Tom Warren: Microsoft's Crucial and Risky 2012

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When it comes to Microsoft, you won't find many reporters that are more connected than Tom Warren. Stuart Miles of Pocket-lint wrote this about Tom for the SAY 100 tech channel: "Trying to out scoop Microsoft hacks when you aren’t based in Seattle has got to be a tough gig, however Tom Warren doesn’t see something like distance (he is based in London) get in the way as he consistently breaks stories our of Redmond ahead of the West coast. This is one connected reporter when it comes to the Microsoft beat."

We caught up with the Microsoft expert (and recently appointed senior UK editor for The Verge) to ask him why Windows phones aren't catching on, who else is doing a good job covering the Microsoft beat– and what the big stories will be for MSFT 2012.

You've worked on several other sites including being editor in chief of Neowin.net and founder of WinRumors. What made you decide to join The Verge? Mainly the huge amount of talent and the ability to write full time with The Verge. They are doing some incredible stuff with coverage and video and I wanted to be part of that future.

What will you be doing at The Verge that you couldn't do at WinRumors? What will you be covering differently? I'll be able to focus on writing full time. With WinRumors and Neowin it was only a side job for me alongside a full time IT job. I don't feel there will be much difference in terms of my focus or coverage.

You're in the UK – how does that change the way you cover Microsoft and Silicon Valley? Any advantages? It has advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes stuff breaks early (Nokia deal with MSFT) and U.S. publications are slow to react. Other times it's irritating being this side of the pond when you need to fly out or cover U.S. specific news.

You've built a career on following Microsoft - why the fascination with that company? I guess I just grew up using Microsoft products and feeling inspired by Bill Gates. The fascination really kicked off from there. At The Verge I hope to expand into other technology areas outside of just Microsoft.

What are your favorite Microsoft stories that you're following– and why are they important? I think Windows 8 is the most important Microsoft story right now. The Windows Phone momentum (or lack of) is an interesting part of Microsoft's move into mobile computing too. Windows 8 and Windows Phone combining will be crucial to Microsoft's future.

Instant product review: What's the best Windows phone and why? And why doesn't everyone have one? It's hard to pick a "best Windows Phone" right now as there's no clear winner. I'd have to pick between the HTC TITAN, Samsung Focus S and Nokia Lumia 800. They all have their own unique offerings that are better than each other. Samsung's screen is better than the TITAN and it's a great size. On the other hand the Lumia is a beautifully designed device but it lacks a forward facing camera and some of the camera options that HTC packs in. People don't have one because there's a lack of awareness around the product. It's clear that Nokia is really pushing Windows Phone in the UK and that appears to be working. We won't know fully until Microsoft provides guidance on the number of shipped devices.

What other Microsoft watchers and tech writers do you follow? Who's doing it right and why? I follow Paul Thurrott, Mary Jo Foley and Todd Bishop. Mary Jo gets some great scoops, Paul is very thorough and detailed in his analysis and Todd is located in Seattle so he gets some great insight into Microsoft as the company. I also follow a lot of the Windows Phone blogs and Microsoft's main blogger Steve Clayton.

What are your all-time greatest or most popular posts? Ones you're most proud of? I've loved a lot of posts but some of largest reactions were to the iPhone funeral story for Windows Phone, the exclusive Nokia Lumia pictures, and the Hotmail passwords leaked.

What are your predictions for Microsoft products in 2012 – what should we expect? I would expect a rather large update to Windows Phone that brings some unique features for Windows and Xbox users. Microsoft is really pushing the three screens and a cloud story and they'll have to build on their Windows and Xbox user base to push Windows Phone. Windows 8 will be the big story of 2012 for Microsoft; it's hard to describe just how crucial and risky this release will be.

Are you ever confused with the British model Tom Warren? Thankfully not. I'm sure I weigh a lot more than him!

Follow Tom on Twitter @tomwarren