Lost in the Palm Pre device and WebOS is this fact: It's an exciting time of non-stop development for mobile operating systems--and it's killing Windows Mobile.
Mary Jo Foley notes that Microsoft will show the next version of Windows Mobile next month. That's good news because Microsoft has to do something--Windows Mobile looks homely relative to the new entrants.
A brief recap of the last year or two in the wonderful world of mobile:
- Apple revamps expectations for mobile operating systems with the iPhone;
- Google launches Android (all resources);
- Palm will unveil its latest OS;
- BlackBerry's platform chugs along;
- Nokia bought Symbian;
- The mobile world increasingly goes open source.
And then you have Windows Mobile, which looks more stale by the minute--even when you consider the relatively new Windows Mobile 6.1. It hit me on the plane home last week. Most folks had one of two devices: iPhone (west coast folks going east) and BlackBerries (east coast folks going home). The guy across the way had his Windows Mobile device. He might as well been using Fred Flintstone's iStone.
I felt for the guy (since I had a Motorola Q just a few weeks ago). The menus, the interface, the bad browser (IE 6!) and this Windows 98 feeling.
Why is Microsoft so pokey with Windows Mobile? Shouldn't there be sneak peaks of what's to come?
A few thoughts:
- Microsoft views Windows Mobile as part of Windows. That's desktop thinking--where Microsoft dominates--instead of mobile thinking.
- Open source. Newfangled mobile operating systems aren't reinventing the wheel. Browsing technologies are built on Webkit. Mobile OSes such as Palm's latest and Android have a Linux base.
- Developers are stoked for the new stuff. Developers are embracing these application communities and using rapid fire coding.
In any case, Microsoft needs to move faster on the Mobile side. It risks being lapped.