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Windows Phone 7's offers a quirky tile homescreen.  (Source: Engadget)

Mobile Microsoft Office on the new OS is plain Jane, but functional.  (Source: Engadget)

Unfortunately, if you connect to Facebook, the OS fills you contacts list with every single Facebook friend, essentially breaking this crucial part of the phone.  (Source: Engadget)
Microsoft seems to be on a good path, but will customers tolerate problem spots?

Terry Myerson, the Microsoft Corporate VP of Windows Phone Engineering who was recently called out on the Microsoft Kin phone debacle, had some good news to report yesterday.  Windows Phone 7 hardware and software has been released in beta form to developers and a handful of reviewers.

Myerson writes:

Starting today, thousands of prototype phones from ASUS, LG and Samsung are making their way into the hands of developers over the next few weeks. Combine that with the beta release of the Windows Phone developer tools, and I can’t wait to see how our developer partners take advantage of our new approach to smart design and integrated mobile experiences. I’m personally working on a flash card app for my daughter, and am consistently amazed by the ease with which Silverlight and Visual Studio make WP7 apps possible.

Early impressions of the phone boil down to that Microsoft seems to be nailing many key elements, but in other places presents conspicuously broken or missing functionality. 

First let's get the bad out of the way.  As widely rumored, Microsoft has not included copy and paste yet.  There is a small chance that this will be included in the final version.  Early reviewers say that text selection is working well -- so it seems baffling that Microsoft would 
not include it.  But at this point that appears to be the case.

Also missing is third-party multitasking, which both Apple's iOS 4 and Google's Android OS currently support (and something that previous iterations of Windows Mobile supported).  That's not to say updates won't be available to various apps, but it does mean that transitions to them may be significantly clunkier.  And Flash web media plugin is missing -- and even stranger still, Microsoft's own Silverlight also isn't implemented.

Finally, perhaps the most egregious sin is that for those with Facebook accounts, if you use your account on the phone, it will pull in your contacts -- all of them.  This makes the contacts list -- an essential part of the phone experience – nearly unusable.

Moving on to the okay, Microsoft has reportedly done an okay job squeezing a hybrid Internet Explorer 7/8 browser into the phone.  Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done.  It doesn't, however, support HTML5. Likewise Microsoft Office is decently implemented, with collaboration functionality.  However, Office programs lack key functionality (no font selection in Word, etc.) and PowerPoint editing is absent.

Likewise SMS/MMS texts and email appear to be done proficiently.  The messaging interface is a bit hard to follow as all the text bubbles are the same color -- whether you sent them, or received them.  And email has no threaded organization, though it does have a helpful filter for unread messages.

Then there's the good.  The home hub seems to be very well integrated and more innovative and informative than Apple's home screen (at least), if not Android's.  Likewise the camera is receiving a lot of TLC, which results in both faster image capture times and a nice interface for pictures.

The touch keyboard is also reportedly fantastic -- at least as good as the iPhone's, which is saying something.  Likewise the built-in Zune player could also be viewed as a fantastic addition.  If you aren't into music, don't use it.  If you are, pony up the $14.95 a month and you'll be treated to an almost limitless library of on-demand music -- a true value.

A lot of how people are reacting to Windows Phone 7 appears to be based on their own preconceptions.  
Boy Genius Report wrote a rather scathing review of the OS.  Paul Thurrott's Windows SuperSite, an obvious Microsoft supporter, on the other hand, wrote a praise-filled review of it.  And Engadget -- somewhat of a neutral party -- wrote a mixed review.

Ultimately, customers will likely react to the phones in a similar fashion if Microsoft is unable to fill in the holes before its holiday launch.  The promise is certainly there, but is it worth passing up Apple and Google's compelling options? 



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RE: beta phone
By theapparition on 7/19/2010 1:48:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'm sorry but you are quite incorrect, anyway you want to put it, the core OS is still CE based. The fact that the front end and application framework has been completely remodeled is irrelevant.

Absolutely relevant. When a new updated OS is introduced that loses a good chunk of it's functionality as the previous version, plus forces a complete re-write of all applications since none are backwards compatable makes this extremely relevant. Anyway you want to spin this, the new UI and driver model that completely breaks all applications defines this as a new OS, despite that the kernel is updated on the same family.
OSX is Unix/BSD/Next/XNU based, but the common person would have a hard time calling it the same OS. For all intense purposes, it is a new OS even though most of the kernel is the same. No difference between Winmo6.5 and Winmo7.

quote:
Just as Windows XP remains part of the same NT family as Vista/7. Windows Phone 7 remains part of the CE family (and thus part of the previous WinMo family).

