Mobile OS three-way cage fight

Mobile OS three-way cage fight

Summary: The pre-Christmas versions of the three major mobile operating systems have now been released. Windows Phone 8 is challenging the dominance of Google's Android and Apple's iOS. How will it play out?


On this week's Patch Monday podcast, we take a look at each operating system's strengths and weaknesses, including ease of use, their app creation environments, and the incentives for developers, enterprise integration and security.

"For me, the difference between Android and iPhone iOS is the ease of use for normal people," said Kate Carruthers, corporate IT consultant and founder of Social Innovation.

"I did an experiment with an Android phone of handing it to a normal human being, and seeing what they did and how they used it; and I gave an iPhone to another one, and the iPhone definitely wins out for those guys on usability and simplicity."

That view is supported by Leslie Nassar, technology director at digital agency Amnesia Razorfish and founder of TweeVee TV.

"There's definitely a steep learning curve between Android, generally, and iPhone or iOS. And surprisingly, there's a bit of a learning curve around Windows Phone as well, at least around Windows Phone 7.5," he said.

But could Windows Phone 8 change that? We've previously discussed its radical new user interface, and there's evidence that people do find it more intuitive.

Nassar said that he loves Windows Phone 8. "Outside of iOS, it absolutely has that most consistent, innovative, and intelligent user experience that I've seen. There's little things that it lacks, and I'm sure that comes down to not being on iOS: that ease of app switching [...] and the email experience can be a little jarring sometimes. But these are all things which can be refined."

But Microsoft is coming from behind, and needs to kick BlackBerry out of third place before they can take on the top two. Carruthers still stood by the view that she has expressed in a previous episode, that Microsoft is delivering too little too late. That's despite the panel agreeing on Windows Phone 8's clear strengths, particularly in a corporate, bring your own device (BYOD) environment.

"The battle at the moment in enterprise is trying to get the transformation dollar, and I think that is driven by smartphones," Nassar said.

Companies want to choose the BYOD-and-cloud platforms they'll be using for the next five years. Will Windows Phone 8 prove attractive to businesses that already have a decade or two of Windows knowledge? Or is the tiled interface too much of a change so soon after Windows 7?

Another key question is security. Where will Windows Phone 8 sit in the spectrum, from Apple's walled garden to the wild west of Google's Android?

"Some of the security measures that have been improved in [the desktop version of] Windows 8 have just been quite extraordinary," said Michael McKinnon, security advisor with AVG Australia and New Zealand. He expects that those lessons will carry across to the mobile operating system.

"Microsoft really doesn't have any legacy ARM architecture hardware," he said. "Microsoft really has this advantage that they can turn every conceivable security feature on by default from day one."

This is all just a brief introduction to a half-hour discussion, so do have a listen before commenting.

To leave an audio comment on the program, Skype to stilgherrian, or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

Running time 31 minutes, 37 seconds

Boxing bell sound effect by Benboncan, used under Creative Commons BY 3.0 license.

Topics: Mobile OS, Android, Apple, Google, iOS, Microsoft


Stilgherrian is a freelance journalist, commentator and podcaster interested in big-picture internet issues, especially security, cybercrime and hoovering up bulldust.

He studied computing science and linguistics before a wide-ranging media career and a stint at running an IT business. He can write iptables firewall rules, set a rabbit trap, clear a jam in an IBM model 026 card punch and mix a mean whiskey sour.

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  • Not yet

    Challenging the dominance that is. Hoping to? Probably.
  • are you kidding

    Android just moved to 75% market share, up 91.5% from a year ago. IOS now has 14.9% and windows 3.6%, what race are you talking about. this is windows vs. apple all over again, and apple lost again. watch out it's timber for the stock value from now on.
    • No they arent kidding

      Take a look at which OS still has about 90% of the DESKTOP/LAPTOP market.
      That would be Windows, OSX about 6-7% and Android - what 1% ?
      Now take a look at how Windows is trying to converge all platforms to use one OS and sync services and data. Thats the ultimate goal. Android and IOS all have goofy little apps and its cute but to have something like all desktops/laptops/tablets , all phones, all xbox, all under 1 ecosystem? No one is even close to Microsoft with that ability.
      And remember, Windows can be managed and Apps pushed out in business. (yeah they have 3rd party tools to try and manage OSX and IOS but seriously they SUCK). And Apple has split their ecosystem into 2. And again, android doesnt even have a desktop foothold.

      So looking 3 years ahead (when phone hardware will be able to run a full OS, as will a gamestation, for cheap) - I dont see a competitor to Microsoft at all.
      • Re: JABBER_WOLF No they arent kidding

        You say "No one is even close to Microsoft with that ability."

        I agree, what a deal! Now you can get viruses & freeze ups on all of your mobile computing devices too, if you are stupid enough to buy a MicroKlunk WindoZe 8 phone and tablet.

        No thanks I'll stick to real operating systems like Apple's Free BSD Unix iPhones, iPads, or Google's Android Linux OS that are NOT virus traps built on ancient 4 bit DOS file systems thank you.
        • What are you talking about?

