First Reports of Windows Phone 7 Are Kinda' Positive. Wait, what?

Microsoft’s mobile division is in a pickle. And not one of those really tasty pickles, all crisp and the perfect mix of sour, sharp and savory. No, this is a pretty crappy pickle to be in.

See, Apple, Google and RIM are all established in the smartphone space. They need to be, given that mobile search revenue is soaring, app sales are booming and hardware makers are raking in cash hand over fist. These people make pickles your Polish grandmother would be jealous of. So Microsoft cannot afford to sit mobile out.

On the flip side, coming in to compete against those three and others like Nokia (who, I hear, still sell a phone or two) requires a really well thought-out strategy that appeals to masses of people. This is not always Microsoft’s strong-suit – at least in modern mobile. (See Kin)

So, the general – if conditional – thumbs-up given to a technical preview of Windows Phone 7 by the tech press is reason for hope. It’s not all good, mind you. But some is. And for Microsoft, that’s a start.

Engadget, for example, were impressed with how smooth the ‘Metro’ interface was, particularly the Zune integration and maps. They did, however, note that the platform doesn’t support Flash, Silverlight or HTML5, which means no YouTube support, which is a major knock against it.

Mobilecrunch (i.e. Techcrunch) highyly praised the keyboard, saying it may be the best touchscreen keyboard out there. They too liked the minimalist, ‘Zune-esque’ interface and stated that the way the OS handles contacts is very slick and user-friendly. Another pleasant surprise was that the mobile version of Internet Explorer doesn’t suck. Who knew?

ZDnet’s incredibly detailed 8-page piece also provided a very positive take, but also sums up the biggest biggest downsides to the phone: no HTML5, the lack of apps including one for Twitter, no copy and paste (!!!), and no multi-tasking for 3rd party apps.

Hopefully Microsoft can build on this positive start, and also learn from the way Google has iterated on Android to make it a serious contender for best smartphone OS. If they can, it seems we may all soon benefit from another legitimate contender in the world of smartphones.

Written by Navneet Alang

Navneet Alang is a technology-culture writer based in Toronto. You can find him on Twitter at @navalang
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Comments
  • http://clifference.com Cliff

    I hear nokia sells far more than a phone or two :)

    I believe ZDnet said lack of twitter integration for contacts, not an app, but I could be wrong cause I didn’t actually read it yet. But based on the others one I read. How can you comment on the lack of apps before the marketplace and product is even released yet?

  • http://ow.ly/2f6xl Ethan

    I think another point to mention here is how Microsoft is trying to turn its employees into brand evangelists by giving away its Windows Phone 7 to 90,000+ employees. To your point, ultimately, Microsoft needs to create a quality product and if it does so, employees could rally around the brand and enhance its success for the future.

  • Paul Rich

    I had such high expectation for WP7, I’ve been waiting for it for 6 months, having this and an all new HTC HD7. So I was incredibly excited to pick up my phone from O2 when it came out. In fact, so much so that I allocated the first day to playing with the phone, after all I’d been used to using Windows Mobile 6.1 on my trusty Orbit, this promised so very much more.
    And true the active tiles, integration with Facebook, Google mail etc. seemed stunning, I was almost orgasmic. The way it works is smooth, flicking between screens with the visual overlap appealing rather than distracting. Eventually, I worked out how to use the Zune interface and that was pretty good too. I was happy.
    Now I had two main things I wanted from the phone. 1. GPS functionality, I used my Orbit as a sat nav and was really happy with it. I expected similar things here. Sure Bing maps was on and I knew it wasn’t on the lines of GMaps but that was sort of OK, but there was no in built sat nav software (somewhat disappointing). So, I went on Marketplace to look for something – nothing.Not a happy bunny.
    2. Being able to watch YouTube vids, iPlayer and Seesaw. Yep, no support for any Flash based video. In my entire wait and research for WP7 nothing was ever stated anywhere that this wouldn’t be the case, and I thought it would be included by default – it is in 6.1+ so it must be, in fact the thought never even crossed my mind. Yet, it wasn’t there and no matter what people are saying online, no-one knows what’s going to happen and when.
    I also used to use Skype and Facebook chat to speak to family in Australia, but then neither of these are integrated either. Oh, and when I tried to setup the phone with my Windows Live ID, it wouldn’t saying that I had to call Live support for an activation code yet there was no telephone number (wasn’t even able to find one on the Live.com site either),so I couldn’t use that either.
    So, two of my major reasons were dashed from the off. My issue with it didn’t stop there. Using IE was a nightmare, I almost launched the thing at one point. Great, it utilised pinch and zoom, but then IE would decide to zoom when I was trying to scroll around a page.
    This was too much. I couldn’t do what I wanted the phone for and worse of all I’d been waiting for months to get my hands on it. My relationship with WP7 lasted a day, when I returned it to the store. My feelings are that the phone’s good bits are amazing, but for me it’s let down those things I’ve stated above. On a hardware note though, the HD7 is out of this world. So, now the phone’s gone back I’m now getting the HTC Desire HD (almost the same as the HD7) on Android. It’s a shame WP7 can be so much and I’m sure six months down the line it will be, but at the moment it just isn’t there – for me at least.