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Summary:

Microsoft faces a tough assignment when it comes to regaining its relevance in mobile, but there’s no shortage of players who have a vested interest in seeing Windows Phone succeed. Here are some of those rooting for Microsoft’s upcoming mobile OS to challenge iPhone and Android.

Microsoft faces a tough assignment in trying to get back in the smartphone game. Nokia’s Symbian maintains a massive presence in overseas markets, while Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android have gained tremendous momentum in the superphone era. And Windows Mobile will only continue to lose ground in advance of the debut of Windows Phone later this year thanks to the fact that the two platforms will be incompatible.

But there’s no shortage of players hoping that Redmond can breathe new life into its mobile business. The following are just a few of the entities with a vested interest in seeing Windows Phone succeed:

  • Corporate IT departments — Business users are increasingly turning to consumer-friendly smartphones like the iPhone and forcing IT staffers to support their new gadgets. But the emergence of a phone that offers both Microsoft’s seamless integration with Exchange Server and consumer-friendly features and applications would go a long way toward making life easier for IT workers.
  • HTC – The Taiwan-based handset manufacturer is fully aboard the Android bandwagon, but hitching your wagon to a single OS is a dangerous strategy for a mobile OEM. So the longtime Windows Mobile supplier is one of the launch partners for Windows Phone and vows to develop an “HTC Hub” for the platform.
  • Motorola — Although it joined the Android crowd late last year in a big way, releasing both the Cliq and the Droid, as Om noted in January, Motorola was left out in the cold when HTC was tapped to produce Google’s flagship device. The struggling company will continue to churn out Android handsets, but Windows Phone has caught its eye. Look for increasing interest — and maybe a hardware commitment — out of Motorola as the OS nears its launch later this year.
  • Application developers — Microsoft is wooing developers by forcing manufacturers to comply with strict guidelines regarding screen sizes, buttons and features. That will make it easier for developers to deploy apps across a range of Windows Phone gadgets without having to tweak each app for each handset. And longtime Windows Mobile developers are sure to be pleased by a platform that combines high-tech entertainment features with Microsoft’s business-focused technology.
  • Gamers — Integrating Windows Phone with Xbox and Windows is an interesting move for a company whose mobile strategy has long focused on the enterprise. But it’s also a strategy that could finally push mobile gaming beyond casual, pick-up-and-play titles and toward more immersive, console-type experiences.

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  1. Microsoft has the advantage in a sense that it can leverage its mobile startegy a few different way but I think an instant way to gain market is to intergrate it with their X box platform. It will b einterestign to see if they go after the enterprise end or the social gaming end of it, we expect a little bit of both

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  2. I think the Google Nexus One announcement (and all its resulting implications, both stated and unstated) made quite a few step back and think, “maybe a viable Microsoft mobile OS isn’t such a bad idea after all.”

    If anything, people are beginning to hope Microsoft can make itself viable again in mobile if only to counterweight the giant freight train that is Android (and Google).

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  3. Another category of people that want Windows phone to succeed is people with iPhones. As an iPhone user, I want as much pressure as possible on Apple to stay competitive: allowing more open app competition and/or features that consumers want.

    Otherwise they are going to end up being the Microsoft of the mobile decade.

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    1. Jacob Varghese Thursday, March 11, 2010

      As an iPhone owner, I completely agree.

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    2. As a developer, ditto!

      Apple needs competition for developer attention.

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    3. What nonsense. Apple already has plenty of competition from Android, Nokia, Palm, etc. MSFT is a dysfunctional company that keeps pushing its bloated, expensive and broken products on consumers based on their dominance in the PC market. The mobile arena is finally one area that consumers have figured out that they don’t need MSFT crap, and they’re not going to take it anymore. They are going to be relegated to a small player for those that can’t seem to break free of overly complicated, bloated and buggy products

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      1. Wow.. how miss informed. Lets run down Microsofts recently released products.

        • XBox 360: #1 selling gaming console in the world.