          Are you telling me that Android does not have any malware? My Android handset freezes so often on ICS that I cannot believe. My Windows 8 machine (upgraded from windows 7) still has not frozen even once. And what viruses are you talking about? Microsoft has done a helluva lot to make its OS secure. Not much can be said about competing OSs. And if you want to compare Linux with Windows, well Linux can have viruses as well. There is no OS that is completely virus-free. There is no OS that cannot be infected by a virus/trojan/malware. The majority of malware and virus infections are due to dumb users who don't really know what they are doing.

          And since we are talking about freeze-ups, where did you read that a WP7 device had a freeze up. It is the much more stable and fluid mobile OS than iOS and Android. Put together.

          There I have had my rant for the day. Over to you...
          Kunal Nanda
          • Microsoft is sexy again with its new OS on multiple devices...

            I was an avid Android fan, but recently got a Windows Phone (7.5). It is MUCH better looking than either Android or Apple, and the fact that the OS works across phones, laptops and tablets makes it even better. I don't know why I was hesitant about Windows Phone. I think they're onto a (gradual) winner with it.
            Antaine O'Labhradha
      • Come again?

        Sorry, but what are you talking about? Let's break this down.

        Windows 8 Pro - WILL RUN: legacy Windows programs, Windows Metro Apps. - WILL NOT RUN: Windows Phone 8 apps, XBOX apps
        Windows RT - WILL RUN: Windows Metro apps - WILL NOT RUN: Windows Legacy programs, Windows Phone 8 apps, XBOX apps
        Window Phone 8 - WILL RUN: Windows 8 Phone apps. - WILL NOT RUN: Windows Legacy programs, XBOX apps, Windows Metro Apps
        XBOX - WILL RUN: XBOX apps - WILL NOT RUN: Windows Legacy programs, Windows Phone 8 apps, Windows Metro Apps.

        So what we have are 4 different OS's, not "one OS", which means 4 different apps need to be developed if you want to hit all the current Microsoft platforms. Just because they are naming them all the same does not mean they are the same, which is one of the major issues for us developers, and consumers alike. It is all very confusing and a ton of people are going to end up returning their Surface because it can not run anything they already have, has a limited selection of apps and is not able to run flash, which means you can not play online games from any major social network or watch videos from YouTube, or other video services, news sites, or techcasts.

        This entire thing is a massive mess and the both Apple and Android are far, far ahead of Microsoft when it comes to having a single unified, cross platform OS. With Android being the leader here, not just in global smart phone market share, but in the number of devices the OS can run on. Most people don't realize that Android is already running on thousands of unique devices, including Phones, Tablets, TV's, Computers, Laptops, house hold appliances, robots, military remote combat units and a ton more.

        As for the "1 ecosystem" you mention, where is that? Last time I checked I had to submit Microsoft apps to at least 3 distinct ecosystems, and now with their enterprise market place that makes 4 ecosystems.

        The best I can figure is that you have fallen victim to the fact that Microsoft has named everything Windows 8/RT/Pro. A single name does not a single ecosystem make.
        Jacob Chappell
        • Just get on with it!

          It can't be that difficult to develop for the different iterations of the Windows OS.
          Antaine O'Labhradha
      • agree 100%

        you hit the nail on the head
    • More Android

      then more money for Microsoft. More Windows, more money for Microsoft. I see it as a win-win for Microsoft, but not the other way. Next...
      Ram U
    • what?

      Apple doesn't have to dominate the market. As long as they make something everyone wants they'll be fine. Note, I didn't say that everyone has.
  • Laughably wrong

    Yesterday at a mall I walked by the Apple store and the Microsoft store with is just a couple doors down from Apple's. The Apple store was jammed with people, while the Microsoft store was practically empty, with more salespersons than patrons. This 3-way fight is over, and it's only a 2-way fight between Google and Apple.
    • yeah thats cause youre in San Fran

      If you have even been down to Los Angeles or other locations like South Coast Plaza in OC, the Microsoft stores are packed. Maybe because there arent Apple stores nearby? I dont know but they are.
    • Keep laughing...

      I actually love it when people like you underestimate Microsoft. Never ever underestimate Microsoft, especially if they put their might behind a product. Tell me honestly, why you fail to see the future and look at the present only. Nobody saw Apple rising to this heights. So what makes you an expert in saying that something similar cannot happen with Microsoft.

      Their OS is way, way more polished and advanced than iOS and Android on mobile devices. The desktop/laptop experience is no doubt a bit underwhelming, but that will be refined in time, just like iOS and Android.
      Kunal Nanda
      • *ahem Windows way more polished?
    • Well except for few stores,

      The popup stores are mostly crowded. I am not saying people are buying Surface RTs in tons, but it is getting attraction. Probably the place where you have more fruitbois than softies.
      Ram U
  • More Like a Two Way Cage Fight

    MS and Apple are in the same corner. They want to charge 40% more than necessary. If Apple goes down they both go down.
  • 3 way fight?

    Really!? Shouldn't we wait until Windows 8 has significant market share before we call it a fight?
    • So until then...

      ... what do you call what's happening?
  • Gonna have to re-evaluate in 3 months

    You are going to have to re-evaluate in 3 months when the new BlackBerries come out.
    Their superior security, Balance feature and BBM will take back a large portion of the market.
    Plus, it will be fresh, unlike one of the other two main OSes one of which has stagnated for a few years now.
    BlackBerry will start climbing back up when the new phones come out. Mark my words.
    Susan Antony