Microsoft dumping piles of money on Windows Phone 7

Windows Phone 7Just how much money does it take to elbow your way in between Apple and Google in the mobile market? Remember, you’ve also got to beat back RIM while you’re at it, and hope none of those three develop anything you didn’t expect. Got a number? Is it in the billions? That’s what Microsoft may be betting to make Windows Phone 7 work.

According to TechCrunch, Microsoft could spend into the billions on development and marketing for the new mobile platform. It’s a huge figure, made to look even larger by the estimated expense of marketing the Droid series of Android phones.

The $100 million Goldberg estimates that Verizon, Motorola and Google collectively spent on marketing helped turn the Droid line of phones into a serious stable of competitors against the iPhone. (Compare that to Google’s fizzled Nexus One launch, where the search giant pinched pennies on marketing.)

To spend 10 times that amount could be either a great idea or the world’s worst gamble. Microsoft has completely scorched consumer bridges with its previous mobile offerings, none of which will transition to the new system very smoothly. Even with a billion dollars behind it, Windows Phone 7 could be too late.


Microsoft can use gyroscopes and accelerometers too!

Since the launch of the iPhone, it seems Apple has been the only company we hear about using the cheap little accelerometers and gyroscopes, despite the popularity of those little gizmos in just about every modern cell phone and some other burgeoning technologies. Microsoft, for one, wants in on the game, so the company is making a splash with some very cool photo stabilization tech.

Microsoft developed an image stabilization rig that uses accelerometers and gyroscopes to detect the little movements you make when taking a picture that turn it into a blurry mess. Software then corrects the image to look as it should have before the shake. From the initial before and after posted on the research website, I’d say this looks pretty good, and the tech is small enough that it could easily be built into most cameras.

Take a look at the full range of images on the research site. Don’t stare at it too hard, though – those overlays will make you sick.


J. Allard leaves Microsoft, the world will hardly notice

This is the big story today. J. Allard, father of the Xbox, will be retiring from his position at Microsoft. I say “retiring” because there has been so much speculation about why he was leaving and whether he got fired and what he’s going to be starting and on and on and on. He’s just retiring – taking a leave to go explore the things he didn’t have time to explore when he was working a billion hours a week at Microsoft.

To me, though, this isn’t really news. Allard was involved in some great projects – projects that made Microsoft a ton of money – but none of it has really been incredible. In many cases, the Microsoft products Allard has worked on have succeeded not because of incredible innovation but because it was the only game (or one of very few games) in town.

Consider the original Xbox. We knew about it for years leading up to the launch, and the best thing about it wasn’t the controller or the processor or the original Live experience (which was terrible, by the way). The best thing about Xbox 1.0 was a game called Halo. To me, the Xbox was the natural evolution of consoles, and Live was just the maturation of the console form to keep up with multiplayer standards PC players had enjoyed for decades prior.

The Xbox 360 followed the same path as the original – the natural evolution of console gaming. The Live system is better, but still not great by any means, and I know very few people who use their 360 in the ways the commercials would have you believe every geek has his home connected. There are some neat features, like Netflix streaming for one, but there isn’t anything that is truly innovative about the 360. It didn’t change the way I see the entertainment world any more significantly than, say, an iPod video did when it was announced. It performed virtually the same function as the device before it, just a bit better.

My point in all of this is that the last decade or so of devices coming out of Microsoft have been pretty mundane. Anticipated. Expected. I haven’t seen much in the last decade that has made me say, “wow,” in that breathy, holy-shit-you-just-blew-my-mind kind of way. Allard was at the helm for some good stuff, but it was just that – good. Nothing great. Nothing spectacular. His decision to retire will have about as much impact on the gadgets we see as will his decision to pursue “adventure sports.” All the best to you, J., but I can’t say I’m going to miss you.


Windows 7 tablets are dropping left and right

I know the iPad 3G launch and the cancellation of at least two Windows 7 tablets in the same week is likely just a coincidence, but it’s hard to shut out the voice telling me the news might be related.

You might remember Microsoft’s Courier, the dual-screen tablet that could fold like a book and had an amazing demo video. It’s dead, folks. Done. Microsoft said the project would no longer be supported. Alongside that bit of bad news comes word that HP is canceling its Windows 7 tablet, the same tablet Steve Ballmer debuted at CES 2010. HP is reportedly displeased with Windows 7 as a tablet platform and will be moving to Google products.

The HP cancellation is the big news of the two. Dropping Microsoft for Google’s cloud operating system is a first for big manufacturers, and it points to a growing sentiment in the development community. The world wants simple products, and while some might decry iPhone OS and its relative lack of features, no one can deny its success. For the average consumer, Windows just doesn’t make much sense.


The Windows Phone meltdown begins

Wired went out and found a bunch of Windows Phone developers to see what they think about Windows Phone 7 Series. The response is…less than pleasant. In fact, most of them sound pretty concerned if not downright pissed. That’s bad for Microsoft, considering its developers that keep a platform viable in the marketplace. Let’s start with one of the more hilarious quotes.

“I think it’s just royally fucked. That place is so big: The tools, the people, it’s all so fragmented.” Awesome. That’s Kai Yu, CEO of BeeJive, a company that develops an IM app. There is at least one developer, though, that’s excited about the new platform. “My speculation is that Microsoft has some incredible platforms they can tie all together with the new mobile platform.” That’s Jim Scheinman, COO of Pageonce, a productivity app developer. “If one developer can write across all the other platforms, that would be easier for us and all the developers…. If you want to attract hundreds of thousands of developers, it would behoove Microsoft to try to make that happen. That would be a very, very exciting opportunity for all of us.”

It would be exciting, but Microsoft has burned a lot of bridges by torching its last platform. It’s got a lot of ass-kissing to do before there will be any happy Windows Phone developers in the world.

Source: Wired