It wasn’t long ago that bashing Microsoft was as cool as Hootie and the Blowfish and Blossom. There was no shortage of material – mangled pasting in Office, hideous mobile apps, and spooky Windows error messages that made you build a panic room. Even governments got in on it. The EU forced Microsoft to remove anti-competitive features from Windows. I think they even made Bill Gates perform The Nutcracker at a Belgian waffle house. Things have changed. Google and Apple now make Microsoft seem downright cuddly and lovable. Rather than send CEO Steve Ballmer a teddy bear to celebrate this budding bromance, I thought I’d give him something far more practical – an iPhone. I’m joking. I’d like to propose a way to revive Windows Phone 7, the company’s creative, but struggling new mobile operating system. Sadly, these advanced phones are already sharing a discount rack with rotary dial Nokias and the Motorola RAZR MC Hammer Edition.
I recently read a scathing review of several new services offering free or nearly free phone calls over the internet. Assuming you get past the fact that this mystery has already been solved, the mere existence of these services raises a few confounding questions:
- Why would anyone design such bufoonish, overly technical services?
- What kind of uber-geeky cheapskates are they targeting? Who in their right mind would take that many steps to make a phone call? We live in a world of free off-peak mobile minutes, Skype, and $24 per month unlimited VOIP service.
- Finally, after sitting through the ponderous description of how these services work, what venture capitalist would have funded these unintuitive, consumer repellent services?