Considering its spotty record lately with various of its incredibly big family of almost-the-same versions of Windows, it can only be a good thing that Microsoft is back to shipping the bugged version of its brick-making phone edition and announced firm plans for the tablet edition it's been promising.
First things first. An update to Windows Phone 7, which was designed to fix the Windows Phone 7 update process, froze, bricked or caused other problems to phones, mostly Samsung Omnia 7s.
Now the fixed fix seems to need some fixing as well.
The issue is still with Omnia 7s, which will update if there is 4GB of free memory. Those without can't get past the part of the evening that generates the error 800705B4 if it doesn't go well.
The WindowsPhoneSupport Twitter feed suggests holding off on the fixed fix fix, for now, and links to an FAQ that offers some more details on the issue and workarounds that work for some.
It also promised the next update, which will add cut-and-paste functions, will be available in early March, "early" compared to the previously unannounced schedule for it.
The problem continues to be the sync software developed for the much-maligned Zune MP3 player, which doesn't deal well with some smartphones.
Microsoft hasn't said whether Zune will also supply the sync for the tablet version of Windows it's been promising forever, and finally roadmapped for "Autum 2010."
Microsoft doesn't have the most remarkable record for either quick or on-time shipment of its operating systems. As TheRegister reported in October, however, CEO Steve Ballmer missed out on part of his bonus for not getting a direct competitor to Apple's iPad into the field soon enough, which might have jump-started things.
Beta tests should start by the end of the year which should be about the time the huge influx of tablets from other vendors running other operating systems makes all of them generic and they all begin to standardize on one or two OSes – probably the iPad's and Android – and third-party tools to sync with both Windows and Mac systems.
That won't be entirely too late for Microsoft to make itself a profitable niche in the market. Given the speed with which mobile handhelds are developed and changed, however, it could be right on the cusp of the next revolution in form factor that will make tablets obsolete as well.
In the meantime, Microsoft fans won't have to be satisfied with the long list of existing operating systems.
On Tuesday it announced it shipped the newest version of Windows Embedded Compact 7, which is built into phones and non-PC devices such as industrial automation and retail systems, as well as some tablets.
Good thing, too, because the list of its OSes on Wikipedia doesn't quite get to five full screens, and I like a good round number. Not all of them are still supported, of course. In IT nothing ever dies, it just gets recycled into a different task. So I'm confident most of them, from Windows NT 3.5 down, are still running out there somewhere.
Except WinME. That one was definitely broken before Microsoft even shipped out the first fix to make sure.