For years, Microsoft products have been known to be pretty poor until version three came around - at which point they were pretty good. Based upon the early comments about Windows Phone 7, this update seems to be the version 3.0 experience which basically means the best mobile product the software leader has developed to date.
The company has embraced the clean interface needed to compete in the mobile space without any gimmicky pseudo 3D interface tricks. The interface is unique and Apple-like at the same time... Last October I challenged companies with the following statement, Would Apple Let Your Product Out its Door? I think Microsoft may have taken its customers up on this challenge.
Some of the reasons to like this phone are the tile-based design with the ability to accept widgets from developers. Moreover, there is tight integration with Xbox Live, social networking, picture viewing, music, video and tight integration with a slew of Microsoft software products.
Microsoft mobile software has always been very powerful, allowing
users to perform tasks in numerous ways. It was this flexibility which contributed to consumer confusion when using the devices and made the experience less pleasant.
It remains to be seen if Microsoft's minimalistic approach here permeates throughout all the phones functions or whether just the top layer or two has been shellacked over. If this OS is as well put-together as the iPhone it could add the company to the list of serious players in OS wars being fought by Apple, RIM, Google, Nokia, Samsung and others.
I suppose it is worth pointing out that if this OS isn't really great, Microsoft's mobile efforts are likely at an end.
Here are some more features of this OS from Windows Phone Thoughts:
- Everything is based around Live Tiles
- All devices will be capacitive touch with "big, beautiful screens"
- The device will know the people you care about and what they're doing
- It has a slide-up lock screen just like the Zune HD
- Works with "Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, and other mail services"
- If you want to remove someone from your home screen, you "broken heart" them - just like on the Zune - and it removes the tile. Cool...and somehow appropriate.
- The calendar provides multiple views - everything you've expected from previous phones. They seem to support some sort of merged or multiple calendars. They showed personal and work items - I hope they allow for multiple Exchange calendars. I want to finally be able to see my wife's Exchange calendar...
- Super fast UI performance - this is crazy. The device has video out - I suspect all Windows phones will have video out as part of the base spec.
- The phone detects phone numbers and addresses throughout the user interface - this is old hat to Windows Mobile users
- On Bing Maps, are you zoom in on the map, it automatically shifts to satellite photo
- Multi-touch is supported across the entire device - it's consistent with the way Windows 7 on the desktop works
- Bing Maps is smart enough to figure out where you are - even indoors - and give you intelligent options. Looking up a restaurant? You'll see reviews of that restaurant from Yelp and other review providers.
- The browser is based on desktop Internet Explorer code - if this demo is indicative of real-world performance, this is insane zoom performance.
- They go a "step beyond ClearType", using sub-pixel rendering
- WVGA resolution on Windows phones will be standard
- Frequently visited Web pages can be pinned to the home page as a Live Tile
- Hubs are fast, efficient ways to collect similar information
- The people hub is a way to connect with the people you care about, and see what they're doing
- The photo hub has a what's new feed that shows you new photos...this looks amazing. You can browse through your photos, and immediately upload to Facebook with a caption. No need to log into a Facebook app - it's integrated at the root OS level.
- Photos are stored in albums - locally, or online. It pulls down Facebook albums and makes them look local - just like the HTC photo viewing app. Fantastic - this is the way it should work!
- "This phone is great for business users!". This isn't just a flashy phone for consumers people.
- The office hub. Hmm - he switched away from the live device for this hub. That means the code isn't completed yet for that. Looks like it has the full Office experience on it, but not a lot of details.
- Music & Video is core to Windows phone. "Every Windows phone 7 series phone is a Zune". There's your "Zune Phone" people...but Microsoft isn't making the hardware, and it's not called a Zune phone. Now please, for the love of all that's holy, will people please stop yammering on about the mythical "Zune phone"? There is no Zune phone. There is only the Windows phone.
- Windows phone 7 connects directly to the cloud; you don't need a PC to use this phone.
- "Some of you, particularly in Europe, haven't been able to see it..." - he's referring to Zune. Yeah Microsoft, release the Zune HD outside the USA, would ya?
- You're able to browse and control the phone via the Zune desktop software just like it's a Zune. Because it is - Zune is any device that has the Zune experience on it...so think about Windows phone + Zune Pass = killer.
- Andy Lees, Senior Vice President, Mobile Communications Business - "We re-examined everything about our strategy." He mentioned that they even looked at doing their own phone, but they wanted to continue to work with partners. Partners add specific expertise, expands scale, and increase customer choice. Hell yeah! We want choice, not just a single slab in two colours.
- They're working with Qualcomm on the core chipsets - wait a second, why isn't NVIDIA up on that slide? Isn't Tegra a core part of Windows phone?
- Hardware partners: LG, Samsung, HTC, Garmin, Asus, Dell, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba
- All Windows phones have four-point multi-touch
- Each OEM partner will provide a "range" of phones when it comes to launch time
- Mobile operators: T-Mobile, Sprint, Orange, AT&T...the usual suspects
- "They're not just dumb pipes". Sorry Andy, I have to disagree with you there - I've never seen a mobile operator add real value; it's mostly junk
- Some sort of a special deal between Microsoft and AT&T and Orange. AT&T was the first carrier to deliver Windows Mobile phones to the US in 2003. What phone was that? Motorola MPx100?
- AT&T is the "premiere partner" in the USA. Yikes...there's a lot of people that won't be happy with that. I wonder though, if Windows phones will do better on the AT&T network that iPhones. Wouldn't that be hilarious? I always roam onto AT&T when I travel to the US, and have yet to run into the kinds of problems that I hear iPhone users complain about