Windows Phone 7: Early sales figures should be the least of anyone's concerns

Windows Phone 7: Early sales figures should be the least of anyone's concerns

Summary: I care less about Microsoft executives' continued refusal to share shipment number for Windows Phone 7 than I do about the company's (hopefully reversible) decision to prevent partners from porting the phone OS to slates.

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I care less about Microsoft executives' continued refusal to go public with shipment number for Windows Phone 7 than I do about the company's (hopefully reversible) decision preventing partners from porting the phone operating system to slates and tablets.

At the "Dive Into Mobile" conference this week, Microsoft  corporate vice president and director of Windows Phone Program Management Joe Belfiore refused multiple times to provide an update on Windows Phone 7 sales. If I were Belfiore, I wouldn't be sharing numbers, either, since -- at least in my opinion, though not according to Microsoft's party line -- Windows Phone 7 is basically in soft-launch mode.

In the U.S., there are very few models of phones available on only two carriers (AT&T and T-Mobile). The first CDMA Windows Phone 7 models from Verizon and Sprint are sounding like early 2011 deliverables. Lack of stock and delays of models like the Dell Venue Pro (which Dell resolved a couple weeks ago) have undoubtedly hurt WP7 sales, as well.

However, I still find myself as incredulous as Engadget's Editor Joshua Topolsky, who asked Belfiore during his on-stage Q&A about Microsoft's decision to bar partners from shipping Windows Phone OS on tablets and slates.

You can’t possibly be this blind that Windows 7 isn’t going to work on tablets in the way you want it. Is that really the strategy?" asked Topolsky.

Belfiore reportedly said that while the "announced" strategy is that Windows 7 and its successors will be the operating system that Microsoft offers its partners for licensing for tablets and slates, "the company will evaluate that going forward."

Hopefully the "evaluation" period on that decision is sooner rather than later. An HTML 5-compliant Internet Explorer 9 running on Oak Trail processor-based Windows 7 slates will make Windows 7 slates more appealing than are the current generation hitting the market now. But a Windows Phone OS update that provided greater HTML 5/Silverlight/Flash support would be even more so, to my mind. Plus, offering the Windows Phone OS on slates would probably boost Microsoft's phone OS developer numbers further, and I'd argue, not at the expense of Windows.

Speaking of Windows Phone 7, there were a couple of other news and rumor tidbits of interest this week.

On the news front: Microsoft has changed its decision not to pay royalties until February 2011 to Windows Phone 7 app developers (after much developer outcry). Now developers will get their first checks in January instead. Microsoft officials said this week there are now more than 4,000 published Windows Phone 7 applications and 18,000 registered developers.

On the rumor front, there was word from Paul Thurrott that the first Verizon Windows Phone 7 model will be an HTC 7 Trophy, and that it may be out in January, 2011. January also is the rumored (and believable) timeframe for the first, promised update from Microsoft to the Windows Phone 7 operating system. This won't be a major update, the Redmondians have said, but it will deliver copy-and-paste functionality. WinRumours is hearing a second Windows Phone 7 operating system update may be on tap for February at the Mobile World Congress event. (Or maybe these two updates are really one and the same, with the January one delayed until February?)

I continue to hear from my contacts that there is a very real fear out there that Microsoft might "Kin" WP7 by pulling the plug if early sales are disappointing. I seriously doubt this is the case, as I've heard those joining the Windows Phone 7 team (at a high level) were asked to make a five-year commitment to the project. Microsoft isn't averse to throwing money at a market until it makes a dent (see Xbox, Bing). Whether early Windows Phone 7 sales have been good, bad or ugly, Microsoft is in this one for the long haul.

Topics: Windows, Dell, Microsoft, Mobile OS, Operating Systems, Smartphones, Software, Verizon

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • RE: Windows Phone 7: Early sales figures should be the least of anyone's concerns

    A Win Phone 7 tablet will happen - mark my words.

    It's a matter of focus and they don't want to distract from the phone. Next year at this time, I predict a "soft" launch for the winphone7 tablet in the Oct/Nov timeframe.
    ababiec@...
    • You may be right but.....

