Why is Windows Phone still not ready for the big time?

Windows Phone 7 - has it achieved enough?
Windows Phone 7 - has it achieved enough?

Windows Phone still feels like a pretty nascent operating system - after all, it was less than 18 months ago we got the first official look at the new Metro design.

However, fast forward to where we are today and you have to question whether Microsoft is doing enough to really become a front running mobile OS provider.

I was lucky enough to check out the Microsoft campus in Redmond last year to see how the platform was being built - and I was left hugely impressed with the ethos of all the engineers working on it.

Huge swathes of people all working on creating an OS that was both intuitive and simple first and foremost: an excellent idea. Pretty much the antithesis of the Symbian mentality, and we can all see where that project is heading.

But come October this year, we're only going to have seen one major upgrade to the OS in the shape of Mango, and quite feasibly no new phones from the major manufacturers either.

The leap forward made by Mango is terrifically important to Microsoft - (pseudo) multitasking, better app integration and opening up more code for developers to tinker with are all exactly the right moves to bring Windows Phone to the masses.

We wanted it yesterday

The only problem is this update really needed to have launched already and the tech press should be talking about the new Tango update if Microsoft is really going to keep the OS front and centre when users are thinking of a new phone to upgrade to.

And it's perplexing to see no new handsets from the big manufacturers already - I was really hoping to have a good 10-15 phones to choose from on the market to show people Microsoft was serious about the project.

In February 2010, when Windows Phone was announced, Google was chatting to all and sundry about the second iteration of its Éclair (2.1) Android version. In the same 18 months and with arguably the same amount of resource, Google has added nearly double the major updates to its phone platform and managed to bang out a tablet-friendly offering too.

However, that's not to say I'm unimpressed with the way Microsoft is crafting Windows Phone - I think the approach is spot on, as by focusing on the UI and intuition of the phone, rather than the raw functionality, you're giving the handsets the best chance of attracting the new smartphone user that has a play with a phone in the shop, and that's a very important demographic indeed.

So while the speed at which Microsoft is trying to catch up with the likes of Google and Apple worries me, if it can do enough to keep increasing the number of users at an adequate level then there's no reason why it can't be a front-running OS in a couple of years.

So come on HTC, Samsung et al: let's see some cool Windows Phone models in the near future - and hopefully we'll be taste testing Tango sooner rather than later.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.