year to push a phone out while android phones are always running the latest hardware. Apple just moves way to slow. The only reason the iPhone took off was because of the iPods popularity. No one at that point had come close to toppling the iPod. But with phones now android is already out selling.

RE: Competition is good....
By robinthakur on 5/24/2011 9:00:07 AM , Rating: 2
Are you Tony Swash's MS-loving alternate personality?

RE: Competition is good....
By Hulk on 5/23/2011 6:09:23 PM , Rating: 2
But I thought competition is bad? We need to spread the wealth around right? Shouldn't the government step in and tax those greedy people at Apple and Google and give the money to a less successful company?

That way everyone can do well.

That is until they realize there's no point in trying.

RE: Competition is good....
By Smilin on 5/24/2011 5:03:43 PM , Rating: 3
Foxnews forums are over there...Thanks for stopping by though.

RE: Competition is good....
By icanhascpu on 5/24/2011 2:26:55 AM , Rating: 1
As far as Ive seen, the only innovation forceing has been the Apple/Google dance. MS has been about 4 years behind for a decade now. And anything good they do come up with is dissapeared.

"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner

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