Windows Phone 7 : Snapshots of reviews to date

Posted on July 24, 2010

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Since June 24 when I last  I attended Microsoft Singapore sneek peek event about the forthcoming Windows Phone 7, the momentum of Windows Phone 7 had picked up considerably. Especially in the past week, more information had been revealed. In this post, I will present a snapshot of information which I believe would summarized well what we do know till now.

This is a video released on 22 Jul , where Microsoft’s Greg Sullivan ( Senior Product Manager for Windows Phone ) demo the new features  on his Samsung Taylor Windows Phone 7 device to the press in Germany.  Video credits and full report at  Zdnet editors in Germany .

A week before this, Pocketnow.com’s Brandon Miniman gave us a walk-through of the software ( build 6414 ) which he said was very close to what we’ll be shipped on devices in just a few momths. He commented that the operating system has become much faster and there have been many visually improvements. Additionally, it appears that a lot of performance enhancements have been made to the browser.

Anton Nagy of Pocketnow.com had reported more features based on  Greg Sullivan’s presentation compared to the build 6414.

–  a demonstration of HTML e-mail and that Outlook is capable of delivering the rich e-mail experience of HTML e-mail from any Exchange, POP or IMAP source.
– Windows Phone 7 will handle multiple Calendars with Exchange, GMail, Windows Live and it will distinguish between them by using different colors so the user will know, at a glance, where that certain appointment is coming from.
– New  Pictures experience on Windows Phone 7, if you launch a Portrait slideshow or full screen view of your Pictures, besides flick scrolling them, you will have a cool feature of displaying them in a filmstrip , activated by a  Pinch and Stretch gesture so you can easily find and select the one you are looking for.
– Demonstration of the Camera application activated by a dedicated camera button which will bring up the viewfinder . After taking the picture, you can easily switch back and forth between the picture and the viewfinder which is a great feature because you really don’t want to miss that certain moment and ruin it with a badly taken picture.
– Very fast Operating System when you launch applications, go back, launch another one and how fluid the User Interface is, let it be the app launch animations, the flick scrolling, picture viewing and zooming with Pinch and Stretch.
– Windows Phone 7 will support four simultaneous user touch input points to enable unique application interactions. This would be very useful for games or musical instrument applications as well as painting programs. Also, the upcoming mobile OS from Microsoft will recognize five single-touch ( Tap, Double Tap, Pan, Flick, Touch and Hold )  and one multi-touch gesture.

On 19 Jul, Microsoft announced free giveaway of phones to developers and the  90,000 worldwide employees . Microsoft is now encouraging its employees to develop applications for Windows Phone 7 to create a rich app ecosystem for the new platform. Though it’s unclear if Microsoft will create additional incentives, other than sales revenues and notoriety for popular apps, it looks like the company is fully standing behind its product, which bodes well. Ther letter from Microsoft is posted here.

Microsoft, Greg Sullivan, had confirmed that Dell, Asus, LG, HTC, Samsung will be their OEM launch partners , with phones expected to be release between November and January.

Some unique features reported :
– BING will be the default search engine as the the search engine has been heavily integrated into the OS, so it would be hard to offer an alternative.
– Six hardware buttons are required by Windows Phone 7

1. Power/Sleep: this button has several applications: it Boots the phone when powered off, locks the Device and turns off Screen when normal operation is on, turns screen off when the screen is locked, turns the screen on when the screen is off and the Device is locked and turns the phone off via either Software or Hardware (depending on the implementation of the period of time it is pushed).
2. Volume Up and Down: will adjust the volume of either the in-call conversation volume (if a phone call is active), or else the overall device volume.
3. Camera: this has two operation modes like with the majority of camera, it will support full and half presses. Half button press will focus the camera and the full press will take the picture. Also, pressing the Camera button will start the Camera application.
4. Back: will take the user one step/page back to the previous screen/page within the same application or between applications. Other functionalities of the Back button include closing menus, dialogs, navigating to a previous page, exiting a search operation, or even switching applications.
5. Start: when the Start button is pressed, all the applications will receive a Pause command and the Device will present the Start in the phone
6. Search: will launch BING to find content anywhere on the Device.

Windows Phone 7 centers on the 6 Hubs. (People, Music + Videos, Pictures, Office, Games, and Marketplace) and  this earlier video shows  what each of them looks like in the current Technical Preview. These hubs bring together related content from the Web, applications and services into a single view to simplify common tasks.

People

Windows Phone 7This hub aims to deliver an engaging social experience by bringing together relevant content based on the person, including his or her live feeds from social networks and photos. It also provides a central place from which to post updates to Facebook and Windows Live in one step.

Pictures

Windows Phone 7This hub aims to make it easy to share pictures and video to a social network in one step. Windows Phone 7 also brings together a user’s photos by integrating with the Web and PC, making the phone the ideal place to view a person’s entire picture and video collection.

