Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending MIX, Microsoft’s Web-oriented conference. This conference was cool for a range of reasons; for one, it was my first in-depth viewing of Windows Phone 7 Series.
By all accounts, Windows Phone 7 Series is an impressive improvement over Windows Mobile. The preview we saw looked great, performed well, and incorporated some interesting enhancements to smartphone GUI, such as grouping related icons rather intuitively. The development model is entirely based on Silverlight, Microsoft’s RIA technology built around .NET. This provides immediate access to a large number of developers who are no doubt hungry to build apps – but it also creates the problem of disenfranchising existing Windows Mobile customers who have no upgrade path for their applications. The latter has the potential to be a big problem as Windows Mobile is firmly embedded in operational technology used in logistics operations (like warehouses). Microsoft hopes that by offering a more flexible development toolset, developers will make up for the lack of backward compatibility by cranking out lots of cool Windows Phone 7 Series Silverlight apps.
Silverlight is an interesting beast. Microsoft has moved fast to get it to market and make it competitive with Flash. That the company has been able to do so is a testament to the breadth of its existing investments in .NET, PhotoSynth, WCF, WPF, Visual Studio, and a range of other reusable items sitting in the Microsoft software inventory. Most curious, though is the choice of name .. how did the Silverlight team manage to get a simple and compelling name where so many others, like Windows Phone 7 Series, have failed? Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Series, as a name, strikes me as not too far off from the high school teenager wearing clothes with the tags hanging out. On the one hand, it is a clear signal; on the other hand, it might say more about the bearer than the brand.
So, you tell me. Should Microsoft let its tags hang out?