Posts tagged Microsoft
Microsoft bringing NFC to Windows phones this year?
By Christopher Brown | NearFieldCommunicationsWorld.com | 30 March 2011, 14:54
Software giant Microsoft could be introducing NFC capabilities to Windows mobile phones as soon as this year, according to Bloomberg:
Microsoft Corp. is working on a version of its Windows Phone software that will let users buy merchandise with a flick of the handset at a checkout counter, two people familiar with the plans said.
Microsoft plans to include mobile-payment technology in new versions of its operating system for smartphones as part of an effort to narrow Google Inc.’s lead in handset software, said the people, who asked to remain anonymous because the features aren’t public. The first devices boasting these features may be released this year, the people said.
“Having NFC features may be crucial to Microsoft’s efforts to boost shrinking market share,” Bloomberg adds. “Microsoft is expected to hold about 5.5 percent of the mobile operating system market this year, compared with 39.5 percent for Android, 15.7 percent for Apple’s IOS, and 14.9 percent for Research In Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry.”
In February, Microsoft announced a partnership with mobile phone manufacturer Nokia, which is committed to including NFC in all its new smartphones. The deal between the two sponsor members of the NFC Forum, will see Nokia use the Windows phone operating system for its smartphones.
Last week, Nokia told NFC World that buyers of the Nokia Astound smartphone, a T-Mobile USA version of the Nokia C7 that will go on sale in April, will be able to access the phone’s in-built NFC capabilities from day one.
Microsoft on Wednesday rolled out some updates to its Bing for Mobile browser service including real-time public transportation updates for select cities and the inclusion of apps in results when searching on the iPhone.
Most of the updates are available for iPhone and Android users, but not Microsoft’s own Windows Phone 7 customers. That’s because the services are built using HTML 5, which Windows Phone 7 doesn’t yet support. The company has promised an update later this year that will include an HTML 5 browser for Windows Phone 7 devices.
As part of the Bing update, users who visit m.bing.com can click on directions and on the bus icon in order to see how to take the bus or other public transportation to their destination. In addition, users will be able to click on the bus route for real-time details about when a bus will arrive.
The real-time data is available for Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Microsoft already offers directions for using public transportation in its Bing app for iPhone, but that feature wasn’t available in the browser version.
Google Maps on the iPhone shows transit routes, but not necessarily real-time information about buses.
When using Bing to search, iPhone users will now get results for relevant iPhone apps in addition to the normal search results. “This is a great way to serendipitously discover great new apps,” Andy Chu, director of product management for Bing for Mobile, wrote in a blog post about the updates.
Microsoft also made Image Search faster and smoother and re-organized the shopping feature in the Bing mobile browser app, he said. When searching for movies, users will now find the results organized by time and nearest theater, in addition to reviews, trailers and other information.
In addition, he said that when users start typing a city name into the weather search bar, the weather for that city will appear even before they are finished typing the name.
Chu wrote that the updates were launched today, but they do not appear to be available yet everywhere.
Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy’s e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com
A Microsoft Zune media player. Photographer: JB Reed/Bloomberg
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) will cease introducing new versions of the Zune music and video-player amid tepid demand, helping the company shift its focus to mobile phones, according to a person familiar with the decision.
The company will concentrate on putting Zune software onto mobile phones such as those running Microsoft’s Windows operating system, said the person, who declined to be identified because the decision hasn’t been announced. Zune software lets customers buy songs and movies, as well as pay a monthly fee to stream unlimited music.
Zune, introduced in 2006, failed to break into the rankings of the top five portable digital music players in the U.S. last year, according to NPD Group Inc. Market leader Apple Inc. (AAPL), maker of the iPod, made up 77 percent of units, NPD said. Microsoft is adding features to its Windows Phone software to help it reverse market share losses to Google Inc. (GOOG) and Apple.
Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer unveiled Zune with a prediction that Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft could one day overtake Apple.
“We can beat them, but it’s not going to be easy,” Ballmer said in a November 2006 interview.
Microsoft will continue to sell existing versions of the Zune, the person familiar with the matter said.
