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Windows Phone 7 Series is Official…

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Feb 15, 2010 Barcelona, Spain – Microsoft Introduces it’s latest generation of mobile OS. It’s now called Windows Phone 7 series (and yes it is a mouthful). I watched the keynote and was surprised on what they have announced. WP7 looks and will probably be very very different from previous versions of Windows Mobile. As an old time WinMob user and fanboi I have a feeling of melancholy with this coming version (Microsoft says devices should ship by end of 2010).

Looking back at this: Unsolicited Advice to Microsoft & the WM7 Team blog post. It seems that Microsoft was able to address some of my concerns but then again much much more have been raised.

#1 scrap standard concentrate on professional. //It is unclear at this time if there will be only one version of WindowsPhone7 series but so far it looks like they will only have a touch version.

#2 be strict with hardware requirements. //I applaud Microsoft for taking more control over this now we shall see how the OEMs will comply/respond to this

#3 UI should be simple, clean and be finger, stylus, keyboard friendly (all 3). //The keynote showed a very fluid and finger friendly OS the device used did not have a keyboard but MS has assured us that hardware keyboards will still be supported on this OS.

#4 bypass carriers and Manufacturers and provide free or paid updates directly. I //This was not discussed at the keynote

#5 Integration: zune and xbox should be on the OS. //Microsoft touted Zune, Xbox and Bing integration. HOOORAY! But wait what does this mean for us outside North America? I will discuss this further.

#6 multi-tasking should be better. //One of the biggest questions coming out of the keynote is how WP7 will handle multi-tasking. The keynote was vague regarding the state of multi-tasking.

#7 stop changing names it confuses people. //I think WindowsPhone 7 series is a fracking lousy lousy way to brand your mobile OS. It is too long and doesn’t have good recall. They should drop the 7 series and stick to WindowsPhone.

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What I like about WP7 is that it looks like Microsoft have decided to concentrate on the UI or user interface and make it uniform throughout the OS. Microsoft has decided to go with the Zune-sque look.

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Microsoft has also finally decided to fold in their other properties namely Bing, Xbox, and Zune into their mobile OS. While this is well and good I am a bit apprehensive on how this will work in IRL and in a setting outside North America. As you know Xbox, and Zune are not available in the Philippines how then would we be able to use these services?

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If I were Microsoft I would use this as a foot in the door to sell these services to the Philippine consumer via their phones and then pulling them into the Zune and Xbox main ecosystems.

I am worried about Bing maps, Microsoft’s meager efforts in answering Google Maps. As a point of comparison take a look at these screenshots on my palm TreoPro running the Bing App & Google Maps App showing the same locale.

Image 1 is Bing Maps

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Image 2 is Google Maps

Screen002

As you can see there is ALMOST NO DETAIL for my locale on Bing Maps.

Again integration is good but how good is it outside North America (specifically the Philippines).

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Of course it wouldn’t be a Microsoft keynote if productivity is not discussed. So Office will still be a part of WindowsPhone7 series, Exchange of course, and I am betting a calculator too. Ha!

My biggest issue with this is how will WindowsPhone7 series handle multi-tasking and apps. Rumors leading up to the keynote have said that multi-tasking and legacy app support would be gone. This to me would be horrible because it would squander what little lead WinMob has over the iPhone (multi-tasking) and would cut loose a boat and a half load of developers from the platform. From the keynote it looks like WP7 will force us to go the “click-home-do-this-click-home-do that” mantra of the iPhone which to me is a very very big step back. I hope we can get more information on how WP7 will handle multi-tasking and apps.

Microsoft also announced that they would continue to license the current WindowsMobile 6.5.3 although they did not mention how long this would be.

In the past Microsoft has tried to shoehorn a COMPUTER into a PHONE. Finally after all these years they have accepted the fact that the COMPUTER is a COMPUTER, and a PHONE should be a PHONE. This fundamental change in thinking will fuel Microsoft’s endeavors in the mobile space. I cannot wait until I try the new OS, I cannot wait to see the new hardware, I cannot wait how Apple iPhone and Google Android will react. Truly an exciting time for any mobile geek.

Saw this on twitter as the keynote was going on (I think it was @dsilverman) and it is very apt for how I feel:

The reports of WindowsMobile’s death are greatly exaggerated

Microsoft is back in the game.

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