Windows Phone 7; why, why not, and reader FAQ

Windows Phone 7; why, why not, and reader FAQ

Summary: After a couple of weeks with Windows Phone 7 I am ready to answer more reader questions, including the big question of Why choose WP7?

SHARE:

I posted my in-depth look at the Windows Phone 7 Technical Preview and followed that up with the current top 10 features of Windows Phone 7. I have been using the Samsung WP7 device as my primary device with T-Mobile and for the most part I was able to get by with it as my daily driver. However, I honestly did miss all the great Android applications that I have come to enjoy using and there were a couple buggy issues (poor Bluetooth range with my headset) that I am sure will be addressed before final release. In this post I will start with the number one question I was asked, "Why?", follow that up with what is missing, and then post the rest of the questions and answers regarding Windows Phone 7.

Why is there Windows Phone 7 and why choose instead of iOS or Google Android?

Kevin asked me this question on our last Mobile Tech Roundup podcast so listen to it for my verbal answer. As I said, I actually believe that the Microsoft name resonates with people and is a trusted name in technology. While the press and online media may often make it sound like Apple is killing everything else, I know I enjoy using Microsoft products like Outlook, Office, and Windows 7. I think the Microsoft name goes a long way and with a phone at least as good as this Tech Preview version Microsoft should sell quite a few of these devices with some good marketing.

I also think Windows Phone 7 appeals to those bored with the iOS user interface who are looking for something fast and fresh. Zune HD fans will probably jump on the ability to take their experience to a smartphone with the added benefit of streaming Zune content. Exchange and Office support are also quite good with Exchange being the best I have seen on a mobile phone in a long time (naturally) so even though Microsoft is looking at the consumer with WP7 the enterprise customer is still very well taken care of.

Apple rules with apps and an app-focused user experience while Google has a mix of apps, widgets, and notifications to appeal to other customers. Microsoft's WP7 has some good notification functions, thoughtful experience approaches, and powerful core applications. With more apps, WP7 may appeal to those looking for something that is well rounded and doesn't require you to bounce between lots of apps.

There will be those that hate Microsoft and slam them just because they are Microsoft, but I think if you give Windows Phone 7 an honest look you will be pretty impressed. That doesn't mean everything is perfect and Microsoft can still blow the launch if they don't get their story out and well promoted properly. I personally think they have a great product that can appeal to many. They need to focus on the end user experience and downplay the application number advantage iOS has because they will never catch up in that department. I am a heavy app user and can easily live with 20 or so core solid apps so the number of apps past 5,000 or so is really not that big of a factor.

What is missing in the current Tech Preview?

I want to start off this section with a strong caveat I want you all to keep in mind as you read this and other articles on the current Technical Preview version of Windows Phone 7. This is still an early version of the software and what you see all of us talking about today is most likely NOT what you will see when Windows Phone 7 launches later this your. As I mentioned on the last page of my Windows Phone 7 Tech Preview guide there are a few issues and concerns I still have with Windows Phone 7. Now that I have had almost two weeks with the Samsung WP7 device, I also figured out that some of the issues I mentioned earlier are actually the same as what you see on the iPhone 4 and WP7 may be better than my first impressions stated.

To start with, Twitter service integration was one of my first concerns, but if you look at the smartphone market Apple has NO Twitter integration and the only devices that have it integrated on the Android platform are those that have custom user interfaces with Twitter provided by manufacturers. There are many 3rd party Twitter apps on the iOS and Google Android platforms and we will hopefully see the same thing on Windows Phone 7, but lack of native Twitter support isn't something we can honestly find lacking with Windows Phone.

Another issue I mentioned before was lack of USB drive mode. Again, the iPhone doesn't support this either so is this really an issue to be concerned with?

I think the main issues causing concern remain lack of copy and paste and multi-tasking. It was interesting to see that you could finely place the cursor and select words in Word so it seems like it would be fairly straight forward to add a tap and hold context menu to copy, paste, and select. Microsoft has already stated this will be coming at some point and I sure hope they decided to dedicate some resources to getting this done in time for launch.

