Blog Post

Microsoft Mobile's Worst Week Ever

the_worst_week_of_my_life_uk-show.jpgIf you are a fan of the BBC, then odds are that you have seen the dark and comical series, “The Worst Week Ever of My Life.” It is the story of Sam Briggs, a man who wants to impress his bride-to-be’s family. And as one would expect, bad luck and hilarity follow him. I wonder if the guys in charge of Microsoft Mobile feel like Briggs after the week they just had. Upon launch, Windows Mobile 6.5 couldn’t have received worse reviews. Some of them are so mean that even I am feeling bad for Ma Windows. Here is a sample of what folks said about WinMo 6.5.

  • Engadget: Microsoft’s not promising the world with Windows Mobile 6.5, nor are they delivering it — it’s very much a stopgap, complete with duct tape, bubble gum, and Bondo.
  • Gizmodo: Windows Mobile 6.5 isn’t just a letdown — it barely seems done.
  • Bloomberg: New Windows phones paint lipstick on a pig.
  • Mobilecrunch: Windows Mobile 6.5 is a spit and polish job on 6.1 — nothing more, nothing less. Every single change in Windows Mobile 6.5 feels like it was made by a team of homebrewers or modders, rather than a huge corporation with truckloads of money to blow on one of their flagship products.

As far as we are concerned, we have been consistent in our opinion that Android (and not iPhone) is going to basically eat into Windows Mobile’s market share and make it irrelevant. Of course, Microsoft fans think otherwise, and I respect their opinions, but I am fairly confident in my original prognosis.

In related news, Microsoft’s much talked about Pink project is falling apart, according to some speculative reports on the web. Pink phones were Microsoft-branded gadgets that were going to be made by Sharp and developed by the Danger team. Microsoft bought Danger, the company behind Sidekick, for about half a billion dollars.

Microsoft’s Mobile efforts took a further step back this weekend when the company (along with partner T-Mobile USA) lost Sidekick customers’ data. According to Hiptop3, a blog dedicated to Sidekick:

Microsoft was upgrading their SAN (Storage Area Network aka the thing that stores all your data) and had hired Hitachi to come in and do it for them. Typically in an upgrade like this, you are expected to make backups of your SAN before the upgrade happens. Microsoft failed to make these backups for some reason. We’re not sure if it was because of the amount of data that would be required, if they didn’t have time to do it, or if they simply forgot. Regardless of why, Microsoft should know better. So Hitachi worked on upgrading the SAN and something went wrong, resulting in its destruction. Currently the plan is to try to get the devices that still have personal data on them to sync back to the servers and at least keep the data that users have on their device saved. We’ve heard this from what appears to be several sources and it seems to hold weight. Needless to say it all boils down to one thing: Microsoft did not have a working backup. (HipTop3)

After this weekend’s big data wipeout, I wonder if there is any value left in that brand and service. One thing I am pretty sure about — Microsoft Mobile bosses, kind of like Briggs, would probably like to erase this week from their memories (no pun intended).

22 Responses to “Microsoft Mobile's Worst Week Ever”

  1. A good friend gave me a WinMo 6.5 phone (a Samsung Omnia II) after I’d dissed my Motorola RAZR2 V9 once too many times (quite decent voice phone, quite good-enough media experience, horrendous texting; guess what I use a phone for most?)

    After two months of often heroic battle against the Samsung, which delighted with Samsung’s own UI but then unceremoniously dumped you into the Windows 3.1-era interface of the underlying CE, I’m back on the Moto. The Omnia II has just brilliant hardware, rendered absolutely useless by the main software. Don’t, and I mean, DO NOT attempt to use the Web browser on any site requiring more than HTML 3.2 (circa 1997). Calling the SMS interface ‘pathetic’ would be praising it far beyond its due: while I have no idea what substances the V9 writers were consuming when the ITAP word completion feature was written, the end result is less painful than on the Omnia – which would sometimes use Samsung’s own (decent) SMS software, but too often fall through the cracks unpredictably into WinMo-land.

    I was at Redmond when some early versions of Windows CE were being shoved out the door. I’m not surprised they changed the name to Windows Mobile; WinCE is all too accurate a description of the user experience, then and now. However, truth-in-advertising laws should require the products rechristening as “Windows, Immobile.”

  2. BlogReader

    What I don’t understand about Hitachi “upgrading” the SAN is why can’t MSFT with its $20B in profit just buy another SAN and then copy the data over?

    • My guess would be power and aircon constraints in the location they wanted the new SAN to go (i.e., where the old one was). Last I was there, Microsoft was throwing up buildings as fast as they could get them built, but there were still an awful lot of folks in spaces that they’d (often comically) outgrown. If “grow or die” is the imperative of life, then there’s a whole lot of BUs that are having problems growing as they should… regardless of your opinion on whether the ones that are growing, should be.

  3. Mike Miller

    Just another thing Apple can make of M$ with….Ms really needs to fix there mobile department. Seems like Ms can’t have good products all around. They made Win7 awesome but failed winmo6.5…Vista was bad, but winmo 6.1 was really nice improvement…They need balance.

  4. I use Windows Mobile and I am frustrated with it. The only reason I use it is because of my need to use a remote control app on it to control some Windows machines from anywhere on the go. However sometimes I think the OS is a piece of junk. Sometimes the phone just freezes solid with an incoming call and I have to cold reboot it.

    The OS hasn’t changed for YEARS. What’s going up with that division at Microsoft? Why can’t they dip into the cash pile, hire some decent programmers, architects and designers. Give everyone in the division an iPhone and have them learn something about good user usability and experience on a mobile device.

    It seems Windows Mobile is becoming irrelevant to Microsoft. They are so focused on trying to keep up with Google. Well Google has Android. What do you say about that Microsoft.. do you have something lined up against Android? The iPhone, Android, RIM and Nokia are eating you alive.

  5. After thinking about it; I honestly think 6.5 _was_ Windows Mobile 7 and then after seeing how far behind the curve they were, the decision was made to rebrand 7 to 6.5 and start over.

    This really starts to make sense when you look at the complete lack of developer information on Windows Mobile 7. The upcoming Microsoft PDC (professional developer conference) has no sessions dedicated to Windows Mobile. In my opinion, this points to a product still early in its development cycle (or Microsoft has forgotten that developers are what put Windows on the map).

    At this point, it is pretty much a total disaster. One possibility for moving forward would be for Microsoft to merge their platforms. Use the Win 7 kernel to create a new mobile OS and ditch the ancient WinCE core.

  6. I think the exceptions from Google is too high! Wave? Android? Apps? lots of products to improve / fix and nothing is being actually done.

    As apps customer Google has to improve lots of issues, and this product is far from MS exchange! I regret that I left exchange, but I did it not because of the product but due to the MS local rep.

    I’m not big fun of MS either, but WM6.5 is very mature product and that not so bed.

    Isaac / ISRAEL

    • Issac

      Sure you are right about high expectations from Google, but in this one case (Android), there is just way too much momentum in the market. I think what we are seeing is people looking for anything to compete with the iPhone which has changed the expectations from the handset which are all around mobile Internet. From that perspective, 6.5 lags. I think that is a big issue right now for Microsoft.