Microsoft content with Windows Mobile launch

Despite some negative reviews, Microsoft is happy with improvements to the operating system

Not only was there a negative initial reaction to the launch of the latest Windows phones on Wednesday, there were news stories about all the bad reviews.

Yet, Microsoft didn't seem to notice.

When asked for a reaction about the negative reports (Techcrunch had possibly the most memorable headline: "Windows Mobile 6.5 Review: It Still Sucks"), Andy Lees, senior vice president of mobile communications at Microsoft, disagreed that the market response was overly negative. "You always get a spectrum of coverage," he said during an interview on Wednesday.

"I feel that we delivered a significantly improved update. The customer feedback on that has been positive," he said.

He's pleased that 30 phones running Windows Mobile 6.5 are expected to come out in the first three months. In addition, he expects that the improvements in the user interface will help Microsoft reach out to consumers.

Still, he couldn't say whether Microsoft hopes that this latest version can reverse a slide at Windows Mobile. While shipments of Windows Mobile phones are up, the operating system is losing market share, as it competes with new entrants like the iPhone. By the second quarter this year, Windows Mobile's share had decreased to 9 percent, the lowest since the first quarter of 2006 and down from 14.3 percent in the second quarter of 2008, according to research from Canalys.

Microsoft doesn't provide predictions, so Lees would not say if he thinks that Windows Mobile 6.5 can boost mobile market share for the company. But he said that the new software has more to appeal to consumers. "I think that will help us," he said.

Amid his praise for the operating system, Lees also was careful to call it a "milestone" along a journey. "There will be a whole bunch more milestones coming out over the next 12 to 18 months," he said.

It's now up to end-users to decide if the latest update to Windows Mobile and those in the future come in time. Microsoft has been criticized for releasing Windows Mobile 6.5 only now, over two years after the groundbreaking iPhone hit the market. During that time, the iPhone surpassed Windows Mobile, selling 5.2 million phones and cornering 13.7 percent of the market by the second quarter of 2009, according to Canalys.

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Nancy Gohring

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