Windows Mobilizes Mobile Competition

Windows is giving Google and Apple a run for their money with the new upgrade of its mobile OS, Windows Phone 7.5. Experts seem sure Microsoft will never …

Windows is giving Google and Apple a run for their money with the new upgrade of its mobile OS, Windows Phone 7.5. Experts seem sure Microsoft will never be able to compete for a share of the mobile phone market now dominated by the iPhone and Android, but its new OS Phone – called “Mango” – is drawing attention as an inexpensive business tool that provides the best mobile Microsoft Office experience on the market, and even allows users to easily access and control social media. For more on this continue reading the following article from TheStreet.

I am not sure the mobile operating system folks over at Apple(AAPL) or Google(GOOG) are losing any sleep about it, but Microsoft’s(MSFT) latest upgrade on its mobile OS, Windows Phone 7.5, has made a decent mobile business tool even a bit better.

Redmond’s mobile OS struggles are hardly deep dark, J. Edgar Hoover-like secrets. These are the facts: Even though Microsoft controls something on the order of a half-billion desktop computers on Earth, it essentially controls none of the mobile computers.

Which, rightly, should terrify Steve Ballmer and company.

And Redmond is clearly busting it to try crack the mobile market. To wit, Microsoft recently rolled out a major upgrade to its Windows Phone OS, called 7.5 — and dubbed rather idiotically “Mango.” Handset manufacturers such as Samsung, HTC and, yes, good old Nokia(NOK), have actually cozied up to the code. Major cell operators including Verizon(VZ), AT&T(T), Sprint(S) and T-Mobile now all offer reasonably business-useful Window Phone phones.

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I have spent the past month or so tinkering with this upgrade. Here is what you need to know about Microsoft’s improving mobile business fortunes.

(Full disclosure: My firm does business with an unrelated unit at Microsoft.)

1. Dirt-cheap business phones.
Microsoft may not be shy about charging up the you-know-what for its desktop tools, but in the mobile world the company is like a trip to Goodwill. None other than Verizon now sells the perfectly business-ready HTC Trophy for just $30 with a two-year contract. And the HTC Arrive from Sprint — which sports a surprisingly effective keyboard for us recovering BlackBerry(RIMM) addicts — can be had for a decent $99. That’s cheap, and they both work.

2. Social media you can … gasp! actually control.
Here’s a clever idea: A business-ready group communication function that can be tightly managed. Called Groups in Windows Phone world, they are essentially multiperson chat or email threads that happen in one place on your phone. Sure, any chat module from, say, Google Talk or even Facebook does the same thing, but to these paranoid eyes, a Windows Group is much easier to control. Factor in the Windows Phone’s overall improved security and don’t be shocked if you find these phones easier and safer to be social with than even an iPhone.

3. The best mobile Microsoft Office experience, period.
Without question, the biggest news with Windows Phones 7.5 is improved support for Outlook and document types such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint for just about any business user. As I have reported, the integration of Windows Phone with Microsoft’s Web-based software tools called Office 365 is excellent. But here in Windows 7.5, really any business can take its copy of Office out of the office. An app called Office Hub not only offers a reasonable mobile facsimile of say, Word, but users can also store and share content on Microsoft’s Web storage tools such as SkyDrive. (Be warned: SkyDrive is primitive by Google Apps, Box.net or even Apple iCloud standards. But for basic file sharing and swapping, Windows Phone works. And you don’t need the hideously expensive SharePoint servers to do it.)

Bottom line: Will Microsoft wake up one day and be the iPhone in the business mobile world? Absolutely not. Not enough people use it. Microsoft got too late a start, and Apple and Android devices are now simply too good.

But even so, speaking strictly from the tech perspective, if you are considering a low-cost, easy-to-use business mobile connectivity play, Windows Phone Mango has without question ripened into a reasonable business solution.

Try it. You’ll see.

This article was republished with permission from TheStreet.

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