Will Windows Phone 7 turn into another great Microsoft product no one uses?

Windows Phone 7 hasn't been storming the scene as we thought it would after the big launch event in October and the very positive reception by nearly everyone in the press last summer. Will Microsoft get off the pot and do something to promote a platform that I personally enjoy?
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

A couple fellow ZDNet tech bloggers chimed in with thoughts on Windows Phone 7 on Friday and Saturday and I thought I would chime in a bit on the topic as well. Ed Bott asked when Windows Phone 7 was going to get its grand opening and James Kendrick wanted to know if Microsoft could right the ship. I am not quite sure what seems to be holding Microsoft back from a full unveiling and active promotion of Windows Phone 7, but honestly think it is way too early to think Windows Phone 7 will die off like Kin. I have been using a T-Mobile HTC HD7 since launch day and as I will detail below it is my primary device and I am more pleased with it than any other smartphone I have tried in quite some time.

Hey Microsoft, where are the devices and the sales figures?

Microsoft had a major launch event for Windows Phone 7 in early October that was something more than we have seen from any other manufacturer before with nine new smartphones on multiple carriers in over 15 countries. Unfortunately, we only had one available on T-Mobile and three on AT&T. The Dell Venue Pro had major issues, it was only available at Microsoft retail stores, and just started shipping to folks the last few weeks while still having unacceptable issues. The reported Dell reset issues are not good for Microsoft as they tend to give people a bad feeling about Windows Phone 7 based on one bad device. There were no CDMA versions available at launch for Sprint and Verizon and we still only hear of vague time periods for release of only a single device, the HTC 7 Pro. Microsoft should have announced their CDMA versions at CES and should have expanded the GSM lineup as well, but maybe we will see something at MWC in a couple of weeks.

Microsoft has yet to release any real sales figures, beyond the 1.5 million sold to carriers. I personally feel that speculation may be worse than just coming out with it and letting us know how many have been sold. By not revealing the numbers we all suspect the worst and I guess if the sales numbers really are extremely poor maybe it is best they keep it quiet.

I have seen a ton of commercials for AT&T Windows Phone 7 devices, including the huge price drops to try to sell more devices. I haven't seen a single thing for T-Mobile's devices though. There was even a very subtle Windows Phone commercial for the Golden Globes tonight.

Sinking ship? More like one needing a shift in the rudder

I think James put a bit too much emphasis on some statements made by an official at LG and doubt you can count on a company new to Windows Phone as a data point for sales and performance after a couple of months of availability. I would be much more worried if Samsung and HTC were talking about serious concerns with Windows Phone 7. Maybe they are concerned and having second thoughts, but until we hear something from them we can only speculate.

The Kin was a fairly obvious failure of a device (even my two teen girls were not that happy with them) and it had little to do with Verizon sticking it to Microsoft with their data plans. Windows Phone 7 is NOTHING like the Kin in terms of capabilities, performance, and future possibilities.

I do think Microsoft needs to do something soon to gain backing from people and I hope Mobile World Congress will be a show for Windows Phone 7.

Here's why I use a Windows Phone 7 device daily

As regular readers know, I started using Windows Phone 7 devices back in T-Mobile HTC HD7 on launch day and use it as my daily phone for several reasons:

  1. Slick user interface: I am a big fan of the flowing and responsive Metro UI on WP7. I have had several people try out my HD7 and the screen responsiveness and fun UI is the first thing they experienced and enjoyed.
  2. Email rocks!: Email is a fantastic experience on Windows Phone 7 and it is so good I prefer using it over my laptop or any other device.
  3. Exchange integration: Other smartphone platforms are getting quite good with Exchange ActiveSync, however nothing beats a Windows Phone 7 device and if you are an Exchange user you will likely be very happy with WP7.
  4. Zune integration: It is rather liberating to have a music system where I can download or stream as MUCH music as I like to enjoy everywhere. I am even building up my own personal collection at a pace of 10 songs per month so there is nothing but benefits with Zune Marketplace on Windows Phone 7.
  5. Xbox LIVE games: Games are the number one selling category of applications on all smartphone platforms and they are very good on Windows Phone 7. I have an Xbox 360, but rarely have time to play it so the ability to earn achievements on my phone is a nice feature.
  6. Windows Phone Marketplace: The WP7 Marketplace continues to grow at an exponential pace and as I cover in my Windows Phone 7 Wednesday feature article there are now over 6,300 apps and nearly all of my desired apps are out and available. There are even some apps I didn't expect so soon, such as Netflix, USAA, and Slacker, that I am thoroughly enjoying.

I am also a long time T-Mobile user so I have no option to even consider an iPhone 4. I had Android phones on T-Mobile for a couple of years and am a fan of the Android platform, but Windows Phone 7 is much more enjoyable with a faster and more responsive experience and consistent menus, options, and design. WP7 is also more stable than Android, in my personal experience, and I still have not had to remove my battery or hard reset my phone since I bought it or even started using Windows Phone 7 last summer. The ONLY issue I have had is an occasional lockup of the Marketplace that simply requires me to turn it off and then back on to clear up the issue.

There are still several areas for improvement and some of them, including copy and paste, will be fixed soon with the first update. Even with these desired improvements, I cannot stop using my HD7 and am not feeling the pinch even though I consider myself a power user.

I agree that Microsoft has a lot of work to do in order to compete with Windows Phone 7, but I believe they are indeed in it for the long haul and they do have the funding to stick it out. They need to get the message out, unlike what they did with the awesome Zune HD, and promote a solid and enjoyable smartphone platform.

Windows Phone 7 is a platform I obviously thoroughly enjoy and I will keep using it even if it isn't that popular. It is kind of refreshing using a device that only a few people have and it is fun being unique with a phone. Having a WP7 device is also a bit like knowing a huge secret that hasn't been revealed yet and knowing people will be surprised if they just gave it a chance.

Let me also be completely open with you readers and again make sure you know I wrote a book about Windows Phone 7. However, I wrote that book for a set advance fee and as with most tech books it is highly unlikely to ever reach a sales level where any royalties would ever kick in. Thus, I am not linking to the book here or asking anyone to purchase it as part of this post.

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