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Microsoft's Big Risk As Ballmer Departs: Windows Phone
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Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
8/23/2013 | 5:56:05 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Risk As Ballmer Departs: Windows Phone
I don't think the number of apps will change the situation. Windows Phone suffers from not being meaningfully different than the devices offered by two market leaders. Microsoft has to change the perception that buying a Windows Phone is like buying a Beta videotape player when everyone is going VHS.
dlessard611
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dlessard611,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/23/2013 | 6:00:12 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Risk As Ballmer Departs: Windows Phone
As a WP8 user I have trouble finding others that have one. I often wonder why since it is a superb platform. I also have an Android device (Nexus 7) and using it feels a bit boring compared to Windows Phone. The hardware tech specs are normally what columnists and editors focus on, but I don't see it that way. I'm an software IT guy, so specs are a part of life, but good software covers up for poor hardware anyday.
Each time I show someone my Nokia WP8 they are really impressed with the look and feel and how snappy the OS is. The problem is they never heard of it. I'm not crazy about the branding, it's obvoiusly not that effective but the OS speaks for itself. It's just fun to use.
I've had the hard core Android guys ask "there is no file explorer, how can that be?" I have yet to find a need to explore files on this device. It's a use case designed system, performs as it should. Of course there are things I don't like and they need to be fixed but the "gaps" in OS capability are only for those few that worry about it, and they worry about it just to make a point.
A new leader might help a better ad campain. I'm sure this will be a main focus.
dbtinc
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dbtinc,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/24/2013 | 1:08:42 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Risk As Ballmer Departs: Windows Phone
Isn't one of the problems is that WinPhone is one phone's nobody really wants?
AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/24/2013 | 3:30:35 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Risk As Ballmer Departs: Windows Phone
The problem with WinPhone is that (a) Microsoft has always had a tough time marketing anything to the GP, and (b) the retail guys never push WinPhone. Walk into any AT&T, Best Buy, etc. and inquire about WinPhone. Nine times out of ten they will try and steer you to iPhone or an Android device. For Microsoft, who needs enemies when you have friends like that?
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
8/24/2013 | 8:25:02 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Risk As Ballmer Departs: Windows Phone
You hit it on the head. Microsoft repeatedly takes the wrong angle when marketing to the general public (though I think Nokia's done a pretty good job marketing the newest hardware's photo capabilities). And in the smartphone markets, WP8 lacks the retail and OEM support to be more than an afterthought.

Windows Phone 8 is a good platform, and we'll see how much enthusiasm Microsoft can generate on its own with the big WP update that's supposed to be coming next year. But it's a tough space to compete in, and without more support from the extended ecosystem, Microsoft could continue to have a tough time. Nokia's made some progress, especially in emerging markets-- but we'll have to see if it can maintain that momentum, given that Apple is allegedly eyeing the budget market too, with the iPhone 5C, and that Android already owns it.
AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/26/2013 | 5:51:17 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Risk As Ballmer Departs: Windows Phone
I love the Windows Phone platform. My wife (tech luddite) now does as well. She just upgraded from a feature phone to Win Phone and took to it like a baby duck in a pond. She absolutely loves it.

Nokia has been pretty much left to do all the heavy lifting in making this platform a success. That's very unfortunate. Microsoft is slow in releasing software updates and the carriers are doing their best to slow down releases as well. Meanwhile, Apple enjoys once a year updates like clockwork without any hassles in getting them out. Android just obsoletes the platform so you don't have to really worry about upgrading.

