Windows Phone 7 Series: Microsoft Starts Over

By  |  Monday, February 15, 2010 at 9:11 am

It doesn’t look or work like Windows Mobile 6.5. It’s not an iPhone OS knockoff. Instead, Windows Phone 7 Series, which Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled today at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress show, looks more like the Zune HD than anything else. And it looks…exciting.

For the first time I can remember, Microsoft is scrapping a major platform and starting from scratch. Windows Phone 7 Series–yes, the name includes a completely superfluous “Series”–isn’t compatible with Windows Mobile. And while Microsoft has always pitched the sheer variety of Windows Mobile phone designs as a primary advantage, Windows Phone 7 devices, which are supposed to show up for the holidays, will apparently be more similar to each other than different. (Microsoft is specifying one CPU, screen resolution, and set of buttons, for instance.)

The 7 interface involves titles that dynamically update themselves with new information, Zune HD-like menus with oversized text, and lots of fluid animation; there are Xbox Live gaming features, and the entertainment capabilities seem to be Zunelike.

It’s dangerous to have your socks knocked off by a demo video, which is all I’ve seen so far, since I’m not in Barcelona. But here is one:

Gizmodo has a good summary of what’s new in the new OS–and like everyone else who’s seen it close-up and blogged about it, Giz is enthusiastic.

Microsoft’s decision to reboot its phone OS was the right one–the only possible one, probably–and if Windows Phone 7′s interface is anywhere near as good as the one on the Zune HD, it’ll be impressive.

I already know I like the fact that it doesn’t look much of anything like Windows 7–for years, Windows Mobile has been inherently hobbled by Microsoft’s insistence that a mobile version of Windows should have a Start Menu and System Tray-like icons and other features which just won’t work well on a teeny-tiny screen.

More thoughts to come…

 
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13 Comments For This Post

  1. WillyD Says:

    But will it run Linux?

    All joking aside though, it does look pretty good. I agree with you in that it looks very much like a Zune HD or even, IMHO, Windows Media Center. Hopefully it will run faster than the latter.

  2. SamF Says:

    Glitzy demo, though it makes the user interface look frustratingly complex. I mean, I’m not I even understood what was supposed to be happening.

    Promising if it’s a reboot of the whole stack, but if it’s just a glossy new home screen with some new widgets it won’t mean much.

    I fear the team behind it has misunderstood the success of phone OS’s like iPhone OS thinking it’s the animation and attractive GUIs that make is successful. Those are what make it feel finished and solid, but it’s the well-thought-out core and user interactions that make it successful.

  3. Relyt Says:

    I hope some of the new UI features and apps (if/when released, because MS will probably release an app store for WinPhone) will ported back to the Zune HD. The ZHD is looking pretty and simple compared to this! (plus the fact that it has next to no apps)

  4. Chip Says:

    I’m wondering how important familiarity is to a product from a known company?

    In many reviews, the Zune was heralded as being terrific, but didn’t garner much traction.

  5. Backlin Says:

    It’s cool that they’re not really deriving concepts from the iPhone, and all the other menus are awesome, but the home screen just feels kind of “off” for me. Three columns centered would be a lot better.

  6. Mike Butts Says:

    It would be nice to see Windows Mobile/Windows CE/Pocket PC finally hit the trash heap. When I first started using a Pocket PC, it was a Palm wannabe that was never reliable. A dozen years later, I tried a 6.1 smartphone and was shocked by how little had changed. Slow, unstable, needy (of frequent reboots) and frustrating.

  7. sfmitch Says:

    My question is why anyone would choose Windows phone over Blackberry, iPhone, Android, Palm, Nokia, etc.

    Is it going to be significantly better than the competition? If not, then why would a consumer not go with the mature platforms that have the Apps, ecosystems, proven ease of use, lower cost, etc.?

    Is MS going to be charging handset makers for the OS? If so, why would a device maker choose MS over Android or Symbian?

    Is the new OS going to grow the WinMo market share? If so, who is losing?

    How exciting is the mobile space?!!!?

  8. Marc Says:

    It certainly looks promising, although I still think Android’s home screen looks more useful to me, and I hope Apple being something similar to the iPhone soon, since it’s starting to look a bit dated.

    For me, the APIs will be what decides it. If Microsoft have a nice SDK that means I can code WPF and not have to have my applications approved then I might go with Windows next time. My PC is littered with small utilities I write for myself to do specific tasks – being able to do that for a phone would be brilliant. I don’t own a Mac so I can’t develop for my iPhone, so I was considering getting an Android phone next – I’m glad to see some competition.

  9. Tom B Says:

    Even Android looks more sophisticated than this puppy. It looks like it was designed by the marketing department instead of UI people. But, since we are talking about MSFT, maybe that’s a good thing…

  10. NookSurfer Says:

    From the touch screens to the zoom in/out…I still feel that Microsoft is playing catch up to Apple. I’m still waiting for them to take the leap and try something different different and go from following to leading…

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