Tag Archives | Microsoft Windows Phone

Microsoft's Changing of the Guard

Microsoft has announced that two executives with a total of 41 years at the company are stepping down. Robbie Bach, president of its Entertainment & Devices Division–home to the Xbox and Windows Phone–is going to retire in the fall. And J Allard, the division’s senior VP of design & development, is leaving Microsoft, although he’ll remain an advisor. Who instigated the change? I dunno, but but the guys who will preside over games and phones–Don Mattrick and Andy Lees, respectively–are already in place; it’s just that they’ll report directly to Steve Ballmer rather than to Robbie Bach. So it doesn’t represent an attempt at dramatically new thinking. And it sounds like Microsoft will no longer bundle games and phones into one group, which sounds logical enough.

One of the most intriguing questions about the future of Microsoft–and the future of the tech business in general–is whether it’ll figure out how to become a major player in mobile operating systems–and if so, what does the trick. Windows Phone 7 looks promising, but it’s intentionally limited in its ambition–an attempt to get back on track with an OS that relatively few things, but does them well. There are those who argue that Microsoft should give up on phones, but I don’t see how Microsoft can be Microsoft in five or ten years unless it has a thriving business involving mobile platforms. Andy Lees is now the person charged with making that happen. I’d love to know just what is strategy is–not so much for the next year or so, but for 2012 and beyond…


Zune HD Goes 64GB. Briefly

Was that a 64GB Zune HD Microsoft was touting? Why yes, yes, it was.

(Thinking about the Zune HD reminds me to wonder: What’s its future, especially with the similar Windows Phone 7 Series in the offing? You gotta think that maybe Microsoft will release a Zune that’s very much like a Windows Phone 7 handset but without the phone part, thereby extending the platform in an iPod Touch-like manner…)


Windows Phone 7 and Xbox Live: A Feature Wish List

It was only a matter of time before Microsoft brought Xbox Live to a mobile device, as it will with Windows Phone 7 Series. Still, Microsoft hasn’t described this feature of its upcoming mobile OS in detail. All we know is that Windows Phone 7 will be able to play select Xbox Live games, view friends’ avatars and check in on profiles and achievements. I hope there’s more in store than just a few board and card games, plus a native replica of the 360 Live iPhone App. Here’s my unsolicited wish list for Xbox Live on Windows Phone 7:

The following Xbox Live Arcade Games: Braid, Marble Blast Ultra, Trials HD, Castle Crashers, Peggle, Worms 2: Armegeddon, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved and Catan. All would translate well, or at least well enough, to a virtual joystick, touch buttons or accelerometer controls, and they’re great games.

Xbox Live Game Room: This is the virtual arcade Microsoft introduced at CES this year, to launch this spring. You’ll already be able to play the classic games on either the Xbox 360 or Windows (for an extra charge, unfortunately), so why not throw the third screen into the mix?

1 vs. 100: The massive multiplayer quiz show seems perfect for mobile devices. Imagine getting a text message before one of the live shows, and being able to participate from the road.

Bonus content for Xbox 360 Games: Here’s an idea floated by Gizmodo’s Mark Wilson. Instead of isolating retail Xbox 360 games from Windows Phone 7, Microsoft should include extras for people who own both products. A game like Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies would be so much better if it were tied to the Xbox 360, or bundled with its parent console game.

Windows Phone as Xbox 360 controller: Microsoft already plans to reach a casual gaming audience this year with Project Natal, a 3D motion-sensing camera. Adding a touch screen controller for media and an occasional gaming seems like a natural fit. It’d at least be cooler than the button-driven interface of Sony’s Remote Play for Playstation 3 and PSP.


Windows Phone 7 Series: Microsoft Starts Over

It doesn’t look or work like Windows Mobile 6.5. It’s not an iPhone OS knockoff. Instead, Windows Phone 7 Series, which Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled today at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress show, looks more like the Zune HD than anything else. And it looks…exciting.

For the first time I can remember, Microsoft is scrapping a major platform and starting from scratch. Windows Phone 7 Series–yes, the name includes a completely superfluous “Series”–isn’t compatible with Windows Mobile. And while Microsoft has always pitched the sheer variety of Windows Mobile phone designs as a primary advantage, Windows Phone 7 devices, which are supposed to show up for the holidays, will apparently be more similar to each other than different. (Microsoft is specifying one CPU, screen resolution, and set of buttons, for instance.)

The 7 interface involves titles that dynamically update themselves with new information, Zune HD-like menus with oversized text, and lots of fluid animation; there are Xbox Live gaming features, and the entertainment capabilities seem to be Zunelike.

It’s dangerous to have your socks knocked off by a demo video, which is all I’ve seen so far, since I’m not in Barcelona. But here is one:

Gizmodo has a good summary of what’s new in the new OS–and like everyone else who’s seen it close-up and blogged about it, Giz is enthusiastic.

Microsoft’s decision to reboot its phone OS was the right one–the only possible one, probably–and if Windows Phone 7’s interface is anywhere near as good as the one on the Zune HD, it’ll be impressive.

I already know I like the fact that it doesn’t look much of anything like Windows 7–for years, Windows Mobile has been inherently hobbled by Microsoft’s insistence that a mobile version of Windows should have a Start Menu and System Tray-like icons and other features which just won’t work well on a teeny-tiny screen.

More thoughts to come…