Multi-tasking is an issue that I do not think is as cut and dry as copy and paste, especially since the native apps on WP7 already allow you to multi-task. Microsoft may implement multi-tasking in a fashion like Apple or maybe uninhibited like Android and webOS. We may see some limited form at launch and if not, let's hope we do soon after with a firmware update.

One major annoyance I had was the fact that Facebook is currently TOO integrated. For services like Google and Outlook you can check to sync Email, Contacts, or Calendar data while in Facebook you get Contacts, Photos, and Feeds with no ability to toggle this information on or off. I don't care to have all of my Facebook friends' information synced into my Contacts list. Speaking of Contacts, I don't mind the quick jump to letter navigation system, but having to then scroll through all the names with that letter in the list is a bit annoying. Microsoft needs to implement their smart dialing feature seen on Windows Mobile devices.

Reader Q&A

Over the last week I received several questions from readers in email and in Talkback comments so let's take a look at them and answers I have in response.

  1. Question: You mentioned the outline feature in Word Mobile. Can you determine whether it supports an Outline View for existing Word docs you copy to the Win7 Mob device? To me, lack of Outline View has been a major shortcoming for prior versions of Win Mob--It's a necessity for navigating around in long docs. Answer: I received a few Word documents via email and opened them in Word on the WP7 device. These existing document do indeed support the quick outline indexing that allows you to quickly navigate to key areas of the document. I was actually surprised how accurate the outlining was in the Word documents.
  2. Question: The only multi-tasking I'm interested in for apps is that you can have several apps open at once and switch between them on the fly--without losing your place in each app. Does Win7 enable this? Answer: WP7 supports native app multi-tasking, but there is no task switcher or ability to quickly jump between the open apps. I understand that multi-tasking will come in a future update, but it remains to be seen how Microsoft will implement it.
  3. Question: I see that Bing is the default search engine shown on the device. Apple let's me choose Bing or Google as the web search engine. Can I change this to Google or some other service if I don't like or want to use Bing? Answer: Bing is integrated into WP7 just like Google search is integrated into Android devices. Why would anyone expect anything different? If the experience is good, and it is, then I really don't understand the issue with using Bing. Are people just so anti-Microsoft that they want to use Google search instead of Bing? If that is the case, then I imagine they will buy an Android device instead anyway.
  4. Question: Loved your review. I was wondering if you could change the font size so that you can preview MORE email messages? I looks like it displays 5 at a time, would love to have more. Answer: I could not find any setting to change the font size to view more emails in the Inbox. You can scroll up and down very quickly and when you open up an email pinch and zoom is supported so you can zoom in to see larger fonts.
  5. Question: Even though its a review/non-production unit, what type of hours are you getting out it? Answer: I was connected via an EDGE data connection and was able to go something like 10-12 hours with push email, Live, and other services running in the background, reading about 30-40 emails, and surfing the web about 15-25 minutes. This is not indicative at all of what we will see though since the software will be complete and the hardware will be completely different than this prototype.
  6. Question: You talked a little bit about the Exchange/Outlook integration on the phone. We use Exchange and on my Droid I have to use a 3rd party app to get the level of Exchange support I desire. I have one main Exchange question for you (and a couple smaller ones too). I currently have multiple rules that place new email in various folder in Exchange. On the WP7 phone are you able to sync multiple folders to the phone? If so, when new emails are received in folders other than the inbox does the Outlook message count on the phone increase? Can you move email between folders on the phone? In the unread messages section do all messages from all folders show up? Answer: You are able to sync multiple folders with Exchange. The second icon from the left pops-up a list of folders you selected to sync with an option to show all folders. From here you select what you want to sync and then tap sync this folder. You can sync multiple folders, but I honestly never have rules where email goes right into set folders so I am not sure about the count for folders. You can tap and hold on a message with a menu option to move the email to any of your folders and not just the ones that you have synced to the phone.
  7. Question: One thing I have yet to see much at all is using WP7 as a Zune. Yea, everyone says it works just like a Zune HD but I have a few specific scenarios. Can I start a Smart DJ playlist and have it stream continuously, a-la Pandora? Next, how does it work as an accessory? My situation is that I have a 2010 Chevy Camaro which has a USB port that I can plug a Zune into and it will detect it as a Zune and play media off of it. Will it work in these types of applications? I'm assuming it supports A2DP? Answer: Smart DJ is one of the few features that is not currently supported in this Technical Preview. The Zune music does stream and it even worked pretty well over my EDGE data connection. I did not try it as an accessory since it has a microUSB port and not a Zune port and I didn't have a setup to try this out.
  8. Question: Is there any way to sync contact and calendar to Outlook locally? Answer: All syncing that I could find is performed through Zune or via a wireless connection. I did not see any way to sync Outlook locally and am not sure if this will be supported through a special Zune Windows Phone 7 interface or if only wireless sync will work.
  9. Question: Does the Windows phone 7 (very poor name by the way) allow for the initiation and completion of hands free phone calls via bluetooth? This is something that Windows Mobile has done for years as have other mobile phones, but the Droids do not support this functionality. This should be something discussed up front when reviewing a mobile phone. In many states, hands free is the law, not kind of hands fee like Android has implemented. And how responsive is the voice dialer via bluetooth, assuming it exists? Answer:I agree that the name is awkward, especially when you say you have a Windows Phone 7 phone. It would be nice for someone at Microsoft to come up with something good like Zune, Xbox, or some other brand that stands out by itself. Actually, Google Android 2.2 (Froyo) supports Bluetooth hands-free voice control and dialing and does it quite well.I tested the Samsung Windows Phone 7 Technical Preview phone with a BlueAnt Q1 and after pressing and holding the start button on the phone you are able to use the Tellme voice control functionality over Bluetooth to make calls, open apps, and whatever else you can do with the voice control software. I did not have another headset available to test if you could initiate this right from the headset itself, but will do this when a shipping review unit is available.

