Microsoft Learning that Doing New Stuff is Hard

It’s been a big week already for Microsoft with their Mix Conference detailing all kinds of news about WinPOS7 and even an update on IE 9.

Gizmodo has a nice recap of the event for full details, but here’s quick list of the major news.

  • WinPOS7 is going to follow the same application policy as the iPhone. Users will only get apps through the WinPOS7 Marketplace and all apps will have to be approved by Microsoft.
  • WinPOS7 at launch will not have cut and paste at all. MoD will be anxiously waiting for Engadget/Gizmodo/Attack of the Show to continously rip on MS until this issue is resolved like they did to the iPhone.
  • MS was able to round up an impressive list of names creating apps for WinPOS7, and the demos did look very good.
  • WinPOS7 is not going to support multi-tasking for 3rd party apps. Same approach as Apple (of course Apple is rumored to be changing this with iPhone OS 4). Just like the iPhone allows Apple apps to multi-task, certain Microsoft applications will be able to multi-task.
  • Not even the about to be released HTC HD2 powerhouse WinMo 6.5 phone will be able to upgrade to WinPOS7. Good luck HTC selling any of digital paper weights.
  • IE 9 will be HTML 5 compliant!!! Hurrah!!! IE 9 will not be available to Windows XP users. Boo!!! Redmond giveth then taketh away.

Even with their near unlimited resources, Microsoft is learning that breaking with the past is very difficult and there’s going to be carnage along the way. The tech media so far has been in love with WinPOS7 and I’ll admit Microsoft is certainly swinging for the fences with the GUI. However, it’s still at least 6 months from being launched and it will have limitations that none of the competitors have and will be identical to its’ primary competitor in the areas of application distribution and control. MS didn’t copy Apple in look and feel, but is copying Apple in overall device administration. That’s an interesting change compared to the Mac v Windows battle where things were basically the reverse. MS copied the look and feel, but let anyone license Windows and distribute whatever applications they wanted.  It’s hard to question MS’s approach right now (it’s worked for Apple), but MoD wonders if it’s not too little and 3 years too late. Apple’s release of the 4th generation iPhone this summer and the upgraded iPhone 4.0 OS will answer one part. Every time MS upgraded the Zune, Apple made the update irrelevant with an improved iPod. Could this scenario play out again with WinPOS7 rendered obsolete before even being launched? The other wildcard is the increasing momentum behing Android which could destroy any room for another platform, and take away WinPOS7 hardware vendors.

The IE9 news is really kind of shocking. MS at this point acknowledges that Vista was a failure and has gotten back on track with Windows 7. Despite being 7 years old, Windows XP is still the dominant operating system for Windows Users (63% Worldwide, 43% in the US). IE’s browser share is around 60% and falling. IE 9’s HTML5 compliance is MS’s best bet to hold off that drop, and it won’t be available to a sizeable portion of Microsoft users. The move to HTML5 is only going to get stronger with the huge push separately by Apple and Google. Older versions of IE are already being removed from certain websites as being supported. If those users cannot upgrade to the latest version of IE, then it just makes sense that those users will move to Chrome or Firefox. It’s right move for MS for the future, but in the short term it could lead to a further drop in IE’s browser share which is always good news for Apple’s multiple platforms. The arrival of a HTML5 browser by Microsoft could herald the end of IE’s ability to control web site standards which would also be a huge blow to Windows itself.

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