Mar 152010

Perhaps one of the strongest indicators of the success of a product is how much the competition uses it.

The Wall Street Journal recently carried an interesting piece substantiating the fact where it noted the heavy usage of iPhones among Microsoft employees.

In the article, author Nick Wingfield notes that in the past one year, close to 10,000 Microsoft employees had accessed the company’s employee email system via an iPhone. This equals 10% of Microsoft’s global workforce. Redmond also has some high profile iPhone users on its rolls. J Allard; Microsoft’s chief experience officer for the entertainment and devices division who is popular for his contributions towards the creation of the Xbox gaming console is known to be an avid iPhone user. Wingfield’s report points out that iPhone users are pretty conspicuous in the cafeterias, lobbies and conference rooms of Microsoft’s Seattle campus.

The widespread use of a rival platform has generated a lot of debate among Microsoft executives who see the trend not particularly helping the company, especially at a time when Microsoft is working to launch an improved mobile OS that can take on the likes of iPhone OS and Android.

While some executives see the use of an iPhone as a necessity to help employees study rival product features better, others like Kevin Turner, the COO at Microsoft disagree. In a clear signal of displeasure over the increasing use of iPhones, Microsoft modified its cellphone policy early last year to let only those employees using phones that run on Windows Phone to be eligible for reimbursement of service fees. While Redmond described this as merely a cost-cutting measure, observers note that the increasing use of iPhones among employees is a major factor behind the modification of the company’s cellphone policy.

With Microsoft’s much talked about Windows Phone 7 mobile OS launching in the latter half of this year, Microsoft would be hoping for the new platform to motivate iPhone lovers in the Redmond campus to finally let go of their iDevice. We wonder if that will ever happen. What do you think?

[via The Wall Street Journal ]

Microsoft Attacks iPhone In New Windows Phone 7 Teaser Ad

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Feb 162010

As you would know, Microsoft unveiled its upcoming Windows Phone 7 OS at the Mobile World Congress at Barcelona yesterday.

As part of the launch, the company released a teaser video attacking the iPhone and the other touchscreen phones, which the voice-over in the video says has resulted in a “sea of sameness”.

Without mentioning the iPhone explicitly, the video speaks of the current state of smartphones where the focus has been on mobile apps
instead of the phone experience itself. Taking further potshot at iPhone’s lack of multitasking, the VO says unlike an app experience where the user has to go “in and out” of several apps, Windows Phone 7 lets users move seamlessly through integrated hubs which pulls in all the applications that a user needs at one place. Microsoft calls this a “new beginning” for smartphone platforms.

You may check out the teaser video below:

Seems like the easiest way of late for smartphone players to make headlines about their product is by attacking the iPhone and its features. However, with Windows Phone 7, Microsoft appears to have come up with a product that can pose a genuine challenge to Apple’s iPhone OS.

Having said that, smartphones running on Windows Phone 7 are expected to be launched only by the end of this year. With the new version of iPhone OS due to be unveiled in a couple of months from now, iPhone users can expect a superior product on their hands much before the Windows Phone devices are out in the market.

What do you think?

[via TechCrunch]

Microsoft Unveils Windows Phone 7 Series

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Feb 152010


Microsoft has finally unveiled their next generation mobile operating systemWindows Phone 7 Series at Mobile World Congress 2010, just as we had reported yesterday.

Based on initial impressions, Microsoft seems to have finally released a mobile operating system to compete with Apple’s iPhone OS.

Greg Kumparak over at MobileCrunch has detailed some of the features in Windows Phone 7 Series based on his first initial impression. According to him:

