back to article Microsoft predicts Linux will fail mobile 'quality' test

Linux is shaping up as Microsoft's target in a potential war of attrition to gain lost market share for Windows Mobile in handsets. Microsoft's executive in charge of leading Microsoft's Windows Mobile group has predicted the number of operating systems for mobile handsets will be whittled down in the next three to five years …


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  1. Robin Layfield

    Android is a *Linux* based phone OS

    Isn't Android Linux based? I think that's probably more of a threat to WinMob given that companies like HTC offer virtually the same handsets with Windows or Android as the OSes of choice...

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Famous last words.

    Now, if someone would mod my TyTN to run Android or Maemo already...

  3. Don Mitchell

    Software Quality

    I don't have a high opinion of Windows Mobile. But what he is saying about Linux is true. You only hear this from people supporting big e-commerce sites, not from the fan boys who don't really have a deep knowledge of systems. I've heard many horror stories about the cost of getting Linux stabilized and patched on new hardware, problems with lost interrupts corrupting file systems, problems with how it deals with new CPU configurations and hyperthreading and NUMA, etc. After all this time, it is really remarkable that Linux is not more stable and simple. THe problem is that some smart people work on Linux, but a lot of bad programmers have their fingers in it too.

  4. Rattus Rattus


    Windows Mobile failed because it's shit. There's really no ambiguity there. It's slow, unstable, bloated yet lacking key features... it's crap. Microsoft, you have lost the mobile market, face it. Linux phones, iphones, Symbian phones, they all work much better than your offering.

    "Linux needs to be integrated creating claimed total-cost-of ownership issues, while Windows comes as a complete package" - he's never heard of Android, then?

  5. Tim Bates

    Alternative title

    Pot calls Kettle "Black": Windows Mobile turns racist.

    1. Keith Oldham

      Re : Software Quality

      Some verifiable examples would be nice.

      I'm sure lots of people can provide such examples of Windows failings

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Some examples

        I use both Windows, Linux and UNIX at work, from a storage point of view, I can give a couple of examples of linux problems:

        We have had problems with the Volume Manager on Linux not being able to deal with EMC disk devices being removed and re-presented to a server (required at the DR site), it just couldn't see the filesystems when the devices were re-presented, this is on a fully supported RHEL cluster running on modern HP Proliant hardware, the only cure is a reboot, we're still awaiting a fix from Red Hat several months down the line.

        RHEL can (possibly could, now) only support lun numbers under 256, not acceptable for large implementations.

        Multipathd has a habit of making filesystems read-only if a path disappears and reappears, it sets a kernel flag and the machine has to be rebooted (so our UNIX guy says) to get the filesystem read-write again. Awaiting a fix...

        If I need to upgrade the Kernel, the tape drivers from IBM need to be re-compiled.

        All the above, and more, has resulted in major delays to a project, all the above works in UNIX and Windows.

        1. Red Bren

          Some relevant examples?

          Or are you using WinCE based mobiles for doing storage?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          There is a big difference between that sort of installation and a pared down linux kernel running on a phone.

          Also the sort of problems you describe are not unique to Linux. I remember a Windows cluster connected to a large SAN and a multi-headed tape library. Whenever the server rebooted it decided that the tape library drives it could see were actually new local hardware and you had to click through loading the drivers for each tape head.

          People on here are saying their winmob phones need rebooting once or twice a week. My G1 which runs that flaky linux based Android O/s is showing 28 days since last reboot.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            I was under the impression that the parent post was a general linux comment, rather than phone specific.

            The particular problems that I described are unique to linux, but this doesn't mean to say that UNIX and Windows don't have their own problems - the point I was making is that linux isn't perfect, which seems to be a general opinion of a lot of people, until you actually pin them down on specific problems.

            As for the Windows cluster/tape library problem, that is a specific problem with a specific install (IMO it sounds like either a corrupt OS install preventing drivers being properly installed and registered and/or a persistent bindings issue) and not a problem with Windows in general. The problems that I outlined above are problems with Linux operating as per design. This doesn't mean that I don't value linux, but it does mean that I don't see it as some sort of panacea.

        3. Keith Oldham

          Re :Some examples

          You may be having local problems although why wouldn't you need to recompile the drivers with a new kernel.

          However if CERN (40,000 CPUs & 15 petabytes of data a year), Google's gizzilion servers, half the webservers on the planet and the majority of supercomputers seem to manage I guess most should be able to.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Keith Oldham

            You make a typical OS zealot's response of "I don't have a problem neither do some other people, therefore the problem is with you." I didn't say that we had problems with the volume of data linux can handle, or with the amount of CPUs, we don't supercompute and the particular system isn't web serving, but it does have some rather complex filesystem/disk system requirements, which I daresay wouldn't be an issue at the likes of Google or CERN.