      @ababiec@...<br><br>a tablet is the thin edge of the wedge. I disagree with MJF that a WP7 tablet is not a threat to Windows. If a huge chunk of the market turns to compact and "light OS" devices for much of their
      computing and communications, then the Windows ecosystem will be under threat. MS cannot control this new market, and that scares the sh!!!t out of Ballmer.<br><br>MS badly wants to sell W7/8 on tablets, but I think that may be a losing proposition, for the most part.

      Windows is the V8 of the personal computing world. When you need it, it's fine, but most of the time, all you need is a little efficient 4-banger. For some, that is all they'll ever need. And while we are on metaphors, maybe Linux is the diesel and OSX the V12? ;-) Flame away.
      Economister
      • The bright spot

        @Economister

        ...is that if Windows Phone 7 tablets make a dent at the expense of desktop windows, then at least Microsoft:

        1.) hasn't lost market share to RIM/Apple/Google.
        2.) gets a cut of the sale for every app sold
        3.) is continuing to make a mint on the back end - Exchange, Server CALs, Sharepoint - No matter what's accessing them, someone's paying MS for the services.
        4.) will make their consumer offerings a bit more compelling - i.e. xbox over wii, bing search over google, windows live services over google services, and Zune Marketplace over iTunes will all by nature be better integrated.

        Joey
        voyager529
      • RE: Windows Phone 7: Early sales figures should be the least of anyone's concerns

        @Economister

        Yup, same thing I've been saying. A WP7 slate/tablet will be just as much a threat to the Windows ecosystem as the iPad and other tablets are now (and set to get worst in 2011). We are at the post PC era where most consumers don't necessarily need a full blown PC running a full blown OS with expensive software suites just to accomplished their daily tasks. When 90% of the average consumers computer usage can be accomplished on a device like an iPad (1st gen), then MS <b>should</b> be concerned. It means a WP7 slate device in the market will only add to the decline of PCs.

        My prediction: It will take another full year before MS realize they need an answer, and Windows on slates is just not it. By then it will be too late.
        dave95.
      • RE: Windows Phone 7: Early sales figures should be the least of anyone's concerns

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        gorians
    • RE: Windows Phone 7: Early sales figures should be the least of anyone's concerns

      @ababiec@...

      May be not. Windows 8 is being built to run on ARM and so definitely Tablet/Slate is one of the primary form factor. Now, that might be coming in 2012. I dont think they would launch a WP7 tablets in 2011 and create multiple tablet OS's. I think they will stick with Windows 8 for tablets. I also think that it is the right way to concentrate on one tablet effort and get it right than, spread it over WP7 and Windows 8 fragmenting their tablet story.
      5ri
      • RE: Windows Phone 7: Early sales figures should be the least of anyone's concerns

        @5ri "Windows 8 is being built to run on ARM"

        Could we get a citation of that? Thanks.
        chrome_slinky@...
      • RE: Windows Phone 7: Early sales figures should be the least of anyone's concerns

        @5ri <br>You will see Win7 on tablets - they are already demo'd and scheduled by a few OEM's.....<br>For MS - the same arguments were thrown out there when netbooks launched. To MS, it's still an OS sale.<br>Win8 - I suspect it will not be designed to run on ARM but will be built in such a way to allow it to run effectively on ARM...
        rhonin
    • RE: Windows Phone 7: Early sales figures should be the least of anyone's concerns

      @ababiec@...
      I'm not holding my breathe.
      ZackCDLVI
    • RE: Windows Phone 7: Early sales figures should be the least of anyone's concerns

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  • RE: Windows Phone 7: Early sales figures should be the least of anyone's concerns

    Please, can we also drop the party line that Microsoft should put a phone OS on a tablet. Can we instead ask Microsoft to update it's desktop OS to be more finger/mobile friendly. Not everyone wants to have the dummy down computing experience of a media tablet, some of us actually want to have the best of both worlds. Right now the blogging world lacks a true visible champion to continue pushing what seems to me as the next logical step for Widnows. Just like Intel and AMD has to improve their hardware to work in the new mobile slate world, so does Microsoft with Windows. I love WP7, but I want it on my phone and not on a bigger device. Windows on a slate is what will give us the greatest choice, that's what we should be pushing Microsoft to do, instead of asking them to be more like Apple.
    rwalrond
    • Except that's impractical

