Windows Phone 7 (WP7) is by no means a bad mobile OS. It’s brilliantly intuitive, sits on some truly ace hardware and marks a real departure from Microsoft’s previously staid and sluggish mobile efforts. But as 2011 ticks by, there’s a nagging feeling that the Big M is letting the mobile initiative slip, allowing rivals like Android and iOS to consolidate their positions. Here’s our Top 10 ways Windows Phone 7 needs to shape up.
1 Speed up copy and paste release
When a recent WP7 software update bricked phones, creating a welter of bad publicity, it was understandable Microsoft wanted to take a breather before trying again with its heftier copy and paste upgrade. But the wait is getting interminable. Such basic functionality should never have been missing in the first place and the update needs releasing stat.
2 And speed up Mango too
The so-called ‘Mango’ update, which is said to bring HTML5 skills and IE9, has been pushed back until late 2011, with some rumours claiming it won’t be out until 2012. Microsoft seems to be taking the opposite approach to Android, taking its own sweet time over updates. By the time Mango’s out, iOS and Android will be outstripping it completely.
3 Stage handset releases
The first string of Windows Phone 7 handsets all arrived on the same day last year, diluting their appeal and confusing consumers. Microsoft needs to work harder with OEMs to create hype around devices by staging releases at set intervals, rather than having phones unleashed simultaneously.
4 Force the issue with Nokia
Nokia’s predilection for dilly-dallying has cost it dear in the smartphone space. And it seems it’s willing to wait while Microsoft gets its house in order before releasing its first WP7 handset. Microsoft needs to tell it that the time for release is now. Get to work and release a WP7 phone by the end of summer and any software updates can be rolled out to it later.
5 Up its advertising
Unofficial sales figures for Windows Phone 7 don’t make for pretty reading. 1.5 million handsets sold in the first two months to December, combining stats for all seven launch devices, isn’t too impressive. Punters just don’t know about the new OS, so the Big M needs to up its media presence accordingly.
6 Stop the tablet refusal
Not putting Windows Phone 7 on tablets is madness, pure and simple. The iOS is predisposed to working on touchscreen devices, is brilliantly intuitive and would look gorgeous on a bigger screen. Opting to wait for Windows 8 and not releasing slates until 2012 shows Microsoft will never, ever catch the iPad.
7 Get aggressive
Microsoft’s lack of trash talk about Android and Apple has been disappointing. Steve Jobs loves dishing it out and Ballmer used to be a big fan of the corporate insult. It’s time to get angry and grab some headlines. Maybe it’ll help sell some devices.
8 Make more of Xbox Live
This is such a great feature and not enough people are aware of it. PlayStation Suite has grabbed the mobile gaming headlines for Android, while iOS bosses the market. Xbox Live integration is impressive, games are immersive and they look great. Microsoft needs to bring its gaming nous to its smartphone business.
9 Do a Nexus
Google’s Nexus S and Nexus One have provided a great Android experience for first adopters and given the platform a great test bed for new software. Microsoft needs to make a Windows Phone and brand it as such. Partner with an OEM for a one off phone that can lead the line and capture the imagination.
10 Stop looking so relaxed
The manner in which Microsoft is taking its time is in stark contrast to Android, Apple and HP. Microsoft needs to instil some urgency if it wants Windows Phone 7 to stop being a niche platform and start challenging at the top of the charts.