Windows Phone 8 is the reset we have to have.

I’ve been reading quite a lot of narrative around Windows Phone 8 and mostly around how existing devices are going miss out on functionality. Looking at the two phones) in theory there is little stopping existing Windows Phone 7 users from having such features) but in truth I don’t think this was ever a technical discussion.

Windows Phone 8 is the entry point.

I’ve pretty much said a number of times over the past 2 years around how I think Windows Phone 7 will fail with consumers) and to be clear and to the point, it has. Nokia sales are poor, the units adopted vs. shipped are a mathematical failure and lastly the uptake and adoption excitement hasn’t been as attractive as it could have been - despite Nokia’s positive influence in their brilliant marketing blitz. Bottom line is the Phone itself has and always been a “save my position in line until I’m ready to enter the market” strategy. It had to rely on Silverlight teams work to firm up the UX platform strategy and entice an existing development mindset onto the phone. The early marketing campaigns were just embarrassing to watch, there was no structure to the developer engagement model(s) and it was very reactive and haphazardly handled. I stated in 2010 the phone would fail simply because I got a sense this was about to happen, as the more I looked at the future strategies of Microsoft from an insider perspective the more I could see it wasn’t about consumers or developers, it was more about internal staff shuffling and jockeying for power to appear to be solving these problems. Today, Windows Phone 8 plans have been trickled out, and even as I type this I can’t but help criticize the approach taken during the release keynote - excluding Kevin Gallo, given out of the entire keynote it was one guy’s clarity and approach that provided a sense of confidence behind what was brewing. That all being said, I’m positive about Windows Phone 8 going forward. I think Microsoft are finally starting to suffocate the internal politics and are starting to firm up a coherent strategy around what they think the UX Platform of the future is likely to be. The strategy is still a work in progress and despite how polished that the company appear to be around what’s coming up next they are still fumbling their way through the evangelism and marketing rhythms that still have large amounts of work to be done. Windows Phone 8 is the release we should have had, it’s in many ways like the old historical “service pack that fixed the release” which is commonly associated with Microsoft Windows (ie I won’t install until they release a service pack mentality). The phone itself has a lot of potential successful entry points to help kickstart an economy and adoption curve that could definitely, if architected (and I mean a big if!) correctly. Firstly, the phone finally has a what looks like to be a clear vision around how Enterprise adoption can take hold of the said phone that I’m hoping (yet to clarify this) that Windows 8 tablet(s) can also make use of. This one small but significant feature is what I think can make the adoption cycles stand out from the rest as given there is so much ratcheted excitement around the idea of having smartphones and devices handling complex business focused solutions, this is the first of a united platform strategy that has not only less friction for developer(s) to adopt but also feels more natural within most organisations (given .NET adoption to date is deeper within enterprise than ever before). Secondly, the wallet feature is still a bit of a left of center idea around how to commercialize and monetize future solution(s) with regards to the Smartphone/Device market(s). What I mean to say is this is kind of the “Deep Zoom” functionality within Silverlight whereby at first glance you could see usage for it but it really isn’t something that was widely adopted or specifically asked for. I’m hopeful that this feature will get traction across all device(s) more to the point I am dreaming of the day I can buy my coffee from a cafe via my phone vs having to take out my wallet (given they constantly break my notes into coins or I don’t have actual cash on me when I need a coffee). The technology for a phone-wallet like approach is in place but it will still take a large amount of maturity from both the developer community and Microsoft to get this into the market in a meaningful way (which I’m sadly skeptical will happen - much like Cardspace days, good idea just bad execution). Thirdly the NFC/Bluetooth and App to App functionality is quite a powerful little gem when you stop and contemplate its future potential. This one requires some visionary, go on a leap of trust with me ask. The idea that I can have an application and then “bump uglies” with a fellow phone user to not only get the app i’ve just recommended but also potentially share information on the spot, is something that actually makes sense. I’ve personally sat in meetings where i’ve watched people fumble around with sharing information or better yet in desperate search for the idea of continuous client whereby sharing amongst many as the user navigates the said data would be quite a powerful communication tool. This feature I believe will wash over the consumer base with hardly an impact but I do see in the Enterprise space it will definitely have a lot more potential than it has to offer today - provided the phone gets traction, attracts the right designer/developer mindset and lastly can remove all friction roadblocks that may impact its clear line of communication (it’s hard to isolate these given the specifics aren’t clear at the time of writing this).

So it’s a going to be successful right?

