Windows 7 Demo at MWC Last Chance for Relevancy?

Although Apple is sitting out the show, Mobile World Congress starts Feb 15th thru Feb 18th.  And should feature a myriad of new actual hardware and hardware prototypes.

Engadget posted today some information about the Windows 7 preview that is coming at MWC.

“Windows Phone 7 will sport an interface that’s “very similar” to the Zune HD, along with a complete revamp of the start screen, and a UI (codenamed METRO) that’s described as “very clean,” “soulful,” and “alive.” Perhaps just as notably, the OS supposedly won’t support multitasking, with applications instead simply pausing themselves when in the background (there will be support for push notifications, though). Also missing is Flash support (at least initially), as well as NETCF backwards compatibility for older applications, although there are apparently “high hopes” for porting NETCF to the new platform eventually.

On the upside, the OS is said to have full Xbox gaming integration (including gamertags, avatars and, yes, achievements), full Zune integration, full support for social networking, and a try before you buy system in the Marketplace.”

However, Windows 7 devices will not be demo’ed at the exhibition as manufacturers (HTC primarily) won’t be ready to release new hardware until September with the new OS. I haven’t read anything to the contrary but it sounds very unlikely that older WinMo phones will be to run this new OS, so support for older devices is going to be the first complaint. The other worrisome element is that later in the article it indicates that Microsoft is chasing the iPhone 3GS as a target.

Now the Zune OS if you can call it that is probably a good place for Win 7 to start in terms of a modern looking gui template, and tight media integration is also a smart reason to use the Zune as a model. So that’s a positive step in the right direction.

But the problems would appear to be;

1. The iPhone 3GS as a target is going to leave Zune Win 7 phones a generation behind before they are even released in September. iPhone generation 4 is probably going to be released this summer.

2. No matter how good the WinMo 7 looks visually, it’s going to be compared after the MWC launch to iPhone OS 4 that should be demo’ed sometime in March (if Apple follows their previous MO). So possibly a generation behind in both hardware and software from the iPhone assault.

3. So far the features described don’t sound enough to stop the continuing erosion of WinMo7 marketing share (down to 9% in Q3 2009) to the Android OS as well as the continued flight of prime WinMo7 prime vendor to Android (HTC’s creation of the Nexus One).

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