            1. Keith Oldham

              Re : "I don't have a problem neither ...."

              I never said I didn't have problems, as many others have said OS have problems - difference is I can do something about them with Linux. I assume Google, CERN and lots of others have lots of problems but at least they can try and fix them. If I'm a zealot it's for freedom not to have a monoculture

              Disclaimer : I admit I've had problems with MS software for years, starting with garbage collection problems in 8K BASIC in about 1980 - all Linux now - not a totally easy option just better (for me) than the alternatives.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward


                I assume you mean that, if there is a problem with Linux, you can re-write the code? Well, you can do the same with UNIX or Windows, except you can't, not if you need support for your systems. We've gone to our suppliers several times with fixes suggested from Internet forums which involved re-coding or re-compiling and they have been explicit in saying that they won't support us, if we change their product. I have yet to find a company who will support a product that you change in such a way.

  6. Tinstaafl

    feels, looks, acts and performs completely different

    Does that mean it will be like Linux? Oh, at last!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft knows best

    Hey guys, look we're a multi zillion mega dollar All American super dooper corporation right! and we can't make mobiles works. Believe me when I tell you, making mobiles work is like hard man. It's difficult. Them pesky users, they expect to make phone calls, like even when we're running apps... like at the same god damn time man.

    If we can't do it, how the hell do you expect a jumped up load of pinkos and foreigners to make a working platform.

  8. Mikel

    Running scared and the should be

    When everybody has a copy of OS-X on their iPhone, and a linux kernel in their Android phone, and not Windows, something odd is going to happen: they're not going to afraid of Linux and OS-X. When their computer doesn't work - when it's so bogged down with the Microsoft Crud it takes 10 minutes to boot they'll start each day browsing the 'Net on an OS that's secure, stable and reliable enough to use on a phone. The kind of OS you want in your pocket when your car breaks down and you need to navigate your way discreetly out of Compton or Detroit without walking door to door in the middle of the night begging for help. The kind of OS you want in your hand when you're reaching out to your kid.... "and if you need me, call."

    And when their Windows PC crashes, or fails or won't connect, what are they going to use to access customer service and call for help? Their good OS. That's going to get some people thinking about their desktop OS priorities.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    All phones are "Custom".

  10. GreyCells

    Microsoft Mocked

    I was going to add a comment along the lines of: "This 'quality' analysis is coming from the company that built *Windows*?", but it appears you've all beaten me to it in various flavours of the same.

    Must be truly embarrassing for the leaders/employees of Microsoft to be continually laughed at by their peers... If they weren't so damaging to the industry, you could almost feel sorry for them - the big bully trailing haplessly along at the back.

  11. James 47

    One flaw with Linux

    It ain't real-time. This means manufacturers have to use power-hungry fast chips or add another chip to run apps. This increases the BoM for them

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      O RLY?

      There most certainly are real-time versions of Linux kicking around - see for example:

    2. Fred 24


      Really? did you google for "linux realtime kernel"??? did you? I think not, and I also think you should try to educate yourself better.

    3. SynnerCal
      Thumb Down

      Re: One flaw with Linux ...

      ... is that you don't know what you're talking about. Actually, that's your fail not Linux.

      For a start there's RTLinux - okay that's a cheat because it's RTOS running the Linux kernel. There's also been plenty of work on the RT extensions in the Linux core - apart from anything else I remember reading that the music community needed RT or NRT response or the 'product' gets ruined.

      Oh, and ignoring the number of embedded Linuxen, are you implying that OS-X or Windows _is_ RT? If so, then I'll ROFLMAO especially at the latter. NRT maybe, but RT - no chance. And before I get royally flamed, I'm _not_ casting aspersions on either Windows or OS-X as a desktop OS.

      Heck, I was doing responsive Linux systems (had to reply in less than 50ms to serial traffic from robotics systems, so NRT I guess) about 10 years ago using stock RedHat and Suse _desktop_ distros with few problems.

      Oh, and "add another chip to run apps" - I think you mean a second cpu core, since an 'app engine' is usually a processor! (Yes, I know about the FFT etc you can run on graphics cards, but that's a specialised use).

      I would suggest that Nokia and the folks in the LiMo Foundation (Google it) have already identified the shortcomings and dealt with them (probably a long time ago).

    4. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Not just Windows

      This is also te lot that brought you EDLIN - which is still part of the basic command line stuff..

    5. Robert E A Harvey

      real time

      I think this is a far comment of lowest-common-denominator Linux, and would be equally (more) applicable to Windoze.

      As others have said there are real-time extensions or alternative kernels for Linux. For windows, there aren't.

