Samsung says it’s going to show off the Galaxy Player–essentially a Galaxy S phone without the phone part–at CES early next month. I’m glad to see the iPod Touch get some direct competition, but I still wonder whether something based on Windows Phone 7, which has better built-in entertainment features than Android, might not be an even more intriguing possibility.
Tag Archives | Microsoft Windows Phone
One of the biggest questions about Windows Phone 7 is basically this: “Now that Microsoft has a decent start at a modern mobile operating system, how quickly will it add enough features to get it into the same general ballpark as Apple’s iOS and Google Android?” If rumors at WPCentral are to be believed, much of the answer might come in January.
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Sad news: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has been found to be completely insane. The expert doing the declaring is my fictional friend Robert X. Cringely of InfoWorld, and he bases his diagnosis on a Ballmer quote in a recent CNNMoney.com story.
Ballmer is speaking of Windows Phone 7, which shipped internationally last month and hit the US this week:
“We’re early; there’s no question we’re early,” Ballmer said at Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference. “I think we kind of nailed it. When you see it, you just go ‘ooooh.'”
Cringe thinks that Microsoft is anything but “early” to the smartphone game, and that if Ballmer thinks otherwise he’s delusional:
I suppose if we’re talking geological time, then Ballmer’s right, Microsoft is on the cusp of the smartphone epoch, and the dinosaurs just went for a dip in the tar pits. But in a market where a three-month-old device needs to be checked for liver spots and signs of dementia, spotting the competition three-plus years and then coming up with something that almost meets the smartphone standards set in 2007 is not exactly being early. It’s certainly not “nailing” it — unless we’re talking about a coffin.
Windows Phone 7 phones hit the US today. (Like many reviewers, I found lots to like about the new OS but think Microsoft remains in catch-up mode.) To mark the launch, Wired’s Brian X. Chen has a fascinating story on how Microsoft scrapped its initial plans for Windows Phone 7 in December of 2008 and started over again. Amazing to think that it took almost two years after Apple announced the iPhone for Microsoft to find its way–I wonder what shape WP7 would be in today if it had come together more quickly?
Video games are supposed to be one of Windows Phone 7’s main attractions, and rightfully so; the Xbox is a rare success for Microsoft’s entertainment division, so it’s about time the brand moved off the television and on to mobile phones.
After spending some time with the Xbox Live feature of Windows Phone 7 on a pre-release HTC Surround handset, my conclusion is similar to the general consensus on the entire OS: There is plenty of potential in this gaming platform, certainly enough to challenge Apple’s iPhone. But as it stands, the phone’s Xbox Live feature has too many drawbacks and missing features to be a major selling point for gamers when the first Windows Phone 7 models hit the US next week.
Looks like Amazon has some confidence that Windows Phone 7 stands a chance: It says it’ll release a Kindle app for it this year.
With Windows Phone 7 finally out, what does the future hold for Microsoft’s line of Zune media players? I suspect that very few people outside of Redmond are asking themselves that question right now–and that anybody who does care assumes that the Zune HD will turn out to be the final stand-alone Zune. (Like all the other Zunes before it, the HD suffered from a malady I like to think of as “Gee, this is quite a good product, but it’s in a class of devices that people lost interest in a year ago” syndrome.)
Me, I’m hoping for a new Zune soon–maybe several of them. Hold on, hear me out, I’m serious.
“There’s a kind of freedom in being completely screwed… because you know things can’t get any worse.”
–Clark Kellogg (Matthew Broderick) in The Freshman (1990)
How often does any tech company truly wipe the slate clean? Products usually get utterly reinvented only when they’re in trouble, and even then the reinvention tends to involve radical modernization more than anything else. Apple’s OS X was the operating system that Mac OS wanted to be but wasn’t; Palm’s WebOS is what the Palm OS would be if it was fifteen years younger.
But Windows Phone 7? Other than technical underpinnings and a few semi-recognizable apps–such as Internet Explorer–it has nothing in common with any previous Microsoft mobile OS. To steal Sarah Palin’s lingo, it’s a refudiation of everything Windows Mobile stood for. Until WP7, the whole idea of Microsoft’s mobile OS was that on-the-go users were best served by familiar Windows elements like a Start button, menus, and folders. But you only need to spend a minute or so with WP7 to see that the company has come to the conclusion–finally!–that small OSes aren’t the same as big OSes.
Wired’s Brian X. Chen has a good story on Microsoft’s strategy for Windows Phone 7: It’s working with handset makers to produce handsets that come closer to the iPhone’s feel of hardware/software integration than to Android’s sometimes patchy relationship with the devices it runs on. It’s too early to tell whether Microsoft has succeeded, but it’s certainly a worthy goal.