Windows Phone 8!

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.

Announcing Windows Phone 8

A quick recap of what is new and coming this fall :-

  1. A new start screen
  2. Better hardware choices, with support for three screen resolutions, dual-core & quad-core (planned) and microSD card.
  3. Internet Explorer 10
  4. Shared core with Windows 8, with easier porting and more interesting apps and games coming through.
  5. Nokia Maps, with offline caching and turn-by-turn navigation
  6. NFC/Wallet feature and In-App purchases
  7. Enterprise features including Encryption, Secure Boot, Device Management and App Deployment
  8. 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 :-

  1. Fix an approximate announcement schedule, so customers know it is that time of the year again.
  2. 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.