Will the gamification of Windows Phone 7 set it apart?

Microsoft execs talked up Windows Phone 7 at GigaOm's Mobilize conference and the theme is gamification: Redmond is betting the phone on Xbox Live integration. Will this strategy work?

Microsoft execs talked up Windows Phone 7 at GigaOm's Mobilize conference and the theme is gamification: Redmond is betting the phone on Xbox Live integration.

The big question: Does this focus take away from Microsoft's business bread and butter?

Matt Thompson, general manager of developer at platform evangelism at Microsoft, said the app store will be coming in weeks not months. And Microsoft demonstrated a game on a Windows Phone 7 device live. Thompson quipped that there should be a "round of applause because it worked."

Also see: Might Microsoft break its acquisition drought with a social gaming company?

The game plan for Windows Phone 7 is to make everything a game. Video games, social integrations, badges, virtual currency and other experiences all add up to the gamification theme that's everywhere in the Bay Area.  Will games be Microsoft's bread and butter? Thompson also said that Windows Phone 7's camera and pictures will allow you to put away your compact camera.

I gave a Samsung phone with Windows Phone 7 a quick spin and it seemed pretty slick. The tiles worked well and user interface worked well---but I needed more time. The rub: Games aren't going to bring me on board. And the number of apps matter, but I'm looking for business and news tools. So are many of our business tech savvy readers.

Microsoft's demonstrators keep saying that business is also a focus with Outlook integration, but corporate functions are often the passing mention. The conundrum for me---and I bet Microsoft going forward---is whether its gamification themes and messaging wind up pushing the Windows Mobile crowd further to Android, BlackBerry and iPhone devices.

Here's to hoping that Microsoft's app marketplace isn't all just fun and games.

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