It has now been over two months since I gave up using Windows Mobile phones and I don't feel like I am missing anything with Google Android devices occupying the primary place in my pocket. I said I would look at Windows Phone 7 when it launches later this year and I am still open to trying one out. While I am having a great time with the Google Android operating system, I am honestly bored with the iPhone's 3 year old interface, Palm's webOS is stagnant as HP takes over ownership and the hardware passes a year old, RIM's BlackBerry is chugging along with a dated UI and appeal mainly to corporate users, and Nokia's Symbian^3 looks to just offer some incremental improvements over S60. Microsoft just killed off the Kin and may actually be serious about making Windows Phone 7 a major player in the smartphone market. They have their work cut out to convince tech enthusiasts and smartphone buyers, but there are holes in other operating systems that they can fill.
This week Microsoft has been talking a bit more about Windows Phone 7 at the Worldwide Partner Conference and shared some new details on WP7, including:
- PC: Windows Phone 7 will connect with Zune software on the PC through Wi-Fi to access and manage music, video, high-resolution photos and other large file content.
- Web: On the Web, customers can take advantage of the phone’s integration with web-based email and calendaring from Windows Live, Gmail, Exchange and other accounts. The Web also hosts the Zune Marketplace of music and videos as well as Xbox Live content.
- Services: Microsoft built new services for Windows Phone 7 to extend the phone to the Web. First is the new Windows Phone Live site that gives people the ability to automatically publish pictures, sync Windows Live contacts, OneNote and other information from the phone to the Web. The new site will also host the Find My Phone service, which allows people to find and manage a missing phone with map, ring, lock and erase capabilities right from their PC – for free. Finally, Windows Phone 7 provides a push notification service to help applications deliver real time updates to the phone via the live tiles on the Start screen that change with new information, or banner style updates that alert you to new information.
It sounds like Microsoft is bringing one of the best things from Kin (Kin Studio) to the Windows Phone 7 platform with Windows Phone Live. I belive Windows Phone users are much more likely to be on a PC and want this type of functionality than a younger person who spends more time on their phone than on a PC at home. I also like that the Find My Phone service will be free as that will give WP7 owners a stronger sense of security with their device.
Microsoft announced the immediate availability of the beta version of the Windows Phone Developer Tools. They also had a keynote from Andy Lees (Mobile Communications Business, Senior Vice President) that focused on two topics: creating compelling mobile solutions and services for businesses and providing unique experiences through mobile applications. Microsoft is the world leader in desktop operating systems and their Office products and there is a huge market for smartphone integration with these products.
As an Exchange, Office, and Sharepoint user I sure hope Microsoft can blow me out of the water with Windows Phone 7. I was a long time user of Windows Mobile devices and think Microsoft could have been the leader here if they had done a few things differently in the past. I know there are some excellent people at Microsoft working on Windows Phone 7 and look forward to hearing more about the platform and progress. You can keep up to date on Windows Phone 7 news by following the Windows Phone Blog.