Saving Windows Phone 7: 10 Things Microsoft Must Do Now

News Analysis: Microsoft Windows Phone 7 is seeing its market share slip compared with entrenched rivals. Alarms are ringing in Redmond, and Microsoft needs to do something fast to fix it.

Windows Phone 7 is having an exceptionally hard time catching on in the marketplace. Not only is its market share far behind that of Android and iOS, but Microsoft has yet to prove that it can rebuild its ailing mobile division, which continues to appear slow to adapt to the changing demands of today's consumers and enterprise customers.

At this point, there's no telling what the future holds for Windows Phone 7. Research firms such as Gartner believe the operating system will be fine after a few years as Nokia smartphones start running Windows Phone 7. But other research firms, including ABI Research, say that former Nokia customers will opt for Android or the iPhone rather than stick with Microsoft. Simply put, there is substantial uncertainty with Windows Phone 7 right now.

Microsoft needs to act quickly to ensure its mobile operating system doesn't fall victim to its entrenched competitors. The company must engage in several key activities as soon as possible to gain a solid footing in the mobile marketplace. If it does the right things quickly, Microsoft will see its platform grow over the long term.

Here's what Microsoft must do now to save Windows Phone 7:

1. More apps

If Apple has proved anything, it's that mobile applications are integral to the success of an operating system. The company's App Store, which currently has over 350,000 available applications, has been a significant contributor to the iPhone's success. Microsoft has an applications marketplace of its own, but as users know all too well, its library is not nearly as deep as Apple's. If Microsoft wants to save Windows Phone 7, it will need to do a much better job of wooing developers and bringing more apps to its Marketplace.

2. Improve the user experience

Windows Phone 7 launched with a rather interesting user interface that eschewed the traditional gridlike design of iOS and Android for a more fluid layout. However, that design choice turned out to be a bit of an issue for users ,who found that moving between applications was much harder than it should be. Moreover, performing other basic tasks on the device, such as flipping through different screens, takes a bit more effort than it does on competing platforms. It would be nice to see Microsoft fix those quirks and deliver a more appealing user experience.

3. Lean on vendors

Microsoft has partnered with several hardware vendors to bring its software to the market, including Samsung, HTC and others. However, those devices are not as well-designed as the iPhone or even some Android-based smartphones. For the most part, they are run-of-the-mill smartphones running Windows Phone 7-nothing more, nothing less. Microsoft must start to lean on vendors to get them to push the envelope more with their smartphones. The flashier the device, the more likely it will succeed.

4. Adapt it for tablets

So far, Microsoft has said that it plans to offer Windows Phone 7 on smartphones and Windows 7 on tablets. But that's a mistake. As Apple and Google have shown, adapting smartphone-focused operating systems for tablets is actually a much better idea. Plus, with the growth of tablets in today's marketplace, bringing Windows Phone 7 to slates might help improve the appeal of Microsoft's operating system. The time has come for Microsoft to think seriously about bringing Windows Phone 7 to tablets.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...