back to article Cold-water treatment for Ballmer on Windows Mobile

If Steve Ballmer loves one group of people more than developers, it's Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) - except when he's gently threatening them, of course. No wonder Microsoft's chief executive was willing to play the fool, slapping a Windows Home Server sticker on his forehead on stage during this week's MVP conference, …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    "Chris Kemp, chief information officer of NASA's Ames Research Center, broke it down for Ballmer when he asked how he could realistically stand behind Windows Mobile when his employees are bringing iPhones and Androids in to work"

    If I'm not mistaken, this guy is a public servant. That m***** *****r should not be

    standing behind one technology over another. Maybe Ballmer is "standing behind"


  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just ask any phone salesman

    Ask them if customers like the XYZ phone running Windows Mobile. They will make a face like they want to spit on it. The OS is so bad I bet money that no amount of reworking will produce something desirable to end users. Ballmer: do what any sensible company would do in this situation, take the Google route and write a nice new UI on top of Linux.

  3. Franklin
    Thumb Down

    It's all about the innovation, right?

    Microsoft had the ability to make an iPhone-like operating system many years ago, but lacked, as it always does, the vision. Seems to be the story of Microsoft's life these days.

  4. David Halko

    Wow... talk about being "pinned down"...

    "Chris Kemp, chief information officer of NASA's Ames Research Center, broke it down for Ballmer when he asked how he could realistically stand behind Windows Mobile when his employees are bringing iPhones and Androids in to work."

    Talk about feeling uncomfortable...

  5. Robert E A Harvey

    Betamax phones

    I am disturbed by the behaviour of phone companies who continue to build on Windows Mobile, despite its desparate and obvious shortcomings. Not that Symbian has forged a better ploughshare either, of course.

    The market for phone OSs is evern more distorted than that for PCs, with the poor sods who get the devices having very little say in what they do or who provides the OS. Innovation has stalled and we are offered devices little different from those of 5 years ago, despite huge advances in hardware design.

    My judgement is that we have another Betamax saga, with the world electing for the worst solution by a process of indifference and disguised decisions.

  6. Jason Rivers

    big numbers...

    "Ballmer fell back on how Windows Mobile devices outsold the iPhone last year."

    should I point out now that the iPhone is a single device, while Windows mobile is on... How many...?

  7. TeeCee Gold badge

    That sticker on the head.

    Windows Home Server? Let's see, ugly as sin? Check. Memory problems? Check. Unstable? Check. A cut down, half-arsed version of the real thing? Check. Everyone hates it and wishes it would go away? Check. Even MS are coming to the conclusion it was a bloody stupid idea? Check.

    He should have it tattooed on....

  8. Ida
    Paris Hilton

    Windows Mobile Sux

    While Steve Ballmer is bragging about how Windows mobile outsells iPhone he is forgetting to mention that WM is licenced to multiple vendors while MacOS is only on the iPhone. Has Microsoft produced a Cell Phone ? They have produced an inferior OS that has been adapted, poorly, for mobile devices.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Race to the bottom

    Microsoft could significantly reduce the license cost to manufacturers and gain market share that way... i.e. give manufacturers a reason to move away from Symbian.

    Andriod, while license free, is behind the curve... IMHO it'll be mid 2010 before it's mainstream. The license cost is one positive aspect and the (so far limited) support of Google another, however, embedded Linux has been available for some time with little significant take up by manufacturers so cost is not everything .

  10. Christopher Rogers

    Oh come on

    Ballmer really should learn that PR spin on a turd doesn't stop it being a turd. Now, if he put his hands up and said "we've slipped up on this one" and then actually comitted to producing a product that will be competative (i.e. investing tangeable resources and having an actual strategy figured out) then he would sound signifigantly more plausable. MS really have an image problem and they ain't gonna fix it with this attitude.

    Some day MS might just be a console manufacturer.....

  11. Jay Jaffa

    WM is dead

    iPhone has won consumer hearts, Android is catching up but, most imortantly, Adnroid is quickly capturing Java developers hearts and minds - reminiscent of the MS v Apple issues in the 80s when Microsoft won the battle because they won over the developers. It's all about the applications...and Microsoft are in retreat.