Games

Windows Phone 7This hub delivers the first and only official Xbox LIVE experience on a phone, including Xbox LIVE games, Spotlight feed and the ability to see a gamer’s avatar, Achievements and gamer profile.

Music + Video

Windows Phone 7This hub aims to create a media experience that brings the best of Zune, including content from a user’s PC, online music services and a built-in FM radio into one place that is all about music and video. Users can turn their media experience into a social one with Zune Social on a PC and share their media recommendations with like-minded music lovers. The playback experience is promised to be rich and easy to navigate.

Marketplace

This hub allows the user to easily discover and load the phone with certified applications and games.

Lacking Features :

Several tech reviewers have  spend a couple of weeks with Samsung Taylor, the  Windows Phone 7 prototype .  Overall the sentiment towards Windows Phone 7 is positive: reviewers agree that the operating system is generally well thought out, that it performs very well (with nearly no lag when jumping around the operating system), and that it has the potential to be a true contender in the mobile platform space.

However there are a handful of features still missing from Windows Phone 7, some of which will be addressed by the time the platform launches this fall, but many of which will not. Here’s a list:

– No Twitter integration
– No copy and paste
– No third-party multitasking
– No Flash, Silverlight, or HTML5 support in the browser
– No dedicated YouTube application
– No robust document editing capabilities in Office
– No way to stop Facebook contacts from mixing with global contacts
– No global email inbox
– No threaded email
– No organization of the full program list (it’s alphabetical)
– No way of knowing if a long press is available
– No universal search

So, the million dollar question now is : WHO will be Microsoft customers for this new Windows Phone 7 ?

WindowsPhoneThoughts had deliberated this in detail and you can read the report at their site here.  Briefly, the sources of customers for a new product really fall into at least three categories:

– Existing customers that are going to switch from an older product to the new one.
– Customers using competing products that can be convinced to switch.
– Customers that don’t currently have a product of this type which enter the marketplace and purchase your product

I find that Engadget.com has done the best and most comprehensive review of Windows Phone 7. If you would just like to know more in just one website , this is the place to go. The link is here .  There could be better ones, but I haven’t found any yet. Pocketnow.com is another of my favorite site with regular updates about Windows phone 7 progress ( see some of  the links below ).

To conclude, read Infoworld’s Galen Gruban blistering comments about Windows Phone 7 at http://www.infoworld.com/d/mobilize/windows-phone-7-dont-bother-disaster-211?page=0,0

This is one article which APPLE fans would love and like you  to read. I quote here some excerpts :

There’s no kind way to say it: Windows PHone 7 will be a failure,” … “Announced to much bravado in February as the platform that would breathe life into Microsoft’s mobile ambitions, Windows Phone 7 looked based on very early previews as if it might bring something new and exciting to the table. Back then, I noted that I was impressed by what I saw — with the caveat ‘so far.'”
“No caveats now: Windows Phone 7 is a waste of time and money,” … “It’s a platform that no carrier, device maker, developer, or user should bother with.”
“Microsoft should kill it before it ships and admit that it’s out of the mobile game for good. It is supposed to ship around Christmas 2010, but anyone who gets one will prefer a lump of coal,” … “I really mean that.”
“In Microsoft’s in-depth demo this week at the Mobile Beat conference, there’s no mistaking the big pig behind the gloss,” …. “Seeing the UI in action across several tasks, not just in a highly controlled presentation, shows how awkward and unsophisticated it is — I had the same feeling you get when you got a movie based on a great trailer, only to discover that all the good stuff was in the trailer and the rest of the movie was a mess. A pig, in fact.”
“The bottom line is this: Windows Phone 7 is a pale imitation of the 2007-era iPhone. It’s as if Microsoft decided in summer 2007 to copy the iPhone and has shut its developers in a bunker ever since, so they don’t realize that several years have passed, that the iPhone has advanced… Microsoft is stuck in 2007, with a smartphone OS whose feature checklist might match that era’s iPhone but whose fit and finish would look like a Pinto next to a Maserati.”

Links :

Latest update 1 Aug : http://pocketnow.com/thought/what-i-think-you-should-know-about-windows-phone-7

http://www.engadget.com/2010/07/19/windows-phone-7-in-depth-preview/

http://pocketnow.com/thought/why-twitter-is-not-integrated-with-windows-phone-7

http://pocketnow.com/thought/whats-still-missing-from-windows-phone-7

http://pocketnow.com/software-1/windows-phone-7-build-6414-walkthrough-video

http://pocketnow.com/tech-news/more-windows-phone-7-features-shown-off

http://pocketnow.com/tech-news/microsoft-asks-employees-to-moonlight-as-windows-phone-7-app-developers

http://windowsphonethoughts.com/news/show/99038/where-will-microsoft-find-the-customers-for-windows-phone-7.html

http://windowsphonethoughts.com/news/show/99008/haters-why-some-want-windows-phone-to-fail.html

https://leemn.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/windows-phone-7-sneak-peek-microsoft-singapore/