Back To The Future: Windows On Phones

In an article titled “Windows Phone 8 Is Dead Already,” Mobility Digest does some tea leaf reading and concludes that because of Microsoft’s recent announcements about Windows support for ARM, they don’t think there will be a new major release of Windows Phone. Instead, says Mobility Digest, Microsoft will release a full version of Windows that will run on smartphones.

I think that Mobility Digest has read way to much into Microsoft’s ARM announcement. Truth is, we have already seen Windows for smartphones and handheld PCs, it was called Windows CE, or in it’s various iterations: Handheld PC, Pocket PC, and Windows Mobile. If Microsoft were to release Windows for smarpthones that would mean everything they have been saying about Windows Phone 7 has been a lie, that is that they learned that users don’t want Windows on Phones.

Windows for ARM is about better battery life, and it is about devices other than smartphones. Such devices range from tablets to set top boxes, all of which require lower battery consumption than Windows running on standard Intel chips. In my opinion, Microsoft made the right technical decision by going back to the whiteboard to design Windows Phone because Windows Mobile was never going to provide the best performance nor the best support for capacitive touchscreen. Windows Phone won’t fail because of its technology, but it might fail because it is too late to enter a market that is already dominated by other products.

Changing the course by dumping Windows Phone for Windows on ARM will not make any difference in helping Microsoft gain market share. Frankly, Microsoft doesn’t have the time to change course yet again. What Microsoft needs to do is accelerate the improvements in Windows Phone, push the envelope on innovation, and hope that either Apple or Google become complacent.