To contact the reporters on this story: Dina Bass in Seattle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at email@example.com.
Nokia spells out potential pitfalls for Microsoft alliance
By Stuart Corner
Monday, 14 March 2011 09:23
Opinion and Analysis
Annual reports that US stock market listed companies are required to lodged with the SEC (aka Form 20-F) are of necessity pessimistic documents. They are required to list under ‘risk factors’ almost every conceivable eventuality that could befall a company.
Many such risk factors are common to any entity, but what is worrying about those listed by Nokia in its latest annual report lodged with the SEC last week is the number of risk factors related to its recently announced decision to hitch its smartphone fortunes to those of Microsoft and to take Symbian and MeeGo along for the ride. Not only are these risk factors unique to Nokia there is, to my mind, a relatively high chance of them becoming reality.
For example Nokia lists, among other ‘generic’ risk factors: “Our failure to increase our speed of innovation, product development and execution will impair our ability to bring new competitive smartphones and mobile phones to the market in a timely manner,” and “We may be unable to retain, motivate, develop and recruit appropriately skilled employees, which may hamper our ability to implement our strategies, particularly our new mobile product strategy.”
Nothing to worry about unduly there: these are pretty much statements of the obvious and you would find similar in the filings of all Nokia’s competitors.
But the Microsoft-specific risk factors are an entirely different matter and they paint a picture very different from the bullish pronouncements of CEO Steven Elop when he announced the alliance last month. For example: “The Windows Phone platform is a very recent, largely unproven addition to the market focused solely on high-end smartphones with currently very low adoption and consumer awareness relative to the Android and Apple platforms, and the proposed Microsoft partnership may not succeed in developing it into a sufficiently broad competitive smartphone platform.”
And given the speed of innovation in the smartphone market these statements taken together are worrying. “We expect the transition to Windows Phone as our primary smartphone platform to take about two years. We and Microsoft have entered into a non-binding term sheet, and the proposed Microsoft partnership remains subject to the negotiation and execution of definitive agreements…Definitive agreements with Microsoft for the proposed partnership may not be entered into in a timely manner, or at all, or on terms beneficial to us…[and] the Microsoft partnership may not achieve in a timely manner the necessary scale, product breadth, geographical reach and localisation to be sufficiently competitive in the smartphone market.”
This article first appeared in ExchangeDaily, iTWire’s daily newsletter for telecommunications professionals. Register here for your free trial.
Last week, Microsoft announced it would shut down the Sidekick service for T-Mobile customers, which it got as part of its $500 million acquisition of Danger in 2008.
The shutdown put an end to Microsoft’s hopes of getting any value out of Danger, which was supposed to bolster Microsoft’s mobile phone strategy but culminated in the ill-fated Kin phone, which was canceled six weeks after launch.
But Danger was only the latest in a long line of acquisitions that didn’t go as planned.
Join us as we count them down from smallest to largest and describe the fate of each one.
Number 15: Fox database software for $174 million
Microsoft bought Fox Software back in 1992 for a reported price of about $174 million. The company made the FoxPro PC database software, and Microsoft later used its underlying technology in JET, the database engine that still powers its email product, Exchange Server. The company still sells Visual FoxPro today, making this one of the few Microsoft acquisitions that contributed lasting value.
14: Groove (and Ray Ozzie) for $171 million
Groove made peer-to-peer collaboration software, but as Bill Gates later said, Microsoft really bought Groove for Ray Ozzie, who eventually replaced Gates as Chief Software Architect.
Microsoft was responsible for $51 million of a $150 million investment in 2001 that kept Groove afloat, and in 2005 acquired the remainder of the company for $120 million, making this one of the most expensive talent acquisitions ever. Ozzie announced plans to leave Microsoft in October 2010, and sent a stark warning memo on his way out the door.
13: Placeware virtual meeting service for $200 million (estimated)
Microsoft bought this privately held virtual meeting company in 2003, and turned it into Live Meeting. Next year, Microsoft plans to phase out Live Meeting in favor of Lync Online, part of the Office 365 suite.