        • Windows 7: Recently established to be the most secure OS to date. Beating out both OS/X and *nix.

        • IE8: Fastest and most secure web browser with the fastest turn around time for plugging found security threats.

        • MS Office: I’m not even going to bother making a comment.

        • Exchange Server: Pop/Imap is a joke by comparison.

        • Sync: MS has, by far, the BEST voice reccognition technology on the market.

        • 7MC: Won the most awards out of any other DVR solution on the market.

        • Windows Server 2008: Fastest growing server solution on the market.

        • Bing: Grabed a massive amount of market share when released and continues to take users from both Yahoo and Google.

        MS dosn’t produce shit any more. Stop living in the mid to late 90’s.

        -P

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  4. Meh.

    Nobody is better at winning yesterday’s tech battles than Microsoft.

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  5. Corporate IT may not necessarily embrace Windows 7 Mobile first, as they’ve likely tried previous versions … and truly embraced the Blackberry as their primary enterprise smartphone choice. But a consumer approach can be the gateway to yet another pervasive MSFT product in the enterprise. According to a recent Forrester study, almost half of respondent companies indicated they were already supporting personal devices of some type (see http://bit.ly/aKSJOn for more stats), creating challenges for provisioning, management and security. Execs will start using these devices, they will be supported (willingly or not) and, if they work well or support better apps or functionality, they’ll become a corporate standard.

    About Me – http://bit.ly/amSW5Y

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  6. Frankly, I believe that a solid Microsoft entry will cut Android off at the knees, particularly with FUD surrounding intellectual property. That aside, it looks as though Windows Phone will have the technology for games and sohpistaced visual applications before Android. With the traditional developer strengths of Microsoft, thsi could rapidly pull them back into contention.

    As an iPhone developer, I am quite interested in the platform. I look forward to the competition, and feel pretty confident that Microsoft won’t be pulling apps out of stores to suit their perspective.

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    1. I think you might be overstating the impact of Windows Phone just a bit, Nicholas, given Android’s impressive momentum. But yeah, the OS could springboard MSFT back into contention with the leaders of the pack. Which is something I’d never have believed just a couple of months ago.

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  7. Katie Mansfield Thursday, March 11, 2010

    Microsoft will lose.

    It is still behaving badly, playing hardball. It still rejects industry standards, like Java, like HTML-5, like OpenDocument. It is still trying to force people to use its proprietary formats to lock them into Windows. But Microsoft is only a minority player in mobile, so this strategy will fail.

    Microsoft has made 4 attempts at portable music devices. PlaysForSure. Zune. Zune HD. And soon there’ll be Zune HD2. Its might and muscle are not enough to enter markets where it can’t use its desktop OS monopoly for leverage.

    If Microsoft wins in mobile, it would behave just like it does on the desktop. It’s better for another company to dominate mobile. Anyone but Microsoft. MS still has its desktop OS monopoly. Let others monopolise mobile.

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    1. Since when is “Java” a standard? Who says Microsoft is against HTML5? They are fully incorporating into the next version of IE. They even have training sessions on HTML5 at the next Mix conference.

      Microsoft has been fully embracing more standards than you can count over the years. As if anything about Apple’s products are not proprietary. USB? Ethernet? Can I use ANYTHING besides iTunes to manage my content?

      Your response sounds more emotional than anything. Why can’t Microsoft update their existing mobile platform?

      Microsoft isn’t playing “hardball”, They are simply trying to come out with a good next generation product and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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  8. Ilan Ben Menachem Friday, March 12, 2010

    i thing everyone is enjoying Window mobile. This is a new discovery then we will get more features.

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  9. [...] Microsoft still faces a challenge in growing that list, though, thanks largely to the fact that Windows Phone will be incompatible with Windows Mobile and won’t debut until late this year. But if the company can continue to secure third-party [...]

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  10. Who’s Cheering for Windows Phone?

    Well (as usual) Paul Thurrott:

    http://daringfireball.net/linked/2010/03/18/thurrott

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