I am pretty excited about Windows Phone 7 Series (who the heck names things at Microsoft?) and think this is the kind of operating system Microsoft needs to focus on to compete in the smartphone space. Thus, I was a bit disappointed to hear what Mary-Jo wrote about Windows Phone Starter Edition being another SKU (actually two versions too) in the Windows Phone lineup. Does that mean we will have a Classic version and a Starter Edition, along with the WP7 platform? We already have seen how consumers get confused with Windows Mobile Classic, Standard, and Professional and with WP7 Microsoft has a chance to make a clean break from the past and forget about all these various versions that will most likely have different upgrade paths. Stay focused Microsoft and forget about trying to satisfy every single possible user.
Apple is doing very well with the iPhone and that has a singular form factor even after three years of releases. I think the fragmentation in Microsoft's mobile products caused lack of adoption by consumers and many people have emailed me questions over the years trying to understand the difference between the various versions. We see a bit of this fragmentation with Google Android, but at least with Android there is a fairly standard capacitive touchscreen experience.
Doesn't Microsoft think there is enough confusion with Starter Edition in Windows? Why bring this to the smartphone world where you need to get out a simple and memorable brand and experience to the consumer? What about the Classic Edition we heard about, is that for real too?
I always thought one of the strengths of Windows Mobile was the choice of form factor and the fact that you could buy one without changing carriers. At first I though it would also be good for enterprise customers to continue with the existing Windows Mobile OS, but I am changing how I feel about that. The choice of form factors hasn't seemed to do much for Microsoft's market share so I am a bit surprised they plan to continue down this path. Does it really make sense to spend the resources on actively developing and supporting the older operating system? I think it is fine to let those with Windows Mobile 6 and 6.5 devices continue to use them and the applications they purchased, but it is time to move on and forget about dragging the older OS along.