back to article Microsoft craves iPhone developers for Windows Mobile

It's been a year since Microsoft said it had a serious problem in making Windows Mobile cool enough to attract application developers and consumers. And since then, Redmond has done little to rectify the problem. Last summer, Microsoft crowed it had thrashed RIM and Apple in the mobile market, but in 2008, Windows Mobile lost …


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  1. barth

    If I were MS, I'd be worried of loosing customers

    I've bought a Windows Mobile 6 phone, and I plain hate it. How a company with the ressources of MS could come up with such awful ergonomics, or rather absence of ergonomics, is beyond me. They ported Windows, complete with screenfulls of data-entry screens, little red boxes at the top right corners, and config options used daily but 3-4 levels down menus... Everytime I take my phone out, I feel I should put it in a desktop stand, connect a keyboard and mouse, and then, I could maybe use it.

    Also, my phone freezes down to a hard reset several times a week.

    Me not happy.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    no, no, no

    "Constanze Roman, a Windows Mobile community program manager, said Visual Studio and MSDN can help developers close the programming gaps."

    translated, hey come and buy some more over priced crap and you can write apps for us

  3. Red Bren
    Gates Horns

    Still playing the leverage game!

    "You will have a very rich browsing experience on 6.5 devices that will give you access to more Web sites than you will be able to get to on an iPhone"

    Having used their dominance of the desktop market to corrupt web standards, they're using the presence of IE only websites as leverage in the smartphone market.

    Come on EU, give them another kicking!

  4. Ty
    Jobs Halo


    What are you talking about?

    It was "too late" about a year ago.

    The IT press is SO slow. It's like watching an oil tanker try and turn.

    WM is dead in the water - you will realise this in about 18 months.

    Do try and keep up.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    HC have done amazing work with TouchFlo - it's like it's own graphical OS, but with the power of Windows Mobile (flexibility, multitasking etc) built in

    I love my Touch HD more than an iPhone, but Microsoft should be ashamed of themselves

  6. Tommy Pock

    If you're not busy can go and help them with Zune as well if you like

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Windows Mobile rot may not be as terminal as some think

    I think many people were surprised at the success of the iPhone, especially given its many drawbacks - Microsoft being one of them. Now that they've realised their mistakes, one can only hope that they improve the UI of Windows Mobile pretty quick to match that available by third party UIs such as SPB and TouchFlo 3D. It's just as well to remember that even given the increase in iPhone sales, there are far more Symbian and Windows Mobile devices around - a fact that seems to be lost on some iPhone zealots.

  8. Peter 39


    >With the iPhone, it seems Microsoft has been guilty of underestimating

    >the potential for Apple's success, possibly believing the world would

    >one-day wake up after a brief fling and come back to Windows.

    >That mistake goes right to the top of Microsoft.

    The iPhone was released two years ago. And how has Microsoft used the two years?

    As fruitfully as Apple? I don't think so.

    Microsoft isn't even holding its own here - it's falling further behind as time passes. Ballmer can rant and throw chairs all he wants but this failing is on *his* watch.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    "Microsoft has said is just a step towards its fully touch-enabled Windows Mobile 7.0"

    Windows Mobile is already touch-enabled. Otherwise how would devices without keyboards work with it? Did you mean multi-touch enabled?

    @AC 21:13

    And Apple AREN'T trying to lock people into expensive crap?!


    Hard-resetting is the "factory default settings" option. If you need to hard-reset every few days then there's something wrong with your phone. Even a soft-reset every couple of days is a bit excessive based on 6 years with various WM phones.

    Also, where are these daily-used, 4-levels-down config settings? I certainly have no such problems and use my WM device daily.

    Plus at least you'd have the OPTION of connecting a mouse and keyboard to it.

    Oh, and want to fix the ergonomic problems? There's an app for that.

  10. David 141

    Barrier to entry

    A lot of potential developers probably look at the cost of getting the SDK for Windows mobile and walk away. It'd take a lot of $5 apps to cover the cost of 1 SDK, and forget anything free.

  11. Charles Manning

    Fool me once,...

    A few years back, MS encouraged software vendors to get onboard the WinCE train. That even included tools vendors.

    Given the way MS treated the likes of Borland on the PC platform it is no wonder very few people have taken them up on the offer.

  12. Tankut Erinc
    Big Brother

    It's about mindshare

    WM has never had a mass-market appeal. Most of its users have traditionally been corporate users and geeks.

    Even if WM 7 were miraculously easy to use, sexy and web2.0/media/etc friendly, it is a hard thing to change this image. Zune is too little too late, and was never much available worldwide anyway ("Welcome to the Loneliness?")

    Having said that, WM is a powerful operating system. It may be inelegant but very flexible and uncrippled; unlike some mobile OS'es I could name.

    Microsoft was too late to make it user-friendly and sexy, so HTC and others had to step-in and do it themselves, with varying degrees of success. Alas, this has also fragmented the look-and-feel of the thing (even if underneath lurks the WM6.x, the skin is what people will first see). It's like Linux in this respect. it is actually funny how WM (for a proprietary OS) resembles the OSS community and how iphone is the opposite of linux in its philosophy (even if they both are remotely related through the unix family)

    I digress: My point is Choice and Flexibility is a Good Thing if you are a geek, willing and able to tinker with stuff. Most people are not. So if you are hunting marketshare fragmentation is not good. And being so slow to keep up with competitors is definitely Bad.


