SAN FRANCISCO — It’s a challenging day for Joe Belfiore, Microsoft’s Windows Phone design and management vice president
Belfiore came to give an update on Microsoft’s grand entry into mobile devices to Walt Mossberg, at the Dive Into Mobile conference. Mossberg pressed for an update on Windows Phone 7 sales, saying the lack of sales info makes people wonder if it’s not doing well.
Belfiore said Microsoft has been focused on launching the platform and some devices are just now coming to market.
“It’s just too soon to talk about numbers,” he said.
Mossberg and audience members also pressed Belfiore to explain what Microsoft will do to compete with Apple’s iPad and other slate-like computers.
“Stay tuned,” Belfiore said.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in San Francisco, Google’s captivating the tech press with big news about its Chrome operating system.
Google showed a test-bed laptop that Google employees are using to test the software. It also said Acer and Samsung will begin selling laptops running the software in mid- 2011, according to Engadget’s liveblog from the event.
Chrome isn’t really launching today — it’s still to come, but Google’s progress in the operating system business is sucking air out of the room at Dive Into Mobile.
Google’s news is aimed mostly at developers that the company hopes will develop applications for the browser-like operating system. It’s also jumping out ahead of the tablet and PC announcements coming at January’s Consumer Electronics Show.
Meanwhile, Mossberg kept pressing Belfiore on Microsoft’s belated phone software and how long it may take the company to catch up to the leading smartphone platforms.
Belfiore wouldn’t give a timeframe but said it could take a few years. (Belfiore is at right and Mossberg at left in this photo by Asa Mathat of All Things Digital.)
A few more bits from Belfiore’s on-stage interview:
When Mossberg noted how far behind Microsoft’s phone platform has fallen behind the iPhone and Android platforms, Belfiore said Microsoft has “tried to take advantage of what we’ve seen them do in the market.”
“Admittedly we’ve been doing this for a long time, but now we think we have a product that’s right up there with those guys,” he said.
Mossberg asked “what makes you think it’s right up there” when the Windows Phone 7 software doesn’t yet have the multitasking and copy-paste features of the iPhone.
Belfiore said WP7 does some multitasking — loading e-mail in the background, for instance — and an update that adds copying and pasting is now being tested. He defended Microsoft’s decision to focus first on capabilities that are more widely used, such as texting, browsing, email and multimedia.
“What we’ve tried to build is a software experience that can appeal to a very broad range of users who have needs that may not be as extreme as those tech enthusiasts,” he said.
Belfiore wouldn’t say when WP7 will get its first major update but said that the update is currently running on his personal phone.
Here’s a video of the interview: