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Did Microsoft's Clean Break Work for Windows Phone?

Microsoft allowed members of the public to play with Windows Phone 'Mango' devices for the first time on Friday at a local event hosted by the gdgt tech blog in Seattle.

'Mango' was released to device manufacturers in late July. The interim release of the Windows Phone 7 OS needs to meet carriers' requirements before existing devices can receive the 'Mango' update. New models of Windows Phone with the 'Mango' release are expected at retail this fall.

On Monday, 21-year Microsoft veteran Charlie Kindel, who most recently served as general manager for Windows Phone Developer Experience, announced in his blog that he is leaving Microsoft at the beginning of next month, to launch his own startup in the Seattle area. He didn't really offer details about the new venture outside of noting that it's related to mobile, cloud, social media and athletics.

At MIX10, when the Windows Phone platform (Silverlight and XNA) and Visual Studio tooling were first unveiled, Kindel had to defend some of the company's decisions to the Windows Mobile base. Windows Phone made a "clean break" from Windows Mobile, and existing applications would not run on the new operating system. Many Windows Mobile users, IT departments and developers were unhappy about the decision.

It's been a crazy ride since then and despite decent OS technology that is getting some accolades, a Nokia deal, and close to 28,000 apps in the Windows Phone marketplace, Microsoft has made blunders and continues to lose market share in the United States. The Windows Phone advertising campaign didn't appear to work and problems plagued the phone updates, which have trickled out at a snail's pace compared to competitive offerings. Windows Phones in the U.S. dropped from 7.5 percent of smartphone subscribers in March, to 5.8 percent in June, according to comScore.

The 'Mango' update could get sales moving in the right direction. According to an AllThingsD report based on an interview with Nokia President Chris Weber on Tuesday, Nokia plans to stop selling its low cost feature-based phones and Symbian smartphones in the United States and Canada. Once its Windows Phones are released, the Finnish company will focus on selling Windows Phones and related accessories through wireless carriers.

Meanwhile, Microsoft faces another technology revolution vs. evolution crossroads, which could leave legacy apps (and their developers) by the wayside, at least as far as tablets are concerned. Windows 8 on ARM devices will not support backwards compatibility for existing Windows applications. According to the early previews, Windows 8 on x86 will run traditional applications and new applications built using the HTML/JavaScript model.

Microsoft is hosting its "Windows 8" BUILD conference in September for developers and the new app dev model is expected to be detailed at the event, along with previews of the Windows 8 bits. Redmond contributor Mary Jo Foley reported on Tuesday that the pre-conference sessions for BUILD have been cancelled.

Microsoft bet on the clean break strategy for Windows Phone. It's hard not to wonder at this juncture if an evolution might have worked better. The company appears ready to make a clean break again with "Windows 8" on ARM devices. Is this the right move? Express your thoughts below or drop me a line at krichards@1105media.com.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 08/09/2011 at 12:54 PM

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Reader Comments:

Thu, Aug 11, 2011

"Throw" is spelled T-H-R-O-W. I have a link for you... http://www.justmorons.com/test.html

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 Larry Coates Boston, MA

I fail to see how a "Clean break" is ever clean. When Wang made a clean break from its Wang OS platform to their new VS Platform, it left tens of thousands of companies holding literally millions of now outdated and more importantly UNSUPPORTED equipment! Wang of course marketed the new VS systems as vastly superior and highlighted all of the stellar reasons to make the jump to VS. What they seemed to forget was that companies are NOT willing to just through out mega millions of dollars of hardware and at the same time sink new mega millions into the "Next great platform" that will be ripped out from under them in just two or three years? Forget it it just is not going to happen. I have been a Windows developer since Windows 2.0 but i have finally made the jump from my Windows Mobile 6.x smart phone to an Android based HTC phone. I'm tired of waiting for Microsoft to make up their mind about which direction to head in the mobile arena. The way I see it about the time I install my 20th app onto a Windows 7 phone, the company will announce that it is dropping all support for Windows 7 phones and I will be forced to through out yet another fine working phone. Oh and for the record Wang has long ceased to be. The VS was not only their best platform ever. It was also their LAST platform and it was the one that never made them any money because companies were NOT willing to buy into a company that tried to sell the message to "Send your current investment to the dump, and buy our new platform. Oh, and you better hurry to get yours while they are available!"

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