Windows Phone 7, the new mobile operating system from Microsoft, should arrive on nine phones by the end of the year, hurling the fledgling OS into a market dominated by BlackBerry, Android, and Apple smartphones. So how does the Windows Phone 7 software stack up? Decently, for the most part, although many reviewers say that Microsoft still has some work to do before its new OS is really up to snuff.
Let's go to the Windows Phone 7 scoreboards.
The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg got his hands on two Windows Phone 7 phones, the Samsung Focus, which is powered by AT&T, and the HTC HD7, which runs on the T-Mobile network. Both phones cost $200, Mossberg notes, and "both are slender phones with large screens and virtual keyboards, though the Samsung is thinner and lighter than the HTC."
Microsoft, Mossberg writes, has come up with a "user interface that is novel and attractive, that stands out from the Apple and Google approaches, and that works pretty well. Instead of multiple screens filled with small app icons, or the occasional widget, Windows phones use large, dynamic tiles that can give you certain information, like your next appointment, at a glance."
Furthermore, he adds, "it has special 'hubs' for things like contacts and entertainment that use bold, attractive interfaces and offer personalized, updating information." But Mossberg isn't totally sold. He says Windows Phone 7 omits several features common to the Android and iOS interfaces, including "copy and paste, visual voicemail, multitasking of third-party apps," video calling and tethering.
David Pogue of the New York Times also finds plenty missing from the Windows Phone 7 OS. "Like the iPhone," Pogue writes, "the Web browser doesn’t play Flash videos on the Web — but it also won’t play the HTML5 videos that the iPhone plays, or even videos in Microsoft’s own Silverlight format. So, no YouTube, no Hulu, no online news videos."
The list goes on: "The e-mail program can’t unify your e-mail accounts into a single in-box. In fact, each e-mail account winds up as a separate icon on your home screen. There’s no message threading. The calendar can sync with online calendars like Yahoo’s or Google’s. But, incredibly, it can show only one category at a time, like home or work. If you’ve color-coded your life’s appointments, then this feature is all but useless," Pogue writes.
Over at CNET – in a post titled "5 Things I Dislike About Windows Phone 7" – Bonnie Cha wishes that the Zune desktop client "wasn't the only option for syncing music, video, podcasts, and photos to a Windows Phone 7 device. It'd be nice to be able to drag and drop files from your computer to your phone, but it's not recognized as a drive when connected and there's no USB mass storage mode," she writes.
Not all is doom and gloom. Joshua Topolsky of Engadget is "extremely impressed by the software's touch responsiveness and speed. In fact, this is probably the most accurate and nuanced touch response this side of iOS4," he writes. "It's kind of stunning how much work Microsoft has done on the user experience since we first saw this interface – everything now comes off as a tight, cohesive whole."
Over to you. Used a Windows 7 phone? Drop us a line.