TechFlash has given a good coverage of the Q&A session related to Windows Mobile in the annual U.S. Public Sector Chief Information Officers (CIO) Summit at the Microsoft's corporate campus in Redmond. The event was hosted for the IT workers in Government and Education sectors, by Microsoft.
Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, was questioned on some of the Microsoft's products and services. He was told that the appeal of the iPhone, Android G1 and other devices has made it more difficult for CIOs at public agencies to justify the use of Windows Mobile phones for which Ballmer replied opportunities exist for Microsoft to accelerate execution in Windows Mobile Development.
Below was the interesting question by one of the audiences in the summit to Ballmer
"With platforms like Android and iPhone coming out, it's really tough to continue to stand behind Windows Mobile when our employees are bringing these consumer devices into our environments. Those devices don't meet the security requirements that some organizations have while Windows Mobile devices do, but users don't want Windows Mobile phones. And in your presentation you put Windows Mobile right in the center there, but it was a phone that doesn't work in America and an OS that you haven't released. I'm wondering what your commitment is to continuing to get newer versions of the OS in our hands so that we don't have to fight this battle on the ground."
And here is Ballmer's response
"We have a significant release coming this year, (Not the full release) with Windows Mobile 6.5 and there will be phones with Windows Mobile 6.5 in market this year. Some of the other things that people want on the highest-end phones will come on Windows Mobile 7 next year. Certainly I'm not, um -- there's opportunities for us to accelerate our execution in this area, and we've done a lot of work to really make sure we have a team that's going to be able to accelerate. We did sell more Windows Mobile devices last year than Apple did iPhones. Blackberry was a little bit ahead, and Google was nowhere to be seen, except in Silicon Valley. But we'll do our best to help you with that challenge."
One of the attendees said to him that Microsoft's volume licensing sales to organizations were similar to a cable service selling channels. The person added that he had to hire a consultant to help him make decisions. Ballmer replied he was upset that the man had to hire a consultant and Microsoft should have done a better job than that. He also encouraged the man to e-mail him so that Microsoft could use it as a lesson for the folks involved. Ballmer also said the company is working harder on simplifying its software licensing terms across the board.
I have to agree with the questions raised. Windows Mobile 6.5, being an intermediate release for Windows Mobile 7, has been in the development phase for quite a long time. Users are now wondering when would Windows Mobile 7 be released if 6.5 is taking such a long time. It is also very clear that by the time Microsoft makes some progress in its Mobile OS, other competitors like iPhone, Android, Palm might have reached many milestones in regard to user experience.
Microsoft should also find a more easier way for the mobile phone vendors to publish updates for their phones. I am really doubtful whether my HTC Touch Cruise (which shipped with Windows Mobile 6.0) would ever receive a Windows Mobile 6.5 upgrade when the Windows Mobile OS is released. I am still waiting for the Windows Mobile 6.1 upgrade for my Touch Cruise. Microsoft should also make sure that these upgrades are not specific to any region as most of the time the upgrades are released only to U.S.