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Android 2.0 finally shows its stuff; will Windows Mobile keep up?

Way back when (erm, all the way back in August), a report surfaced in Digitimes stating that Microsoft's plan was to take on Android with Windows Mobile 6.5, and hit at the iPhone with Windows Mobile 7.

If indeed that is true, let's all hope that strategy is being revamped, especially now that we've gotten a glimpse of Android 2.0. Details after the break.

Android 2.0 has been unleashed, and it's a looker. The bullet points, as cribbed from our pals at AndroidCentral:

  • Native Microsoft Exchange Support (hooray for business users!)
  • Integrated Facebook, Facebook friends syncs to your contacts
  • Improved Browser (double-tap to zoom, speeds similar to iPhone 3GS)
  • Updated Maps includes support for Layers
  • Unified E-Mail Inbox
  • New YouTube widget for superfast uploads
  • 'Car Home' application that gives big and bright icons for features used while driving
  • A lot of voice control

But the proof is in the pudding. Peep the video below:

We really hope it never was Microsoft's intention to "go after" (our words) Android with an operating system announced some 10 months ago now. That's not a strategy. It's a reaction. And as Android gains more traction -- and thus more mindshare -- in the mobile space, Microsoft (and any OS-maker, for that matter) can't be throwing just any old OS at it.

The fact is that no one mobile platform will "win." And in any event, it's too much to ask anyone to force the same sort of success Apple has had.

Microsoft is going to have to work on services for the customer -- Zune integration, better e-mail and contact integration, and better Marketplace functionality -- and better incentives for Enterprise.

Everybody and their mother has Exchange support now. Hell, the Palm Pre supports multiple Exchange accounts, and we've seen rumors that Android 2.0 will, too. So, saying it's better for business just isn't enough. And as the New York Times points out, Android's open-source, license-free nature is making it more attractive to manufacturers. And don't even get us started on rolling out updates in a timely manner.

Maybe Windows Mobile 7 will take care of things. Maybe it won't. The problem right now is that nobody knows, and you can only analyze what's in front of you. And, so, we spend a few more months in the desert. Question is, will anybody be waiting for us on the other side?

Phil is the father of two beautiful girls and is the Dad behind Modern Dad. Before that he spent seven years at the helm of Android Central. Before that he spent a decade in a newsroom of a two-time Pulitzer Prize-finalist newspaper. Before that — well, we don't talk much about those days. Subscribe to the Modern Dad newsletter!