  12. The Software Fairy

    Well that means...

    ....MS thinks it will probably work just fine, then. Otherwise they'd never bother with the FUD.

  13. Toastan Buttar
    Jobs Halo

    There's the iPhone OS...

    ...then there's everything else. After using an iPhone, all other smartphone user experiences are clunky. Linux Mobile is not what MS should be fearing !

  14. /\/\j17

    Eyes right

    I love the way the right hand column of both the article and the comments page for this story contains the feature link to the Nokia N900 review.

    That would be the Nokia N900 running the Maemo operating system that's based on Debian O/S that Nokia have said will replace the Symbian/S60 combination on all it's N-series phones...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem with I.T. today ...

    ... is that it's populated with fuckers like Robbie Bach.

    Do nothing, know nothing twats who still manage to look at themselves in the mirror and think;" hey, I'm doing ok".

    My oh my!

  16. Ascylto

    Aaaaah ...

    Microsoft predicts Linux will fail mobile 'quality' test.

    They should know!

  17. Greg D
    Thumb Down

    Paradigm Shifts

    Microsoft are still stuck in their old ways I see. When will they learn that their paradigm just cannot work in todays technology fuelled society. They just dont innovate any more. The playing field has shifted and MS dont know what to do.

    The sheer arrogance in the face of loosing market share just astounds me. They seem to think they can get out of it by insulting the competition rather than actually making something that works. What the fuck are Balmer and co. on??

    I cant wait to see the day MS die and rot slowly. Their arrogance and bigotry just pisses me off.

  18. Critical

    Where's the coherent strategy from MS, then?

    Perhaps a company that forked its own proprietary code base for CE / WM functionality shouldn't offer advice and opinions on such matters. They do not have a believable story, and they don't have the benefit of market dominance in the mobile space. What they do have is a good development environment (the .NET Compact Framework), and a quite a lot of developers who can write stuff for it.

    @James 47 - you obviously don't understand what real-time means. At all.

  19. Peter 39


    gag. cof cof gag.

    MICROSOFT pointing fingers about quality. What a joke. They wouldn't know quality if a too-heavy blue paintball smacked them

  20. AJames

    I don't think so

    Hey, I've got a Windows Mobile phone and a Nokia N800 running Maemo mobile Linux. Guess which one fails to impress?

  21. Christian Berger Silver badge


    The current kinds of Linux mobile devices already provide me with qualities no Windows Mobile device would ever do. After all, unlike Microsoft's offerings, Linux is usually Linux. (Unless you have something crappy like Android or WebOS)

  22. shayneoneill

    When will WinMo hurry up and die already.

    Oh good grief. Microsoft proclaiming that the problem with linux smartphones is that all the different variants are hard to support.

    Has this daft suit ever actually tried to develop for Winmo? Good Grief. Windows mobile somehow actually manages to be *harder* than even symbian to develop for because the sheer difference even between simple model numbers in mobile handsets can be so perplexing. As a developer , Android and the wonderful touch cocoa toolkits (Technically not linux, but darwin/bsd) have been amazing to work with. Cocoa has precisely two targets to work towards, fast (3GS) handsets and slow (3G) handsets, both are exactly the same, bar performance. The Androids slightly more fragmented, but the SDK does at least a respectable job of making that difference not TOO onerous to work with.

    Man I remember working in embeded robotics in the 90s when a microsoft sales rep tried to convince us to move from eTrax ucLinux to Window CE because it had signed drivers. We didn't bloody need signed drivers , we where *writing* them for our own hardware. A decade and a half later , Microsoft still does not understand the embedded market at all.

  23. Roger Greenwood
    Thumb Up

    Mr Ghandi has been good at predictions

    "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win."

    -- Mahatma Gandhi

    Go microsoft - raise awareness of the alternatives.

    1. Fred 24

      what the hell?

      Android IS Linux you fool! Developed in partnership with Canonical who also develop Ubuntu. Please at least try to use a search engine, or is that bing thingy censoring search results?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        The hell what!

        Do you reply to posts without comprehending them? No, I think you're one of those spiky haired things.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        What they mean

        "Android IS Linux you fool!"

        What they mean is either GNU/Linux or Linux with a quality userland and not hard-coded with stuff like the system's device file entries - one of the presumably numerous highlights of the Android sources.

  24. Bassey

    He's right about the Linux Fragmentation though

    Look at the current Android devices. Buy an Android device at the moment and you have NO IDEA what you are getting. Some have exchange synch. Some don't. The Nexus One has exchange synch for contacts and email but no calendar. The Moto Droid has the calendar as well but no notes synching. And that is within a (supposedly) SINGLE version of Linux. The Moto Dext has the facebook integration stuff, the newer Droid doesn't. Developers are having to write apps for, not just incremental releases, but separate phones with the same OS version number. It's rapidly become a complete mess and Android hasn't been around long.

