Oh, good — now Microsoft is going to further muddy the waters of their mobile computing efforts:

Microsoft tablets, both its own Surfaces and those from third parties and both those running Windows 8 and Windows RT, have been hobbled by software that just doesn’t fit touch devices very well. The upcoming Windows 8.1 improves matters by reducing the frequency with which users have to resort to the traditional Windows Desktop UI, but it can’t change the fact that this is an operating system with mice and keyboards and a traditional desktop file system at its heart, with a lot of touch features bolted on. This feeling is exacerbated by the fact that the features Microsoft counts on to distinguish its tablets, such as keyboard in the ability to run Desktop Office, define them as ultralight PCs, not true tablets.

The enhancements to Windows Phone only confuse things further. It is entirely possible that coming months will see Windows Phones with 6″ displays next to Windows 8 or Windows RT tablets with 7″ screens. For devices this close in size to be running different and incompatible operating systems is a recipe to deepen the bafflement of customers, OEMs, and software developers.

The stupid, it hurts.

Windows Phone 8 is a perfectly good platform. It’s doing so-so in Europe, and has a few diehard users in the US. Not enough, but Nokia is making solid devices running a fine mobile OS. They beat the hell out of most of the crapulent el cheapo phones running Android. I believe there’s room in the market for a third mobile OS to be at least moderately successful. And if anybody has the deep pockets and stubborn sticktoitiveness to make that happen, it’s Microsoft.

(Room for four mobile operating systems, if you include Amazon’s long-rumored cellphone using its custom Kindle fork of Android.)

But I swear Redmond’s unwanted, unloved, ill-conceived Surface tablets are squashing half the life out of Windows Phone.