With an alleged 400 million dollar marketing budget, Microsoft has jumped back into the smartphone business aggressively with Windows Phone 7. While you might think Apple and Google have everything sewn up, Microsoft's mobile operating system is an interesting proposal, backed by a massive company. Just because Windows Mobile has been eclipsed over the past couple of years doesn't mean Windows Phone 7's fate is sealed.
Windows Phone 7 is being marketed as something different, and it certainly looks it. It's moved away from the icon-apps that Apple have seemingly standardized for smart phones, giving Windows Phone a sleek and unique appearance made of customizable dynamic tiles. It has all the features you'd expect, like internet browsing, email, gaming and media playback, but presents them differently. Games are integrated into Xbox Live, which gives it good brand recognition, the media player is Zune (they won't give up on it!), documents are handled by Office, and so on.
Steve Balmer presented 9 devices that will be available at launch, from HTC, LG, Samsung, Dell and others. This variety looks like a strength, but we'll have to wait until after the New Year to see whether they pull enough customers from iOS and Android devices. Balmer said he wanted the customers to feel the phones were 'wonderfully yours', and that it was customization and flexibility that would achieve that. Can it create the kind of obsessive fans the iPhone did?