Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 event was a pleasant surprise. As a Windows Phone user, I am very satisfied with the way things are shaping up for this (not so) new phone OS. iOS 6, for me, was an underwhelming attempt by Apple. WP8 announcement packs in a lot and will help break the boring duopoly of iOS & Android in the smartphone marketplace.
A quick recap of what is new and coming this fall :-
- A new start screen
- Better hardware choices, with support for three screen resolutions, dual-core & quad-core (planned) and microSD card.
- Internet Explorer 10
- Shared core with Windows 8, with easier porting and more interesting apps and games coming through.
- Nokia Maps, with offline caching and turn-by-turn navigation
- NFC/Wallet feature and In-App purchases
- Enterprise features including Encryption, Secure Boot, Device Management and App Deployment
- Full VoIP support
All of this sounds great. This release will strengthen WP8's pitch as a viable alternative to iOS & Android. We can expect a few more interesting features once the devices start shipping.
However, this did not please a lot of existing WP7 customers.
WP7 customers were distraught that WP8 won't be coming to their "barely days old" devices. And frankly, Microsoft could have done a better job on this. All the Software features should have been brought to the existing devices. A price correction is another way to sell existing, but now old and incompatible devices and software.
Apple customers face a similar problem every October. But instead of getting angry and upset, Apple customers support and queue in for the new hardware and software features. Google, on the other hand, announces a new version, which trickles down to a percent of existing devices in 6-12 months timeframe, and most of the time never.
Microsoft should take a leaf out of Apple's book, rather than following its PC legacy of announcing a product and following up with an actual release 3-4 months afterwards. The Phone industry is not similar to the PC industry, where the major distribution was through PC manufacturers. Here are a couple of things Microsoft can do better next time :-
- Fix an approximate announcement schedule, so customers know it is that time of the year again.
- Work with Nokia and release a new lead device, along with the OS announcement.
A new OS is a "once in two years" phenomenon. Microsoft has a couple of years to figure things out for WP9. Every new OS version should accompany a new phone announcement for Microsoft to gain a substantial traction in the market.