View more at Business Insider
Microsoft is set to pay Nokia around one billion dollars to promote and develop Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 operating system for its smartphones, a source told BusinessWeek. Nokia will pay Microsoft a licensing fee for using Windows Phone 7, but still much cheaper than Nokia continuing to work on its own mobile operating system.
The two companies announced a strategic partnership in Feburary, allowing Nokia to fully customise Windows Phone 7 for use on its cellular phones. Rumours of the deal began as soon as current Nokia CEO Stephen Elop left Microsoft in 2010 for the Finnish mobile company.
The source, who wishes to remained unidentified due to the contract not yet being signed, told BusinessWeek that the deal is set for the next five years. The move works out great for both companies as Nokia gets a solid operating system that it has been desparately needing, and Microsoft gets some of Nokia’s massive market share.
The agreement comes in light of dominance that both companies are facing from Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems.
“In success, it is a very mutually beneficial deal economically for both companies,” Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein said at an investor conference last week.
Nokia is more than likely waiting on Microsoft to release “Mango”, the next major release of Windows Phone 7, before it begins to release its line of Windows Phone 7 smartphones.
Tags: nokia, windows phone 7, peter klein, stephen elop, microsoft
THOUGHT: Microsoft MVP Global Summit 2011 – Windows Phone and Tablet PC
Posted by Arne Hess – on Friday, 04.03.11 – 19:12:45 CET under 09 – Thoughts – Viewed 210x
Tagged under: [Thought] [Microsoft] [MVP] [Most_Valuable_Professional] [MVP_Summit_2011] [Seattle] [Redmond] [Event] [Windows_Phone] [Windows_Phone_7] Tweet
As you might have seen, I haven’t posted anything to the::unwired this week but if you follow me on Twitter, you’ve seen that I was travelling. As a matter of fact I was again in Seattle for this year’s Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Global Summit, the largest customer event each year on Microsoft’s main campus in Redmond. As every year, it was a jam-packed week and in addition to some open, non-NDA sessions like “Windows without Walls” where Microsoft showed how the Windows ecosystem from the desktop to the Xbox 360 to mobile devices to the services plays to each other, there was a keynote by Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO and for sure 1.5 days of deep-dive sessions with the Windows Phone product team which were – as you can imagine – under NDA.
Since the meaning of a non discloser agreement is that nothing should be disclosed, I can’t talk about anything presented or discussed by Microsoft. However, I want to express some personal feelings.
I’m working with Microsoft since late 1999 in the mobile space, which was the time when the first Pocket PC PDAs were close to be released, and during these 11 years, I’ve visited Microsoft quite often – up to three times a year. However, since the early days of Pocket PCs, a lot has changed. While in the beginning, the PDA business was driven by a small group of people, today the mobile business is one of Microsoft’s main focuses since it connects and unwires the PC, the server and the services. Beside the cloud, the mobile business might be one of the hot topics for Microsoft and therefore it had to change its mind and behavior how it treats its mobile business. But one thing is for sure: Microsoft takes its mobile business as serious as never before and it better has to do so since it’s part of the company’s future.
So what does it mean for the customers? It means that they will see many enhancements during the upcoming weeks, months and years. Microsoft has a clear vision how to develop Windows Phone into a direction to lead the market. While the company is well aware that Windows Phone 7 is yet not perfect, it has developed a roadmap how to catch-up with the competition while at the same time leading and differentiating itself from the competition. In my humble opinion, the time is gone where a single system will dominate a whole technology space and the mobile space isn’t anything different. We have great other OS’s and ecosystems available, namely iOS, Android and webOS and Windows Phone is just another. Nevertheless, the market is huge enough for at least 3, maybe 4 systems but the companies behind the OS’s and ecosystems have to prove this every day again. Customers have so many great choices today, they will hardly tolerate faults and therefore every single step has to be well planned.
