November 10, 2010, 1:55 PM — You know how in monster movies, the lumbering creature always manages to outrun the frantically running victim? That seems to be Microsoft's hope in competing with Apple: Despite a late start and slow development, it will crush the iPhone out of sheer size. Microsoft's creature of choice is Windows Phone 7, available on devices from Samsung, LG, and HTC.
In a twist on the monster metaphor, the competition is not between beauty and beast. Windows Phone 7 has a very elegant user interface that is nearly as beautiful and intuitive as what Apple produces. The competition is really between capabilities, of which the iPhone has many and Windows Phone 7 has fewer.
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For example, Windows Phone 7 doesn't support HTML5-based websites, the Adobe Flash Player, device-wide search, multitasking, copy and paste, or on-device encryption. The iPhone 4 -- specifically iOS 4.1 -- supports all but Flash; the iPad supports all but Flash and multitasking, but will gain multitasking when iOS 4.2 ships this month.
Some shortcomings could be red lines for certain users. For example, on-device encryption is required by many companies to gain access to email and other servers, so many businesses might be unable to support Windows Phone 7 users. Others, such as the lack of Flash, haven't hurt the iPhone and may not hurt Windows Phone 7. The iPhone also didn't support copy and paste or multitasking for its first two years of existence, yet became a formidable presence in the mobile market anyhow.
But in this day and age of mature, aggressive mobile contenders such as Apple's iOS and Google's Android, it's hard to believe Microsoft's omission of these capabilities will be forgiven by most users.