Bill Gates has had a fair amount to say about Windows and related products of late. Today in a CBS This Morning interview, Gates talked a little bit about the smartphone industry and Microsoft’s role.
According to Gates, they did not “get out in the lead very early”. And he also admitted that they didn’t miss cell phones but they way they approached the market didn’t allow them to get leadership in the space. Which he notes was clearly “a mistake”.
Windows Phone is a dramatic step in a new direction, and I think its the right path. Instead of attempting to make a smartphone OS that is like a desktop OS, they went with live tiles that looked like nothing ever seen before.
These live tiles make life easy, giving users a quick look at information. This is a different route than iOS, Android and Blackberry, all of which seem to have a more traditional OS look to them. Sure they are touch optimized, but they still ‘look’ quite similar to operating systems like Windows, Linux and Mac OS when it comes to icons and other factors.
Still, Microsoft didn’t get it all wrong before Windows Phone.
Windows Mobile was a solid OS, but its approach was even more “traditional OS-like” that operating systems like Android. Today Windows 8 seeks to bring a more mobile-like OS approach to the desktop, whereas Windows Mobile attempted to bring a PC-like experience to the cellular phone and PDA.
This approach didn’t work great, but Windows Mobile did a lot of things right when it came to the enterprise. Windows Mobile supported high end security measures and features that were ahead of its time.
There is a reason why many businesses that do tasks like inventory still rely on equipment based on Windows CE.
Where things went wrong.
When Apple started to pump up the pressure with the iPhone, and shortly after, modern apps, Microsot didn’t respond as well as it could – simple enough. Microsoft could have easily become the leader in the enterprise world, even above Blackberry which continued to dominate in that space.
It had the integration with the Windows ecosystem, Microsoft simply failed to realize that their interface and approach were outdated, at least in my opinion.
The good news is that Microsoft seems to have things figured out now. Windows Phone 7 was a solid step forward. Windows Phone 8 seems to have taken that basis and improved on it dramatically.
With Blackberry losing traction in the business world, now is the time to move forward and build Windows Phone into an excepted standard in business. With Windows 8 tablets also starting to receive enterprise attention, the puzzle pieces are falling into place.
Now Microsoft just needs to buckle down, push forward with solid marketing and give enterprise customers advanced security and enterprise features that set it apart from Android and iOS. What did you think of Windows Mobile, did its outdated UI and old-school approach hold it back? Can Windows Phone change Microsoft’s destiny in the smartphone world?