Microsoft on Thursday introduced a Facebook application for Windows 6 phones, the last smartphone software maker to offer a tool for the Palo Alto, Calif.-based social networking site. It first announced plans for the app in March; in the interim RIM and Palm have both released their own, while Apple unveiled one for the iPhone back in 2008. So what took Microsoft so long?
The delay was especially mystifying in light of the software maker’s financial backing of Facebook. In 2007, Microsoft poured $240 million into the social-networking service, helping to push Facebook’s valuation to an estimated $15 billion.
As for features, the Windows Mobile client accomplishes the usual tasks — allowing users to edit their profile, send messages and post notes to their wall — but adds some uniqueness. Along with claiming to be the first to let users of the web site upload video directly from their Windows Mobile handset, the Microsoft app skims friends’ Facebook profiles, looking for contact information. The information is then used to call or text message your social networking acquaintances.
Another version of the Facebook application compatible with Windows Mobile 6.5 phones will be introduced later this year when the updated smartphone software becomes available, according to Microsoft. The update will likely be available through its Mobile Marketplace, an online Windows Mobile storefront designed to compete with Apple’s App Store and equivalents from RIM, Nokia and Palm. Earlier this week, PCWorld reported that Micorsoft was banning VoIP applications from its Windows Marketplace for Mobile store. The move was seen as preempting a Windows Mobile 6.5 Skype application similar to that already available through Apple or RIM’s application stores.
Windows Mobile users also part of the MySpace community are still waiting for an app, however. Although one was promised to the veteran social network service in March, there is no word on an eventual product announcement. As with Facebook, Microsoft has been late to support MySpace. MySpace apps for RIM and Apple have been available for a year. Palm has already unveiled an updated MySpace tool for its Pre. Our original question, then, still applies: Hey Microsoft, what’s taking you so long?