Microsoft has finally taken the wraps off Windows Mobile 7 — sorry, Windows Phone 7 Series phones (it was very amusing hearing their execs trip over that lengthy phrase again and again at today's launch).
It looks good, in a style magazine kind of way. I have yet to get hands-on with it, but I'm not yet convinced that it represents a quick, clever way to navigate all the services that today's smartphones contain. It does look pretty though.
My gamer friends also seem very chuffed with the Xbox integration. To quote my friend and bandmate, GameSpot UK's Mark Walton, via Twitter: "The interface looks LUSH. It's all swooshy and swoopy and full of pretty things. Awesome."
It looks like quite a serviceable consumer phone OS, actually. It's also definitely clear that Microsoft realises what a catastrophe it had created by letting hardware partners stick all sorts of customised UIs on top of Windows Mobile, and that looks set to change now.
But what about business? It's in there, certainly, but there's no question that Microsoft is taking this one firmly into the consumer market. Of today's presentation, about two whole minutes were devoted to the enterprise side. All that was demonstrated was OneNote. Whoo.
Microsoft's not saying it's ditching the enterprise, and there is the best part of a year to go before we get to real phones on shelves, but the signs are not good for compatibility with existing Windows Mobile apps. Got an investment in that? In all likelihood, that's tough luck for you.
On the consumer side, ditching all of the legacy Windows Mobile is undoubtedly a smart move. No-one wants it. But the enterprise side is valuable, and Microsoft will have to pull something out of the hat if it is not to concede that market to BlackBerry, iPhone and Android. Let's hold thumbs for that.
Final thought, before I turn more attentively to the cava. The most visible installed base of Windows Mobile phones that I've seen is in vertical markets such as taxi and delivery companies. They use it for GPS et cetera, but also for the resistive touchscreen, which can be used for customer signatures. Capacitive touchscreens, the focus of Windows Phone 7 Series, can't handle those.
What do those companies do now?