Windows Mobile Device Centre killed, Enterprise love Xbox games

windowsphonePaul Foster, Developer Evangelist – Windows Phone 7 Series for Microsoft UK has spoken to Windows Phone Expert about the new Windows Phone 7 series OS.

To start with, he confirmed that Windows Mobile Device Centre will be dead as a doornail, killed by Zune PC software for media transfer.

Windows Phone 7 Series will be using the Zune PC software.  It was designed to be a best in class media experience and offer users the ability to easily synchronize music, videos and photos.

This change is probably long overdue, and we understand from other presentations most interaction with the device (synching and management) will happen over the air wirelessly, with the Zune software only handling media management. The Zune software will also be able to sync over WIFI, meaning OEM’s can finally make that super sliver device with no ports at all that syncs wirelessly 😉

Next, asking about customizability of the OS, for both users and OEM’s Paul answered:

We redesigned the Windows Phone 7 Series from the ground up recognizing that phones are personal; not one-size-fits-all:  The iPhone, with its single form factor and locked-down user interface, can’t be right for everyone.  Phones are very personal and we believe people want to choose from a variety of phone designs (touch, keyboard, combination touch/keyboard, different screen sizes, etc…) and to be able to customize a phone to make it their own.  Windows phones meet these needs because we don’t follow a one-size-fits-all model.

We have dramatically changed our approach to the user experience with Windows Phone 7 Series and are taking accountability for the entire experience.  That means you will not see layers built on top of the UI by OEMs or MOs which have historically led to confusion and performance issues.  OEMs or MOs can customize the experience to bring their world class brands and services to the forefront.   Additionally, they can innovate in the HW design and we feel confident that our OEM partners will take advantage of this.

So basically the same situation as in the PC market.  While this works for Microsoft I am not so sure OEM’s will appreciate it.

Lastly and most importantly, he asked about the reception they expect in business from their entertainment-focussed OS. The response:

We’ve spoken to many enterprise customers.  The most important need we’ve heard from IT professionals and business decision makers is to deliver a phone that is compelling for end users. End users’ expectations have changed and grown to embrace mobile devices as more than just productivity tools.  They expect Smartphones to connect them to their friends, the services they use every day and a world of entertainment – all in a simple, intuitive way.  Windows Phone 7 Series has a smart design which makes it feel as if your phone understands what you care most about, so you never miss a moment that matters. We’ve also designed Windows Phone 7 Series to bring information together in end-to-end experiences so customers don’t have to.   

Mobile productivity, defined as access to e-mail, calendar, contacts and work documents, is the most frequent work usage scenario for Smartphones.  Windows Phone has a strong heritage in exceeding customer expectations for mobile productivity and the 7 Series will continue to deliver the most seamless Exchange e-mail, calendar and contacts experience for end users.   The 7 Series enables full access to documents on SharePoint sites and rich support for viewing and editing Office documents, including optimized mobile navigation and commenting in Word documents. No competing Smartphone on the market today offers these capabilities.

Combined with IT capabilities that businesses require and a choice of form factors from a range of device manufacturers, Windows Phone 7 Series delivers Smartphones that end users want with capabilities that organizations need.

Unfortunately the answer leaves out important 3rd party productivity tools.  Not everyone lives in Office and Excel, and custom 3rd party software is often a major feature of enterprise productivity.

Interestingly the interview turned up a particular focus on Android by Microsoft, presumably because they are direct competitors for OEMS.

Developers are important to Microsoft and particularly to Windows Phone; we take responsibility for creating a stable platform:  Platform fragmentation is a reality that all platform vendors face and it can create significant hurdles for the developer community.  Microsoft recognizes this and is taking a proactive approach to address it.  By maintaining a managed platform with a consistent set of API’s, plus a disciplined application certification process, Microsoft is able to ensure application compatibility across different Windows phone device IDs.  Making sure that Windows Phone 7 Series is consumer-ready is also important:  With a more complete consumer experience delivered with the launch of Windows phone – backed by our proven track record for delivering and supporting world-class consumer software and services like Windows Live, Xbox LIVE, Bing and Zune –Microsoft remains committed to providing a mobile platform that scales to deliver high-quality Smartphone experiences that delight millions of people around the globe.    The value of the Windows phone platform extends beyond the basic OS components delivered with Android to include an integrated package of rich end-to-end mobile services and features (e.g., easy and intuitive synch of photos and music, seamless integration of Outlook email and calendar, My Phone online service to manage and back-up contacts, calendar, texts, photos and more).  Partner profitability is also very important to us:  With 30 years of experience building software development platforms that generate revenue for partners, including nearly a decade of working closely with partners to ship over 50M mobile devices worldwide, Microsoft has a proven track record for fostering a healthy, vibrant, and profitable global partner ecosystem.

We speak with Android developers and find that they are increasingly frustrated.  While managing application and device compatibility across point releases is a challenge developers face on any platform, Android has made it extremely difficult and frustrating because 1) Android lacks an application certification process and 2) Android SDKs are not released in a timely fashion and they trail behind the rapid frequency of Android releases.  These problems have led to applications that crash Android phones and situations in which developers don’t have the chance to proactively create fixes before a new SDK releases that breaks their applications.  Additionally, Google is now competing directly with OEM partners and coming between carriers and their customers:  With the launch of Nexus One – Google’s first proprietary phone – Google is competing directly with their OEM partners.  They are also undermining the value of their carrier partners by coming between them and their customers by restricting distribution and creating customer dissatisfaction with their lack of customer service.  (Note:  Google’s Nexus One phone is only available directly from Google online and the only way to get support for the phone is to email Google and wait for a response within 48 hours).

Who knew Android developers were so unhappy? 🙂

What do our readers think?  Are you satisfied by the answers?  Let us know below, and read the full interview with many more questions here.

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