Has Windows Phone 7 been beaten before it's even launched?

Windows Phone 7
Windows Phone 7: too late to the party?

Things are getting interesting in mobile phone land. Android sales have quadrupled this month, thanks largely to joyous hardware such as HTC's Desire, and Google's taking the wraps off Android 2.2 in a fortnight.

The iPhone OS 4.0 is imminent, and we'll find out whether Steve Jobs has any surprises up his sleeve when the next iPhone is unveiled next month.

And Windows Phone 7… well, Windows Phone 7 still isn't out.

There's a bit in most weddings where the guests are asked: "speak now or forever hold your peace". It's the last chance to stop the wedding, and if nobody objects then the rings are exchanged, the signatures inked and the lips locked to bind bride and groom in holy matrimony. There's no point turning up six months later and shouting "BUT SHE'S A MAN!" into an empty church, even if it's true.

That's pretty much what Windows Phone 7 is up to. We're halfway down the aisle with Apple and Google, and Windows Phone has left the house, hours late, on a rickety unicycle.

Maybe Windows Phone 7 is the Mr Right of the mobile world. The problem is that it isn't Mr Right Now.

At best it won't ship until the end of 2010; at worst, it could be delayed yet again. Either way, it looks like Microsoft's mobile OS will be a case of too little, too late.

For those of us who aren't already in long-term mobile phone relationships, the HTC Desire and forthcoming iPhone look awfully seductive. It's going to be another smartphone summer, and once the season's finished millions of people will be in long-term relationships: typical phone contracts are now 18-month or even two-year affairs.

Maybe Microsoft isn't going after the uncommitted, though. Maybe it prefers a more experienced kind of customer, the kind of customer who might be looking for a bit of excitement, the kind of customer whose existing mobile no longer offers the same spark that it used to.

But there's bad news there too, because neither iPhone nor Android are slumped on the sofa, eating Wotsits and piling on the pounds. They're not as young as when we first saw them across a crowded Carphone Warehouse, sure, but both Android 2.2 and iPhone OS 4.0 promise to rejuvenate our faithful phones with electronic Viagra.

With Windows Phone 7, then, it looks like Microsoft is serenading the wrong balcony and arming Cupid with rubber arrows. Its heart is in the right place, but its timing is terrible.


Liked this? Then check out Hands on: Windows Phone 7 review

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.