With Mobile World Congress taking place this week in Barcelona, there has been a near constant influx of smartphone and tablet related news. Most of the buzz has surrounded the upcoming crop of quad-core SoC (system on a chip) designs and Intel’s recent successes with Medfield and its subsequent design wins in the smartphone space. But Microsoft is also trying to make a bit of noise at MWC by using the event to continue the dialog it started back at the Consumer Electronic Show regarding Windows Phone’s performance relative to competing platforms.
At CES, Microsoft issued a challenge to all iOS and Android users to compare their smartphone’s performance in some everyday tasks—like uploading a photo to Facebook, for example—for a chance to win $100. If the competing platform was faster, the user won $100 right on the spot. If, however, the competing device ended up being slower than a Windows Phone, the user had to pose for a photo holding a placard that said, “My Phone Just Got Smoked by Windows Phone” or “Windows Phone is simply faster.”
This poor guy got “smoked” by Windows Phone. Image source: Microsoft
Microsoft continued the “Smoked by Windows Phone” campaign at MWC and has apparently racked up some more victims. The campaign is an interesting one because its success stems from Window Phone’s deep integration with social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and (love it or hate it) the mobile OS’ innovative and simplistic interface design. The fact of matter is most devices running Windows Phone are equipped with less RAM and slower SoCs than the vast majority of high-end smartphones being sold today. They should be slower, and are slower in terms of their specifications. Yet, Microsoft is able to show in a public venue rife with mobile device aficionados that Windows Phone is faster than the competition more often than not. Now imagine what the platform could do if optimized for the cutting edge hardware that’ll be used in devices like the just announced HTC One X—are you listening, Microsoft?
A beta version of Skype for Windows Phone is available now. Image source: Microsoft
In addition to smoking its competition, Microsoft also used Mobile World Congress to unveil a few new design wins and a highly anticipated app for Windows Phone--Skype. Nokia unveiled the Lumia 610, which is targeted at a younger, budget conscious audience and China’s ZTE showed of its upcoming Orbit. Both the Lumia 610 and ZTE Orbit are built around low-cost SoCs, which should result in affordable price tags at retail outlets when the phones officially arrive.
The Skype announcement was perhaps Microsoft’s biggest at MWC. Rick Osterloh, vice president of products and design at Skype, said, “I think it’s really important to take advantage of the new technologies and innovations that are happening in the Windows Phone ecosystem and connect them with Skype’s cross-platform communications network.” He continued with, “Now a whole big class of users is unlocked with this application, and it allows for a new form of communication from Windows Phone into the Skype network.”
The Skype beta for Windows Phone is available here.
Marco Chiappetta is a freelance journalist specializing in PC and consumer device hardware reviews. Or in his words, Marco is a "self-confessed keyboard geek." In addition to covering Microsoft for Network World, Marco's work also appears in PC World and he is an editor at Hothardware.com.