Windows Mobile for Consumers. Part3

This is the third part of the interview with Todd Warren, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Mobile Communications Product group, responsible for the development of Windows Mobile OS.

The first part talked about Sony Experia, Windows mobile initiatives in consumer space, mobile handset software/hardware relation issues, usability and User Interface design in Windows Mobile.

The second part covered multimedia features in Windows Mobile, WM/Zune relationship, Touch interface in Windows Mobile and relations between WM and it’s partners on touch initiatives.

In this third part we discuss Microsoft/Zoomobi relationship, mobile browsing and search experience in future Windows Mobile versions, integration of Live services like Mapping and Messenger, Musiwave acquisition, possible music download & streaming service and mobile gaming initiatives.

Here’s the of the video interview and the transcript.

There’s also a link to the full interview audio/mp3 file download at the bottom of this post, for those of you who prefer to listen to it in a car or while exercising.

And that completes our Windows Mobile for Consumer series


UV. What about Zumobi, what’s the relationship here, and how much of Microsoft is in Zumobi?

TW. Oh, so Zumobi was a project that was a part of Microsoft research, and was spun out as a different company. Certainly there are a number of Microsoft personnel who left Microsoft that are now part of that startup, as part of the spin-off. We have our marketing relationship with them to put it on devices, we still have license to the technology, so we can use other technology as part of how we evolve, of how our devices are going forward, and that’s the current relationship.

UV. So, where’s the Windows Mobile 6.1, and when do you plan that?

Well, we haven’t announced Windows Mobile 6.1, so I really can’t comment on the future.

UV. The difference between the mobile and wired Internet browsing is actually disappearing, except for the display size probably. What is Windows Mobile doing or planning to do about that, say, Internet Explorer mobile, Windows Live mobile, or integration of various MSN services, the Zune marketplace you mentioned and such?

TW. For browsing, there has been, I would say, in the last 12 months a pretty dramatic shift in user expectations around browsing.

So you should expect that we will bring a much better browser to Windows Mobile than what we’ve had in the past. So, you know, Microsoft – we’re the leaders in terms of creating a browser technology; our browser on the desktops would browse much more websites than any other browser on the planet. We’ve been working with the IE team, collaborating going forward, so users can expect a much better browser than today.

Before, we’ve been limited, I would say, by the memory constraints of the current devices, and current screen sizes, but both of those things are starting to be alleviated. And as you can see, even in the announcements of Sony Ericsson device, one of the reasons the UI is snappy, is that it’s on a fast Qualcomm processor, the screen looks great because it’s a full VGA screen; all those things make browsing a more important scenario, and we’ll start to bring more of our desktop browser technology over to take advantage of those advances.

On the services side, we’re continuing to innovate there; we introduced in the US and in the UK Live local search, which is a free-download, and that’s a great application, it has won all the reviews of the different local search applications that are available out there, against people like Yahoo and Google, and we’ve incorporated voice as a part of it.

So in the US it integrates with our TellMe acquisition that we made about a year ago, so that I can pick up my device and say “find pizza!” and it will find the pizza places near me, and it uses the TellMe service which powers a number of US operators’ 411 services, to help integrate that, and bring the map back as part of the device, and we will continue to evolve local search.

One thing that we’ve been doing in Windows Live local, in our mapping products, is really building our set of assets around the mapping. So in the US right now, we have street sight data, we have what we call “birds eye” imagery, where it’s aerial photographs at a low level so that you can see shape of buildings. We will be bringing that towards (other) geographies in the next year, so that more people in Europe than just folks in the UK, will be able to see some of those features. So that’s one of the things on the Live side.

Messenger, of course, is very popular in Europe, and we’re continuing to advance the mobile work there, not only on Windows Mobile, but on other platforms as well. Of course, we announced the integration of Series 60, well, I guess I’ll leave that here…

UV. Now, everyone heard about Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo, and if you are able to buy Yahoo in the end, how would that affect Windows Mobile, and how would you be going to integrate their services in Windows Mobile?

TW. For regulatory reasons, I can’t speculate on what might happen if we acquire Yahoo.

I’ll just be safe to say that we’re very excited about it, Yahoo’s done some impressive work in the mobile area, we’ve collaborated with them in the past in building Windows Mobile applications, we support them; but, you know, I think it would be very good for the industry to have a good, strong competitor in the Internet search, and I think it would be great to be able to collaborate with the Yahoo R&D people on the future of the Internet search on the mobile space.

UV. And you recently bought Musiwave, a mobile music service.

TW. Yes.

UV. It was said that Windows Mobile division was behind that or drove that acquisition. So, what are you going to do with it; launch your music download service along the line of OVI, let’s say, or…?

TW. We’re very excited about Musiwave, and we have, since we closed the acquisition – which just happened – less than 45 days ago, happened right at the end of the year, so our plans are still just beginning; but we do view Windows Mobile as something that will extend to consumer scenarios, we think music is an important part of that scenario.

We really like how Musiwave have done work to integrate with the mobile operators, and that part of the proposition; so, you can expect that we’ll do things both in the first party and third party kind of space, to integrate those services as part of it. So, you might see both a white label service, and I think you’ll actually see a first party music service from us.

UV. And what about mobile gaming and X-box integration, do you have plans there?

Well, I think when we originally launched the XNA strategy for gaming, we said that eventually it would be there on mobile. We do have some of the XNA API’s, you know, things like the D3D Mobile available for 3D gaming, but we don’t have any particular announcement of bringing more games to Windows Mobile.

But certainly, I’ve been talking to my peers on X-box, you know, J Allard who runs Zune and others, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about how to move the mobile platform forward and how to best integrate with things that are on Entertainment & Devices division.

UV. Okay, thank you. Great talking to you!

And that concludes the third part of Windows Mobile for Consumers interview. You can find the first part of interview here, the second part is here.

If you want to listen listen full interview in a car or while exercising, here’s full mp3/audio file (22.5 MB/ mp3, right click to download)

Author: Stasys Bielinis

While I like to play with the latest gadgets, I am even more interested in broad technology trends. With mobile now taking over the world - following the latest technology news, looking for insights, sharing and discussing them with passionate audience - it's hard to imagine a better place for me to be. You can find me on Twitter as @UVStaska'

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