5. Build a phone. If Microsoft's partners won't exploit Windows Phone 8 to its fullest (see above), then Redmond needs to build a phone of its own, even if that means stepping on OEM toes. Microsoft built a self-branded Windows 8 tablet called Surface because it just wasn't satisfied with what it was seeing from third parties. It should do the same in phones if partners don't step up.
6. Apps, apps, apps. There's a healthy selection of apps for Windows Phone, from major developers such as Time, Amazon, and Spotify. But the selection doesn't compare to what's out there for Apple and Android. At launch, Microsoft needs to show that it's got exclusive, killer apps on the way for Windows Phone 8. A mobile version of Halo wouldn't hurt.
The departure of development VP Walid Abu-Hadba, as reported by Bloomberg this week, might sting--but this is no time for excuses.
7. Boost retail presence. Windows Phone is having a tough time winning consumer mindshare in part because shoppers rarely see it. In stores such as Best Buy, the devices are lost amid a sea of Android phones, and Apple pushes its products to trendsetters from glitzy retail outlets in prime spots such as New York's Grand Central Station and San Francisco's Union Square. Microsoft needs to ramp its own retail presence.
The company is planning to launch pop-up stores across the country for the holidays, but it needs a more permanent retail foothold in major markets.
8. UI choice. Metro, er, Modern UI, is a unique interface that offers a refreshing change from the cookie cutter icons on iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry devices. But it's not for everyone. Consumers have firm expectations about what a smartphone should look like, and for many it doesn't look like Modern UI's blocky tiles.
With Windows 8 Professional, tablet users can switch from Modern UI to the conventional Windows desktop. Windows Phone should give users similar flexibility.
With its share of the smartphone market at just 3.6% according to Comscore, Microsoft has its work cut out. By accomplishing at least some of the above, the company could begin the process of restoring its mobile brand. This holiday season will mark the third in which Windows Phone has been available. If it doesn't catch on this time, it might never.
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