MWC 2010: Is Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Series a game changer?

MWC 2010: Is Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Series a game changer?

Summary: At long last Microsoft has unveiled its newest version of Windows Mobile. Long rumored to be known as Windows Mobile 7, it's now known as Windows Phone 7 Series.

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At long last Microsoft has unveiled its newest version of Windows Mobile. Long rumored to be known as Windows Mobile 7, it's now known as Windows Phone 7 Series.

Last week I commented on some of the rumors around what functionality Windows Phone 7 Series would offer, and now we have official word on what Windows Phone 7 Series is all about.

First off, the user experience of Windows Phone 7 Series is a complete departure from everything we've seen before in a Windows phone. Modeled after the Zune and in fact ...

"Every Windows Phone 7 Series will be a Zune ..."

according to Joe Belfiore, VP of Windows Phone.

User Interface The Windows Phone 7 Series experience is revolved around six hubs which include People, Pictures, Games, Music & Video, Marketplace and Office. The Hubs, also referred to as Tiles, allow the user to go into that experience and then interact along the same line of that experience. For example, starting with a picture of a friend, you can then see the latest status updates from your friend, your friend's photo album, share pictures and videos, and more.

A lot of emphasis is also being placed on the phone's ability to separate your work life from your personal one. This is mostly highlighted in the Office hub, which offers access to Office, OneNote and SharePoint Workspace.

As for the hubs themselves, their names tell you what you can expect, but one in particular worth highlighting is the Games hub. This one brings the Xbox LIVE experience to your phone, which includes gamer profiles, achievements, avatars, and even Xbox LIVE games. If the experience is anything like the Zune HD's games, there could clearly be a mobile gaming contender here.

Hardware On the hardware side, Microsoft is enforcing certain requirements and one of those includes the standardization of some design features. Most prominent is the need for three buttons on the front of each Windows Phone 7 Series device and the use of a capacitive touch screen. The three buttons are Start, Search (powered by Bing), and Back. As you might expect, Search is context-aware and can be used from any application, anywhere in the OS. Microsoft did a great demo of it showing its ability to find local sushi places. Unfortunately, it all required typing, whereas I was hoping for some Tellme integration, since Microsoft now owns the technology. Maybe in a future release?

Syncing The Windows Phone 7 Series phone itself can sync to the cloud and also tether to a PC to get updates and new content. When tethered to the PC it interacts with the Zune client, as opposed to ActiveSync and Windows Mobile Device Center.

Overall, I'm glad to see Microsoft finally overhauling its antiquated Windows Mobile interface. Unfortunately, I think this time around, they've focused a bit too much on the consumer and left the enterprise behind. I'm not sure if Microsoft is still targeting the enterprise as heavily, but from the looks and functionality of the interface, and its emphasis on social experience (gaming, photos, videos), I would say that the enterprise user is probably stuck on Windows Mobile 6.5 for the foreseeable future.

The big question that will come is whether or not Microsoft is competing against the iPhone with Windows Phone 7 Series. According to the company's latest marketing video, it's acknowledging the role and utility of Apps but believes that they needed to

"… start over with a phone that doesn't make you go in and out of apps"

I actually agree with that philosophy and look forward to having some hands-on time with the new UI. It seems intuitive enough, so now it's more a matter of whether or not the experience actually limits a user's ability to get things done efficiently.

As an iPhone user, I have adapted my work style to the iPhone UI. I used to customize my Windows Mobile experience and now use Apps on the iPhone to fill that customization void. It appears that Windows Phone 7 Series is fairly limited in its customization options, other than the ability for me to "pin" my favorite person to my Start page, but we'll see what functionality is offered by the time the devices ship around holiday time 2010. In the meantime, check out the promo video below.

What do you think of Windows Phone 7 Series? Is it a game changer? Will it actually keep Microsoft relevant in the mobile space?

Topics: Mobility, Microsoft, Mobile OS, Operating Systems, Software, Wi-Fi, Windows

Joel Evans

About Joel Evans

With more than 15 years of mobile, Internet and wireless experience, Joel specializes in taking existing brands and technologies into the mobile and wireless space. Joel is currently the VP of Strategy Integration for Mobiquity, an enterprise-class mobile solutions provider.

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54 comments
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  • YES!

    Everything about Windows Phone 7 Series is fantastic. They need to reveal Hardware details so the experience will be "magical". But one of the things I noticed was how this Presentation was great compared to other MS presentation. Even the CES wasn't good. Hopefully they don't screw up the Marketing/Advertising.
    mailbox01
    • c'mon Ballmer

      Have the cajones to register under your real name.
      Monkeypox
  • No. But it keeps them in the game.

