Microsoft Should Use Android. Say what?

In his column for PC Magazine, John C. Dvorak has a suggestion for Microsoft about the poor sales of Windows Phone 7. He writes, “To fix this, Microsoft should bite the bullet and embrace Linux and should even take the Android OS, which is Open Source, and simply use it with various modifications.” Dvorak goes on to make a point of how Microsoft is scared about Open Source. He also states several times that he thinks Microsoft will pull the plug on Windows Phone 7.

I’ve read the column a couple of times, and I have to admit, I don’t get it. I think the fundamental disconnect is in thinking of Microsoft as a software company rather than as an operating system company. While Microsoft started as company that made software tools for programmers, it long ago moved from making software tools to seeing itself as an operating system company. While Microsoft Office and many of its other applications are very successful, it’s Windows that made Microsoft what it is today. Windows is “the” brand at Microsoft, and everything else that is not Xbox or Zune exists to make Windows better.

Dumping Windows Phone 7, which is something I believe Microsoft will not do any time soon, would be admitting that Microsoft is not capable of making operating systems for the emerging technology markets, smartphones and tablets. Dumping Windows Phone 7 would be admitting that Microsoft is really just another software company, and frankly, Microsoft sees itself as something much, much more.

If Microsoft thought when it introduced Windows Phone 7 that it would immediately take significant market share from Apple and Google, it was delusional. I don’t think Microsoft is delusional. I do think Microsoft is hopeful that Apple and Google will do what Palm did, which was to get comfortable. Don’t think that will happen? How much has the iPhone really changed since it launched? If it keeps looking the same people might get bored with it and start to look for something else, and Microsoft hopes those people will look to Windows Phone.