And the claws come out. Microsoft exec Frank X. Shaw (he of the double corporate job title) has slammed Facebook Home in a blog post, calling it "remarkably similar" to Windows Phone 7.5, which Microsoft announced two years ago.
"I tuned into the coverage of the Facebook Home event yesterday and actually had to check my calendar a few times," Shaw writes. "Not to see if it was April Fools Day, but to see if it was somehow still 2011." Ouch.
Shaw says Windows Phone 7.5 was guided by the principle "Put People First". This meant people were more important than apps, so should be more prominent on the home screen. He then lists a series of questions Microsoft came up with in designing the operating system, and some of them do sound pretty similar to Facebook Home. Features like bringing SMS and Facebook messaging into a single stream, for example.
He takes the opportunity to have a dig at Android, too. "So, we understand why Facebook would want to find a way to bring similar functionality to a platform that is sadly lacking it," he writes. "But as Android owners know, that platform is complicated enough without adding another skin built around another metaphor, on top of what is already a custom variant of the OS."
I think he has a point that some of these features aren't brand new, but they're not unique to Microsoft. HTC launched its Friend Stream function a couple of years ago, which aimed to pull together all updates from all social networks into one thread. I agree Android can be pretty complicated for the novice, with all the different versions knocking about. But Windows Phone hasn't been a huge success. Facebook Home has the potential to reach way more people because of the dominance of Android. The fact Facebook Home is an app that can be disabled, rather than a permanent user interface, also weighs rather heavily in its favour.
Is Shaw right? Did Microsoft do this better two years ago? If so, why hasn't it been more successful? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.