Microsoft plots a comeback for its Smartphone OS in Windows Phone 7

Microsoft told TechEd Conference attendees in New Orleans this week that they can expect the company's Windows Phone 7 smartphone OS to attract plenty of business users. By combining familiar tools such as PowerPoint, OneNote, Word, Excel and SharePoint with rich e-mail, calendar and contacts, the new platform will be able to offer compelling business apps for increased productivity, the company said. According to Gartner, Microsoft's global smartphone OS market share amounted to just 6.8 percent in the first quarter of 2010 - down from 10.2 percent in the year-earlier period. Microsoft also fell to the number-five slot behind Nokia (Symbian OS), Research In Motion (BlackBerry OS), Apple (iPhone OS), and Google (Android OS).

Unlike the PC market, the smartphone market will continue to be fragmented with multiple big players for a long time, Hilwa observed. "Microsoft will have to get used to being a top-five player rather than the top dog from a market-share perspective," Hilwa said. "But it is very possible for them to muscle up to top-three status with a generation or two of the platform behind them." One of the things Microsoft must have at the outset is a significant gaming portfolio. "They could make a position as the mobile gaming solution to beat if they leverage their Xbox assets properly," Al Hilwa, director of application development software at IDC said.

According to Windows Phone Senior Director Paul Bryan, more than 90 percent of the company's target customers for Windows Phone 7 use their smartphones for business purposes and 61 percent use their phones equally or more for business than personal use. Microsoft's next-generation smartphone platform is designed to excel at the business scenarios most commonly used, Bryan wrote in a blog. "This means Windows Phone 7 will appeal to a larger number of people working in businesses of all sizes, creating a more versatile and accessible productivity tool as well as a larger market opportunity for application developers and system integrators," Bryan wrote

With Windows Phone 7, the goal is to help businesses and organizations utilize existing IT investments in Microsoft Exchange and Exchange ActiveSync to support access to enterprise assets such as corporate e-mail, Bryan wrote. "Exchange remains an industry standard with an annual growth rate of 11 percent and an expected install base of 347 million mailboxes by 2013," Bryan observed, citing a 2009 report from the Radicati Group. "Rather than attempting to replicate the experience of the desktop, we focused on delivering end-user experiences that are uniquely optimized for the phone through tighter integration with Exchange and Office, the addition of SharePoint, and our Silverlight development platform for delivering new user experiences," Bryan wrote.

Microsoft told TechEd Conference attendees in New Orleans this week that they can expect the company's Windows Phone 7 smartphone OS to attract plenty of business users.

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