Seeking comeback, Microsoft to show phone software

Microsoft logo A

(AP) -- Microsoft Corp. is expected to announce a major revamp of its phone software Monday, in an attempt to regain momentum in a crucial market where it's been overshadowed.

CEO will be speaking at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, the world's largest cell phone trade show, and analysts expect him to reveal 7. The software could be in phones by late this year.

The new software comes as Microsoft, dominant when were young, has taken a back seat to Ltd.'s BlackBerrys among corporate users and Apple Inc.'s among consumers.

"They seem to have lost the world's attention in smart phones," said Dan Hays, who specializes in telecommunications at management consulting firm PRTM.

The new software is expected to be more consumer-focused than previous versions, with a simplified user interface, which could be borrowed in part from Microsoft's well-reviewed - but low-selling - Zune HD media player.

"If that thing had a phone in it ... that would be a pretty darn good device," said Charles Golvin, analyst with Forrester Research.

"But my own judgment is that this is kind of their last chance," Golvin said. "If Windows Mobile doesn't get it right this time around, they're probably toast."

Microsoft is famous, Golvin said, for sticking to its projects, version after version. But developments in smart phones are coming so fast that tenacity alone won't help. RIM and Apple are already squeezing Microsoft out, and in the last year, Google Inc. has emerged as a major player with its Android software.

Windows phones accounted for 9 percent of smart phones sold worldwide last year, according to research firm In-Stat. That was down from 13.2 percent in 2008.

Much is at stake in the battle for smart phone dominance. Phones steer their users to potentially lucrative Web services and ads. Software developers write their applications first for the largest base of phones, making those phones even more attractive.

As it's trying to regain its footing, Microsoft also finds itself in the odd position of charging for something that others give away. Both Android and Symbian, used on Nokia's smart phones, are free for any manufacturer to use and modify as they see fit. Both and Nokia hope this will spur adoption and steer phone users to their services.

Having to compete against a free product hasn't hurt Microsoft on PCs, where free Linux software has made few inroads against Windows. But phones are a different game, because they're less dependent on being compatible with other Microsoft products such as Office software, or with peripherals like printers that may connect only with Windows.

However, the cost of the software makes up a relatively small part of the cost of a phone, said In-Stat analyst Allen Nogee, and manufacturers are likely willing to swallow the cost if the benefits are worth it.

Ballmer went to Barcelona a year ago to show off the previous software update, Windows Mobile 6.5. The first phones landed in October, to little acclaim.

"Microsoft always tries to make a big splash at Mobile World Congress," Hays said, "and they never do."

©2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Citation: Seeking comeback, Microsoft to show phone software (2010, February 12) retrieved 8 December 2022 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further

Challengers gain in important phone software fight


Feedback to editors