To execute on this strategy, Microsoft should do one thing as soon as possible: deliver Internet Explorer 9 to Windows Phone. Most of the other mobile platforms, including Apple's iPhone, Google's Android, and RIM's BlackBerry are already shipping a standards-compliant browser. Even better for developers, they are all variants of WebKit so they have very similar behavior. That makes Windows Phone the odd man out.
Microsoft has been showing IE9 at various trade shows, and says it will ship with the update code-named "Mango." The question is, when will Mango ship? In February, Steve Ballmer said it would ship in 2011. Now, however, sources are saying that it may not ship this year.
The current Windows Phone browser is based on the ancient Internet Explorer 7, and it doesn't offer very good performance or compliance with standards. In fact, it does not support modern standards like HTML5 or CSS3 at all. As a result, Windows Phone is at a disadvantage when it comes to Web-based applications. But Internet Explorer 9 has just shipped for the desktop. If Microsoft can just get it to their mobile platform they'll achieve parity with the market leaders in this race, and offer developers an attractive way to offer Windows Phone support.