Windows Phone 7: What Microsoft needs next

Last week's deal with Nokia won't transform Windows Phone 7 into a genuine threat without these moves

The last week has brought nothing but good news for Microsoft and Windows Phone 7. Between Nokia's hardware commitment, Angry Birds on the way and Microsoft's own announcement of a roadmap for vital features such as multitasking, Windows Phone 7 seems to be catching a second wind in 2011.

I don't think the smartphone race is over. Microsoft still has time to transform Windows Phone 7 from an also-ran into a genuine threat to Android and the iPhone. But the last week of announcements won't be enough to save Windows Phone 7 from a life of mobile obscurity. Here's what Microsoft needs to get ahead:

Verizon Wireless

Microsoft will soon update Windows Phone 7 to support CDMA networks such as Sprint and Verizon Wireless, but Verizon has been cool to the platform and to Nokia, which currently doesn't build CDMA devices. Even though Verizon plans to carry Windows Phone 7 handsets this spring, the company's chief technical officer, Tony Melone, told CNet that he doubts whether Microsoft's platform can be a strong competitor to the iPhone and Android. If Microsoft wants to gain traction in the United States, it will somehow have to build the confidence of the nation's largest wireless carrier.

More Missing Features

Microsoft plans to fill in quite a few missing features this year, including copy-and-paste, multitasking, HTML5 support and SkyDrive online storage. But without native turn-by-turn voice navigation and either tethering or Wi-Fi hotspot support, Microsoft will have a tough time attracting Android users who have long enjoyed these features. Hopefully Microsoft's update plans for Windows Phone 7 in 2011 aren't complete yet.

Homebrew Support

After some developers released an unlock code that let Windows Phone 7 users install unauthorized software, Microsoft reached out and convinced the developers to remove the tool, with the understanding that the company would work to support homebrew apps. If you appease the geeks, eventually they'll recommend a product to their friends and families, so let's see homebrew support happen sooner than later.

Another Strategic Partnership

Let's face it, Microsoft is running a marathon with Windows Phone 7, not a sprint, and that's why Nokia's long-term commitment makes so much sense. Although LG and Samsung say they're still committed to Windows Phone 7, they're also hedging their bets with considerable investments in Android. Microsoft could really use one more vendor to treat Windows Phone 7 like it's the best mobile platform around, and bet the farm on it.

More Apps

Microsoft announced this week that the Windows Marketplace for Mobile now has more than 8,000 apps. Although Microsoft may never catch Android and iOS on quantity, it can focus on quality by courting developers of popular apps on other platforms. We know Microsoft is willing to pay developers to work on Windows Phone 7, so let's see those efforts go toward hit apps like Instagram (which now has 2 million users on iOS). Also, Windows Phone 7 desperately needs in-app purchase support, especially now that it's available to Android developers.

Jared blogs for Today @ PC World from Los Angeles. Say hello on Facebook or Twitter.

Tags consumer electronicsMicrosoftAndroidPhoneswindows phone 7NokiaiPhonesmartphonesVerizon Wireless

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jared Newman

PC World (US online)

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?