Ever since Microsoft announced Windows Phone 7 at the Mobile World Congress, loads of – sometimes contradictory – information has been pouring out of Microsoft’s.
Given our traditionally good relationship with Microsoft Germany, I have managed to grab a hold of Microsoft Germany’s Mobile Technical Evangelist #1. As usual, he was extremely talkative and had a lot to say on Microsoft’s future roadmap – enjoy:
Please tell us more about yourself
A: I’m a Technical Evangelist for Windows Phone & Windows Embedded at Microsoft Germany. I spend most of my time speaking with the mobile & embedded developer & professional community, technical decision makers, and OEMs.
When Windows Phone 7 was announced, it was met with dislike from many power users. Was this expected?
A: Windows Phone 7 is a new kind of smartphone which is designed for people who are looking for a mobile platform that is fresh, exciting, and supports them in everything they do in their private and business life. Windows Phone 7 provides a superior user experience, social connectivity, entertainment, games, and also messaging and mobile documents which business users depend on. Most “power users” are actually positively surprised about the new features in Windows Phone 7 as we reveal them as part of our ongoing launch activities.
Continuing to look at Windows Phone 7: it misses many features power users needed and which made WM popular. Why did they have to go?
A: Windows Mobile was traditionally designed primarily to replicate the desktop on a phone, putting the highest priority on manageability, flexibility and line of business applications. Windows Phone 7 actually follows a different approach. Here, the end user experience has absolute priority – usability, performance, stability are the most important design aspects. Everything that does not support this goal, or can’t be implemented in time while meeting our high quality bar, will have to wait for a subsequent release. We aim at delighting our customers with the first release, and will continue to add features in a way that supports our overriding platform experience principles.
Why wasn’t it possible to keep the existing application library alive?
A: In order to meet our design goals mentioned above, we also had to think about the way that applications are distributed, acquired, and executed. 3rd party apps should never compromise the platform experience. Therefore we built a new application platform, based on .NET, Silverlight, and XNA, which gives developers and designers new exciting ways to express their creativity. They will have to migrate existing applications, though, to take advantage of the new possibilities. However, we have already had great feedback on the developer experience for Windows Phone 7, with developers saying it is very quick and easy to develop on the platform. Ultimately, this will benefit the user experience.
The new chassis regulations provide licensees with very little leeway for differentiation. How do you expect licensees to differentiate their offerings? And why introduce them if the market has worked before?
A: We’re introducing new, tighter hardware specifications to make sure the devices fully support the new platform experience when it comes to performance and reliability. We also ensure there is a consistent Windows Phone 7 experience for the end user across different device manufacturers.
We also think that there should be choice for customers when it comes to certain key device characteristics such as physical keyboards, screen size, camera resolution, and many other exterior design aspects of the phone. This is where OEMs can differentiate their devices.
Microsoft originally intended to keep WM6 alive as Windows Phone Classic. Will this still be done now that WME has been announced? If yes, for how long?
A: Windows Phone 7 and Windows Mobile 6.5 will coexist in the market for some time. Windows Mobile provides many advanced enterprise features that large customers rely on in managed environments.
For industrial devices, we have just announced a new, dedicated product – Windows Embedded Handheld (see http://www.microsoft.com/windowsembedded/en-us/products/handheld/overview.mspx). It will be available in our embedded channel. The first version will be based on Windows Mobile 6.5. For the second half of 2011, we are planning another release based on Windows 7 technologies, which is called Windows Embedded Compact 7.
Staying on topic: do you expect Windows Mobile Enterprise devices to be sold to consumers, too? Will you try to prevent this?
A: If this question is about Windows Embedded Handheld, it is a dedicated platform to meet key line of business (LOB) scenarios and boost productivity of the mobile enterprise workforce by enabling users to capture, access, and act on business critical information where and when they need it.
Who has already signed up for WME?
A: For Windows Embedded Handheld, Motorola has just announced their first new device built on that platform (http://mediacenter.motorola.com/content/detail.aspx?ReleaseID=12951&NewsAreaID=2).
Could you give us a sneak peek at what to expect in the next revision of the platform?
A: We appreciate your curiosity, but we cannot comment on details of unannounced products. We will keep you posted!
Anything you would like to add
A: Microsoft is re-defining its smartphone platform with Windows Phone 7, and is bringing phones, desktop, web, and game consoles closer together, connecting them through the various Microsoft cloud services, both for consumers, and business users. This will be an exciting first step into a whole new platform experience which we will quickly evolve in the future. Which means exciting times, and new choices, for smartphone customers.