Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 15th Feb 2010 15:47 UTC
Windows So, after much, much speculation and many, many rumours, Microsoft finally took the wraps off Windows Phone 7 Series, its newest mobile operating system. Hold on to your hats, because uncharacteristically for the Redmond giant, they've rebuilt everything from the ground up - this system has little to no connection to the Windows Mobile of yore. I don't say this lightly - but dear lord, Windows Phone 7 Series is full of win. Update: Hands-on video from Engadget inside. Update II: There is no sync application. It's all done over-the-air, to the internet. Only videos and music are synced via the Zune software. Update III: Since I didn't mention it clearly, here it goes: Windows Phone 7 Series is a clean break. There is no backwards compatibility at all. Update IV: Channel9 has a 22-minute in-depth demonstration of Windows Phone 7 Series.
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by The1stImmortal on Tue 16th Feb 2010 13:23 UTC
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OK, confessions: My current phones are an old Nokia candy-bar phone purely for phone calls (hey, it works and has never skipped a beat) and a WM6 phone made by a GPS manufacturer (strangely) - it is an utterly terrible phone (and has some other failings due to poor support) but WM6 lets me use it as basically a micro-laptop. For that, I love it. Having said that - I'm *very* aware of its UI failings - I'm not against an overhaul.

Now, my impressions of WP7...
Having read all the articles, and watched the video a few times, I really, really, really hope that this is an early development build and not the production product.

First - Transitions. The transition effects are lovely - but they appear be used primarily to hide a sluggish response time (and therefore the transitions themselves seem drawn-out) a few places where transitions didn't occur (bugs?) the screen was black for a while - I'm going to pretend though that this was due to it being a development build and having debug code etc in there - but I *really* hope they clean this up for a production version. Waiting for your phone is annoying.

Second - the Wall metaphor. For fun, I cut a hole roughly the size of what I figured the phone's screen was into a piece of A4 paper. I then walked around placing it over things and trying to use/read them through the hole. It was *really* annoying. This perhaps isn't a fair analogy, since the "wall" is designed to be viewed through this window, but I have a feeling that it, too, would be irritating in the long term ("why can't I just see the whole damn thing at once?"). Pinch zoom could help here but then you run into problems with the expected view-port size not matching the current view-port size, and needing a zoom "reset" mechanism.

Third - The Wall metaphor (pt 2). It appears slightly odd that sometimes pieces of the wall randomly detach and fly off, or that objects seem to be at random, inconsistent distances between the "viewer" and the "wall". Additionally, walls don't flip. When you're using a tiny view-port on a larger virtual surface, and the surface flips, it's odd. Especially when the flip "hinges" on the edge of the view-port (thus breaking the virtual surface illusion). I'll pretend they're bugs again here ;)

Fourth - Widgets. The large, primary coloured, vector graphic buttons are really good design. Easy to see, easy to tap. Too bad they're used inconsistently, alternating with text which may-or-may-not be tappable, and smaller tappable buttons appearing at random locations onscreen.

Fifth - Titlebars/location indicators. They do *not* need to take up a quarter of the screen. Generally, if I'm in the contacts list ("people"), I know I'm there, since I put me there. If I forget, it should either be obvious from the screen contents, or have a subtle-but-unmissable onscreen hint. I don't my phone to scream what it's doing at the guy sitting three rows behind me on the train. Especially not so inconsistently.

Sixth - Sync. Not being able to sync is a downright weird choice. I'm actually somewhat disbelieving here - given Sync Center is a part of Vista & 7, I suspect they'll tie into it somehow. Otherwise - there'll be no backup strategy for those without Exchange accounts (a large number of smaller businesses and personal users still use POP3 for mail and local contacts/calendar etc). And what of tethering? I just don't see it ;)

Seventh - Market - This is obviously a consumer oriented device, cool, no probs. They're still going to have to split the market though - WM6's family of WinCE devices is going to *have* to be maintained - not necessarily for phones though. Do you have any idea how many other hand-helds run Windows Mobile/CE or a related OS? Couriers, supermarket bar-code scanners etc - an awful lot use WinCE, and the more recent ones are essentially WM6 minus phone components. Microsoft is doing the very thing it lampooned Google for - developing two OSes in parallel (in its space). It wouldn't surprise me if WP7 is just a GUI layer atop an essentially WM6.5 core for this very reason.

There's an awful lot of good stuff in WP7. It just looks very incomplete, very buggy, somewhat inconsistent, and to represent some very odd long-term decisions on Microsoft's part. We'll see how it pans out in the long run though - I really do wish it well! I just don't think I'll be buying one myself.

Edited 2010-02-16 13:35 UTC

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