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The Decline of Windows Phone 7 Continues

Ugh, the summer is a beating. Oh, don't get us wrong; the weather in New England is great, and it's nice to be able to go swimming rather than having to shovel snow. That's not the problem.

The problem is that, as we've said in this space before, August is kind of pointless for anything other than going to the beach or maybe taking in a baseball game (again, not that there's anything wrong with that). What August definitely isn't good for is news, other than the terrifying fluctuations of the stock market. In the technology industry, August is more boring than an SAP product demo.

So, because he gets paid to do this sort of thing, your editor continues to harp on the fortunes, or misfortunes, of Windows Phone 7, Microsoft's lovely but unloved mobile operating system. This week, Charlie Kindel, pretty much the head of Windows Phone, revealed that he's leaving Microsoft to...well, to do just about anything else, we figure, although he says he's going to get involved with a top-secret startup of some sort.

And he will, we suppose, but his reason for leaving Microsoft sounds not unlike the classic defamed-politician line about "spending more time with my family." We're not saying that Kindel is defamed (although it couldn't help that the first three letters of his name are K-I-N), but Windows Phone 7? Well, let's just say that it's more infamous than famous. Ol' Charlie might just be getting out while the getting is good, or at least not as bad as it's going to be pretty soon.

Because not much else is going all that well for WP7. If you're left on the WP7 team at Microsoft, you have to know things are bad when your market share dips below the Samsung Bada's, Nokia is your OS's only lifeline, and Motorola -- not exactly the juggernaut it once was in the mobile space -- is saying that it might someday think about possibly working with you. Maybe. Under the right circumstances. What a ringing endorsement (see "Motorola 'Open' to Smartphone Partnership with Microsoft").

(Another terrible sign: Somebody out there thinks Microsoft should buy RIM. Yeah, because the fading BlackBerry and the non-starter WP7 would make a great team to take on iPhone and Android. That'll work.)

Just about all that is going right in the Microsoft space is the fact that it seems to own most of the patents used in the Android OS, meaning it's making more money off of Android than it is off of WP7. Actually, we kind of like this. It's sort of old-school Microsoft. Forget about innovation or clever marketing; siphon money off of the competition with legal prowess and ruthless business acumen. Hey, it has worked for Microsoft for the last 25 years or so.

Maybe Microsoft should just be some sort of holding company for Android patents and give up its other efforts in the mobile space. WP7 seems just to go from weakness to weakness. We hope that doesn't happen, though (and it won't, of course), because we really need stuff to write about in August.


Posted by Lee Pender on August 10, 2011