    For as far behind as they were, that is something in its self.
    Bruizer
    • But what game?

      Windows Phone 7 appears to be heavily geared toward the consumer market where WinMo is weakest. But how does all this work for business users like myself? I mean Facebook is nice and all that, but I don't want all my friends from school showing up in my contacts list. And it only works with touch screen devices, so I guess those who like a QWERTY keypad instead of the slide out keyboard are out of luck.

      I suppose I'll keep an eye on this and see how and when WP7 hits the market. In the meantime, I'll stick with my Nokia smartphone, since it's a far better alternative than the Clunkberry.
      NameRedacted
      • Consumer smart phones are were the $$$ are at.

        Plain and simple. In your case, you are not a WinMo user anyway:

        [i]"I'll stick with my Nokia smartphone, since it's a far better alternative
        than the Clunkberry."[/i]

        Didn't you know: Friends don't let friends buy Nokia. Learned that
        one after my first (and hopefully only) Nokia.

        So it is not like they "lost" you. I am sure there is really good
        integration to Active Sync (better than your Nokia) as well as Word and
        Excel (also better than your Nokia).

        The question is, will "business" users be interested in the social
        centered HUB concept? Personally, I am not into the whole "social" my
        life is a web page thing but many of my friends are. They also work
        and have jobs and would prefer a single phone VS several.

        Don't know.
        Bruizer
  • RE: MWC 2010: Is Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Series a game changer?

    Yes.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: MWC 2010: Is Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Series a game changer?

      Turns out it was no.
      ldo17
  • RE: MWC 2010: Is Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Series a game changer?

    "$500! Fully subsidized with a plan! I said that is the most expensive
    phone in the world and it doesn't appeal to business customers because
    it doesn't have a keyboard. Which makes it not a very good e-mail
    machine."
    JJinsf
    • ?500 bucks

      Where did you get the number from? There has been NO mention of any hardware spec's, much less pricing....
      nothingness
      • That was Balmer on the iPhone.

        nt
        Bruizer
      • @nothingness

        uh, nothingness, that was called sarcasm.
        Axsimulate
  • A day late and a dollar short, but, YES, a game changer from what they had

    before. This will slow the slide, but not stop it. Google
    might go through a couple of Android iterations before this
    even ships!!
    DonnieBoy
    • Face it

      On the consumer front (Global):
      1. Nokia
      2. iPhone and WinMob
      3. Android

      On the Enterprise Side:
      1. BlackBerry
      2. WinMob

      --Ram--
      Ram U
      • Now why would he face that?

        WinMob is NOWHERE on the consumer front. To be
        honest its nowhere on the enterprise front either.
        The only thing that should be listed there is
        BlackBerry.
        storm14k
        • Ok, but at least it has better sales

          figures than Android with all OEMs in 2009.

          Do you really think that Blackberry is the only enterprise phone?
          Enterprises are investing Windows Mobile because of its
          programmability for their Enterprise level apps.

          When it comes enterprise level adaptation with custom application
          definition, there are only few mobile platforms and WinMob is the one
          which has better development environment than most of them.

          And if you still feel WinMob is not good for enterprises, go and
          convince MS partners.

          I never argue with fanbois and zealots who happen to know only one
          or two platforms, it is waste of time.

          I actually had a great opinion about you, but this post made me realize
          that I should add you to the list where LG and LATW lead.

          --Ram--
          Ram U
  • Consumer Vs. Enterprise!!

    "I would say that the enterprise user is probably stuck on Windows Mobile 6.5 for the foreseeable future"...Now, if MS had skipped the consumer aspect of this phone, then we would grip that what hapapened to consumers' wishes in mind???. As an iPhone user, you shuold know better.
    Nsaf
  • RE: MWC 2010: Is Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Series a game changer?

    No.

    It is an vague attempt to catch up. The problem is that even if its
    RTM is not delayed yet again, at least one more iPhone will be
    released before WinMob7 comes out.

    The Redmond warriors have shown no capability to anticipate
    competition. Likely this be more of the same.
    Jeremy W
  • What will the business user do now?

    The new phone clearly focuses on competing with the iPhone and Android. As one of those boring business guys who has made a substantial investment in apps for my Windows Mobil 6.x phone, I seem to be getting the shaft.

    I will start investigating migrating to a non-Windows Mobile environment soon. I need to hear a direction statement from my app vendors on this topic soon.
    mnpattison
    • Businesses will get a different phone version

      I strongly feel based on the same WinCE. Microsoft will never ditch
      enterprise. They are the only player in addition to RIM on enterprise side.
      --Ram--
      Ram U
      • Only player besides RIM?

        Hardly.
        Bruizer