Windows Phone 7 is Coming -- But is it Too Late?

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer spoke at a news conference in New Delhi on Thursday and has guaranteed the much delayed Windows Phone 7 system will be released before the end of the year. Critics suggest, however, that beating the holiday shopping deadline will not provide much financial gain, but is more of a deadline to save face. (Source:

Microsoft Management Shake-Up

The comments do clear up some concerns over Microsoft's recent management shake-ups. As noted last week, Robbie Balch, who headed the entertainment and devices division, is leaving the company. Instead of appointing a replacement, Microsoft has decided to simply have the two men immediately beneath Bach take charge of their respective areas. (Source:

That means Windows Phone 7 will now be overseen by mobile chief Andrew Lees rather than being mixed in with hardware products such as the Xbox 360. It's good news for the company.

Windows Mobile 6.5 an Interim Release

Originally Windows Phone 7 was planned for release early last year, but has been put back several times since then. In response to the delays, Microsoft introduced Windows Mobile 6.5 as an interim release. Version 6.5 won't be phased out when Windows Phone 7 debuts; instead it will be repackaged as a system for cheaper, less feature-filled handsets.

That policy has already caused problems, as it's emerged that handsets currently running Windows Mobile 6.5 won't be upgradeable to Windows Phone 7. That may deter consumers who don't want to buy a new phone that will soon appear dated.

New System Won't Run on Tablet PCs

In a separate speech this week, Ballmer said there were no plans to bring the new system to tablet computers. There have been reports it is proving trickier to translate to the ultra-portable format than hoped.

With tablets out of the picture, it's not so important that Microsoft got Windows Phone 7 into devices before the fall: because of the need for service contracts, people are less likely to give smartphones as Christmas gifts. Still, simply being out in 2010 rather than 2011 is an important psychological barrier and further delay would have hurt the image of the system.

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