Eye on Microsoft

About this Blog: This is Shane O'Neill's blog about Microsoft's corporate strategy and its various software and services — the good, the bad and the ugly.

Eye on Microsoft

Windows Phone 7 Reviews: Beauty or the Beast?

Early takes on the Technical Preview of Windows Phone 7 are more thumbs up than screw up. But is it too late to sway users?

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Just released as a Technical Preview platform, Windows Phone 7 is being gobbled up by developers and reviewers for early testing. And whether it's being called a disaster or the ultimate phone, interest in WP7 is reaching a fever pitch.

By and large this is because Microsoft is taking a rare risk and many of us in the technosphere are dying to see how it shakes out. Windows Phone 7 is a complete rewrite and Redmond is ending support for predecessor Windows Mobile 6.5. It is diving into a sea of sharks dominated by iPhones, BlackBerrys and, increasingly, Android phones. Mobile customers are loyal to established brands — a strike against WP7, but are also relishing in the luxury of choice — which gives WP7 some hope.

In short, the world as we know it is steadily relying on smartphones for work and play, and the weight of Microsoft's world is on Windows Phone 7.

Unboxing of a Windows Phone 7 Technical Preview developer phone.

WP7 phones are scheduled to release in October, with rumors that it could happen earlier. Does the general public think of Microsoft when it thinks of cellphones anymore? Has Microsoft simply wasted too much time getting its mobile act together? These are likely to be the issues that make or break WP7 despite any new features or design improvements.

This week, a Technical Preview build of WP7 on prototype devices was given to reviewers. Here are various takes on the WP7's design and interface features from various publications.

Windows Phone 7 Strikes an Emotional Chord (Supersite for Windows)
Supersite for Windows editor Paul Thurrott writes that the Windows Phone 7 merges work-related tools like e-mail and productivity apps with consumer tools like media and social networking better than any smartphone. It could end to the days when users carry multiple mobile devices for multiple purposes, he writes. A positive review overall.

Windows Phone 7: Don't Bother with this Disaster (InfoWorld)
This is quite a different take from InfoWorld where Windows Phone 7 lacks any innovation, looks like knockoff of a 2007-era iPhone and is doomed to fail badly.

Slideshow: Windows 7 Hardware in Pictures: The Latest and Greatest Laptops
Slideshow: Microsoft's Home of the Future: A Visual Tour
Slideshow: Fighting the Dark Side: Tech's Heroes and Villains

Hands On: Windows Phone 7 Technical Preview (PC Magazine)
PC Magazine writes that making Windows Phone 7 a clean slate was a great decision, and that there's a lot to like about the "Hub" navigation interface.

Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Preview (Boy Genius Report)
Boy Genius Report writes that although Windows Phone 7 is not finished yet and the hardware for the Technical Preview is only meant for testing "Microsoft has ... created a brand new mobile operating system packed full of clean, modern, and sometimes even beautiful design elements."

Windows Phone 7 Technical Preview: Hot and Not (PCWorld)
PC World offers up a mixed review of Windows Phone 7, praising the fast and responsive UI, the virtual keyboard and the camera button, but criticizing Office limitations and missing features like third-party multi-tasking, copy-and-paste and HTML5.

Shane O'Neill is a senior writer at CIO.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/smoneill. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter at twitter.com/CIOonline.


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