The hype surrounding Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Phone 7 is due largely to the platform’s tight integration with Xbox Live and its focus on gaming. But Microsoft could further alienate its dwindling base of enterprise users in pursuit of this niche market of unknown gamers.


While Microsoft has yet to disclose a date, Windows Phone 7 appears ready to launch this fall. With this news comes hype surrounding the company’s mobile gaming strategy. But as I discuss in my weekly column over at GigaOM Pro, I’m not convinced embracing mobile games is the right way for Microsoft to get back in the smartphone race.

The guys in Redmond have an impressive arsenal when it comes to the video game world, of course, and Windows Phone 7 will support Xbox Live. But here’s the thing: Microsoft’s ever-dwindling base of mobile users doesn’t want to play “Halo” or update their cute little avatars on their phones, and I’m not sure how many other consumers want features like that either.

Microsoft is making the same mistake that has plagued game-makers for years in mobile: confusing the handset with the console. After years of spinning its wheels with console-type titles that were often unplayable on the phone, mobile gaming received a much-needed kick in the pants with the emergence of the iPhone. That lift has come in the form of simple, casual titles that can be played alone in a matter of minutes. Most mobile gamers don’t want “twitch” games like “Halo;” they want Angry Birds. They don’t want to engage with other gamers; they want to play a quick game, get a high score and move on. That’s especially true of the business users that have been Microsoft’s bread and butter for years.

I understand Microsoft has to make some drastic changes. Windows Mobile is an antiquated platform that can’t hold a candle to iOS or Android when it comes to the user experience. There’s no denying that support for games and other fun apps is crucial for any mobile operating system in the era of the superphone. But Microsoft seems intent on forfeiting much of its business audience to pursue what may be a small niche of hardcore, community-minded gamers. That’s a puzzling move for a company whose few successes in mobile have come in the business world.

Read the full post here.

Image courtesy flickr user KungPaoCajun.

  1. The other problem with Microsoft’s gaming plans is interface.

    Those Xbox games weren’t designed to be played on a multitouch interface. They were designed to be played with hard wired push buttons.

    The iPhone games like Angry Birds were conceived especially for a multitouch phone. They work for a phone.

    1. You guys most be kidding. Have you seen the games on the platform? even if MS wasn’t going to offer the XBox live experience on the OS, it is far beyond the reach of apple and android. Maybe the advances in the system are too advance for your taste. Bet you by next year apple is going to steal the WP idea and call it something new as the usually do.

      1. Jkontherun has no credibility, he’s been bought and paid for by apple.

    2. Most enterprises have already deserted Microsoft’s failing mobile platforms.

      Gartner says Windows Mobile has plummeted to just 5% of the market. Those remaining are stuck to the platform because of custom apps that can’t be rewritten.

      No enterprise will touch Windows Phone 7. Too many missing features. Too many shortcomings. Unproven. Future uncertain.

      Adding games to a half-finished OS will just rub salt into the Windows Phone 7 wounds.

  2. So when did Microsoft announce Halo for Windows Phone 7? If you were to actually look at the list of titles you’d see that they are made-for-mobile games like many of the iPhone games. The Xbox Live connection means that it taps into the social network that comes with it.

    Your analogy of mobile games of old is completely unfounded. Those were on hardware that could barely compete with games from the 1980s. Why do you assume that Xbox Live on Windows Phone 7 means that Xbox 360 games are being ported to Windows Phone?

    Harvest, ilomilo, Max and the Magic Marker, Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst are all new games made for the device. They announced Halo Waypoint, which is a media/news hub into Halo. NOT a Halo game.

    I’d expect this kind of post from an Apple fanboy, not a paid journalist. Check your facts. I’ve never been disappointed by a post on jkontherun until now. If you’re going to write about something you’re not familiar with at least do your research.

  3. There is no full Halo game in Xbox Live, it’s just media for halo gamers to exchange message, status, etc. I am not Halo player, so no comment on this. And, there are many games on xbox live that are already on iphone or android, like bejewels. There are all simple games on the phone. And extra in Xbox Live are your achievement of this game. When I play game on facebook, I actually like to compare my achievement with my other facebook friends.

    And, although it’s one of the key features, Microsoft also has other key features to sell, like Metro UI, Office/SharePoint Integration, Exchange, Zune Pass, etc. So to say this phone is positioned only for hardcore gamers are not exactly true.

    Haiz.. I cannot imagine i will subscribe to read this piece of Microsoft-is-always-wrong-and-apple-rules news

  4. Damián Esteves is completely right. He has basically said all that I also feel about this poor article.

    Microsoft has had the balls to start from ground up with their mobile OS and so far its unique and inviting. Rather than speculate… wait for its arrival before judging…. especially as your not even getting the concept of Xbox Live on WP7!

  5. While I think the games integration is a smart move for Microsoft as it is a distinctive feature competitors can’t duplicate, Colin’s POV is valid too. There will no doubt be consumers who feel the same way as Colin, that don’t want big games on the phone. That’s a legitimate observation to point out.

    To be fair, Colin did not state that Halo was coming for the WP7 platform, he merely stated that full games like Halo won’t appeal to some consumers. We don’t all have to agree about that, but it’s valid to point that out.

    1. The main thrust of this article is based on a straw man, none of the launch titles are “twitch” games, and most of them don’t require any kind of multi-player mode either.

      Also, just because they’re making gaming a major selling point doesn’t take away from the Exchange and Office integration which to be honest, has been pretty impressive so far.

      1. Office integration has never been good – it took ages to have graphs in Pocket Excel. It’s Softmaker that has made WinMo a viable platform mfor me.

      2. Office on Windows Phone 7 is abysmal.

        For starters, do people actually want Office on a phone?

