Microsoft wants in Handhelds, but how?

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How do you merge an Apple iPad with Microsoft’s Project Natal? That must be what is going through the minds of Microsoft execs right now. More on that idea in a moment.

As many other media outlets have reported on potential shakeups happening within Microsoft, and ZDNet specifically reporting that J. Allard was leaving due to the cancellation of the Microsoft Courier, an iPad like device.

It seems likely, to me, that problems must have arisen from the Courier not being as user friendly as the Apple iPad, or as Microsoft would like. As the Zune trails behind the iPod, and even Windows Mobile cowers in a corner behind relative newcomer Google’s Android, Microsoft must be looking for a good IN to the handheld device market. But with the lackluster sales of the PSP in this country, wanting to do a handheld video game console to compete head-to-head with the Nintendo DS doesn’t seem like a smart choice, either.

The success, to me, of the iPad comes from the success of the iPhone and iPod Touch. The iPad commercials airing, which state “you already know how to use it” are true enough. The simple interface design makes using these handheld and tablet devices a breeze. With Microsoft set to fully reveal the details of Project Natal at E3 in less than a month, the discussion at Microsoft must be fast and furious. A phone simply isn’t powerful enough for gaming – not like they would like to do, not to make it run something as complex as an Xbox Live Arcade game. Having access to my LiveID on my phone will be a fun feature, touted in Windows Mobile Phone 7 Series, but the level of integration has not been explained.

So the question must be posed: if iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone can share an interface, and Android phones are starting to sweep the mobile phone market with a unified design, how can Microsoft make an impact? How do you make an easy to use, consistent interface across multiple devices, when you’re about to try and make a hands free interface add on for the Xbox 360? Do you force firmware updates to the Zune and Windows phones that give it an NXE like interface? Do you ditch the NXE and make the 360 look like a ZuneHD? There are a lot of questions to be answered. Unfortunately, I’m just a blogger who asks those, and an excited techno-geek who can’t wait to see the answers.

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