  12. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    @Just ask any phone salesman

    "Ask them if customers like the XYZ phone running Windows Mobile. They will make a face like they want to spit on it."

    You have any proof to back this up? No... I thought not.

    Have you used Windows mobile? I doubt it.

    Are you on the WM hating bandwagon? Of course you are.

    I have an Xperia X1 running WM6.1 and it is great. I've had zero problems with it. Full MS Office integration, media and messaging capability and there are 1000's of FREE applications available for download to increase functionality.

    But no, you stick to your FanDroid and your Symbian "aesthetic" rubbish and I'll see you in the future when you've caught up in the productivity race.


  13. James Pickett


    "a team that's going to be able to accelerate"

    Real Soon Now...


    Isn't it time we had a chair icon?

  14. The BigYin
    Thumb Down

    @Aristotles nag

    I have used Windows Mobile devices. They were all horrible. Truly horrible. Slow and crashed. Never again.

    I do not need office apps or other crap on a phone. It's a PHONE FFS! Let it be a phone. The screen is too small for anything else apart from a bit of basic web-browsing. If I want a portable computer, I'll sodding well BUY a portable computer.

    I do not use an iPhone or Android; I have a basic Nokia brick and it is great. Cheap to get, long battery life, indestructible and does not crash.

    (You will note the pleasing lack argumentum ad hominem)

  15. Wortel


    Someone 'big' says something about the crapola they dare call 'Windows Mobile'.

    Doesn't mean stevie ballsey will actually do something about it, of course.

    Windows Mobile; A slow, severely badly supported piece of shit that is neither Windows nor Mobile even on a good day, but comes with the usual vendor lock-in we've come to expect from Microsoft and even shittier modifications by hardware manufacturers like the noobs at telecom companies rebranding the smartphones with their share of grey goo nonsense.

    Windows Mobile; A piece of software that will only be released on the whims of the hardware manufacturers, and usually only if you decide to buy a new device altogether.

    After all, who needs updates, right? buy this new shiny boxxor of roxxors and you'll be happy you will. for a year maybe.

  16. Neil

    Mobile bashing

    I use windows mobile 6 with the company exchange server. Push mail works a treat, google maps plays nicely with the gps. Granted it's not the prettiest OS but it works for me, I think people are being a bit over the top when it comes to bashing it.

    Yes it's starting to look aged and needs some new features, but it works.

  17. Jax

    WinCe / Mobile

    A lot of us devs get a living out of solutions for industry so WMobile is the logical platform, IPhone is pointless as its just a consumer grade phone, it has no drop spec. What frustrates me is that WMobile is in a good position but it isn't capitalising. It could be so much better but always seems like an afterthought in the development process.

    Always the focus on the desktop and then shabbily port to mobile. At what point are they going to start creating on the mobile and then porting to desktop? (which would be so much easier).


    And this article doesn't fill me with confidence.

    You need a "Sad Panda" icon.

  18. Jax

    @ Windows Mobile is dead

    Seriously... no. Sure in your consumer world then maybe there are slicker alternatives but if you're working for industry just no.

    What I want to know is why bother hating on WinMobile now? Back in the early 2000's it was TERRIBLE. I mean really bad. But now it's okay, if you wanted to bitch about it you shoulda done that years ago.

    Main problem I find with critics of WinCE is that they don't understand how it is built. MS allow the OEMs to change pretty much all of the code but whenever anything goes wrong (which is commonly in the mods the OEMs have done or merges with updates they've messed up) MS gets the blame.

  19. Wortel


    Count yourself one of the lucky few. Getting any kind of reliable WAN-side connectivity on Windows Mobile is and has always been a nightmare to set up and keep alive, especially when something changes server-side. Support for mail and proper browsing has been outright disgusting over the past 5 years, don't expect your current experience to last.

    Having seen and used my share of the Windows Mobile variants and differently named predecessors I can honestly say i've been there, done that, and still hate it.

    With the capabilities of modern mobile devices i'm surprised the Windows Mobile branch still exists, Windows XP Embedded Enterprise would be an improvement. Still shit, but an improvement.