        Second, Office on Windows Phone 7 is a half-baked effort. It does not even recognize document security settings (permissions for who can or cannot read a document).

        Microsoft will learn the hard way that it cannot release half-baked products to market.

    2. As nice as it is to stick up for the author, what your defending is really not the issue that people are getting worked up about. The problem that most people are pointing out here is not that Colin said Halo won’t appeal to many consumers, but rather his assumption of Microsoft’s strategy to be something that it is not.

      Like Damian points out, if you look at Microsoft’s release list and countless interviews they’ve done, the emphasis has been on casual titles and turn-based multiplayer games, no emphasis on “twitch”. In fact, any games related to these action titles are generally just a casual-gaming take on the universe.

      Everything in this post that has been “recommended” is what Microsoft has already been doing and has been generally understood by mobile gaming developers as well.
      As much as I love reading jkontherun I have to agree with the others that it’s quite disappointing to see a post as poorly written as this. The author clearly did research, looking up the Xbox live numbers for example, but had he done just even a fraction more, he could have easily found out how false his assumptions were. I guess he really wanted to write the article.

    3. There’s nothing valid about your point. You’re blatantly biased and an apple apologetic, hence, you see nothing good in anything microsoft does. Really you should be ashamed of your pretentious fairness.

  6. richard garrett Saturday, August 21, 2010

    Gibbs correctly points out that by emphasizing games and social networking on Phone 7 MSFT risks the loss of its base – the enterprise. To me that’s a risk worth taking since Android, iOS and of course RIM are all taking a significant chunk of the enterprise market away from Redmond. If MSFT doesn’t get this right they will lose so much ground that they will never recover. Microsoft has never had to thread a needle and my concern is that they don’t know which end of the needle has the eye.

  7. After dealing with Microsoft and WinMo for many years and scratching my head while they kept messing up the UI (remember they couldn’t even decide where to put a start button) finally got the iPhone when it first came out and quickly realized just how bad Microsoft was all those YEARS !! They really never had a clue to begin with and now they are desperately playing catchup, it is hilarious and truly sad to see Microsoft flaming out this way. I mean how can so many thousands of full-time engineers on their payroll be so bad and actually get to keep their jobs while they ran their platform into the ground and just sat around for years watching the competition eat their lunch. I can only say they deserve their fate because of they way they epically dropped the ball in so many ways. iOS and Android have such a huge lead in the mobile space now that they cannot even see WinFo7 in their rear view mirror. To Microsoft they are saying: EAT MY DUST! as Steve & Company disappear over the horizon at warp speed while Ballmer is stuck in first gear
    having lost his leadership manual at the landfill formerly known as Redmond.

  8. I’m not really interested, but this article seems very silly to me; Microsoft isn’t going to win by out-Apple-ing Apple, and there are a lot of people who play games on dedicated portable devices (and play Xbox Live) who will probably see this as a huge plus for Windows 7.

    1. I second that, if users wanted a phone specifically for casual games they would go straight for Apple. Xbox has a an already large consumer base and WP7 expects to get a chunk of that audience from the start.

      Its called differentiating, no serious games on iphone or android exploits hole in market. Also this article does seem quite amateurish.

    2. I absolutely agree that MSFT won’t win by trying to out-Apple Apple, rickybrent. But I think that by targeting those eager to play console-type games or engage in community gaming the company is missing a huge opportunity in the enterprise.

      1. I totally agree.

        What they should have done is to have included a hub based around Office. Plus they should have included support for Exchange based email and calendering. Then for bonus points they could have made it interact with SharePoint.

        To top it all off they should have made programming for it easy for all those corporate developers using WPF and C# and deliver the tools early before launching the OS.

        Maybe if they had done that they might stand a chance of keeping some of the Enterprise market.

      2. @Matt I see what you did there

        @Colin You’re not evidencing that you have the slightest clue what you’re talking about. Microsoft has never discussed putting “console-type” games on the phone. They know it’s a phone. Secondly, giving the millions of people who play games on their phone the ability to do it against each other cannot be a negative, any way you spin it.

        If they were lacking this you’d be here discussing the “huge opportunity” they’re missing in the consumer space. This place needs no reason to bash Microsoft.

    3. @Craig S: WP7 titles include franchises like Assassin’s Creed, Splinter Cell and Castlevania, all of which are very much console- (or PC-) centric games. Secondly, while MSFT may lure some hardcore gamers, I think the company is targeting a niche market and missing a much larger segment of business users. I don’t get a thrill out of bashing MSFT, but I think focusing on games (at the expense of other features/content/apps) is a mistake.

      1. Colin,

        Please do everyone a favor, go to http://www.windowsphone7.com/ and try reading about the platform before writing about what “should” or “should not” be in it. It’s obvious to anyone reading this article (and your comments) that you don’t know what’s included in Windows Phone 7.

  9. Is Collin a guest author? I haven’t see him in the regular lineup on GigaOm. He doesn’t seem to have a bio on the site

    1. I’m the senior mobile curator over at GigaOM Pro, gadgetmerc. Been writing there for about 18 months.

      1. Then you should be in the unemployment market for this stupid analysis.

  10. Maybe the author thinks that Microsoft is creating a Mobile Gaming ecosystem at the expense of other mobile operating system features? I don’t believe that to be true.

    The author also seems to imply that most of the current windows mobile customer base uses their phone for business purposes. I agree. However, that doesn’t mean business users wont buy new windows mobile phones if they have strong gaming capabilities. The iPhone has good gaming capabilities and lots of people use them for work.

    Microsoft has to do something to distinguish its mobile platform from iOS and Android. Plus, their two gaming system competitors already have mobile gaming devices. If they can turn the phone into viable alternative to PSP or DS, then the gaming strategy for the Windows Mobile 7 will definitely be a success.


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