That's a wrap

I have to send back the Windows Phone 7 device this week and can't spend any more time with it. I hope to get a chance to use a device prior to launch to see how far Microsoft brings Windows Phone 7 in time for launch. If you have further questions, please do let me know what they are and I will see if Microsoft can answer them as we move through the months waiting for release.

My earlier stated decision to buy one based on my first impressions still stands. The super fast response, intuitive user interface, very good Exchange and Office support, Zune support, and promise of Xbox Live make this a device I want to own so I will pick one up when T-Mobile launches it later this year.

Topics: Mobile OS, Software, Operating Systems, Mobility, Android, Microsoft, Google, Collaboration, Apps, Windows

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

76 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Windows Phone 7; why, why not, and reader FAQ

    I doubt the WP7 will be successful MS is not a handset maker nor a phone company.
    MLHACK
    • So then you doubt android will be successful for the same reasons?

      gee MS is not a pc maker either...
      Johnny Vegas
      • RE: Windows Phone 7; why, why not, and reader FAQ

        @Johnny Vegas

        Statement is out of context. The post is based on previous example the KIN was a flop so MS pulled the plug now we are going to invest a bunch of capital into this idea and if it flops pull the plug again. Sorry share holders will not be happy with this business model.
        MLHACK
    • And your point is...?

      @MLHACK
      Neither is Google. They only make the Android OS. The hardware is made by anyone who wants to do so - Motorola, HTC, Samsung, etc...

      Hasn't stopped them from being successful, now, has it?
      Wolfie2K3
      • RE: Windows Phone 7; why, why not, and reader FAQ

        @Wolfie2K3
        Again see reply to Johnny google build android which is a success if it was a flop and google pulled it they would have not said umm lets kick ourselves in the nuts again and release another mobile OS called whatever.
        MLHACK
    • RE: Windows Phone 7; why, why not, and reader FAQ

      @MLHACK
      Duh. It's WM7 because there was a WM6 and a WM5 etc. They were all very successful. I loved both 5 and 6. I have to use MS XP at work, so I got a MS phone. Wise choice. My favorite feature is the outlook synch. I never miss meetings or appointments - right into the phone and right into my work calendar. If I meet a contact at a party, he's in the phone list on the mainframe in less than 30 seconds. It's also nice to carry my current word, spreadsheet, database and presentation documents all in my pocket just in case I meet someone interested.
      bugsike
      • RE: Windows Phone 7; why, why not, and reader FAQ

        @bugsike

        Really.. You want to get into semantics WM7 WP7 same damn thing. Even the author of the article references it as WP7 come on. I had a Motorola WM6 phone hated it. I do love my droid however. So to each their own.
        MLHACK
    • Are you that Lame? or are you just a iNazi?

