Microsoft has taken its sweet time to release a suitable phone operating system, leading many pundits have stated clearly that the software giant is too late to succeed. But it isn’t. While down, Microsoft isn’t out, and here are five reasons why the software giant may yet succeed in the ongoing smartphone war.

1. Windows Phone 7 Will Launch On All Carriers
The biggest reason people don’t switch to certain popular smartphones is because they can’t or don’t want to switch carriers. So while it took Android a year to hit all of them, and Apple remains exclusive to AT&T, Windows Phone 7 (WP7) devices will be available to everyone at launch, regardless of their current service provider.

2. Multiple Phones From Multiple Companies
Not only will WP7 be available on all carriers, all major handset manufacturers are already making Windows-based phones. Samsung, HTC, LG and Dell have all announced phones, and in just one day we learned about eight different models coming from just these four companies. Google started with just one, the HTC G1, and now it has dozens. Imagine how many WP7 devices we’ll have in a year’s time with eight launch phones.

3. Closed App and Hardware Ecosystem
Apple was right to close off the app store and limit their phones. Keeping it monitored ensures stability, ease of use and high-quality apps. Microsoft is following suit, but across many handsets. That means any app, regardless of the manufacturer or model, will work across all phones. Plus, the developer tools are free, so anyone can do it instead of paying a $100 surcharge with Apple. Microsoft is taking great care to ensure all WP7 phones have proper hardware to do anything the OS requires, so customers have the added benefit of knowing all WP7 are, in effect, certified by Microsoft.

4. Seamless Hardware and Software Integration
Apple may be the highest valued company in the world today, but it still has a dainty 10% market share in personal computers in the US. Microsoft, on the other hand, is essentially in every house with a computer, in the world. And just like Android works better with Google apps, so too WP7 will work better with Windows operating systems, Windows software like Office and Zune, and Microsoft hardware like the Xbox 360. From little things like sharing achievement points for games on your phone to perfect Exchange integration, having all of Microsoft’s services at your fingertips is what we’ve been waiting for from the company for years.

5. A Brighter Future For Windows Tablets
Just as the iPhone and Android phones were a stepping stone for tablet devices like the iPad and Galaxy tablets, a successful Windows phone may lead to future Windows-based tablets. We’ve already seen some interesting concepts from Redmond, but with a full-fledged phone OS out on the market, we might finally see the gap between phone and PC operating systems close up.

James Pikover

Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.