    Oh and by the way, I do use a recent HTC WM device. I had wanted the ease of PalmOS of days of frankengarnet, with the slickness of iphone, longevity of a BB. So I got none of those, and I still think I made the best compromise. But being a geek I know my choices are not widely shared, world-dominationwise.

  13. Big-nosed Pengie
    Gates Horns

    Bugger "cool"...

    How about concentrating on functional? I've had two Windwoes mobiles now, the latest only a couple of weeks old (no, of course I didn't buy them myself - they were provided by work) and to call them "shite" is to commit a dire insult to that useful human excretory product which performs its designed functions flawlessly.

    In a more rational world we'd be communicating with each other via turds and flushing our Windwoes Mobile products into the sewer.

  14. Player_16
    Gates Halo

    @ AC 23:47 - Windows Mobile rot.

    Yep, you're right. You can flood the market with junk and live off that.

  15. Andy 97

    What apps?

    I can't think of one app I'd want to put on my nasty WM phone.

    It's all about user experience and not that it will connect to Exchange.

    MS really need to pull the greatest phone experience in the world out of their hat. but I doubt it.

  16. Peter Mylward

    Are they serious?

    Surely if M$ are serious about catching up with apple et al they should be ditching 6.5 ang going straight to full touch 7.0 or am I missing something here. The only thing that will happpen here is that google android and it's manufacturers will come out of it's public beta and will be in a virtual head to head with apple for the consumer Market, if M$ miss that boat, it's screwed.

  17. Mark Rendle

    A decent SDK/API would help

    The problem with WinMo for developers is that if you use the .NET CF, the out-of-the-box controls look like shit, and there's no XAML/WPF to help you style them. I'm guessing Windows Mobile 7 is the solution to these problems, and will probably have some kind of Silverlight-based environment for productivity apps and Zune/XNA for game developers, but I can't help wondering why the hell they've been wasting time on WM6.5, which is clearly going to be the Windows ME of Mobile.

    Me, I'm releasing apps on Android, BlackBerry, Symbian and Pre until they make me enough money to buy a Mac, then I can do iPhone too. Whenever they do finally release 7, maybe then I'll be interested.

    PS: Red Bren: they're not talking about IE-only sites, they're talking about Flash Player. WinMo has it, iPhone doesn't.

  18. Thomas Bottrill

    Microsoft's problem

    Surely the biggest problem with WinMo is the sheer variety of devices that ship with it? You can't guarantee the hardware that the phone will have, whereas with something like iPhone you can at least guarantee that every device will have a touchscreen and a high minimum spec.

    If you're developing an application for WinMo that requires a touchscreen and a tilt sensor then you're already limiting your market quite considerably (moreso considering there's no common API for the tilt sensors in various phones).

    The only way that Microsoft can truly compete with the iPhone experience is to enforce a certain minimum standard of hardware for phones that use WinMo. Really, Microsoft should be focussing on the enterprise side and not trying to sell WinMo phones to consumers.

  19. Jax 1

    I dev a lot of WinCE

    And to be frank in terms of consumer apps I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole. All UI options seriously suck unless you re-write the UI from scratch. I'm looking gleefully at stuff like Android for making fun apps.

    For business apps, hell yea, it's FTW cause business like to buy WinMobile devices and don't care about the UI so much. It's stable and its worth the pain. I'll still use it for business but if MS think there is any chance its going to get me produce my "fun" spare time apps on the platform of pain that is CE then they are completely off their rocker.

    And if they're reading then please, please, please put more effort into .NET CF. Port Reflection.Emit, sort out the UI and stop pissing around giving us LINQ (which is just syntactic sugar) as opposed to giving us something that enables us to do NEW things without the time consuming process of writing C++ / C and the P/Invoke code.

  20. Number6

    My New Phone

    last time I got a new phone, one of the requirements was that it did not run Windows Mobile. However, I also wanted to avoid the iPhone, which really narrowed the field. For those wondering, I ended up with a Nokia E71. I looked at Android but gave it a miss this time around.

  21. TeeCee Gold badge
    Gates Horns

    Updates are the killer app, not Touch.

    This one's where the iPhone really rocks 'n rolls over WinMo. Having a known and controlled HW base means they can ship updates centrally. WinMo comes with "Windows update", but it never does as the various OEMs customise the ROM images so they can't be updated centrally. This has the unfortunate side effect that, since the OEMs (HTC - I'm looking at you) can't be arsed to cut ROM updates for anything more than 30 seconds over its product development lifecycle, any bugs in the version the OEM's "final" update shipped with are yours for life. This is the one area that should be M$'s top priority to sort out. Building to a "good enough to release" plus patch 'n fix strategy is of no earthly use if the fixes never get to the consumers. They need to either instigate a "you do NOT f*** with the core O/S" policy with the OEMs so they can push core O/S updates centrally or ship code that actually works first time*. At the moment, buying a WinMo device is like buying version x of one of their desktop O/S's and then never getting a fix or SP for it!

