Will Microsoft's iPhone envy punt away the enterprise?

Will Microsoft's iPhone envy punt away the enterprise?

Summary: Microsoft's Mix developer powwow stoked the fires for Windows Phone 7 and a nice new interface, but it appears that the software giant is punting on the enterprise---a move that could turn out to be huge blunder.


Microsoft's Mix developer powwow stoked the fires for Windows Phone 7 and a nice new interface, but it appears that the software giant is punting on the enterprise---a move that could turn out to be huge blunder.

The talk about Windows Phone 7 revolved around multitasking, code, app availability and how software will be sold and closing the iPhone and Android gaps. However, IT types were left to ask: What about us?

Microsoft gave an answer and it goes something like this: Windows Phone 7 isn't for you. It's for consumers. We may come around to you later.

Talk about forgetting the base. Microsoft in its envy of Apple's iPhone may be about to exclude its most important group of customers---the enterprise.

Mary Jo Foley's looked for some answers and got the following guidance on Windows Phone 7 and how it plays in the enterprise. Charlie Kindel, who’s spearheading the Windows Phone 7 development charge, said:

“We don’t expect enterprises to go out there and buy these (Windows Phone 7 devices) en masse for their employees,” he said. Microsoft’s target is the consumer who wants to do a limited amount of enterprise tasks (pretty much exclusively through the Office hub). Microsoft has no plans to offer any kind of migration tools for enterprise developers to help them move existing Windows Mobile apps to the new platform.

Microsoft---the king of reverse compatibility (sometimes to its detriment---is making a clean break on mobile. However, it's unclear whether that move is such a bright idea. As players like Apple and Palm become more corporate friendly, Microsoft runs the opposite way. Research in Motion has to be smiling---it'll own the enterprise market.

Gallery: Test apps for Windows Phone 7

Needless to say that Microsoft's stance doesn't go over well with the enterprise types. In one talkback, a reader noted that Microsoft is abandoning the enterprise.

Mary Jo's reply:

Yes, it sure seems that way. Today, MS is saying its enterprise users should stick with WM 6.5 and that WP7 is more consumer-focused. I can't believe MS is really going to give up and alienate enterprise customers, given its large enterprise customer/partner base. But unless they have a WP7 Enterprise Edition up their sleeves, I think lots of folks targeting the biz market will be moving off the Win Phone platform.

The big question here is whether Microsoft would do a Windows Phone 7 enterprise edition. On the one hand, that's a clunky approach. But Microsoft wouldn't be crazy enough to leave the enterprise---one of the few mobile markets that give the software giant some play---would it?

Can Microsoft's iPhone envy cause that much strategic blindness?

Topics: Microsoft, iPhone, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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  • It's unbelievable

    the lack of direction at MS
    • What do you expect with a monkey

      at the helm?
      • Balmer has not made these decisions

        I think that you are overestimating the effect that any CEO may have had on these decisions!!
        • any CEO?

          might want to ask Steve Jobs about decision making.
    • Do you really think MS has no strategy?

      MS is a big firm with tons of analysts. Why do you assume they have no direction? Is it because you don't see it so it must not exist? How do you know that their plans are?

      Maybe they plan to roll out alternating versions for enterprise and general consumers?

      Maybe they decided that getting normal consumers hooked on their zune apps is more profitable?

      Who knows?
      • No one knows.

        Steve "Monkey Boy" Ballmer, in particular, is totally clueless in that regard.
        Great Kahuna
      • It's bad strategy, not LACK of strategy.

        Microsoft appears to think they can out-Apple Apple in the consumer
        mobile handset market. Anyone who thinks that this is a winning
        strategy only has to look at the Zune debacle. The only real difference
        is that this fiasco will hurt handset makers far more than Microsoft, at
        least financially. I'm sure we'll see a bunch of Windows Phone 7 Series
        devices come out in the fall, but my bet is that within 2 quarters those
        models will be superseded by Android devices with no WP7S models
        following them.