    Flame still, as some years of managing and supporting Windows Mobile based devices has left a thick layer of fuel still unburned.

  20. Chris

    @Jason Rivers

    "should I point out now that the iPhone is a single device, while Windows mobile is on... How many...?"

    Should I point out that, regardless of how many different Windows Mobile devices there are out there (and from a consumer pov having such a choice is no bad thing), most of us only buy one phone at a time...

  21. Seanie Ryan
    Black Helicopters

    consumer vs "real"

    why do people keep referring to the "consumer" market as though its totally mutually exclusive?

    When it comes to a desktop or even to some degree , transport then there is a divide. I could want one pc at work and one for a family at home. i could need a van for work and a mpv for home. grand.

    But a phone is something that you use all day, working or socialising. how many people change sims to a different phone when they leave work? practically zero. So for this device there is a clear cross over. So my phone has to be able to do both and nowadays with people being so stupidly image conscious, the phone has to have street cred in the pub/dinner etc. cant impress a bird with how easy your phone connects to a VPN, but show something like an iPhone ....

    what was my point??

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >You have any proof to back this up? No... I thought not.

    >Have you used Windows mobile? I doubt it.

    >Are you on the WM hating bandwagon? Of course you are.

    Do you have any proof that salesmen DON'T hate WM? Actually I was in a cell phone store just the other day and asked about WM phones and the salesman said customers were constantly returning them because of crashes, memory leaks, etc. So maybe a select few people like you get along well with WM but they should really be designed well enough to appeal to most people.

    And in fact I did own a WM phone briefly a couple years ago. It actually worked well enough as a phone (when it wasn't hung), had good battery life, and had some nice features. But it also crashed all the time, was worthless for web browsing, was riddled with bugs and usability flaws, and loading and managing software on it was a chore. So yes, I'm on the WM hating bandwagon.

  23. James O'Shea Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    re Aristotles

    I have a WM phone, a Verizon Pocket PC XV6700. It stinks. It has poor battery life; I got it specifically to run one particular application, which was developed as a WM-only application (against my advice...) and when that app is up, the _extended_ battery runs out in under six hours. This means that I have to keep charging the phone.

    The OS itself will just plain die, without warning, and without notice. I'll be busy and notice that I've not had any calls for an hour or so... and try to call out. No connection. I turn off the phone, turn it back on... Connection. And three missed calls. And yet, according to the phone, I had a signal the entire time, three bars at least. What happened is that the OS just froze.

    When I attempt to log in with the web browser, the OS will freeze at least 20% of the time. That's unacceptable. When it does connect, the displayed web pages load slowly and are often unreadable. I have stopped even trying to use it as a web device.

    The phone hates to synch up, both on Macs and Windows systems. Because of MS's pettiness, Apple's iSync won't talk directly to Windows Media devices, so I had to buy a 3rd-party app (Mark/Space's Missing Sync for Windows Mobile) and I often have to disconnect and reconnect the phone two or three times before I get a proper connection so I can sync... and it's not Apple's or Mark/Space's fault, the same phone behaves similarly with the sync services built into Vista. (Don't know about XP, haven't tried to sync with a XP machine. I suspect that it doesn't work properly there, either.)

    Note that I have another phone, a Motorola RAZR. In the same locations where the XV6700 gets three bars, it gets four. It never hangs or freezes. Not even once. It is recognised by iSync _and_ on Windows... and can sync using either Bluetooth or a USB cable. Including the very same USB cable that I use to attempt to synch the XV6700. And with the Motorola, I can connect first time, every time. Same cable. Same computers. It appears what where-ever the problem lies, it's not with either the cable or the software on the computers. I suspect that it's not with the XV6700 itself, either; as I'm not the only person who has to use that not-sufficiently-damned WM app, other people at the office have WM phones and all of them tell the same story: poor browsing capabilities, system hanging and freezing, poor syncing, poor battery life.