What I’ve seen this week in Redmond shows that Microsoft is clearly aware of it. Windows Phone is the latest OS to a party where other operating systems have already found their fans. However, the recent Nokia / Microsoft announcement also shows that Microsoft knows that it have to catch-up by working with strong partners. As I initially mentioned, I can’t go any further here as well as Microsoft is in some parts not able to wider open the doors to its MVPs since the market landscape has dramatically changed. Was it 5 MVPs in the early Pocket PC days only, we are now over 70 and while we hadn’t had blogs, Twitter and Facebook in the early days, today it’s technically even possible to stream NDA sessions to the Internet without carrying an equipment worth of several thousand US$ but by simply using a mobile phone. Nevertheless, Microsoft provided a sneak-peek in the future and this looks promising enough to make me thinking that Windows Phone will be surely one of the OS which survives and maybe even lead the mobile space – at least in some areas.
Quite useful were the discussions with the product teams about current features and upcoming enhancements. For instance the product teams explained why some decisions were made this way and not the other way around and while I not agree with all of them, I at least value and understand Microsoft’s point. However, Microsoft also admitted that the one or the other design decision was a bad or at least not perfect one and that it works on improving the user experience in several areas. The product team is far away from being self-satisfied but knows that last year’s Windows Phone 7 launch was just the beginning. And thanks to Windows Phone’s new update mechanism, Microsoft is able to roll-out firmware updates faster. However, what we shouldn’t expect to see is a kind of “monthly patch day” as users experience on Windows PCs but it’s also clear that updates as well as upgrades have to be released way faster and more often then ever before. New services appear, uses cases change and therefore Microsoft will take the benefit of being in the driver seat for updates. Was it perfect with the pre-Nodo release? Far from it and Microsoft knows it. Will it be better in the future? At least I got the word but we will see.
Another thing which was a hot topic on the Microsoft campus was the future of Tablet PCs. For sure, Steve Ballmer was asked during his keynote what the company plans are (as well as Microsoft was already asked the same question during the recent Mobile World Congress) but neither Microsoft nor Steve Ballmer has given an answer yet. As Achim Berg said during the Windows Phone 7 press conference in Hamburg last fall, Windows Phone 7 is yet not an option which makes me kind of clueless. I understand that Microsoft comes from the PC business and therefore it might want to feature its PC OS (whichever it will be in the future) but in my humble opinion Windows Phone 7 would be the perfect tablet OS for today. It’s light, fast, comes with a touch optimized user interface as well as it features a whole ecosystem of apps and services. The iPad is a great example that customers wants something between its mobile / smartphone and the PC. The Netbook already proved it before, while the UMPC concept unfortunately failed to prove it, but Microsoft hasn’t detailed any upcoming Tablet PC plans at all. Again, I would vote for Windows Phone 7 for Tablet but it’s not up to me anyway. However, in my humble opinion Microsoft misses another opportunity if it’s not jumping the tablet bandwagon today, or it has to come around the corner later with something much better which will attract the customer in a way tablets do today already. Also I wasn’t the only one on the campus who thought that Windows Phone 7 would be the perfect OS (but I’ve also heard different voices) for a tablet but hey – it’s Microsoft’s business and money and customers will be able to vote when the product hits the stores.
Ok, this was a fairly long blog posting without saying or disclosing anything but then again, I just wanted to express my feelings that I think Microsoft is on the right track with Windows Phone 7 and that I’m really confident that the whole product group is working hard in the background to make it an even better mobile OS.
Cheers ~ Arne
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We sat down for a few minutes with Aaron Woodman — director of Microsoft’s mobile communication business — here at Mobile World Congress this week to talk about the past, present, and future of the Windows Phone platform. Of course, it was at this very event a year ago when Redmond first unveiled its next-gen smartphone play, so this marks a great opportunity to circle back and see where the company has been — and naturally, the Nokia news casts a bright new light on the platform. Read on for the full interview!
Chris Ziegler: I wanted to talk a little bit about this issue of scale, because Stephen mentioned that a little bit the other night — the fact that they bring so much scale to your platform that you have not had in the past. But that’s interesting on a number of levels, because Samsung does have scale, right? Samsung has a lot of scale.
Aaron Woodman: Sure.
