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Windows Phone 7

Windows Phone 7 is out and it looks pretty cool. It seems that my prediction on a previous post is about to be refuted. But only time will tell.

After the Kin disaster, Microsoft managed not only to make some commercials that look good (see below, really?), but also an operating system that actually works. (really?)

Here are some of the points that might help Phone 7.

1. The interface is cool. I have never been near a Zune, but some people claim that once you get pass the hideousness of the hardware, the software is almost good. Phone 7 borrows a lot of elements from the Zune and that’s good.

2. Microsoft is taking an approach very much like Apple’s, and is requiring its hardware partners to meet a rigid criteria in order to run Windows Phone 7. Each device must feature three standard hardware buttons, for example, and before they can ship with WP7, they have to pass a series of tests directed by Microsoft. By contrast, Google doesn’t subject manufacturers to similar testing criteria. And we’re seeing the consequences: Some touchscreens work better than others, some apps don’t work on one version of Android while they do on another, and some manufacturers are even loading bloatware onto Android devices. Most importantly, a consistent user experience will help customers understand what they’re getting when they’re shopping for a Windows phone.

3. Microsoft’s got apps, really? For business users, Microsoft’s inclusion of Office apps will be a huge lure. And there are a few important apps available right out of the gate, including Netflix, eBay, Twitter and Slacker radio.

4. Microsoft’s supposed to have games. Apple’s success with games for the iPhone has given Microsoft a clue on what a lot of people do with their smartphones: play. Integration with the Xbox 360won’t hurt, either.

Why Apple may be revisiting old battles and making the same mistakes

In 1984 Apple introduced the Macintosh. This was a huge paradigm switch on personal computers. These were the first machines to have a GUI (Graphical User Interface) and a mouse. Apple’s trademark has always been innovation. They have always been ahead of the curve and continue to do so, marking trends for others to follow and telling us what the next big thing is.

Back then; Microsoft was trying to catch up. They introduced the GUI on their first Windows incarnation… As always, the guys at Redmond had seen a good idea and had to follow. They had to have a piece of the action, and they were right. Because back then, the GUI was the future and ignoring the future would have made them irrelevant.

That was more than 20 years ago and we know how the story went. Microsoft started to license Windows to everybody. Apple went the other route and after a short while stopped licensing the operating system. They stayed in control of the hardware and the software and in part this is why Apple was able to innovate at such a pace. Nobody can keep up with them. Even when Steve is being a little stubborn at times (I’m still waiting for Blue Ray support) he is pushing his agenda, something that is obviously part of the Bigger Picture. And what’s the Bigger Picture? Only Steve knows. That’s why Steve is Steve and I’m just me.

We know what happened in the 90’s. Microsoft went on to grab more than 90% of the market share and Apple stayed a niche player that for a while was on the verge of disappearing. Remember when Michael Dell came up with a solution for Apple? But that’s another story.

The story now is the future, again. Because we have seen the future and we want a piece of it. The iPad is the future. Yep, I know what you are going to say. I’ve read the blogs all over the web and I’ve been using an iPad since week two. (By the way, I’m writing this on my G5 so I don’t loose touch with old technology) The iPad has been the biggest paradigm switch since 1984. The introduction of the iPhone was close, but the adoption rate of the pad has been unprecedented and that alone points to reasons of deeper waters. The future, dude! The future.

Now let me get to the point I wanted to make. History has a way of repeating itself. That’s why we watch the History Channel; so we don’t make the same mistakes. Over and over again. I don’t know what’s going to happen but is going to be very interesting.

Now Microsoft is out of the picture. Forget Windows Mobile 7 or whatever they want to call it, Microsoft is out of the picture. Google is in now and it’s aiming for the tablet. The only difference between this battle (Android vs. iOS) and that other historic battle (Windows vs. Mac OS) is that Android is actually pretty good. Google (following the Microsoft playbook) is going to license Android to everybody and their sisters and sooner or later, somebody is going to come up with a decent piece of hardware (probably Dell) to take away market share form Apple.

Until then, I’m going to turn off the G5 grab my Pad and go lie down on the couch… I’ll browse the web for a while, I’ll read a book, or catch a movie on Netfilx. The possibilities are endless.

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