21 Comments
  • Trust me Windows Mobile is doing just fine. Iphone and Android should be the one who should be scared. Has Using windows 6.5 has been the best use for personal and Business use. Keep up good work Microsoft and Yes I did get the new Windows 7 and what can i say it beats Mac systems and google systems anytime.
  • I don't know. Windows is doing as good as HTC. HTC has said that the OS doesn't matter. If the enjoyment is SenseUI/TouchFlo, would the user really miss WM? When I say that, I'm referring to the average user who isn't going to load a custom ROM.
  • I'm in that category. I don't load custom ROMs, I look at the UI first and then see if it runs the apps I need and lastly I look at how quickly firmware updates are released and applied. I moved from the Sprint Touch to the Sprint Hero. I'm waiting to see how quickly The Hero is upgraded to Android 2.0. I really love my Hero, I may not go back to Windows Mobile.
  • Looking at the pace at which android is progressing compared to WM, I think the honest answer to your question is no.
  • Never underestimate Microsoft... Especially now after Windows 7, I see them putting a lot of effort into WinMo.
  • Same here, long, long time WM user. And all I can say is AMEN to that! Tired of waiting for a great WM platform and refuse to use the iPhone. I like my TP2 but have never been so excited as I am now that I'm going to switch to Android. It's got iPhone like smoothness, with all kinds of apps, a smooth user experience, and is business oriented enough to fit the bill, all with the support of a company that is working hard to continually improve it. Tired of an update every year and a half that when it finally rolls around just doesn't really improve. I'm glad the blinders are off too. Count me in! Microsoft is crawling, Android is sprinting!
  • By the time MS gets their response ready, who will be around to care? HTC and Samsung are keeping WM alive with their respective skins, WM 6.5 on its own cannot stand direct comparison with the current competing mobile OS's and looks pathetic. And lets be honest, MS had at least a year to work on 6.5 and still, by the looks of the later builds it wasnt complete when it was released. What makes you believe in another year they will have completed WM7, which is already late now? Yet google has managed to go from initial release of its os to 2 major releases and has the tech world drooling. And yet again, MS has licenced their exchange tech to a competitor and that will removes one reason to have a WM device. Whatever MS is up to, thier incompetence and arrogance doesnt warrant any confidence that anything will change in the future and doesnt deserve it in any case.
  • I have had wmexperts in my rss for a long time. I have been using WM since it started out and have been accused by friends of being a paid spokesman for MS... That all changed after the frustration of my TP2 over-heating all the time, and after two trade ins, the Hero was released and everything changed. After years and years of WM, I can tell you that Android will put WM in the grave. I almost feel duped staying with WM as long as I have. I say this with some regret, but glad the blinders are finally off!
  • PS I tried the Pre aswell... no love for that POS!
  • You hve the hero is it the sprint or the gsm version? What do you like about the hero? How long did it take you to get used to the hero?
  • Sprint... Everything works flawlessly is what I like, it doesn't overheat... if you use any of googles services, it's heaven! Just trust me, try one out and you'll never go back... Within 3 days I was very comfortable with android.
  • it's interesting to see the relative speeds with which apple, google and microsft are making updates to their mobile phone platforms. by the time windows 7 arrives, we know apple will have released v4, and google 2.5. apple is already the number 2 smartphone after rim in just 3 years
    gartner predicts in a year that andoid will be number 2 to apple's number 1 microsoft has a lot of ground to make up. where should they start? 1) commence windows phone branding - now 2) vastly increasing the number of quality applications in the marketplace - now (perception is reality, and the world is judging market success by the number - not quality - of apps) 3) lazer-focus on creating a simple and fun end-user experience for regular people - not techies - to do fun and useful things without needing menus.. success for windows phones in this consumer market will take a dramatic turnaround.
  • At this point there is no stopping Android as just about EVERY manufacturer is putting Android on something or anything. The benefit of being open source. MS, at this point, won't catch up to at least Apple anytime soon (if ever) and they can't allow this overwhelming Android adoption to continue or they might as well cut their losses and move on. Personally, I really don't see how they can reverse their market position even if WM7 ends up being a superb release. Right now, realistically, it will take them at least a couple of years to catch up but Apple and Android will always being progressing if this market trend keeps up. Right now I'm not sure what my next smartphone purchase will be. I was looking forward to the HD2 but I may wait for the SE Xperia X10 as that was the other phone that is on top of my list. Or I could wait for the next iPhone as well.
  • I've had Windows devices since they were Pocket-sized PCs. The move from Palm-sized PC-to-PocketPC was a big improvement. But to be honest, every iteration since then has included nothing but minor interface massages. The basic philosophical approach to operating a windows device hasn't changed materially since 2000. I've been able to live with the interface paradigm for all these year, but with Microsoft adding so much additional phone and other functionality to the same basic platform, it has become unacceptably unstable. Two weeks ago I'd had enough. MS has been promising Windows Mobile 7 forever. All we ever get is another incremental interface tweak and a new slipped delivery promise for 7. I bought a Nokia E75, and I love it. I'm giving up a touch interface, but the present blend of finger/stylus interface is such a big pain in the butt that I actually find it much easier to use. Plus it does even more out of the box than my old Fuze. I hope Microsoft is paying attention because they're losing long-time customers by the scores every day.
  • I would rather not be in the dessert for a months. Sounds sticky :)
  • Yeah, well, obvious why Motorola ditched WM for Android (with the wait and see for WM7 (or WP7, whatever it's called)). Now, Windows 7 - it's Snow Leopard killing great, Zune HD - fantastic take new take on a new interface etc etc. We know MS has it in them, but WM has the odds stacked against it at this point. 6.5 is a half assed why bother...and we see the "6.5.1" updates dribble out...this should be done already if you want to compete with iPhone/Android. I mean, fkc, the iPhone users in my company get better email exchange rendering than I do on my 6.1 phone with our hosting service on Exchange Server 2003. I have to be on 2007 to get a better experience than I have now. That's just ridiculous to me. I'm a WM user/supporter...I want MS to knock it out of the park with WM 7...but I fear that park is getting bigger and bigger with each month that goes by at the rate the other guys a pumping out their stuff. Unless MS can do this, it's going to be the hardcore users/rom chefs that are going to be waiting on the other side. Everyone else would have moved on. Sticky dessert indeed...
  • Android is growing scary fast. As a long time WM user I hate to say it but 6.5 is a complete joke. I feel like they spent a year doing nearly nothing at all. Pretty much nothing different compared to the leak builds I've been using months ago. Let's hope WM7 is legit but like others have said, who knows when it will actually be released and if it will be too late. HTC is definitely keeping WM alive and the only thing I'm looking forward to is the HD2. Although I'd rather have it with Android (HTC Dragon?)
  • As I write this I'm downloading the 6.5 update for the Diamond2. There's a good chance it'll be the last Windows Mobile update I'll ever install. The list of Android 2 features is impressive, but remember, it's only the base feature set. They'll be a lot more goodies added by third party developers by the time it goes live. While I won't stick around, Microsoft has to. The game has clearly gone mobile, in reality the U.S. catching on to what the rest of the world has known for years (and whether you like it or not, the change is largely due to Apple and the iPhone), and to stay in the game Microsoft has to have a mobile presence. For Microsoft to succeed, it must relearn a trick from its early years: copying the best from its competitors. Why are relative newcomers like Apple and Google coming on like gangbusters while Microsoft is partying like it's 1999? That's a series of articles I'd like to see on WMExperts, not stories about inconsequential changes to the WM interface and minor version number changes. Well gotta go, the 6.5 upgrade is almost complete and I'll need to reload my data and programs. Do iPhone owners have to do that!?
  • loosing loyal customers like those who have written comments in this thread is a very dark sign indeed. i hope someone in a position of authority at microsoft is able to see these comments.
  • I dropped my TP2 and went with the Pre. I love it, runs Linux, hundreds of apps (both app catalog and PreWare), very slick UI, better-than-iPhone web browsing. The Hero is big and seems just as slow as WinMo phones. Pre doesn't have the same lag.
  • To hit a very obvious nail on the head, all Microsoft needs is a looser, faster (I mean HELLA faster) OS build, and native eye candy built into the kernal. Something like a little blur-to-next-page or "slide-in" styled screen transitions. If they can do this with very VERY little resources being used, they will lead the industry once more...until then...people will want what they want. A really responsive device (not so damn dependant on hardware to make it happen) and eye candy. I got Microsoft's back by getting (and using to type this) a CDMA Touch Pro 2, but the line for features has been far exceeded and now it's time they focus on improving the all-around customer based appeal factors...speed and pretty things. Sound wrong? iPhone sales? Trust me...I'm in the business and Microsoft is widely known by mobile PDA users not to be touched due to it's instability and sluggishness, not to mention the lack of visual appeal. And what hell is wiith the gwes.exe file leaking memory on every WinMo phone? They have a lot of crap to fix before they start barking at the grizzly bears of the market. To sum it up...lookat how an iPhone moves and how fast it loads and renders...copy that Microsoft.