Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has blamed the company’s antitrust lawsuit woes for losing the Windows Mobile OS battle to Android, adding that he thinks everyone would be on Windows Mobile if they were not caught in the antitrust investigation. Gates made the remarks at The New York Times‘ DealBook Conference, according to a report on The Verge.
Gates said, “There’s no doubt that the antitrust lawsuit was bad for Microsoft, and we would have been more focused on creating the phone operating system and so instead of using Android today you would be using Windows Mobile. ”
“If it hadn’t been for the antitrust case… we were so close, I was just too distracted. I screwed that up because of the distraction,” he added. Gates also revealed that Microsoft missed the opportunity to launch Windows Mobile on a key Motorola handset, but he did not mention which Motorola device. The US justice department had investigated Microsoft in 1998 and the case was decided in 2001. Microsoft eventually reached a settlement in the case with the US justice department.
Windows Mobile goes back all the way to 1996, though it was named Windows Mobile only in 2003. In 2010, it was replaced by Windows Phone. But Windows Phone nor Windows Mobile ever really took off in the smartphone market, with Android going on to become the most dominant software on mobile.
This is not the first time that Gates has expressed regret over losing the mobile battle to Google’s Android. Back in June, he had called losing to Android his ‘greatest mistake ever.’ He said the loss cost the company close to $400 billion. “Android is the standard non-Apple phone platform. That was a natural thing for Microsoft to win. It really is winner take all,” he had said.
For Microsoft, the challenge to Windows Mobile and Windows Phone were plenty. As Android grew in popularity developers and manufacturers flocked to Android. Another challenge was that Windows Mobile or Phone never really got the kind of apps and support from developers that was seen on Android and iOS.