Microsoft Exec: iPhone Prompted Windows Phone Redesign

Microsoft Exec: iPhone Prompted Windows Phone Redesign

The Microsoft executive who manages software design for the Windows Phone admitted that the mobile operating system was redesigned because of the success of Apple’s iPhone.

“Apple created a sea change in the industry in terms of the kinds of things they did that were unique and highly appealing to consumers,” Joe Belfiore said. “We wanted to respond with something that would be competitive, but not the same.”

Steven Musil of CNET tells the tale:

Despite being an early player in the smartphone sector, Microsoft’s effort was hobbled by software that featured complex on-screen menus that borrowed design cues from its desktop cousin. As insiders tell the newspaper, once the iPhone appeared on the scene, Microsoft executives knew that their OS would not be able to compete as designed.

After a seven-hour meeting called by mobile engineering chief Terry Myerson to discuss the fate of its mobile OS, the management team for the mobile group decided there wasn’t much in Windows Mobile worth saving.

“We had hit bottom,” Myerson, who was recently promoted to run the company phone business, said. “That frankly gives you the freedom to try new things, build a new team and set a new path.”

Longtime Microsoft manager Charlie Kindel compared their decision to hiker Aron Ralston’s decision shown in the movie “127 Hours”, when he amputated his own arm after a boulder trapped it. “This boulder comprised of Apple and BlackBerry rolled on our arm,” he said. “Microsoft sat there for three or four years struggling to get out.”

The time it took for Microsoft to redesign its mobile operating system proved costly to the company in terms of market share. The delay allowed both Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android to grab market share that Microsoft might have been able to capture.

Microsoft is hoping the release of the Nokia Lumia 900 at CES this week will help recapture some of their lost share. The two companies are reportedly spending $200 million on marketing for the new device.