Windows 7 Goes After Consumers

Unlike earlier revs of Windows Mobile, Windows 7 tries to deliver some sizzle by going after consumers. Based on the announcements coming from Barcelona Spain, the site of the world’s global mobile show, where Windows phone 7 was announced today, it seems Microsoft Windows Mobile 7 is focusing on consumers with a tight integration of the mobile operating system and XBox Live, the gaming capital of the Internet, or at least the live action computer gaming capital of my home.

Windows Mobile 7 incorporates two new metaphors – the use of “hubs” which integrate content from the web, applications and services such as Games, which connects Xbox Live gaming platform to mobile devices. This may allow a mobile user to log into their Xbox Live account and play. Although I would like it to allow the use of the mobile device as a controller on the living room Xbox, I doubt it can support it. Another hub is Music + Video, which integrates the company’s Zune media player to offer content from the user’s PC as well as online music services and a built-in FM radio, which now becomes a required feature of Windows mobile devices. Other hubs include¬†People (which integrates live feeds from social networks), Pictures (which integrates photo and video sharing), Office (which includes access to Office, OneNote and SharePoint Workspace tools) and Marketplace (which connects to Microsoft’s Windows Marketplace for Mobile app store).

Windows Mobile 7 includes ‘Live Tiles’ on the start screen, which show real-time content directly. Users are supposedly able to design their own tiles too.

Microsoft may be a late entrant to the consumer mobile smartphone business, but that may be just the injection that the Windows Mobile business needs. This market however, has very little use for system control features or remote wipe options that are required for enterprise applications. This direction for Microsoft Mobile represents a challenge for the extensive third party integrators who built their product for Windows, and must recognize and adapt to the realities of the market they serve – users are choosing iPhone and BlackBerry, and not Windows. Maybe the combination of the new OS and devices will change some of that momentum, but without devices the OS announcement is ho-hum.

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