Will Microsoft’s mobile makeover succeed?

17 Feb 2009

A rebranding from Microsoft Windows Mobile to simply Windows Phones signifies the software giant’s bid to corner a serious part of the mobile space.

With the rebranding comes a new, improved operating system (OS), 6.5, as well as Microsoft’s take on the Apple App Store – Windows Marketplace for Mobile.

OS 6.5 brings an improved user interface but also, more importantly, integrated cloud computing for the Windows Phones handset: this means that contacts, messages, video and so on can be backed up online, providing a lifeline for lost phones.

Unlike Apple’s Mobile Me, this service is free and does not automatically sync with your desktop. Microsoft will be providing 200MB of storage for those using the service, but it will only be available for OS 6.5 handsets.

While all of these new services breathe life into Microsoft’s mobile experience, principal analyst at Ovum Tony Cripps said they lacked any real ‘wow’ factor due to their introduction after other firms have provided a similar experience. 

“These are essentially clones of similar services from Apple (App Store and MobileMe) and Nokia (Ovi Store and Sync), and further indicative of a move by device software vendors and manufacturers towards better integrated device/online service offerings.

“Where Microsoft could score additional points, longer term, is in its potential to integrate across and extend such services between other types of internet-connected device.”

What Microsoft could have done innovation-wise in the mobile space, but has overlooked, is integration with the Xbox 360 and future Zune media players, Cripps said.

“Evidence of such thinking would help Microsoft regain its mojo and fulfill CEO Steven Ballmer’s joined-up vision,” he concluded.

By Marie Boran