CZ: So I’m wondering first of all, what does this mean for the level of commitment that you’re seeing from other OEMs, and what does it mean for the future of their levels of commitment? Because, you know, I’m thinking about it, and I’m sure that the way it’s being spun is not this way, but it seems to me that if I were Samsung or HTC and all of a sudden I was selling phones that were infused with Nokia services, I would be really uncomfortable, right? So what’s your take on that?
AW: Well, there’s a couple of questions there. How important is scale, just generally — and the second question is, I guess, does that scale that Nokia provides impact your current relationships for your OEMs. And then ultimately, the services and those types of things that they do provide that might be enabled by Nokia-based assets like Navteq. So is that fair?
CZ: Yeah, absolutely.
AW: So for me, I’ll answer the first question — scale is super critical. You know, in this business, it’s one of the reasons that I think makes it so attractive to Microsoft. The requirement to compete in mobile phones today is enormous. The amount of assets, the amount of R&D you have to do, the competitive nature of the product features and functionality, the roadmaps people get, what consumers expect are incredibly high. And that actually makes it one of those businesses where very few people can compete. You know, it’s not like you can come out of the woodwork and actually compete in this space — I think it just requires too much in order to do that. So that’s what makes it attractive, it’s one of the things that ultimately… it’s why Microsoft’s in the business, and Nokia really helps us accelerate scale. And it’s partially because of their commitment — their desire to really make a bet and take the best of their innovation and apply it against the Windows Phone space. And I think that along with their natural market momentum will be very positive for Windows Phone.
I also think, when I think about how that impacts our other relationships… you know, I can’t speak for Samsung, but what I can tell you is that Samsung wants to sell phones. And when I think about in today’s market what’s required to sell phones — things like great services, or even apps — if you just say “apps” as a basic category requirement today, the one thing that’s going to pull, or like create a vacuum in for apps is scale. If you ask an ISV, they don’t have any single passion about a platform, they have a passion to find customers. And that’s what makes it so appealing. And so one of the benefits that everyone will get from the ecosystem is when you apply scale to the ecosystem, everyone that needs scale to create market opportunity will benefit once that’s achieved. And so Samsung will have more apps on their phone because of scale Nokia provides. I think that’s beneficial.
I also think that if you asked… you know, if you took one of the other ecosystems like Apple, which is a very exclusive ecosystem — no one can make hardware. If someone approached another OEM like, say, Samsung or HTC or Motorola or whoever and said, “hey, we’re open — if you want to make an iPhone, go ahead,” my bet is they would do it. And they would do it primarily because consumers have demand. And Samsung is an amazing company. I don’t think they’re shy to compete with Nokia — they do it today. Alright? I don’t think they’re shy to compete with Apple on hardware design, they’re an incredible company. So I don’t think this shifts the boat in terms of their competitive buoyancy.
So I don’t know how those relationships will work out, but we have a very good working relationship on both an engineering side and a marketing side with each of those OEMs, and I expect that to continue. And I really do expect them not in a hand-raising position, I think scale will benefit.
CZ: And just to make it crystal clear — I don’t think that anyone has really, at least in none of the answers I’ve heard this week, there haven’t really been any head-on answers to this question — there will be no preferential treatment given to Nokia in terms of the level of customization that they can apply to their devices. Is that correct, or no?
AW: So it’s an interesting question — you say, like, preferential treatment, so say more about that. Is that like oh, they can modify…
CZ: They can do more. They can do more than Samsung or HTC, for example.
AW: I don’t think we know, to be honest. This is where, at the end of the day, there are some principles we believe in in the platform. You know, things like we don’t want to fragment the platform. We believe that we have to be whole. We believe performance and quality have to be high, so we’ve done things like chassis strategies and really been specific about the spec. One of the things is that working so closely with Nokia against their innovation and our innovation roadmaps gives us an opportunity to line those up in a much more aggressive fashion.
