Pressure is on for Microsoft and Windows Phone 7

With the announcement of Android 2.2 and iPhone 4, the pressure is back on Microsoft to prove that Windows Phone 7 is a competitive and compelling mobile operating system.

Flora Graham/CNET UK

Before the WWDC 2010 keynote began, my colleague CNET News reporter Ina Fried sent out the following tweet, "My question for #wwdc, How much tougher is life about to get today for the Windows Phone 7 team?"

It's a thought I had as well and now that iPhone 4 has been revealed, I think the answer is pretty clear: Very tough. Not that WP7 wasn't already heading in that direction in the first place.

Microsoft took a gamble announcing Windows Phone 7 far in advance of its actual launch. The revamped mobile OS was introduced in February at Mobile World Congress 2010, but devices aren't expected to ship till the holiday season.

On the one hand, I can understand wanting to get the news out, especially when you've got a pretty compelling product and you're also facing mounting pressure and criticism from everyone around you. It's better to say something rather than nothing, right? Also, Microsoft certainly isn't alone in this approach; remember that the Palm Pre was announced in January 2009 at CES but didn't come to market till June.

The problem is that a lot can happen in such a long period of time, and as I'm sure Microsoft is painfully aware, Apple and Google have plowed full steam ahead. Whether we like it or not, we live in a society where instant gratification rules, making timeliness that much more important and with iPhone 4/ iOS 4 and Android 2.2 right around the corner, Microsoft is losing potential customers and finds itself in the position of having to play catch up again.

Perhaps if we knew a little more about Windows Phone 7 we'd have more reason to wait around and see how it stacks up to the competition. We're getting slight glimpses of promise here and there from conferences like MIX where we saw how easy it was to create apps for the platform and learned how push notifications would work. The TechEd conference also started today, where Microsoft touted Windows Phone 7's business advantages and outlined new policies for Windows Phone Marketplace that will hopefully lure new developers to the platform.

Also with OEM partners like HTC, Motorola, and Samsung, I'm not so much worried about hardware; in fact, I think Microsoft holds an advantage here over Apple at least in offering different designs. However, there's still a lot unknown about Windows Phone 7 itself and specifically what benefits it will bring to the consumer. The OS offers a pretty, new interface and great features like Zune and Xbox integration, but it also lacks some basic capabilities like cut and paste and in light of the new features of iOS 4 and Android 2.2--video conferencing, HD media, tethering--how will Windows Phone 7 compare and, more importantly, best the competition?

Time to make a move, Microsoft.

About the author

Bonnie Cha was a former chief correspondent for CNET Crave, covering every kind of tech toy imaginable (with a special obsession for robots and Star Wars-related stuff). When she's not scoping out stories, you can find her checking out live music or surfing in the chilly waters of Northern California.

 

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