Up until recently (and the jury is still out on the new upgrade plans), the smartphone sector has been all about locking you into a 2 year plan, scraping as much revenue as they can off of you and not giving much value back in return.
jsheldon920
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jsheldon920,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/23/2013 | 6:26:48 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Risk As Ballmer Departs: Windows Phone
"Same goes for processor support. WP8 allows only for two-core processors, while many of the leading Android phones are jumping to four and in some cases eight cores. (Not that Windows Phone has much of a performance problem; it is very light on its feet.) This could help WP's gaming cred."
WP8 is based on the NT kernel which in theory can support up to 64 cores. Android needs 4 cores just to operate at the same level as WP8.
dbtinc
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dbtinc,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/24/2013 | 1:09:24 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Risk As Ballmer Departs: Windows Phone
To the vast majority of users does that really matter?
liverdonor
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liverdonor,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/24/2013 | 6:42:28 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Risk As Ballmer Departs: Windows Phone
Misleading specification anyway. How many cores? More like, what are they being used for, and how well does their code use what's there?

If they were to count cores the same way in both phones, the Nokia Lumia 822 phone uses a Snapdragon S4 proc which has 2 Krait ARM v7 cores, plus a DSP core, plus the Adreno 225 or higher GPU (which has another 4 cores for graphics). So that's really 7 cores.

By comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S4 phone uses an Exynos Octacore (big.LITTLE Coretex A15 - that's really 4 cores at normal power and another 4 at low-power mode), and a PowerVR 544MP3 GPU (that's three cores). Plus the radio DSP (that's another core). However, that's only the UMTS version. So, really, that's really only 8 cores at a time - depending on which mode the device is in. Trust me - those low-power A7 cores are truly wimpy. Not even sure if they're useful with Android OS - jury's still out on that one. If anyone out there has that data, please chime in.

Difference of one core, in real life, at normal-power-on mode. Oh, and btw - still not really an apples-to-apples (no iOS puns here!) comparison, because the Nokia phone is an LTE phone but the version of the S4 I've actually used is a UMTS phone so not really the same beast. The LTE version of the Galaxy will most likely have a Snapdragon proc, because Qualcomm is really the only game in town when it comes to LTE.

So, what's all this mean? Bottom line is in the functionality. Both phones are very quick, performance-wise. The Samsung is slightly quicker, but that's probably due to the extra core. However, the LTE phone (on Verizon) is much faster with web/network-centric operations. The Galaxy certainly has a sharper display (full-on 1080p HD, compared to the 480x800 Lumia). However, if you've used one (and I have, my wife's got one on T-Mobile), you see rather quickly that it's not really that much quicker - and with the number of gestures/operation generally higher in Android than in WinPhone, it seems to equal out (in my tests, anyway).

End result - it's amazing to me how the Android-based Galaxy is not really much faster than my Nokia (which was $100US cheaper). There's a lot of bells-and-whistles on the Galaxy (eye-tracking, all kinds of sensor majik), but most don't matter to me, as I'm primarily a business user. Oh, and btw - those A15 cores on the Galaxy burn battery. My wife can barely eke out 24 hours. I usually get more like 1.5 days before my battery dies.

From a usability standpoint, I get real M$FT Office (I can edit powerpoints!), a the ever-awesome Nokia Here nav suite (offline maps that are really good!) and a highly-capable camera (awesome low-light shots).

So, I don't have a zillion apps to choose from. Big deal. Purely looking at the function/$ ratio, I am very glad I got what I got. I think a lot of others (many former BBN folks) might agree with me.
WKash
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WKash,
User Rank: Author
8/23/2013 | 7:19:26 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Risk As Ballmer Departs: Windows Phone
At a government IT forum in Washington, the Navy's CIO Terry Halverson acknowledged that government workers are likely to continue being a three form-factor tech user: Desk/laptop (for creation), tablet (for consumption) and smartphones (for mobile convenience). Windows 8 held the promise to deliver on all three but clearly hasn't caught fire. That's why the smartphone question is an interesting one here.
Palpatine
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Palpatine,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/26/2013 | 1:12:28 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Risk As Ballmer Departs: Windows Phone
No surprise it never caught:
1) On desktop because of pervasively hiding desktop UI after tablet UI: at startup, by default, each time you open an app or file type associated with app, or need to go to the start-non-menu, or for other misc settings (even power off OMG!), so it is exceptionally ill suited and irritating as desktop platform.
Plus, calling desktop "legacy" does not help, developers feels threatened and fly away - just look how many Android, iOS and web based apps/services developers are active nowday, the same day the bald clown called officially desktop "legacy" they lost a whole generation of developers!
Plus, calling MS and hw company, another gift from the bald clown, does not help with OEM: now that MS is officially their competitor, investing in Android devices production and marketing rather than wintel one is the only possible answer, and that is what all OEM with larger revenues did - others are costing billions to MS to being subsidized to pretend wintel market was not dead the same day the bald clown released first VistaBob 8 beta!
Plus, betting the company (words of the bald clown, again) on Surface that is on all aspects (including price!) a keyboardless ultrabook was not a clever idea as the ultrabook marketing fad already failed the previous year.

