Microsoft’s Windows Mobile has generated a lot of attention this week, not all of it good. The company invited the press to an event it's holding jointly with Nokia on September 5 -- a week before Apple’s rumored September 12 event -- but provided few details about the content. The buzz Microsoft tried to create was almost immediately overshadowed by a bug that stopped all publishing and downloading of apps from the Windows Phone Marketplace.
A Week of Ups and Downs
Press invitations went out Wednesday announcing an event being held by Microsoft and Nokia in New York on September 5. Most industry observers are speculating the companies will announce a new Windows Phone 8 from Nokia.
This isn’t the first Windows-based phone for Nokia. The company released the Windows 7.5 Lumia 800 earlier this year, but sales in the US were mediocre despite mostly positive reviews. Microsoft is likely trying to detract attention from Apple, which is rumored to be announcing its next iPhone and perhaps an iPad mini on September 12.
It’s unclear if Microsoft’s unified interface strategy that will bring a single experience to the desktop, tablet, gaming devices and mobile phones will be enough to lure Apple enthusiasts to Windows.
It certainly won’t be enough if Microsoft continues to make mistakes like the one that interrupted service to its app store this week. Two weeks ago, the company released its completely revamped Windows Phone Dev Center with few hiccups. Things changed this week when an issue with the digital certificates Microsoft uses to sign mobile apps prevented devices that had upgraded to Windows Phone 7.5 from installing apps. According to Microsoft,
the issue only affects a small percentage of the 100,000-plus apps in Marketplace. Among the more popular ones affected are the New York Times, WhatsApp, and Translator from Bing -- all of which recently issued new updates.”
Once Microsoft identified the problem, they stopped developers from publishing apps until the problem is resolved.
The Impact on Microsoft’s Mobile Ambitions
It is unlikely that this week's app store issue will be a significant stumbling block for Microsoft. The company is rolling out a slew of changes and consumers are likely to give the company a bit of understanding, but that generosity will not last forever. If Microsoft wants to compete successfully with Apple and Android, it will have to provide a stable environment and rapidly innovate.