Windows Phone 7: First Thoughts

So we’re finally close to the line – WP7 is good to go and the first handsets utilising all the Microsoft goodness due for release in the next few weeks.  It’s been a long time coming – particularly if you count the time from when they were last really in the mobile game back in the early 00’s rather than when they announced it back in February at Mobile World Congress.  Either way, a lot of people (myself included) have been waiting with eager anticipation to see the finished article.  And judging by the press event held yesterday (which we covered on TDL – thanks to all those that joined us for the live blog) it doesn’t disappoint.  Picking out some of the key highlights:

  • 10 devices were shown from 4 vendors (Dell, HTC, LG & Samsung)
  • Huge carrier support across the globe – 60 across 30 countries
  • Some innovative new applications – including AT&T’s U-verse on a mobile platform
  • Available from 21st October in Europe and Asia; 8th November in the US

The mantra “less stop and stare, more glance and glare” seems to be a big theme – the ads focus on the concept of a phone to save us from our phones.  I think this is the big play from Microsoft.  Much of what I heard yesterday was largely catch up with the likes of Android and iOS.  Where I believe they’ve made a leap forward in relation to the competition is the way we can handle information on a mobile device with Windows Phone 7.  It’s pretty clear to me that Microsoft are really leveraging their considerable strengths: tight integration across the whole experience – find results in Bing, link this straight to maps then share on Facebook or via email; or view calendar conflicts right within the email app; or collaborate on Sharepoint using mobile office apps.  They cover such a huge amount of ground in terms of applications, and it seems to me they’ve focused not on these apps particularly, but on integrating these apps within the mobile experience.  The tag line “designed to get you in and out, and back to life” is the key message and something another one of their major strengths can drive home: marketing muscle.

Now I’m a heavy mobile user.  Currently using a Palm Pre, but with recent experience of the Nexus One and iPhone 4, it’s clear to me that there have been many advances in mobile technology in the past 6 – 12 months, but the experience is still pretty isolated in many ways.  Primarily the experience is working with apps individually (even with multi-tasking). 

Many others will cover the hardware – including this great comparison by Engadget – but for me, as much as I’ll spend a huge amount of time looking at the hardware, it’s the way we can handle information on the move with the Windows Phone 7 platform that excites me the most.  I know Microsoft are late to the party and have taken many cues from the competition, but I also think they’ve done more than that.  They’ve properly looked at their strengths and built this thing out to maximimum effect.  And in doing so I believe they’ve moved things on, but in a different way.  I think with Windows Phone 7, it might be a bit like a referee: the less involved they are and the less you notice them, chances are the better the game will be.  I think the less you think about the OS, the richer the mobile experience will be.  And I think with WP7 more than most, this might turn out to be the case.

I’m also excited to see Zune and Xbox elements baked right into the platform.  More and more, we’re all using these devices in both our work and home lives.  We’ve had the multiple device discussion a few times on the podcast, but whichever side you sit on in that debate, I think we all need a core device that can at least handle the majority of what we want to do when mobile – even if we choose to bring in specific devices as a replacement in some cases.  Having such great platforms in there for gaming, video, music, podcasts and so on takes care of a lot of the home stuff really slickly.  And the camera implementation shows to me the way they’ve thought about every element of this: carefully and from a blank piece of paper.  I didn’t really think about the time it takes me from pocket to picture but actually, you know what: I miss a lot of shots because my Smartphone takes too long to sort out the camera app!  I can see me really loving that feature.

I’m basing a lot of this on nice marketing, nice hardware and slick demos of course!  It remains to be seen how this works out when the handsets are in the hands of millions.  I’ll be picking one up as soon as I can, I’ll let you know how things work out.  But initial impressions are they’re doing more than catching up and the future looks like it’ll include Microsoft.

We’ll be talking a lot more about this on the next (TDL Mobile) podcast (show 051), so don’t forget to join us for that.  And get in touch with your thoughts on WP7 using any of the details below.

 

Posted by SheldonW

 

twitter: @SheldonW   @TDLMobile

facebook: http://tinurl.com/TDLMobileFB

email: mobile(at)thedigitallifestyle.com