Ballmer Throws Windows Mobile Team Under Bus, Backs Over Them for Good Measure

When Microsoft first accosted the world with Windows Mobile, the plan was to extend the company’s desktop hegemony to mobile devices, including smartphones.

Now, as that desktop hegemony looks less assured than ever before, Microsoft concedes that Windows Mobile hasn’t lived up to expectations.

That’s an understatement. Many would say Windows Mobile has been a chronic underachiever, continually lagging well behind its main competitors in features and functionality. Not surprisingly, its market share has declined steadily.

As the release date for Windows Mobile 7 slips further into the future (perhaps as late as the fourth quarter of 2010), Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer wants the world to know it won’t happen again — which probably means it will.

Speaking at a venture-capital summit, Ballmer admitted that WIndows Mobile 7 is late, something we already knew. He said it won’t happen again, noting that the company “has pumped in some new talent,” implying that he’s done away with the “old talent” or relegated them to Microsoft’s version of purgatory . . . or hell.

There’s nothing like delegating blame, if not authority. Lately, some Microsoft executives have taken to falling on their swords, admitting mistakes with the “less-good” Windows Vista. But Ballmer favors pointing the sword somewhere else, making shish-kebabs of Microsoft minions.

It’s good to be king, even if the kingdom isn’t quite as impregnable as it was in years past.

As for Windows Mobile 7, it will be the last chance for Microsoft to redeem itself as a platform purveyor for smartphones and mobile devices. Then again, it’s probably already too late.

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