4 reasons Windows Phone 7 will beat iPhone and Android

And three reasons it won’t

Microsoft has a relatively long history with mobile operating systems, stretching back to the mid-1990s and Windows CE. Developed originally for “embedded systems,” Windows CE quickly found its way into PDAs and eventually phones, and while consumers never warmed to the platform, it did achieve a level of success in the enterprise.


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However, if you look beyond a single device to a larger device ecosystem, the decision to stick by a single vendor becomes more complex. If you’re an Apple fan boy, you’ll be fine being stuck with iPhone, iPad, MacBook and on and on.

But what about devices Apple doesn’t offer? What if in-vehicle GPS units are able to interoperate easily with phones on other platforms? What if you prefer a different tablet than Apple’s?

Today’s cloud services follow two distinct and nearly opposite strategies. Apple’s iCloud will be as closed as most of Apple’s other offerings, while Google Apps is wide open. If Microsoft can navigate some sort of third ways, where enough proprietary add-ons are available to create stickiness, but the cloud services are open enough to provide a platform for strong, unexpected third-party innovation, Microsoft and Windows Phone could benefit.

“Many companies are moving to Office 365 or are planning to. By moving application logic and data into cloud, it’s now much easier to move data across devices,” Reed of BoxTone says. The Windows cloud could easily allow greater device-to-device sharing, even across devices from competing vendors. Moreover, since Microsoft owns the desktop, Microsoft’s cloud could be far more compelling than Apple’s or Google’s as a hub for photos, contacts, music, calendars and more, a hub that you simply log into with any device from anywhere to access whatever digital assets you want.

Productivity, communications and collaborative apps, all with added functionality and cross-platform availability via the cloud, could set Windows Phone apart from other smartphones. Of course, this means that the smartphone provider that should really fear Windows Phone’s rise in the short term is BlackBerry.

3. Will: Making the phone experience more “productive”

Although Windows Phone 7 is being targeted at consumers, Microsoft’s strong history with productivity and business could become a significant differentiator.

“Windows Phone delivers the most seamless Exchange email, calendar and contacts experience, enables full access to documents on SharePoint sites and rich viewing and editing of Microsoft Office documents such as optimized mobile navigation in Word and editing in PowerPoint. Additionally, IRM support, alpha-numeric PIN and Exchange server search are just a few of the features coming in the Mango update that will enhance mobile productivity,” says Tim McDowd, senior manager, Windows Phone.

Microsoft’s expertise with productivity influences even consumer-focused features. Instead of taking an app-based approach, Microsoft built Windows Phone 7 around a task-centric philosophy.

“Android is mimicking the iOS experience, but Microsoft is trying something different,” says Winthrop of The Enterprise Mobility Foundation. “The perfect example of their task-focused approach is the People Hub. You not only see contacts, but you can also see what they’re doing.” People Hub integrates into Facebook, and it will ultimately integrate into other social media, such as Twitter. “There’s also an aesthetic difference. Do you want to be constantly swiping between panes, or do you want to access information where it’s natural?”

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