Photon has been killed about 18 months ago. That’s how long development of Windows Phone 7 took them. 18 months. And that’s why the Windows Phone 7 they’ve shown at MWC looks so unfinished: Because it is.
Photon was the original Windows Mobile 7 project. An evolution of Windows Mobile 6. They were hard at work back then, trying to make Windows Mobile 7 competitive to iPhone OS. Windows Mobile 7 was originally planned to be released in mid 2009.
But at some point, they dumped the whole project and decided to start from scratch. Photon was dead. And Windows “Mobile” was doomed, making way for Windows “Phone”. Instead of Photon, they released Windows Mobile 6.5 in mid 2009, a stop gap release to give them more time to finish their new Windows Phone 7 project.
Well, we all know how that turned out.
Windows Mobile 7 wouldn’t have been much different from other platforms, like Android and iPhone OS. Sure, it would have had much more power user features, but it would have been centered around applications, like the others. It would certainly have gained a significant market share, but no dominance. With Windows Phone 7, instead, Microsoft is aiming higher. But that also means a lot of risk. It means Windows Phone 7 might fail completely. In the end, it will come down to how good they are at getting developers excited about their new platform. That’s where Palm failed, despite having a very compelling platform with webOS. Microsoft might fail the same way, though they have a much better starting position than Palm (more money, more resources, better developing tools).
But Windows Phone 7 is very similar to Vista: Just like they killed the “Longhorn” project, they killed “Photon”, and started from scratch. And just like Vista, what they’re going to release by the end of 2010 will be an unfinished product.
They’re trying to make you think that 7 is their lucky number, but actually, it might turn out that it’s not, and Windows Phone 7 is just like Windows 6 (Vista).
Also, Windows Phone 7 is not that different from Palm’s webOS: When the Palm Pre was released, webOS was a nice looking mobile OS, but lacking features and refinements. And lacking third party applications. Expect the same to happen with Windows Phone 7.