Can Kin, Windows Phone 7 Series Rescue Redmond? | Page 2

One area where WP7S may falter is in its lack of comprehensive multi-tasking. "Microsoft really needed to find ways to solve the problems that multitasking brings (battery life, performance issues if a background app is hogging resources, memory leaks, etc.) - not sidestep them," said Greengart. He goes on to say that Microsoft will be at a disadvantage because Apple's iPhone OS 4, with multitasking support, is slated to ship four months before WP7S.

Microsoft's WP7S does in fact have multi-tasking for its own built-in apps, so in this respect, it is similar to the iPhone prior to OS 4, but the way WP7S handles third-party app multi-tasking is very different.

Without OS 4, a third-party app on an iPhone closes down as soon as another app is opened, and have to be restarted if the user wants to use it again. With WP7S, third party apps are put into a kind of hibernated state, and can be woken and resumed later (as long as the system has enough resources to hold them in the hibernated state.)

Also of concern to enterprise users will be the lack of cut and paste functionality in WP7S. This is an odd thing to leave out given that the phone comes with a mobile Office suite, but it's likely that this functionality will be added in a later release.

Perhaps more bothersome for business users is the lack of information about the sorts of features that make any phone platform ready for enterprise use.

The Office hub offers Word, Excel, OneNote and Sharepoint and Outlook email with ActiveSync. But before companies even consider allowing their employees to manipulate corporate spreadsheets or documents on WP7S phones, they will want to know Microsoft's plans for device encryption, remote locking and wiping, centralized configuration, sophisticated policy management and compatibility with management tools such as Microsoft's System Center Mobile Device Manager.

They will also want to know Microsoft's plans for allowing an enterprise's own mobile applications to be rolled out to a fleet of corporate WP7S devices directly -- that is, without having to go through Microsoft's Marketplace.

Microsoft is not revealing this kind of information yet as it concentrates on getting a credible smartphone offering out into the consumer marketplace to replace its floundering Windows Mobile platform. Users are abandoning Windows Mobile in favor of Research in Motion's BlackBerry devices, the iPhone and Android handsets.

From October 2009 to January 2010 alone Microsoft's share of the smartphone market dropped by 4 percentage points to 15.7 percent, according to figures published by ComScore.

In the same period, Android gained 4.3 percentage points to claim 7.1 percent, Apple went from 24.8 percent to 25.1 percent, and market leader RIM gained 1.7 percentage points to grab 43 percent of the market.

News that applications built for Windows Mobile won't run on WP7S and that Windows Mobile handsets won't be upgradeable to the new OS are likely to exacerbate this decline.

For the moment, Microsoft is concentrating its efforts for WP7S on the consumer market, though it seems inevitable that enterprise features will follow. But if it fails to get enough consumer support for WP7S devices after the holiday season launch, then its platform will be irrelevant in the enterprise market anyway.

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