      @MLHACK Apple is not a phone maker either. They have NO FACTORIES and literally all their parts are made in other companies factories. For instance, 50% of the cost of iPhone4 parts goes into Samsung's pockets and these don't include the crappy antenna/frame/bezel that you can't touch on their touch screen phones. But they do include the parts the make it work. Apple did NOT even design their own CPU or GPU or Radios or Memory or Ram or Screens (LG) I hope you know!

      Apple, RIM, Palm, Nokia, Google, all out source the manufacture of their phones to other parts sources and factories for assembly. A few like Sony, Samsung and LG make much of their own parts and assemble them in some of their own factories. But many of even these Phone makers outsource assembly in China these days.<br><br>So what's your point? Microsoft is no different than most of these phone making companies I mentioned above. But they all do their own R&D for the phones themselves and have their own Operating Systems!<br><br>@Mathew Come on Mathew you took the sucker punch bait from that idiot on the name when we already know it's going to be known as WP7 Phones and that's no worse than "iPad" or having to say "Apple iPhone 4 phone! haha...... which is about as tongue tying as it gets. If you're bent on being ridiculous about a phone I'll laugh more at iPhone 4 phone than Win Phone 7 phone any day! ;-)
      i2fun@...
      • RE: Windows Phone 7; why, why not, and reader FAQ

        @i2fun@...
        This comparison holds for Google, but not for Apple. The iPhone is an Apple branded device, which means Apple gets to say exactly what goes in it.

        Windows phones, like Androids, on the other hand are manufactured by an array of companies. Each company wants to put its own "mojo" into it.

        Its exactly the same difference you see on your first boot of a Mac vs a PC. The Mac will be a pleasant clean experience, the PC will be a mess of crapware. Historically this has been Microsoft weakness or strength, depending at how you look at it.

        There's already talk of crapware starting to make their way to Androids...
        ImaGremlin
      • RE: Windows Phone 7; why, why not, and reader FAQ

        @i2fun@...

        Yeah i do know the processes. Which had nothing to do with my statements. Also i do not nor have ever owned any Apple products. I have a moto droid phone.
        MLHACK
      • CrApple iFad and iPwn'ds are Already Full of Crapware!

        @ImaGremlin .... and plenty of HOT AIR Too!<br><br>The Hot Air just gets denser the longer Steve stays alive. Which he isn't doing too well I might add. But I'd hate to follow him into the pearly gates as he'll demand God not touch him the wrong way and will go tumbling down into he depths of hell! ....where he no doubt belongs for all his thievery, lies and treacherous command of his iNazi forces!<br><br>It's going to be real fun to watch Steve gravel at Nokia's feet in court and when the IDC announces their punishment for burning the industry they are just noobs in! Thank God for Justice and competition to put the idiots in their place. Which is exactly what's going to happen when WP7 gets rolling. Guaranteed!<br><br>If you were a real gamer you'd see that MS has 40 Million of them standing ready to buy a WP7 Phone and you morons think CrApple has loyal fans!!! haha..... Microsoft most successful product is not their Operating Systems or their mobile phones powered by WinMo, it's Xbox Live since 2001 it's ruled Garden Walled environments and it had a Game and App Marketplace before CrApple stole the idea from them.<br><br>The one biggest missing link for CrApple will rise and bite their head off. That's in the interactive gaming arena, that no other Game Console Maker or Network has been able to compete against. They've been doing broadband a whole lot longer than CrApple with users and fans communicating with each other and playing games with one another since 2001 and that's something CrApple just doesn't have the slightest idea about how to do!!! <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/grin.gif" alt="grin"> .....especially "LIVE ANYWHERE"!
        i2fun@...
      • RE: Windows Phone 7; why, why not, and reader FAQ

        @i2fun@...

