The more that is uncovered regarding Microsoft Windows Phone 7 strategy, the more I become convinced that the Redmond giant has learned little from Apple's success with the iPhone.
There's an interesting post over on WMPoweruser.com that distills down an interview with Microsoft evangelist Charlie Kindel that was originally posted on the Dutch site Tweakers.net.
Let me sum up the interview for you in as few a words as possible:
Microsoft has little idea what people want, and so Windows Phone 7 will be one big moving goal post for years while Microsoft tries to figure that out.
Let's take a look at just a few examples from the piece that highlights the case:
On Xbox gaming he noted that developers will be able to create Xbox games with Windows Phone 7 versions that could be sold together. “Whether they do is up to game developers. We are only providing the possibility.”
So, there's little to no overall strategy here. It's basically little more than a a bullet-point for the sales literature. OK, fine.
He noted Windows Phone 7 Release will not be ‘feature complete’ ...
OK, isn't everything in the tech world basically a "work in progress," but the problem here is one of expectation. Without any clear features roadmap, there's a chance that all this is vaporware and just another "Windows Ultimate Extras" empty promise.
Now, some things are missing at launch but the important thing for us is user experience. Everything must work equally well for the unit to work properly. Then we will look at how we can extend that functionality.
Again, I'm left with an uncomfortable feeling that seeing new features is not down the of potential of the device or how much someone's paid for it, but how much people are willing to believe in the platform on day 1. It's clear that there's no future features roadmap.
Surprisingly one of the features that will not be available at launch is the ability to extend the hubs.
“In time you can, but for now we focus on other issues,” said Kindel.
Time can be measured in days, weeks, months, years ...
Regarding the managed code sandbox, he noted that over time this will become less and less strict, and that access to native code will just be in very special cases, like with Adobe Flash.
Again, is this part of a roadmap, or a guess, or just marketing-speak?
He also noted that multi-tasking is reserved for native app, but that undesirable effects such as losing GPS navigation on a phone call will be addressed in future releases.
“For example if you have an application in the background a GPS position to other applications, can pass, it is required that the application can run in the background. For such scenarios, we will build multi-tasking again.”
He did not however say when this would be.
The iPhone has been out for nearly three years, and in that time it's become clear what people want from a smartphone:
- A simple, easy to use platform
- Easy access to third-party apps
- Cut, copy and paste
- Longevity/stability of the platform
While Apple has been just as guilty as Microsoft of keeping users in the dark as to update plans, having no roadmap (or at the very least, not being able to provide potential customers with any timescale) as to when core features such as cut,copy and paste and multitasking will be added puts Windows Phone 7 is a very weak position.
I've been looking for reassurance from Microsoft that it is in it for the long haul with Windows Phone 7, and so far I'm not feeling reassured in the least.