Saturday, September 11, 2010

Microsof't Funeral

There's really not much fun in bashing Microsoft any more. Although they're still firmly entrenched in the desktop space and profitable as a company, their attempts to make inroads into emerging markets have been less than stellar and in what's arguably the most important emerging market – mobile – they've gone from being a moderately strong player to an almost non-existent fringe player in just a few short years.

You may not believe this, but I'm actually rooting for Windows 7 Phone (though I still hate the name). I really want it to be good, and it has the potential to be good, and even the potential to be better than Android out of the gate. Microsoft's problem has never been lack of good engineers; their problems are almost exclusively management making it impossible for the engineers to deliver something awesome. A lot of Microsoft products have had the potential to be good, but weren't.

But, maybe this is the product that will turn the tide. And if Windows 7 Phone can get some traction, there are a lot of developers out there familiar with C#, .Net, and Visual Studio who will jump aboard their market. I've actually been hearing a lot of good things about the Windows 7 Phone SDK and tools from people. I'm not sure I'd like them - I've never really liked the high-level approach that .NET takes - but a lot of people do, so there's a large pool of potential developers if they can get the platform off the ground.

I'd really love to see the mobile space avoid the quasi-monoculture problems that the desktop space has had thanks to the dominance of Windows. Real competition is good.

So, yeah… I'm kinda rooting for Windows 7 Phone even though I know there's at pretty good chance that Microsoft Management Idiocy™ has ruined another potentially good product. I'm cautiously optimistic based on what I've been hearing from people with access to the tools.

Given that, then, I found yesterday's news of Microsoft's RTM "parade" for Windows 7 Phone very sad. Who throws a victory party before the race has even started? Hell, who even throws themselves a parade?? In the words of Wil Shipley, it's just gauche.

I think the funeral was really for Microsoft's last shred of dignity.



9 comments:

Some Bloke said...

Hi -

It's not Windows 7 Phone, it's Windows Phone 7.
The former would imply it's associated with Windows 7, and it's not.

Secondly, it wasn't a victory party, it was an RTM party. You are reading one news story from a private event that the reporter wasn't even present at, and drawing false conclusions.

I am an iPhone dev, but I hope WP7 takes off too. Android is a horror, and WP7 is actually enjoyable to develop for.

John

Jeff LaMarche said...

A) First, the name is stupid any way you cut it. You can't release a product called "Windows Phone 7" and not have people associate it with Windows 7, especially when there's never been a Windows Phone 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5. What Microsoft has done would basically be like calling the operating system on the iPhone, "Mac OS Phone". The concept of a "window" has practically nothing to do with a phone UI, but some marketing idiot at Microsoft has convinced management that they need to "leverage the brand".

I guarantee you I'm not the only one who gets the name wrong. In fact, Googling for "Windows 7 Phone" returns literally hundreds of cases of people calling it that and it hasn't even been released yet.

The association with Windows 7 is intentional, just look at Ballmer's recent statements for confirmation of that, so if there' any fault for this "false association" it's Microsoft's.

b) It really doesn't matter whether the reporter was there. The pictures and videos speak for themselves. I know it was an RTM party, I stated as much in the post, but when you celebrate the death of a competitor (a funeral can't imply anything other than death), you are throwing a "premature victory party". They may not have called it that, but that was clearly the intention.

But regardless of the reason or the audience, the videos and pictures speak for themselves. The lack of class and taste on display is stunning. I've made no false conclusions, The entire event was tacky, gauche, in poor taste, and (on top of it all) poorly executed, much like a lot of Microsoft's undertakings.

Nonetheless, I am still rooting for Windows Phone 7 to be good and to do well, but it doesn't change my opinion of what went on in Redmond to celebrate the release to manufacturing of Windows Phone 7 OS.

Stuart said...

I have to agree with Jeff - I am a long time MS platform developer (it's still my day job). I've also written several iOS apps. The theme is just plain odd - regardless of whether it's an RTM party, it was still a 'funeral', and that does imply a death. MS are quite brazen, without yet having released a product that even competes in the smart phone space.

I can speak first hand that the browser sucks, as we are developing a standards-based HTML5 mobile app, and it works beautifully on iOS, Android, Palm OS and probably BB (given WebKit). Care to guess how it works on WP7 (in sim)? Blank screen. Nada. Unacceptable in todays age.

I too am hoping MS are successful and glad to see they've set minimum hardware requirements to ensure consistency, but they've got a long way to go before planning any funerals.

Some Bloke said...

A) You still have it wrong, which is what I was posting about. And remember, it's a follow up to Windows Mobile 5, 6, 6.5 etc. So 7 would probably appear in it.

B) The "funeral" one was sub-team's float in a much, much larger parade. It was an RTM party, not a victory parade. It's simply wrong to sum it up as such. Ask anyone who actually attended.

Jeff LaMarche said...

I find it hard to believe people are defending this.

Yes, it was one float in a larger parade, and the entire thing was idiotic. Celebrating something like finishing a product is awesome. Throw a party, go on an group outing, give people a few days off, get drunk as hell.

But throwing yourself a parade? I'm sorry, but I can't see that as tacky no matter how you try and spin it.

And the funeral portion was not the only part of the parade that could be interpreted as celebrating victory. I've now seen video of the entire parade (posted by a Microsoft employee), and it does not change my assessment of the event in any way.

And, yes, I know that there were previous Microsoft mobile operating systems - WinCE, WinMo, PocketPC, but there has never been a product branded "Windows Phone" before, so to call a brand new, written from the ground-up product "Windows Phone 7" is an intentional attempt to associate it with the moderately-well-received (aka "it's not as crappy as Vista!") Windows 7. Yes, there was a Windows Mobile 6.5, but Microsoft has been clear that this is NOT a new version of Windows Mobile, this is a new product. The name is not an accident.

Maybe I do have it wrong (woudln't be the first time), but I doubt it. I'm far from alone. The vast majority of people I've talked to, and the vast majority of blogs that have covered this have drawn the same exact conclusion about the event.

Rod said...

I think windows phone 7 will be strong if Microsoft will continue to support it. They already announced 60+ games over half of them being big ones from the iphone and the rest being stuff related to xbox. I also think the integration with xbox live could be interesting. I don't think it will ever come close to iPhone in users or developers but I could see it overtaking android. It definitely has potential but if they don't support it it will fail. I think Microsoft will still be a strong name in the industry for years to come with products like Microsoft Office which dominate windows and mac and Xbox which is the second largest video console world wide. I don't see why you like to bag on Mircrosft all the time. I like Mac as well as my Windows and thats that.

devaski said...

year back, I did some write up about Microsoft, Android and emerging Apple.

http://devaski.com/post/2009/01/01/Mobile-Operating-system-the-changing-face-pace.aspx

this is in same context.
Regards

akfaka said...

Die MS Die. Windows phone or WIndow 7, they are all garbages simply because they are MicroSoft's products.
THe entire Windows OS is built on an archaic design goes back 20 years. It should have been dead a decade ago, only Microsoft keeps puttint on new dress on a corpse and called it a "New" product.

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