Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer championed the company's partnership with Nokia and the benefits of Windows Phone 7.
BARCELONA-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer addressed a packed hall of
Mobile World Congress attendees with a keynote speech focusing on
the Windows Phone mobile operating platform and the company's recent
partnership with Nokia, inviting CEO and President Stephen Elop on
stage, as well as Microsoft corporate Vice President for Windows Phone
program management Joe Belfiore.
Ballmer sought to differentiate Microsoft's mobile platform from its
competitors, referencing the company's "smart design" philosophy which
guided the operating system."For the last few years the market has been
swamped by phones of similar designs," Ballmer said. "People want a
phone that makes info more accessible and helps them complete basic
tasks more easily. With smart design, we're trying to go about
improving that experience."
He also outlined the upcoming improvements to Windows Phone, including
a version of Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), which employs a device's
graphics processor to deliver the Web through HTML 5, and consumer
support for the company's SkyDrive platform, a File hosting service
that allows users to upload files to a cloud storage and then access
them from a Web browser. Ballmer also reiterated the company's belief
in the value of "hubs", of which Windows Phone has six: people, office,
pictures, music and video, marketplace and games.
The idea is to organize applications and information into a single
integrated experience. He said Twitter integration would follow
Facebook integration, with a software update free for all Windows Phone
device users. Belfiore then took the stage to demonstrate some of the
platform's services, but was unable to connect to the server and
demonstrate the Bing voice search function or high definition streaming
video he planned.
Belfiore was able to demonstrate a walkthrough of the upcoming
multitasking feature for third-party apps, showing the audience how
users can exit applications and quickly return to them. Another
demonstration focused on a third-party music application called Slacker
Personal Radio and the platform's ability to keep the music service
playing while working with other applications.
Perhaps the most intriguing upcoming development concerned Kinect, the
motion-sensitive gaming platform for the Xbox console. Belfiore played
a video showing friends using the phone to interact with each other
while playing a virtual dodgeball game on Xbox. Two friends used a
display on their phones connected to the game to hurl dodgeballs at a
Ballmer returned to the stage to address the partnership with handset
manufacturer Nokia, praising the company's excellence and "deep
expertise" with industrial design. "Their involvement will drive volume
and innovation, and accelerate the adoption of the Windows Phone
platform," he said. "We are sure from that base that Nokia will deliver
phenomenal Windows phones."
Elop then took the stage, declaring the market had moved from a battle
of devices to a war of ecosystems, noting it was "very clear" from the
selection Nokia had made where they stand on the importance of
platforms. "Microsoft and Nokia represent a natural partnership," he
said, citing the global reach, brand recognition and service expertise
of the respective companies. "Partnering with Microsoft will allow us
to re-enter the U.S. market in a compelling way."
In his closing remarks, Ballmer claimed the two companies would be the
most operator-friendly platform available, a sentiment echoing Elop's
own earlier comments. He noted the broad range of services Nokia would
add to Microsoft's roster, including mapping, location-based services
and local advertising. "2011 is shaping up to be a very fast-paced
year," Ballmer said.