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Day October 20, 2010

My preliminary thoughts on Windows Phone 7

I won’t lie — I’m impressed. WP7’s Metro UI is refreshing — unique, functional, simple — not an easy accomplishment. It excites me the way webOS excited me the first time I saw it, albeit to a lesser degree. I admire Microsoft’s willingness to break away from Windows Mobile and start with a clean slate from the ground up — a necessary step if they are serious about gaining back mobile market share. Time will tell whether they were too late.

I am also excited about the ecosystem that Microsoft brings to the table: Zune, Xbox, Bing, Live and Office integration are just a few services in Microsoft’s portfolio that lend Windows Phone 7 some serious fire power out of the gate.

On the other hand, I am turned off by Microsoft’s insistence on sticking with the licensed OS business model. Although Microsoft has gone to much greater lengths to avoid the fragmentation and non-standardization problems that Google’s Android faces, I still believe that hardware, software, and ecosystem should all be an in-house, intimately integrated affair for maximum consumer satisfaction. Apple, RIM, HP, and even Nokia seem to get this. Hopefully, Microsoft will see the light and bless us with a phone built entirely to their specifications.

Speaking of phones, I am uninspired by the initial bevy of Windows Phone 7 handsets. The Samsung Focus, HTC HD7, and HTC HD7 Pro are all premium products, but they all seem too ‘me-too’. Their single greatest asset is that they run Windows Phone 7 — as far as hardware goes, however, there is nothing present that is truly revolutionary. In fact, the HTC Surround seems to be trying too hard to distinguish itself. One innovation I do appreciate, though, is the mandate of a hardware camera button that takes a picture whenever pressed, although I can see several problems with having such functionality enabled.

It is also interesting to see Microsoft have multiple handsets available at launch. I’ll definitely be checking a few out, but I don’t foresee too many current smartphone users making the switch to WP7. It will be interesting too see how many first-time smartphone owners choose Windows Phone this holiday season.

Windows Phone 7 — Microsoft’s bid to recapture the mobile market — was unveiled at Mobile World Congress back in February and was officially launched last week at events in NYC and London. You can get the latest news on Windows Phone 7, including a video of the NYC press conference, at the link below.

Link: Windows Phone Newsroom