        I-Phone 4 Phone ... lol

        lol
        Poppets
      • RE: Windows Phone 7; why, why not, and reader FAQ

        @ImaGremlin Don't know who's pulling your leg harder, you or CrApple! ...but if iTunes and Quicktime aren't crapware, then I don't know what is!

        They load nagware and adware both of which constitutes crapware. It installs spyware and remote authentication that reports back to CrApple. If that's not crapware then you may need to have your head examined. The whole system is living in DRM HELLL (Digital Rectal Manipulation) and.... last time I heard DRM is considered crapware. Because it attempts to control what you do with what you physically own! .....and lastly, why do you think they call it CrApple? :P ;)

        Not to mention that they have to tell you idiots what the iPhone is in it's own name, because they don't think you can figure out the difference by looking at it's one design size fits all!!!! ....well is it a iPod or is it a iPhone? Well we'll see if it can make a call while holding it! ....Right! haha.. iPod holds a Skype call better than an iPhone, so i guess that means the iPod is the better Phone! :D

        btw.... Microsoft and Google most certainly work as co-operatively with manufacturing as CrApple. That's how they come up with features for their OS's!
        i2fun@...
  • Well, somebody's wrong!

    I read your glowing review then I read a review on Infoworld that basically calls win phone 7 the biggest piece of crap there is.

    I know you are blatantly ms biased so your view of the product was already skewed before you ever used it

    Why don't you refute Infoworlds point by point dissection of MS' latest failure?

    And pleas don't do like another MS apologist did, he tried to refute one point info world made, that the GUI is so horribly thought out that words run off the screen, as a feature!!

    Poor Ms , getting their butts kicked in mobile and tablet computing even by poor failed companies like Palm! As an apple shareholder I thank God everyday that Balmer stays in control of that sinking ship!
    ShazAmerica
    • RE: Windows Phone 7; why, why not, and reader FAQ

      @ShazAmerica

      What you will also find is that the InfoWorld article is biased, in that the author was an editor of MacWorld for many years and he went purely on demonstrations, not actually using the phone himself.
      douglasac10
      • Could it be....

        @douglasac10

        That being a mac user he knows the difference between a good UI and derivative, poorly executed copies?

        I help die hard windows users switch to Macs everyday, and every single one, yes, every single one then tells me they can't believe they used windows for all those years not realizing there was a much better alternative

        But unless you know the alternative exists, you can't provide a knowledgable comparison
        ShazAmerica
      • RE: Windows Phone 7; why, why not, and reader FAQ

        @douglasac10

        I help people switch to PCs from Macs when they get tired of having so few software and hardware options a 3 times the price!
        Heatlesssun
      • RE: Windows Phone 7; why, why not, and reader FAQ

        @ShazAmerica - Your bias is clearly showing.

        Having used all versions of Windows, a few incarnations of Linux and a few versions of Mac operating systems, I can see both the positives and the negatives in all three.

        Apple does NOT have a monopoly on "good UI" designs, what they do have a monopoly on is your wallet when you decide to go completely Apple with all of your computing and internet devices. And I've found that when they get that monopoly on a person's wallet, that person becomes unreasonably defensive of Apple.
        PollyProteus
      • RE: Windows Phone 7; why, why not, and reader FAQ

        @ShazAmerica

        Switch to MAC? Is that a joke. MAC has little to no software that is of use. Also you have to pay through the roof for MAC. Err no thanks. I'd rather build a PC suited to my needs at a much cheaper cost.

        MAC and PC will always suit different needs. I doubt an advanced PC user will switch to MAC. The only time you will see a switch from PC to MAC, is for the light users.
        dcfan1
      • Stuck in time...

        @dcfan1

        Seriously reading your post make me feel like I'm back in the 90's, it's so dated.

        And do you know the difference between a MAC and a Mac?
        dave95.