    Thanks to our experiences over the last two years with WM, we have demanded that the WM app we need to use be re-written for iPhone or Android or something, anything, else. The developer didn't want to do it, but got on board after our CEO called his CEO and ripped into him with a point-by-point description of exactly why WM sucks and gave 'em the choice of doing the re-write or losing us as customers.

    We will never, ever, buy anything which requires WM ever again. Period.

  24. Dale Le Page

    re: Aristotle

    Can answer your questions for you, as a mobile phones salesman for a number of years (Gotta pay for Uni somehow!) I will hold my hands up and say that yes, Windows Mobile sucks. Badly. Its not as good at e-mail as the Blackberry's, Android kicks it all over the park already when it comes to web browsing and the iPhone is a much better media device.

    Windows mobile offers nothing that is not available elsewhere, especially now that netbooks or mini-laptops are so cheap and widespread. Tried using mobile office on a recent Windows Mobile handset? Its a nightmare, especially on the Omnia.

    Throw in a truly byzantine set-up process that is impossible for most consumers to manage unaided (Compared with the G1 for example, which takes seconds) and the worst options system I've ever seen, and its no reason we seem to have stopped selling them all together!

    Mine's the one with the G1 in the pocket.....

  25. Fred

    WM ignored by developers

    Why would developers want to support yet another white elephant?

    We didnt after the WM5 debacle (only eclipsed by vista), and since then most of us are very happy with Java.

    Its yet more spin/PR shyte that will fade to grey.

    BREW and Simbian are/have covered the ground that the consumers ARE buying! end of.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    It was 'orrible sir!

    I just completed a major software project on CE 5.0.

    First Problem:

    My original user interface used the standard MS controls, which are ugly and not suited for touch screens. Marketing recoiled in horror, so the UI was redesigned with fancy User Controls that had to be coded from scratch. (+6 months)

    Second Problem:

    I wrote the most of the code in C#. On CE 5.0 this means using the Compact Framework, a cut down version of .NET. Regularly I would find useful API was not supported and so had to use 3rd party code, hack around the problem or re-invent the wheel. However, CF is better than Java MIDP, the horror the horror.

    Third Problem:

    The actual Win CE 5.0 platform is built by the people we buy the boards off. Early on I ran into a major bug, due to a problem in the suppliers build. 3 months of arguing, until I paid them a visit.

    In its favour CE 5.0 works well with VS 2005 debugger, although unit tests are desktop only.

    Unlike Apple, WM allows you to choose you own hardware, configure the OS and distribute your apps how you want.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm a Unix jockey and MS basher from way back. But I have been using a WM device for a couple of years now (HTC P3600 with wm6 - it'). Like any HTC phone, the hardware is rubbish, and they won't give me an update to WM6.1, but I've not seen any of the stability issues that people keep talking about. Sure WM is ugly, browsing sucks, and the GPS drains the battery in about 2hrs. But I've loaded a few other finger friendly customizations, and a WebKit based browser, and it's now a reasonable phone (there's not much to do about the GPS except turn it off when not in use). I love the fact there are mobs of free apps that I can download and install without any lock-in from MS, HTC or Telco.

    I'm looking forward to trying out an Android phone (as soon as they bring out one with decent style), but there is no way I'm going to back to the Nokia, Motorola, etc rubbish, nor would I touch the iPhone with it's stupid restrictions.

  28. Simon Langley
    Jobs Halo

    WM makes Win95 look solid and stylish

    I have used mobile phones and PDAs with just about every OS going and WM is the most unstable and ugly POS I have ever used.

    I used to use an Ipaq which I had to hard reboot every day. Even Win95 was never that bad. Symbian isn't pretty but it was fairly stable. Android, hmm. The OS is showing promise but the hardware is less than impressive.

    All in all, my favourite it, you guessed it, my iPhone. I am a recent convert to the Church of Apple but it is a lot more than a pretty face. Unlike Mac OS X, there are some very annoying bugs, but it has not crashed once in a year of daily use and it is pretty fully featured. Now if only Apple would open up a bit it would be great. Unfortunately that is not Apple's style and that is a major shortcoming.

    So far there are no genuinely attractive alternatives but I still have 6 months of my contract to run so the point is moot.

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