And so, could we support new things that we don’t support today because Nokia has some opportunity to push in a unique way? Yeah, you know, it’s not clear whether we make that available to other OEMs in that case. I just don’t think we’re at a point where that’s known. So I don’t think it’s a question of, like, you know, we’re trying to spin ourselves out of it. I think it’s, hey, we’ve been working on this deal for several months, we’ve agreed on a principle level where we think our business objectives are in alignment, that the complimentary nature of our skill sets and expertise is very, very high. Like, you look at Navteq. We have worldwide services. A place where we’re weak worldwide is maps. We have an incredible — we both have incredible brands, but not in competing ways. It’s not like, people are like, where’s that Microsoft phone?
But in terms of customization, how that plays out, I think it’s really unclear. We actually allow for customizations today that are exclusives to each of our OEMs. Like we worked closely with LG on their DLNA application that’s only available on an LG. So it’s kind of unfair to say we don’t do customizations with each of the OEMs to help them differentiate through software. And then the question is what we do with Nokia and if that’s a build or not, I just don’t think it’s known.
CZ: Okay. So, just to phrase it a slightly different way — and I might get the same answer — but to take it in a different direction, would it be conceivable that you would offer specific chassis or versions of Windows Phone 7 designed to run on particular chassis only to certain OEMs, whether that be Nokia or someone else?
AW: Yeah, you know, I don’t know. So you’re saying, like, would we do something specific at a hardware level. Let’s say, I don’t know, a different aspect ratio or something?
AW: Yeah, I don’t know. I think that we’re motivated to sell a lot of phones, I think Nokia is, I think all of our partners are. We have conversations on an ongoing basis about how do we make the chassis specs and strategy both meet our principles around what we care about consumers and help maximize both their ability to be differentiated as well as reach customers through price points. So it’s an ongoing discussion. And so I don’t know. I don’t know if one of the things we would do with them or not would be, hey, I get access to this specific chassis feature. I don’t think we know.
CZ: Okay. And one of the reasons I’m so interested in that is that, you know, I think Nokia was on the verge of making a real breakthrough with just how low they were able to push their bottom-end specs on Symbian devices and really commoditize the smartphone in a way it hasn’t been commoditized yet. And with Symbian going away, the question becomes, are they going to lose that opportunity? And as Windows Phone stands today, the answer is yes.
AW: Hmm… it’s not…
CZ: I mean, as it stands today, Snapdragon… with that one chassis.
First of all, S40 isn’t going away any time soon… it’s a great product. AW: Yeah, so here’s what I would say. First of all, S40 isn’t going away any time soon. They’re going to continue to make… it’s a great product. So like, that’s really where they’re hitting those price points more than anything else. So you say, how many years will that continue? Well, I think a lot of that will be determined by the flexibility and changes and ultimately the cost curve that you see against hardware.
You know, one of the benefits of selling a lot of phones is you can also maximize your supply side value chain. You know, you can put pressure on suppliers that are actually providing chips and memory and those types of things. And it’s in their best interest because overall they’re going to make more money because of the volume. And so Nokia gives us that opportunity to apply pressure against supply chains — specifically their supply chains — in a way that we expect to have more flexibility in terms of price points. And we’ll continue to work with them to help them do that. I think, you know, at the end of the day, we have the desire to make a really, really cheap phone that meets our quality. So, I think from a principle perspective we want to sell great phones at good prices, and Nokia shares that, and then they bring the ability to provide volume and work the supply side economics, and I think that’ll be meaningful.
Do I think that tomorrow we’ll have a $100 bomb smartphone? No. Do I think we can get there over some period of time? Yeah, you know, I think we can find ways to do that together by maximizing what we’re both capable of doing within the ecosystem.
CZ: And price point aside, how much lower — how much room do you have to reduce the minimum spec in Windows Phone 7? At MIX last year, you first mentioned the lower-res display that would happen at some point, but beyond that, are there any other places where you would definitely be willing to compromise or move down?
