The update’s ready, the phones are primed. Windows Phone 7.5 Mango finally begins its rollout to existing devices today, starting a month-long campaign which will hopefully culminate in every device having the new software by the end of October.
The Big M has done an impressive job of ensuring the release runs smoothly, especially after niggles with a minor update at the start of this year. But it’s imperative that this new version of the OS succeeds and breaks through. Not just for the good of Microsoft, but for the good of the entire smartphone business. Here’s five reasons why:
1 Healthy competition
Windows Phone 7 was undoubtedly a great piece of software and an excellent and much-needed departure from the clunky world of Windows Mobile. But it’s failed to catch on in a meaningful way, something this new update must do in order to thrive.
Windows Phone 7.5 has to do well, on phones old and new, in order to provide healthy competition for the likes of Apple, Google and Research in Motion (RIM). Without it, we’ll be stuck in a very samey world of smartphones.
2 Greater innovation
The growth in competition ties directly into innovation. Windows Phone has much better, deeper social integration that vanilla Android and iOS. Its lead in this area surely influenced Apple to include Twitter functionality in practically every aspect of iOS 5.
Its excellent maps function can also provide inspiration for others. This isn’t about stealing, but about pushing boundaries. The better this OS does, the better others will be too.
3 Microsoft’s own status
Make no bones about it, Microsoft’s status in the smartphone world is negligible compared to that of Apple and Google. Windows Phone needs to start selling big in order to improve this and give the Big M the kind of cachet it already has in the gaming market. Talking of which…
4 The good of mobile gaming
The Xbox Live functionality on Windows Phone 7.5 is great. And there’s no escaping the fact that iOS 5’s improved Game Center is a direct result of Microsoft’s mobile gaming platform.
Windows Phone 7.5 must succeed, not only to improve the quality of Xbox Live titles available, but also to show the way for both Apple and Google, the latter of whom is notably lagging behind in this department.
5 Checks and balances
As good as iOS and Android are, it’s important that another OS is able to flourish. Windows Phone is in the best position to do so, with RIM's BlackBerry OS hardly exciting and Symbian dying a death.
It’s essential this update does the business in order to keep the dominance of Cupertino and Mountain View’s OS’s in check.