Microsoft puts enterprise on backburner with Phone 7

Microsoft Corp. is expected to wait until next year beforedirecting any significant attention to enterprise IT shops regarding its newWindows Phone 7 platform, according to some industry analysts.

The small market share of its previous Windows Mobile OS,coupled with the failure of its Kin device launch earlier this year, prompted acomplete redesign from Redmond, Wash.-basedsoftware giant. The company unveiled 10 new Windows Phone 7 devices during aMonday news conference that was exclusively geared toward the consumer space.

During the event, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer continuallystressed to users that Microsoft’s latest offering would be “different” thanthe mobile platforms from Google Inc. and Apple Inc.

Rob Enderle, principal analyst for the Enderle Group, agreedwith Ballmer, saying the OS was different than anything he’s seen fromMicrosoft in years.

“Windows was an Apple clone, but this is quite different,”he said. “This is unusual for Microsoft to diverge as dramatically as theyhave. This is much closer to what they did with the Xbox, which was unique inits time.”

In addition to releasing a unique platform that feelsdifferent than other mobile OSes on the market, Enderle said Microsoft hasrecognized that their prior approach of focusing on the “business first andconsumer second” just wasn’t working.

He said that while the platform still offers back-endsupport for Microsoft Exchange, more centralized management options willprobably come further down the line next year. Enderle added that Microsoftcould be banking on IT departments who want less responsibility for end-userdevices and just want to facilitate users connecting back into their ecosystem.

Enderle said 2010 will primarily be the year that Microsoftwill try and get consumers and developers excited about the platform. Ifsuccessful, he said, enterprise related announcements would follow in 2011.

Al Hilwa, a program director covering applicationdevelopment software for IDC, said he was impressed with how competitiveMicrosoft appears to be right out of the gate with their devices. He added thatthe development environment and the new user interface will probably be the twostrongest aspects of the platform.

On the app side, Hilwa said that significant developerinterest should lead to the release of “several thousand” apps within the nextsix months.

“The new angle, which is a bit of an outflanking strategy,is the gaming angle and the ties to Xbox Live,” he said. “This is going to allowa lot of .NET people to freelance building consumer, gaming and socialnetworking apps where previously they were cut out of that market. I think itwill unleash the inner gamer of every enterprise .NET developer.”

“It has the potential to bring a specific segment of usersand MS is smart to play to them.”

Despite this early consumer focus, Hilwa said it will becritical for Microsoft’s long-term goals to ramp up enterprise support to atleast the same level of its older Windows Mobile OS. He added that the set ofcapabilities more suited for enterprise apps is certain to come in a futurerelease.

“Pretty much in the next round they have to delivercut-and-paste, multi-tasking and allow developers to get at the database insidethe devices,” Hilwa said.

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