Windows Phone 7: Problems out of the gate

The race is on, and everybody's already a lap ahead of Microsoft.

No matter what Microsoft reveals at its Windows Phone 7 event, the company faces some huge hurdles in the race to create a popular smartphone platform. The major problem for Windows Phone 7 is that it's three years late to the party thrown by Apple, and another operating system, Google's Android, has already become the iPhone's main competitor.

Microsoft's late attempt to save its mobile skin brings lots of other complications, detailed below. Though I won't go so far as to call Windows Phone 7 a failure before it even launches, these are real concerns that need to be addressed:

Missing Features

The short list: No copy-and-paste, no true multitasking, no HTML 5, no Flash. I have a feeling these feature will eventually come to Windows Phone 7, especially start voting with their wallets.

And Microsoft's been conversing with Adobe, which could mean Flash support is already in the cards. For now, whatever enthusiasm I have for Windows Phone 7 is always hampered by these omissions.

Wait-and-See From Developers

Microsoft has paid some developers to ensure a healthy base of apps at launch -- smart move -- but as Robert Scoble recently pointed out, the "long tail" of apps can be just as important as the hits.

A huge selection ensure that your app itch can be scratched, and many developers are still waiting to see how Windows Phone 7 performs.

No Verizon

Gaining market share is the key to wooing the aforementioned app developers, and that'll be hard without the nation's biggest wireless carrier on board.

Verizon's tepid reaction to Windows Phone 7 may have something to do with the Kin's colossal failure, or the carrier's proven success with Android. Whatever the reason, Verizon's reluctance knocks the wind out of Microsoft at launch.

Puzzling Ads

Marketing is not Microsoft's strong suit -- see the Internet Explorer 8 ads, churros -- and the ads for Windows Phone 7 are not encouraging so far. A teaser video that surfaced last month promised "revolution," but didn't show the phone actually operating.

An ad that appeared on YouTube in late December, and later taken down by Microsoft, derided the "stop-and-stare" nature of other phones. I'm pretty sure compulsive smartphone use occurs because they're fun devices, irresistible during idle time, not because of deficiencies with any particular phone. What is Microsoft trying to say?

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Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
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