Microsoft is taking advantage of Apple's iPhone 4 antenna controversy by suggesting it could become as big of a disaster as Windows Vista.
In a Wednesday keynote at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft COO Kevin Turner poked fun at the iPhone 4 situation and vowed that Windows Phone 7 devices won't suffer from the same issues. Many iPhone 4 customers have reported dropped calls and poor performance while holding the device in a certain way, and Apple's response to the issue has frustrated customers.
"One of the things that I want to make sure that you know today is that you're going to be able to use the Windows Phone 7 and not have to worry about how you're holding it to make a phone call," Turner said, eliciting roars of approval from the WPC faithful. "It looks like iPhone 4 might be [Apple's] Vista."
The term "Vista" is now officially as synonymous with disaster as "Waterloo," which is kind of surprising in light of how vigorously Microsoft officials defended Vista at the 2008 WPC. However, the Vista-bashing trend was also evident at last year's WPC when Turner described the positive response to the Windows 7 beta.
"The momentum in the marketplace around Windows 7 feels really good. After the Vista launch, how could it not?" Turner said at the 2009 WPC.
This year, Turner's message is that Windows Phone 7, slated to arrive on devices this holiday season, will have the same restorative effect on Microsoft's mobile business as Windows 7 had on the desktop. It may be an apples-and-oranges comparison, but it's one we're probably going to keep hearing from Microsoft executives.
"We're back in the game with Windows Phone 7," Turner said. "Our customers are going to vote by what they buy, but clearly we've done it once, we're going to do it again."
Turner also offered some insight into how Microsoft will differentiate its forthcoming line of Windows 7-powered "slates," or tablet PCs. Microsoft says its first slates will arrive before year's end, and Turner said they'll improve on what tablet PCs such as Apple's iPad currently offer.
"When you look at content creation, and content consumption, the iPad is fabulous at content consumption. It is very, very good. It's lousy at content creation," he said.
With slates, Microsoft is looking for the "sweet spot" between content consumption and content creation, according to Turner. The iPad is selling well, but because it's focused on content consumption, it doesn't offer much in the way of enhancing users' productivity.
Turner suggested that Microsoft will seek to fill this gap in the user experience by making slates suitable for business use. He also hewed to Microsoft's current mantra in the mobile market: It's still early in the game and we've got time to catch up.
"This market is not made, it's only just beginning, and don't think we aren't just all over this thing," Turner said.