2) On tablet because of many good reasons, e.g. it takes twice of ssd real estate than other tablet OS even in its "light" RT incarnation; it has the worst Store and no hope of catching up due to win32 competition with RT apps; it is inherently vulnerable to hundred thousands viruses that does not target BSD iOS foundations nor Linux Android foundations.
3) On phones because of, you know, compatibility of apps is not guaranteed (the worst conceivable MS error), that because the bald clown perceived pc and tablets one market, and phones a separate one, unlike any other successful competitor, limiting Phone 8 to small devices and RT on large tablets and completely losing the ability to release a REAL windows phone or phablet - the largest growing niche of products, by the way.

Final thought, the thing I like the most of Windows 8 is that it costed the career to the bald clown, and now MS have back the possibility to roll out a decent business plan and stay relevant: more choice is always better!
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
8/24/2013 | 12:40:25 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Risk As Ballmer Departs: Windows Phone
Best is to ditch Windows Phone and focus on other things. Microsoft is late to the game and needs to sink billions into the smartphone offerings for years to come just to catch up with Google and Apple. Microsoft should buy BlackBerry for their patent portfolio, merge it with Nokia, and then let that group work on what is now Windows Phone. That way Microsoft can focus on things where they are good at.
AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/24/2013 | 3:35:00 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Risk As Ballmer Departs: Windows Phone
Clearly what you suggest is not the right solution. If MS is not present in the mobile game then it could be game over in a few years. That's where the market is NOW. Mobile includes both phones, tablets, convertibles or a blend of both. Look at what Samsung is doing. And Lenovo too. MS ought to be courting both as a rock solid partners... big time.
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
8/26/2013 | 8:08:56 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Risk As Ballmer Departs: Windows Phone
My thinking as well. If Microsoft can't become a leading mobile player, then it's done over the long haul. This is a market where it simply must succeed.
rradina
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rradina,
User Rank: Ninja
8/27/2013 | 11:21:25 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Risk As Ballmer Departs: Windows Phone
IBM gave up the desktop fight when it terminated OS/2. Then they sold their desktop hardware business. MS doesn't have to win the mobile space but they better stay relevant. If not, all they'll eventually have is Azure and other Internet services. If they are reduced to that, Windows will disappear from the enterprise and consumer space. The only place it will live is within Microsoft's cloud. That means all the proprietary stuff will no longer have any value and Microsoft will be reduced to low margin utility computing.
jries921
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jries921,
User Rank: Ninja
8/24/2013 | 5:22:22 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Risk As Ballmer Departs: Windows Phone
I'm not convinced it was a good idea for Steve Ballmer to announce his retirement before a successor had been chosen. Now he's a lame duck, which will tend to encourage exactly the sort of paralysis our author warns against.
liverdonor
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liverdonor,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/24/2013 | 6:48:44 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Risk As Ballmer Departs: Windows Phone
Gates announced he was retiring 2 years in advance, didn't seem to make much difference.
Well, but that was Bill. I suppose it may be different in Ballmer's case.
Palpatine
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Palpatine,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/26/2013 | 1:15:25 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Risk As Ballmer Departs: Windows Phone
He had no choice. MS was crumbling so fast due to Windows 8 debacle that it was inevitable. +20B$ in a single day is how much this is true.


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