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Microsoft disses Facebook Home as so 'two years ago'

Microsoft exec criticizes Facebook Home, Android OS in blog post

Microsoft took off the gloves and took a big swing at Facebook today, calling the social network's new Home launcher an old idea.

Facebook Thursday unveiled Home, a home screen, along with family of apps all for Android smartphones.

Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg stressed during the unveiling that Home is not an operating system, it simply sits on top of Android so the first thing users see when they boot their phone is Facebook.

Zuckerberg described the home screen as "the soul" of a smartphone, and added that Facebook is looking to focus more on people than on apps.

"We're putting people first in your phone," he said.

That statement seems to have got under Microsoft's craw.

"I tuned into the coverage of the Facebook Home event yesterday and actually had to check my calendar a few times," said Microsoft spokeman Frank X. Shaw in a blog post. "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 explained that when Microsoft started to design the Windows Phone OS, which was launched in 2011, its engineers began their work with the idea that people should be the focus. "Put people first," he said.

"People are more important than apps, so phones should be designed around you and the people you care about, not the apps you might use to reach them," Shaw said. "Millions of Windows Phone owners have already discovered how great a phone can be when it's designed this way."

Shaw also took a swipe at the Android mobile OS, calling it "complicated."

With the post, Microsoft was obviously trying to dim the glow of Facebook's Home announcement, and to capitalize on the buzz surrounding it.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, said Microsoft may be a bit jealous of the facebook move.

" Microsoft may have started with the idea, and may have tried to build a community around it [from scratch]," he said.

Meanwhile, he said that Facebook is working on the same theory, but is starting with "a community of 800 billion. The idea just doesn't work without a community."

According to Internet tracker comScore, Apple iOS- and Google Android-based devices accounted for 89.7% of smartphones used in the U.S. during the last quarter of 2012. Microsoft's Windows Phone-based smartphones accounted for a distant 2.9% of the market.

Kerravala said it's amusing that a Microsoft worker would call another operating system complicated. That's a common complaint about Windows 8.

"It's definitely the pot calling the kettle black," he said. "This is all very much sour grapes."

Facebook unveiled a launcher, called Home, which, in part, replaces your home screen with a Facebook centric home screen. Do you want Facebook Home as your smartphone's home screen?

Do you want Facebook Home as your smartphone's home screen?

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is [email protected].

Read more about mobile/wireless in Computerworld's Mobile/Wireless Topic Center.

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