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Microsoft: Facebook Home is a copycat, Windows Phone is the ‘real thing’

Apr 07, 20135 mins
Data and Information SecurityEnterprise ApplicationsFacebook

The idea behind Facebook Home and 'putting people first' was Microsoft's strategy two years ago for Windows Phone, and Redmond suggested you try the 'real thing.'

After the Facebook Home event announcing an Android homescreen Facebook interface, Microsoft said, Hey, that’s pretty much our Windows Phone campaign from 2011.

The goal of Facebook Home, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is to “transform your Android phone into a great social device” that is not “built around tasks and apps,” but around people. “The home screen is the soul of your phone. It sets the tone. We feel it should be deeply personal.” So Zuckerberg said Facebook Home is “putting people first in your phone.” He referenced an IDC Research Report that found smartphone users check their Facebook nearly 14 times a day and look at their phone about 100 times daily. He told Wired that “Facebook accounts for 23% of the time people spend on smartphones.”

Then Facebook said, “To see what’s happening with your friends, you pull out your phone and navigate through a series of separate apps. We asked ourselves ­if sharing and connecting are what matter most, what would your phone be like if it put your friends first? Our answer is Home. Home isn’t a phone or operating system, and it’s also more than just an app. Home is a completely new experience that lets you see the world through people, not apps.”

Although Microsoft has about a 1.6%  stake in Facebook, Frank X. Shaw, VP of Corporate Communications at Microsoft, did not seem happy when he wrote, “I tuned into the coverage of the Facebook Home event yesterday and actually had to check my calendar a few times. Not to see if it was still April Fools Day, but to see if it was somehow still 2011. Because the content of the presentation was remarkably similar to the launch event we did for Windows Phone two years ago.”

Shaw also posted Microsoft’s “Put people first with Windows Phone 7.5” video before writing, “We understand why Facebook would want to find a way to bring similar functionality to a platform that is sadly lacking it.”

So, while we applaud Facebook for working to give some Android owners a taste of what a “people-centric” phone can be like, we’d humbly like to suggest that you get the real thing, and simply upgrade to a Windows Phone.

When you get your Windows Phone, simply log into your Facebook account (along with Twitter, Skype, LinkedIn and Gmail) and pin your best friends and family to your start screen, and we promise you’ll be feeling even more at “home.”

But Windows Phone didn’t take over the world, even if Facebook seems to be trying to take over Microsoft’s People First idea. In fact, a recent Gartner report predicts the end of Microsoft as king as PC sales will continue to decline while tablets and smartphones rise.

“While there will be some individuals who retain both a personal PC and a tablet, especially those who use either or both for work and play, most will be satisfied with the experience they get from a tablet as their main computing device,” said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. “As consumers shift their time away from their PC to tablets and smartphones, they will no longer see their PC as a device that they need to replace on a regular basis.”

“Android will take increasing share across the device landscape, driven by the penetration into the phone market,” Gartner said. Regarding Facebook’s grab of Android screen real estate, Zuckerberg sounded almost gleeful when he explained that Google can’t stop Facebook Home. Now Facebook has launched an ad for Home called “Airplane,” the company’s “first-ever television campaign across U.S. network and cable programming.”

At the Home event, Zuckerberg admitted that you could see ads in your cover feed. If you want to know more about how Home works, Inside Facebook has a good hands-on Facebook Home write up. Pushing the business side of Facebook, Zuckerberg told Wired, “With phones, there’s no room for a right-hand column of ads. That forced us to think about what the business looks like on mobile.” Unsurprisingly, Zuckerberg didn’t bother to address any privacy questions about Home at the event; Facebook later had to address the “few questions” about how Home works with privacy.

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ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.