  • The interface is a rapid, massive departure from Windows Mobile 6.5. Really, it’s huge. There is next to no resemblance between Windows Phone and any past version of Windows Mobile
  • As far as we’ve heard so far, the details we broke in January are spot-on. Much of the interface is very Zune like. As we said then, manufacturers will not be able to make massive modifications to Windows Phone. Microsoft specifically said that things like HTC’s TouchFlo will not exist on Windows Phone.
  • The Zune brand will be used for music/video content, while Xbox Live will be used for Games.
  • The homescreen is made up of two pages: on the left is a series of “panels” (Update: They’re called “Live Tiles”), either square or rectangular, which serve as shortcuts to your favorite applications and pull in data from them. On the right is a simple list of all the applications installed on the handset.
  • You flip back and forth between the two pages by swiping.
  • The panels on the homescreen (the shortcut icons) are dynamic, to some extent. The “Photos” panel pulls in recent photos as the icon background, for example.
  • The entire thing reminds me very much of a combination between the Zune interface and the new Xbox 360 dashboard
    Panels can be dragged around and rearranged on the homescreen the same way icons are re-arranged on the iPhone: tap and hold, then drag.
  • Each screen has been stripped down to its core – if it’s not necessary, it’s not onscreen. There is no Start button lingering at the top of the screen at all times; hell, there’s not even a clock/WiFi/battery bar up there until you click the space it would usually be.
  • Windows Phone is very heavy on the animations, and Microsoft is proud of it. Take the calendar, for example: when you jump from a day view to month view, it zooms gracefully from one to the other. It makes the entire interface look incredibly slick, though we’re already hearing people ask if they can be turned off (and no, they can’t.)
  • There is at least rudimentary Facebook integration; I spotted Facebook status updates being pulled into the contacts screen (which is called the “People” hub), and you can update your own status from the same place.
  • All Windows Phone handsets must have three buttons: back, Start (Windows key), and search. As we’d heard, Microsoft is being pretty strict about the specs of Windows Phone handsets.
  • The search button is context sensitive. For example: on the homescreen it launches Bing, but tapping it while on the application list screen will let you search through just your apps.
  • I’m not sure if we were supposed to see this yet, but holding the search button will launch a voice searching feature. It wasn’t currently functioning.
  • As far as I could tell, there is currently no copy/paste functionality. We were told that “developers will hear more about that” at Microsoft’s MIX conference next month, though it was implied that it would be about why copy and paste “won’t be necessary” rather than when it was coming.
  • The build we checked out was really buggy – but considering that they’ve got almost a full year to patch it up, I’m not too worried at this point.

The first Windows Phone 7 handsets will be launched during the 2010 Holiday season.

You can also checkout this Windows Phone 7 Series features by Microsoft below:

[via MobileCrunch]

Bill Gates Not Impressed With Ipad

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Feb 112010

Microsoft founder Bill Gates, a longtime proponent of tablet-style computing and touchscreen devices, has said he is not impressed by what he’s seen of Apple’s iPad.

The multi-billionaire spoke with Brent Schlender of BNET and admitted that while he became envious of the iPhone, the iPad has not elicited the same reaction from him.

“You know, I’m a big believer in touch and digital reading, but I still think that some mixture of voice, the pen and a real keyboard — in other words, a netbook — will be the mainstream on that,” Gates reportedly said.

“So, it’s not like I sit there and feel the same way I did with iPhone where I say, ‘Oh my God, Microsoft didn’t aim high enough.’ It’s a nice reader, but there’s nothing on the iPad I look at and say, ‘Oh, I wish Microsoft had done it.’”

Gates joins a chorus of technology enthusiasts and casual users alike who have said they feel they were let down by Apple’s iPad announcement. One study found that while the number of users interested in buying the device tripled after it was unveiled, the lion’s share have said they will not purchase an iPad.

Gates’ support of tablet-style computers is nothing new It was in 2001 that he and Microsoft introduced the “Tablet PC,” which was predicted to be everyone’s primary computer in just a few years. However, the form-factor and input method failed to catch on.

At the D conference in 2007, Gates and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs sat down together for an interview in which the two tech titans spent some time talking about the future of computing, and where tablet-style devices might fit into the mix.

“I believe in the tablet form factor,” Gates said in 2007. “I think you’ll have voice. I think you’ll have ink. You’ll have some way of having a hardware keyboard and some settings for that. And then you’ll have the device that fits in your pocket, which the whole notion of how much function should you combine in there, you know, there’s navigation computers, there’s media, there’s phone. Technology is letting us put more things in there, but then again, you really want to tune it so people know what they expect.”

While Jobs didn’t embrace the tablet form factor like Gates did, he did say he believed computers were going to become even more mobile, and the very idea of what consumers view as a computer could change dramatically.

“This general purpose device is going to continue to be with us and morph with us, whether it’s a tablet or a notebook or, you know, a big curved desktop that you have at your house or whatever it might be,” Jobs said. “So I think that’ll be something that most people have, at least in this society. In others, maybe not, but certainly in this one.”

Of course, Apple’s latest take on the tablet is much different than the options offered by Microsoft and competitors up until this point, with the multi-touch, multimedia iPad being more akin to an iPod touch than a MacBook. Analysts expect the iPad to sell millions in its first year.