        Of course, [i]that[/i] could be Microsoft's underlying intention. They
        [i]could[/i] be intentionally "throwing" the race to clear out OEM
        manufacturers so that MS could enter the market totally vertically
        integrated completing the iPhone emulation. Personally, I think that
        would be the smartest thing Microsoft could do. A nice, clear return of
        the "old" Microsoft we knew and feared. Someone needs to explain
        the phrase "dance with the girl that brung ya" to Ballmer.
        • Xbox Integration may be a winner for them

          ...but only if they can keep the prices of these phones low!! With $99 iPhones out there, would anybody pay $300 for these phones???
          • XBox is dead last

            XBox is in 3rd place in the gaming industry .... and that is probably because there are only 3 in the game.

            I doubt XBox integration will make any difference .... specially if the new phones suck even 1/4 of what past WinMo phones sucked.
          • Another MS hater

            It is obvious that I am not thrilled with WP7S but I certainly do not hate MS to the degree that you do. No, WinMo phones "did not suck" at all. I had a number of them and I enjoyed their customizability and their deep Exchange support. Nor is Xbox dead last, not by a long shot. It does have a substantial following and many top notch games, some quite excellent indeed.
          • Actually, they're 2nd

            Behind the Wii... And considering they target two different markets, casual gamers vs. diehard gamers, one could argue that the Xbox 360 is actually in first place because their only true competitor, in that sense, is Sony's PS3.

            Regardless of that, whether they are first, second or dead last in the console market; it's still a very popular gaming system with millions of users.
          • xBox

            I had original 2 XBoxs fail. I have also had i XBox 360 fail. I bought a
            PS3 'thin' and the difference was amazing. Next to the PS3 the Xbox
            360 looks and feels clunky. On the XBox required me to purchase an
            external WiFi device and that is built into the PS3. It took me just 2
            steps and about 5 min to connect to my 'hidden' WiFi network. The
            XBox would lose connection and I would have to go through several
            steps and import all of the information that the PS3 automatically
            acquired from my network. The PS3 is very intuitive and elegant as
            compared with the XBox and the online membership is free. The
            controllers on the PS3 are also better and have a better layout. I have
            replaced some of my XBox games with PS3 version where possible. I
            think its a cultural issue at MicroSoft. They have had no serious
            competition in the PC OS area for so long that they think that anything
            they produced will be accepted. The have lost money on the XBox and
            are really only as close a third as they are because they have exclusive
            control of a couple of game franchises. MS only does well in areas
            where they have a monopoly.
          • useless effort

            Don't try to confuse these people with the facts!

            Their logic is too firm:

            1) Wii doesn't count because most of the games are a different class.
            2) This leaves XBox and PS3 ... and even though PS3 has more sales, if
            you don't count all of the XBoxs people bought to replace ones that
            died, the XBox is #1.

            Had to try to argue with that logic without wasting your time.

            Old Pennsylvania 'Dutch' saying: "Never try to teach a pig to sing, it
            wastes your time and annoys the pig"
      • It gives some people a false sense

        of superiority, though I doubt anyone here posting is a CEO of a multibillion dollar company, so I'll go with the assumption that maybe they do have a plan, it's just that "I'm not privy to that information" :)
        John Zern
      • Pardon me...


        I.B.M. had tons of analysts and tons of consultants and they were unable to sustain the consumer PC market which ultimately they sold to Lenovo.

        Damiler(Chrysler) had tons of analysts and even advice from professional business consultants, and they were unable to successfully run Chrysler.

        Tons of examples are out there. I disagree with the previous poster. Microsoft does have a direction, but concerning the Mobile spectrum they are clueless and are using a "me-too" approach using several recycled technologies (Silverlight, XNA, Windows CE, etc.)
    • a mystery?

      Have you ever seen Ballmer in action?
  • Will Apple's Windows envy punt away the enterprise?

    • Windows envy?

      I think you mistake a smug and arrogant disdain for Windows amongst Mac users for envy. Go figure.

      Either that, or you're delusional enough to think that Apple people envy the morass that is the Windows environment and for that matter lifestyle.
      • I think you misread

        He's talking about Apple, the company, not Mac users with an inflated
        ego, such as yourself.

        I'm pretty sure Apple would love to control as much of the market as
        MS, and thus are envious of Windows. If you don't want to believe that
        then yippie for you.
        • I hope I'm not ...

          wounding your rightfully enormous ego but could you please limit your
          comments to when you have something worthwhile to say?