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Reversal fortune?

Between FAM 2008 and FAM 2009, Microsoft announced Windows Mobile 6.5, which Bach promised would reverse Microsoft's fortunes with touch, services, and browsing.

"You will have a very rich browsing experience on 6.5 devices that will give you access to more Web sites than you will be able to get to on an iPhone, that will work actively and work well. It really is a much better experience," he promised.

It was classic Bach and Microsoft: no details on the roadmap or why anyone should want to drop Apple for Windows besides more talk of a "rich experience".

Bach also delivered more of the same generalities. He said Microsoft is building relationships, getting "the right integration" with hardware partners, and fulfilling "the need to work very closely with Samsung, Sony Ericsson and others to build a broad selection of phones."

There was nothing about what's coming after Windows Mobile 6.5, which Microsoft has said is just a step towards its fully touch-enabled Windows Mobile 7.0.

Culture war

Microsoft's been in mobile market for the best part of a decade, but Windows on mobile has never received the same focus and devotion as Windows on PCs and servers. Brands and architectures have shifted over the years, from Windows CE to Windows Mobile and now to the .NET Compact Framework. With the iPhone, it seems Microsoft has been guilty of underestimating the potential for Apple's success, possibly believing the world would one-day wake up after a brief fling and come back to Windows. That mistake goes right to the top of Microsoft.

We'll have to wait to see whether Roman's blog for iPhone developers is an isolated shout or whether this firms up into a coordinated campaign to woo iPhone developers - akin to the kinds of online campaigns Microsoft's tried on Internet Explorer 8 and Windows 7.

But the blog shows three things: that Microsoft knows it must act, that it realizes it needs iPhone coders, and that the gap between building for an iPhone and Windows Mobile is as big as it ever was for choosing between an Apple or a Microsoft stack - both in a technology and in a cultural sense. ®

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