    If MS want a proper Touch UI, they should stop fannying around and buy out SPB**. Then they'd have time to concentrate on the real issues.

    *Yes, I know we're talking about Microsnot and that is supposed to be funny.

    **History shows us that this is a known, working MS strategy. History also shows that the DIY approach is an easy route to a paddleless trip up shit creek.

  22. Jason Hall

    Re. My New Phone

    Me too. I got the N95 8gb.

    My 18 months of anguish are nearly up.

    It's a shame I still have no other 'real' options, so will probably just bite the bullet and get an iphone.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What everybody forgets is...

    that MSMobile is largely a business tool, and they eye the enormous success of Apple in the consumer area. They want that as well.

    The point is: can they do that.

    That involves video, rich user experience, better graphics, better music.

    "@Anonymous Coward Posted Monday 3rd August 2009 23:47 GMT

    there are far more Symbian and Windows Mobile devices around - a fact that seems to be lost on some iPhone zealots."

    See also above. It's not what you sold in the past, it's your marketshare NOW. And within MS, marketshare is GOD.

    WinMo was successful because it's integration into Office and Outlook. It became the defacto business tool. Well IPhone can work with Exchange as well. So now I see lot's of business people sporting an IPhone. Maybe the cool factor, but hey, it also works with the company email.

  24. alistair millington
    Thumb Down

    Hmm tough choices.

    I can't stand iPhone and all these suck ups that think sliding fingers and paying stupid amounts is the way forward. Yes it may only cost 99c, but 52 apps later and how much do you have of real worth???

    Yet they are easier to code, easier to program and if you have a brain cell the one or two you actually need is quite useful, certainly downloading and working them is easier and more user friendly than the mess of having to install on your pc to get them on the phone in the first place. I mean the tipulator, something that breaks down a restaurant bill into portions, just like erm... a calculator can do with the divide key. Come on 99c for that? Geez. Or better yet, that stupid app that lets you send photos to anyone else randomly in the world.

    Then again WM is dead, long dead, it is horrible to work with a network, horrible to customise, even worse to get to sync. you can't share domains so working between sites is a no no, you can't go online and on a network without changing a pull down tab on some horrible sub menu.

    Active sync is the worst piece of software I have ever come across from MS (A very long list indeed), it just doesn't work and has to convert everything before you can even use your phone as a simple flash storage device.

    So whatever comes from Linux or Google I see as the one to watch in the future. They are the ones that have a use for the coding beyond the initial phone, and the buy in from linux coders will be the one that could progress nicely against the MS offering. Or more importantly, progress against the market share.

    No one will be bought into working for MS if you have to mount the hurdle that is MSDN and then program something that still can't cope with jumping between mobile internet and plugging in via active sync to a PC without four menu options and a restart.

    Bin Active sync, make it just work. Get rid of MSDN and have a much more open and fuller list of API's and drivers that run in the background and make the whole UI work, instead of just being a pocket PC OS on a smaller device.

    Hmm I seem to have ranted a bit.

  25. Jacqui Smith's DVD Collection!

    Buggy nasty crap

    WinMo should be killed off.

  26. matt williams 1

    @Jason Hal

    Take a look at the HTC Hero, my iphone will make way for one in January

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Poor Sales....

    As someone working in the mobile industry here in the UK, it is safe to say that WM is slowly dying as a business device as well! Our big business contracts are either turning to Blackberry's, or changing tack entirely and going for more basic phones backed up with laptops and dongles.

    As for the consumer market, by the time WM 7 turns up Android will be a long way ahead! And I can't imagine Apple sitting still either....

    Maybe they should just shut down WM altogether?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Never go back

    I've had a windows mobile since the original SPV. My new HTC Magic running Android is so much simpler to use and much more fun. I recently fired up my Kasier running 6.5 and touchflo. It is just not in the same league.

  29. magnetik

    @alistair millington

    There are plenty of shockingly bad apps for Android phones. Any development platform will have bad apps written for it. You have to be pretty naive not to realise that.

  30. Law

    @ matt williams 1

    My friend just got one - he said it's alright but battery life is worst than the iPhone 3g... as in, really really bad... so it's put me off a bit.

    I'm waiting until the new Sony Ericsson one, the android one code named lucy or something - should be out by Jan I think, when my contract is up too. From the videos and news I read on it it's fairly awesome, trumps specs and looks of htc hero too, so is a possibility.

    My only concern with moving to android now is people having problems porting to it (like tomtom and the like) - I had a look at their sdk recently, and ignoring the fact it's Java *spits*, it's also fairly odd in that every page is essentially it's own application... not had a proper play yet.

  31. shane fitzgerald

    Kill it off

    Just kill it off. Just start from scratch like google/palm are doing.

    Or just use the Tegra/Zune since the Zune HD will be using it anyway.

    Its the big mistake nokia are making too trying to bolt on a slight improvement to the UI while the rest of it comes creaking out once you click a couple of buttons.

    They should develop a comeplete new OS and then have a symbian emulator aka windows 7 vista mode to run legacy apps.

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