The idea is not to stay at this chassis, the idea is to stay at this quality and this experience, and so we’re constantly evaluating our ability to do that. AW: “Compromise” is an interesting statement, you know? We’re constantly evaluating different chipsets and different speeds and different memory speeds and those types of things, and I think you’ll see us continue to evaluate that. I would be surprised if we had news for that in this year. Not specifically to Nokia to be honest — just working through OEMs, we haven’t really finished taking feedback and taking action on that. The idea is not to stay at this chassis, the idea is to stay at this quality and this experience, and so we’re constantly evaluating our ability to do that.
CZ: So that sort of leads into the other end of the spectrum, which is more modern chassis specs?
AW: Modern? Our specs are really high-end specs!
CZ: No, they are, they are. But when you talk about the “three-horse race…”
AW: I love that you’ve already said that.
CZ: You know, Android is… it might be in danger of burning itself out here. Well, that might be too strong of a statement, but what I mean is that it does feel like it’s a pissing contest between manufacturers in some respects.
CZ: And it’s obvious that you’re not playing that so far.
CZ: And I know that you’ve mentioned on many occasions in the past that it’s more about the experience than the actual line-item specs. But do you see specific areas where you’re saying, yeah, you know, it’s time to bump that. We can take advantage of this extra horsepower.
AW: Yeah, you know, I think that part of it is around maximizing — I don’t want to overuse the word “experience,” but like I’ll use the news that we announced today around IE9. Like, today we have a browser that’s a pretty good browser based upon a number of facets within the company. But we announced today that we’re bringing IE9 directly over, and we’re going to leverage the local GPU to actually do some of the hardware acceleration within the browser. That’s pretty powerful. We required the GPU though primarily to meet the requirements we had around games. Specifically XNA titles for Xbox Live. So we have those capabilities within the phone, and I think we can continue to maximize the current capabilities to get more production out of them, more performance out of them. So I look first and I say, you know, there are things we could do even today better and faster given the current chassis spec.
So you know, it’s not “next year, we need X,” it’s more of a, “in five years we agree that we’re here, in eight years we agree that we’re here.” You know, in terms of, hey, what does the world offer in the future and how do we actually start to ingest those things… I don’t know how fast we’ll actually be against that. That’s another area where you look at Nokia as having some much better hardware — like we have no hardware planning expertise, so we’re kind of working through with our partners in terms of what they want to do and Nokia has much more ability I think to have a better long range planning in terms of hardware capabilities and so we can do joint planning. So you know, it’s not “next year, we need X,” it’s more of a, “in five years we agree that we’re here, in eight years we agree that we’re here.” And that’s the type of planning you need from a hardware perspective, and I think they’ll bring that to the table and I think it’ll actually help.
Nokia is not adopting Microsoft’s current Windows Phone 7 platform – which means that there is no chance of any handsets running Microsoft’s software before the end of October. It is likely to be a lot later.
Rather than using the current version of the Windows Phone platform, first released last October, the mobile phone company is going to wait until a major release of the operating system, codenamed “Mango”, is made available this coming October – and that is expected to have a slightly different name from the current Windows Phone 7 name.
Stephen Elop, the former Microsoft executive who since September has been chief executive of Nokia, and announced dramatically last week that Nokia will abandon its market-leading in-house Symbian smartphone platform, has been careful throughout the week to refer to the adoption as Windows Phone – and not Windows Phone 7.
That, coupled with his repeated refusal to offer any timescale for the introduction of handsets running Windows Phone this year, points to a decision to delay the introduction until the newer version of the platform is available.
A Nokia spokesperson said that Nokia has committed to using Windows Phone but would not comment further. Microsoft had not responded to request for comment as this story was being completed.
Though the difference between Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone may sound trivial, Elop, who previously ran the hugely profitable Office division of Microsoft, will have been keenly aware of the importance of the difference in naming and the need not to be seen at any future date to have misled investors, analysts or customers.
Mary Jo Foley, a ZDNet writer who follows Microsoft closely, previously revealed that Mango will be renamed, possibly to Windows Phone 7.5, with Windows Phone 8 following at the end of 2012. But Mango, which adds a number of new features including HTML5 support, is not due until autumn at the earliest.