      A full desktop OS will always need full desktop resources. Even if they slim it down a lot, it still won't be as streamlined as an OS made specifically for mobile devices. This is the same for every other OS.
      Michael Alan Goff
      • RE: Windows Phone 7: Early sales figures should be the least of anyone's concerns

        @goff256 Certainly looked like a full desktop OS wouldn't work on a Laptop either when the current Laptop hardware couldn't handle it. I wonder what our mobile computing lives would like now if Intel, AMD and Microsoft didn't push forward.<br>I want full desktop resources on my slate just like I want it on my laptop. Why wouldn't that be the next logical step?
        rwalrond
      • You are right but does it matter?

        @goff256
        [i]it still won't be as streamlined as an OS made specifically for mobile devices[/i]

        Mobile OSs like Android and iOS will never be as streamlined as a calculator "OS" and require far more horsepower, generate far more heat, and have batteries that last for hours instead of months. However, if you need more than a calculator, a battery that lasts for months isn't much use to you.

        So while you are 100% right, a full OS will always need more resources than a mobile device OS, if the mobile device OS doesn't do the work you need it to, it might as well be a paper weight.

        The truth is that we have reached a tipping point where mobile hardware is good enough to support a full desktop OS for a reasonable amount of time in a reasonably mobile package for a reasonable price. Traditional tablets [b]were[/b] quite big and heavy, didn't have great battery life, and were [b]very[/b] expensive. That is why they didn't sell well. The HP Slate looks to be fantastic and while it might not have the battery life of an iPad, it can do so much more than an iPad can do. Likewise, the iPad might not have the battery life of a pocket calculator, it can do so much more than a pocket calculator.
        NonZealot
      • No ones asking for that. That goal is a touch tablet centric os with all

        the capabilities that a good tablet (not a crippled ipad like tablet) should have. Some people go further and disire a metro'ish shell and app model as well. Fine. But to say this would be better to be built on top of WP7 rather than the MinWin core os is seriously ridiculous. It's to all our benefit that MS recognizes this which thankfully they do...
        Johnny Vegas
      • RE: Windows Phone 7: Early sales figures should be the least of anyone's concerns

        @goff256... but that's exactly what Apple did, and iOS runs beautifully on iPads, iPods, and iPhones. The question still remains, though: Why can't MS do the same?<br><br>[edit]<br><br>By, "that's exactly what Apple did," I meant that they took OS X, stripped out most of Aqua, and then tweaked it for their mobile devices line.
        WarhavenSC
      • RE: Windows Phone 7: Early sales figures should be the least of anyone's concerns

        @goff256 I don't agree. My Andriod phone is running Linux Kernel 2.6.29, I have a Fedora 11 Desktop running Linux Kernel 2.6.29. They are the exact same kernel, the only differences are included modules/drivers and processor/arch choice. They are from the same source tree, so it may be true other Desktop OSes are not efficient enough to run on any hardware, but please don't lump Andriod/Linux into that pile.
        anothercanuck
      • RE: Windows Phone 7: Early sales figures should be the least of anyone's concerns

        @rwalrond

        And laptops can generally weigh more than a tablet before people complain.

        @ Nonzealot

        I honestly hope that the HP Slate is everything that you're looking for, but I'll remain a skeptic until I see a finished product. The rest of your argument is rather silly, as a person could indeed get real work done on an iPad. What's stopping them? USB? I have 4 on my Gateway and I barely use them.

        Keyboard? You can get one.

        Printing? You can do that too.

        Listen, I hope that -soon- we can get a tablet that can do the same things that a laptop can do and just as well. I just don't see it working out in the next couple of years, though I could be wrong.

        @ Johnny

        And these capabilities are? People moan and complain about how limited the iPad is, but the main complaints seem to be the keyboard and USB. One of them is not needed, and you can get a kepboard easily. What is missing?

        @ Warhaven

        It's actually more to do with the corporate environment. They haven't had to change much, really, and now they're slowly being forced to do so.It's a changing market, and I hope that Microsoft will change to adapt to it.
        Michael Alan Goff