I said it has potential and I didn’t say it was going to be successful. There is still some blood in the water around those who own the Windows Phone 7 device today being basically given the “thanks for bleeding on our bleeding edge of discovery”. I don’t think this will be an easy hurdle to jump over and should they succeed it’s only due to the fact that the Phone’s consumer failings are going to ensure this level of distrust / toxic venom isn’t as loud as it could have been. I think it will also require a lot of strategic and careful evangelism on Microsoft’s part to seed this within all those organisations hanging onto their sharepoint / .net way of life with a death grip. In order to solve that problem, Microsoft really need to sit down and have a detailed heart to heart with the developer base on what their plans are specifically around WPF/Silverlight/WinForms development today. Kevin Gallo in the Windows Phone 8 presentation actually gave clear guidance on this but I think his message needs to be broadcasted as clearly and cleanly has he gave it. Kevin in my view should be the one who faces the hordes of Developer(s) out there given Scott Guthrie has been shunted to the geek-celeb fame left. Despite this annoyance that the one guy you’d love to hear the most from (Scott Guthrie) isn’t speaking loudly as you’ve grown acustom to is somewhat of a large mistake on Microsoft developer relations part. None the less they definitely need to give Kevin the stage and make him the consistent face amongst many “who cares who this VP is” Microsoft executive crowd. In order to win this over they really need to pick a team that can be the consistent personalities, it’s why Robert Scoble got success in the early Microsoft days. He was your trusted camera guy who roamed the halls of redmond giving you insight into what’s being published from the Software factory known as Microsoft. Microsoft have lost this element of success, they are producing technical solutions that may or may not win hearts & minds but ultimately they aren't clear on what they want to say about the said solutions. They are preoccupied with letting some random executive get on stage and have his & her say to which you never either see them again or you’re still confused as to who they are and why you should listen to them? In order to have Windows Phone 8 win the day, they need to really just drive home the message calmly, clearly and in a unified voice that builds trust. Lastly the entire UX platform strategy is starting to bend inwards, in that they are starting to unite the teams under the one vision which is why I’ll simply leave off with one last ranty thought. I suffer from bipolar but so does Microsoft marketing, in that their entire website strategy is a confusing mess of stupidity and creates more of a problem than it solves. I truly hope Microsoft abandon the “File-New-Website” approach to messaging Windows 8 and Windows Phone by reversing the engines, that is to say unite the entire vision under just one site. Don’t let internal politics screw this next 1-2 years up, unite and build or you’re just going to be yet another ongoing punchline to a bad technology joke. Windows Phone 8 is the reset we have to have simply because it starts to be an additive to a united vision (whether you like it or not).

Related Posts:

  • AdamUCF

    So they should let the external politics (ie you) screw it up? This wreaks of you having a man crush on Kevin. But you can’t just ignore the work that the WP7 team has done. Yea, it may not have really taken off but you can’t ignore the impact it has had on Microsoft. Would windows 8 really be sporting metro if it weren’t for WP7? It’s pretty clear that they wanted WP7 to run NT but it just wasn’t possible at the time. Can you really fault them for that?

    I keep seeing all this bullshit about Silverlight. But what is “Silverlight”? It’s a brand. To developers, its a portable XAML and .NET API. What is WinRT? A portable XAML and .NET API. Yea, WinRT has some differences but largely it’s the same shit, just from the windows org instead of devdiv.  

    My biggest gripe about WinRT? The documentation and examples blow. Especially compared to what the WP7 team provided. They listened and made it easy out of necessity. They realized no one would write WP7 apps if it wasn’t easy. I just don’t see the same effort out of the Windows org. I get this feeling like they think they are windows so people will come to them and they can sit back and relax. Hopefully i’m wrong.

    Shit, where is BUILD 2012? Are they not going to have a Win8 dev conference this year? This should’ve been announced long ago.

  • Impacting Microsoft internally was never a weakness and ignore it I shall given it was stillborn concept from the get go but due to bad leadership from above the hierarchy it well, could have turned around sooner rather than later. As for Kevin, what the guy actually did a good job and that’s the thing you want to flip into a negative? wtf?

    Silverlight isn’t just a brand its a platform discussion around “what should we build x with next” and asking to buy into your logic that “well it’s just C# and XAML right?” is not only a weak position to take but clearly you have not been doing any of the above until now to say that. It’s not just XAML/C# as if only it were that simple, that’s like arguing C vs C# position as in the end its just curley braces and keywords right? or ASP.NET MVC vs WebForms .. it’s just HTML/C# right? see it just falls off after you say it over and over as a way of stabelizing the thinking process and building enough momentum that maybe confirmation bias will kick in 😀

    WP7 team was effectively the Silverlight team so you in a way answered your above question around why give a shit between TeamX and TeamY .. well one had a plan, the other was reacting not strategically thinking at the time. Windows 8 right now is still a giant unproven science experiment and over time the energy and resources that have gone into Silverlight ethos today will eventuate with Windows 8 much like it has with WPF in a way but hopefully with more of a steady hand around developer relation(s) (I’m not banking on it).

  • Ian Smith

    I can’t agree that Windows Phone 8 is “the service pack release” of Windows Phone 7. It’s just yet another lame rushed-to-market-before-it’s-baked reboot built on the alpha-being-rushed-into-beta for “RTM” (snort!) Windows RT isn’t it?! We’ve been here so many times before. Who needs the pain and inevitable re-reboot a couple more years down the road? Move on and stop drinking the Kool-Aid. The idea that any of these products are “mature” or that Microsoft can be trusted is laughable given the fiasco’s of the past few years. Aside from the usual suspects (MVP shills and partners) nobody cares. Really! Ask around!