However it would have been impossible for Elop to announce last week that Nokia is adopting Windows Phone 7.5 as it would have given away too much about Microsoft’s then-unannounced plans, and the delays implicit in Nokia’s plans.
Yet his refusal to say that Nokia is adopting Windows Phone 7 – a phrase that he has never used in a single one of the dozens of interviews and speeches he has made in the past week – now stands out.
Elop has been briefed on upcoming Microsoft branding efforts. For example, at the announcement last week Elop did not mention Microsoft’s Zune music platform as one of the benefits of the tieup; he said Microsoft has a “great software platform” in Windows Phone, and the brands that mobile consumers want, “such as Bing, Xbox Live, and Office.”
Yet neither Elop nor Ballmer mentioned Zune, Microsoft’s music service that is expected to replace Nokia’s offering in music.
That is because in the past few days, growing evidence suggests Zune is being rebranded and that the name will be dropped. Its logo was noticeably absent from Microsoft’s press materials about the tieup.
A Microsoft spokesperson told ZDNet blogger Mary Jo Foley on Tuesday: “We’re not ‘killing’ any of the Zune services/features in any way. Microsoft remains committed to providing a great music and video experience from Zune on platforms such as Xbox Live, Windows-based PCs, Zune devices and Windows Phone 7, as well as integration with Bing and MSN.”
Elop would have been briefed on whether Zune could be mentioned as a benefit of the Nokia-Microsoft tieup – and noticeably did not.
Analysts have marked down Nokia’s stock in the expectation that it will have significant restructuring costs and that it will have problems selling Symbian phones in the face of growing competition from rivals as it tries to ramp up production of Windows Phone models.
Elop has repeatedly refused to offer any timescales for the introduction of Nokia handsets running Windows Phone, saying only that Nokia expects to ship them “in volume” in 2012 and that he expects to sell 150m more Symbian handsets. At current sales rates, that would see the last Symbian handset sold in mid-2012, though a deceleration in sales is highly likely as consumers and mobile retailers discard the old platform.
On Tuesday he told the Guardian, when challenged on how Nokia could maintain sales if competitors begin to describe Symbian as a dying platform: “Competitors will do whatever they think is right for their business, and, of course, we are going to fight very hard to retain those customers. Note that we have very strong brand equity and we take care of our customers in more countries around the world than anybody else. Our hope is that the good work we do will allow us to defend ourselves against any attacks that may come.”
He declined to say whether Nokia will remain profitable through the year, saying that he had given sufficient financial guidance in a briefing to analysts last Friday – where he noticeably did not guarantee that Nokia will retain quarter-by-quarter profitability this year.
Barcelona – Microsoft is set to release a new version, code- named Mungo, of its Windows Phone operating system this autumn, a senior executive told the German Press Agency dpa at the Mobile World Congress on Monday in Barcelona.
The Barcelona expo, the world’s main venue for launches of cellphone hardware and software, is dominated this year by premieres of smartphones running Google’s Android operating system.
Windows Phone 7, the successor to Microsoft’s Windows Mobile platform, was first released in the autumn and is still far behind.
Achim Berg, who coordinates the marketing and business development side of Windows Phone, said: ‘The next next big release of Windows Phone will happen in autumn.’
Berg, who is German, said that Microsoft would be relaxing some of its detailed specifications for manufacturers, which prescribe precisely how certain components must be made and used.
He said this would allow manufacturers some of the greater freedoms they had sought, allowing them to chose on technical matters such as chipsets, memory capacity and screen sizes.
That flexibility would particularly benefit Finnish company Nokia, which opted last week to install Windows Phone on all its high-end smartphones in future, in place of its own Symbian system.
Berg noted that Nokia was well known for employing high technology such as top-grade cameras in its phones, and would thus be playing to its strength in the market. He said the partnership had given Microsoft a big boost in the mobile-phones business.
The executive forecast that an ‘ecosystem’ of developers would quickly form around Nokia and Microsoft, developing the apps, or mini-programs, which are essential to the success of today’s phones.
‘We’re encountering incredible interest at the moment in our platform,’ he said on the first day of the Barcelona event.