    People can (and do) mock MS all they like. I have no idea whether Windows Phone will survive until WM7 is released. Six months ago I was confident it would. The lack of operator support today leaves me in two minds. But none of that alters the fact that Bach is actually correct on this one. If there is one thing the iPhone has shown the market it is that simple works. People like to buy a phone and it works with all the stuff it is supposed to work with. They don't want to have to wade through internet forums trying to figure out why Widget X on their mates Linux phone won't run on theirs.

  25. John 62

    Bing, anyone?

    Windows is a poor name for a Mobile Phone-related product. If they could rebrand MSN search to Bing, they should rename Windows Mobile. I suggest something like Tina (as in, Tina Is Not Apple, just like Bing Is Not Google).

    As for Linux, well it has already started to coalesce around Android and OHA.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I fixed it for you

      Buy any Windows Mobile device at the moment and you have NO IDEA what you are getting. Some have exchange synch. Some don't. <etc>

      It's still a complete mess even though it dates back to the days of Windows CE, Windows HPC, and whatever those dorky iPAQ things had in them; there was no guarantee that a binary for one OS variant would work on the same OS version number in a different box (eg with a different chipset).

      If there is one thing the iPhone has shown the market it is that simple works. People like to buy a phone and it works with all the stuff it is supposed to work with. Same as all their other computerised home appliances are all simple, crashproof, and bugfree, especially the WinCE ones</sarcasm>

      1. Bassey

        Re: I Fixed it for you

        Except that my version was true, your "fixed" version is bollocks. All Windows Mobile devices have full exchange synch out of the box. All. ALL. No exceptions. It's called ActiveSync. It's in the OS.

        I'm running software purchased 6+ years ago for Windows Mobile 2003 on WM6.5.3. I've never come across software that doesn't work forward. Obviously, some won't be backwards compatible. That's computers for you. iFart won't run on a Babbage Difference engine. Tough.

        Do you have any points to make that you didn't just invent on the spot or were you just anonymously trolling?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Ah the iPaq! What a crock!

        Oh yes the iPaq! What a complete pile of poo! Lucky if it managed to stay up and running for more than a few minutes at a time, God forbid you tried to actually run any apps on it!

        Sorry MS, but you are going to have to do better than mere bluster if you want the IT crowd on board. Somehow I think Mr Bullshit Mach was simply trying to persuade the suits that Linux is tosh and MS on the desktop, MS in the server room and MS in the hand are where they should be spending their company's dosh!

  26. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD


    I don't know what they're getting at.

    Microsoft is a singular entity. It is a big corporation out to make money.

    Linux just /isn't/ that.

    It's just some kernel that keeps getting tweaked in various directions at once by many different people with many different (sometimes cross) purposes and aims.

    Any one company could step up tomorrow and build something around a linux, if they polish it enough, like Apple polished what they got from NeXT, BSD etc... It is not within the realms of possibility for some reasonable success.

    In fact, it's probably one of the saner choices for a newish company. Take a publicly available design (because M$'s isn't... and frankly, let's face it, isn't too good either) with a reasonable track record and try and build a product around it.

    Why risk building up something from scratch unless you know deep down you really can do a better job? ( and the people to be 'better than' here are those countless open software nerds, by all means, if you can, go for it! )

  27. elderlybloke


    Microsoft says Linux will fail.

    That is supposed to be news. God we are hard up for something to report on.

  28. tempemeaty

    MS painting horns on the competition now? LOL.

    Demonizing the alternatives or competition. MS is not the first or the last to use this stupid old technique. It's a very sad company if they think they have to resort to doing that.

  29. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

    Microsoft know a thing or two...

    ...about failing in the mobile market.

    They could be right about Linux. However Linux runs on some pretty minimal hardware and is very scaleable. Wereas Microsoft had to come out with a new operating system to get themselves onto a mobile device.

    As for embedded systems, Microsoft XP runs on tills and cash registers whereas Linux runs on routers, telephones, networked harddrives, IP Cameras, TV decoders and many more things. I remember when the press was claiming Windows was going to be driving all thses things.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Handset manufacturers support a lot of OS's

    Their own homegrown OS (and usually more than one variety), Android, Winmo, Linux., third party OS (e.g. Brew) They tend to cover all the bases.

    For example, Samsung have handsets that have all of the above.

    When one becomes more popular than another, they simply dump development of the unpopular ones. These companies are so huge, they can afford to throw people at all these systems, then discard as necessary.

    Unless Winmo gets a grip, and people want to use it, it will just get dumped for the next big thing (which at CES was Android).

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