After spending an hour reviewing the new Windows Phone 7 the only conclusion that I can come to is that Microsoft has only got themselves to blame if this OS goes pear shaped and there is every possibility it will.
I saw the operating system some months ago but it was not until recently that I was able to get my hands on a Samsung beta Smartphone running the new Microsoft, Windows Phone 7 OS. The bottom line is that it is smooth to navigate, highly functional and reasonable fast, but so is Android 2.2, and Apple’s latest iPhone OS.
And as you would expect from Microsoft the messaging and the interconnectivity with Exchange is extremely smooth and the inclusion of a full suite of Office 2010 Mobile applications including OneNote is a big plus for business users.
After a few minutes playing with this phone one seriously starts to question as to why the hell did Microsoft not wake up to themselves 2 years ago, when their mobile market started to go pear shaped on them, after all Microsoft do claim to be the world’s best software Company, or should that be Apple.
The facts are that Microsoft did not start working on this OS until 18 months ago, just before Android was launched and right after Apple was teaching the world how to do a Smartphone OS.
The interface is different because it is tiles as oppose to the application icons of the iPhone or Android offerings.
A tap of a tile and the application fires up pretty quickly but unlike an Apple iPhone or Android offering there are not thousands of applications to choose from in fact there are very few applications which is why this OS could fail.
You can drag and drop the tile into any position on the screen a lot easier than you can with an Android phone. A big standout for Microsoft is the way in which they have handled contacts and phone functions.
Windows ID and Facebook play a big role with this new phone but if you’re like me I want a lot more than what Microsoft is offering. I want good mapping, great navigation and voice activated access to what is online with Google Search. All of this is missing. Another big weakness is that users are forced to use a version of Internet Explorer which is buggy at the best of times.
Contacts are easily linked with your Windows Live ID contacts, or those found on your Facebook pages, content loaded into these sources can be easily uplifted into the WP7 OS. As expected Microsoft supports POP, IMAP and Exchange and connecting with these services is easy.
Messaging is okay but not outstanding. Text was accurate and fast to type in the same way that HTC and current Samsung Android phones perform.
Everything about this OS screams “catch up” or an OS developed out of sheer frustration. There is nothing new and sexy which is what Microsoft needed to elevate this platform ahead of what arch rivals Google and Apple are delivering.
The new WP7 Omnia phone from Samsung has a 4 inch Super AMOLED touch screen and surround sound. It has a metallic body and minimalist design.
It will be available for $0 upfront on the $79 Optus Cap plan for consumer customers and $0 upfront on the $79 Business Complete Ultimate plan for business customers; both plans are available on a 24 month contract with a minimum spend of $1896.
Australia didn’t get Microsoft’s Zune music so this OS is the next best thing when it comes to music and music management. The OS allows users to search online for both video and music however it is not clear what content will be made available in Australia as Microsoft in the past has shunned making available any of their global content.
One WP7 phone I saw was set up to access Telstra BigPond content which is okay but it is nowhere as good as what Apple offers with their iTunes services. Neither do you have access to 250,000 iPhone applications. At a stretch you may get access to 2,000 applications of which 70% you most probably don’t want to know.
Another me too feature is the camera however Microsoft has done a neat job of the software around the camera function. Once you have taken a picture it sits on the left side of the phone. You simply swipe it or tap it to enlarge.
If you are seriously thinking of buying a phone running this OS simply pick up an iPhone, a Samsung Galaxy S or an HTC Desire before you say yes, because I suspect that when you compare all three offerings your decision will not go in Microsoft’s favour.
The Windows Phone 7 OS is early days and when compared with what’s on offer with even an Android 1.6 phone it’s lacking which for Microsoft who is the world’s largest software Company is really an indictment of how far this Company has fallen in the mobile and consumer electronics market.