Not when everything written for its predacessors is broken. Even many Win95 programs will work in Windows7. Very bad analogy on your part.

You seem to want to argue core computing/kernel semantics. But fact is, it's radically different from previous versions. 99.99999% of people don't care about kernel revisions, they want something that works, and breaking all thier programs they've already bought under winmo6.5 is not a good start.


RE: beta phone
By omnicronx on 7/19/2010 4:54:46 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Absolutely relevant. When a new updated OS is introduced that loses a good chunk of it's functionality as the previous version, plus forces a complete re-write of all applications since none are backwards compatable makes this extremely relevant.
You do realize that the inability for backwards compatibility is not because its not possible, its because MS is locking it down. By the same account do you really think the OS in incapable of running native code?

I'm not really spinning anything here, you are. Windows Phone 7 will be CE based, so its not a new OS period..

If I had full access to the underlying code, I could just as easily enable support for CE5.* applications if I really knew what I was doing (of course I don't have this knowledge or the skillset, but that is beside the point). This alone pretty much disproves your theory.
quote:
quote:
Just as Windows XP remains part of the same NT family as Vista/7. Windows Phone 7 remains part of the CE family (and thus part of the previous WinMo family).

Not when everything written for its predacessors is broken. Even many Win95 programs will work in Windows7. Very bad analogy on your part.
Huh???? What are you talking about? I was merely explaining they were part of the same OS family, and each iteration is anything but a completely new OS. My statement has absolutely nothing to do with what software will run on what platform. And of course lets not get into the fact that W95 is 9x based, and is not part of the NT family of OS's I described.
quote:
You seem to want to argue core computing/kernel semantics. But fact is, it's radically different from previous versions. 99.99999% of people don't care about kernel revisions, they want something that works, and breaking all thier programs they've already bought under winmo6.5 is not a good start.
What 99.999% of the people care about is completely irrelevant, nor am I arguing semantics. However hard for you to accept, reality is reality, its irrelevent what the masses 'think' if the reality paints a different picture. By your logic, Windows Vista is a 'new' OS, as they dramatically altered the Kernel (in fact far more than what was done between CE5 and CE6), yet even Microsoft won't go as far as to claim its a completely new OS.


RE: beta phone
By theapparition on 7/20/2010 9:33:39 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
You do realize that the inability for backwards compatibility is not because its not possible, its because MS is locking it down. By the same account do you really think the OS in incapable of running native code?

Don't care what works on paper. Neither does anyone else. It either works or doesn't, and this case it doesn't.

quote:
What 99.999% of the people care about is completely irrelevant, nor am I arguing semantics. However hard for you to accept, reality is reality, its irrelevent what the masses 'think' if the reality paints a different picture.

Right, reality buys a product, not people. <rollseyes> You can argue ALL you want, but perception of a product in the marketplace is what matters. MS can write all the whitepapers it wants telling everyone it's the same OS, but fact remains it looks different, acts different, loses core functionality that previous gen software had, and all previous programs written for CE will not work. In fact, MS is going out of it's way to distance itself from previous versions of WinMo. You are arguing semantics, and you know it.

quote:
Huh???? What are you talking about? I was merely explaining they were part of the same OS family, and each iteration is anything but a completely new OS. My statement has absolutely nothing to do with what software will run on what platform. And of course lets not get into the fact that W95 is 9x based, and is not part of the NT family of OS's I described.

Never attempted to imply that Win95 is based on NT. However, it was by far the most common upgrade path for most (95->98->XP) and even though it was quite different, people found that it looked and acted similar and most of thier programs worked fine, so it was an easy upgrade path. The masses accepted that and voted with thier dollars, making XP the most successful OS to date. You and I both know Vista was excellent, but perception was critical and it was a sales disaster. Win7 on the other hand has been well recieved (even though its just Vista2.0) and once again the masses are voting with thier money. The "people" may not mean much to you, but they make or break a product based on perception.

quote:
By your logic , Windows Vista is a ' new ' OS, as they dramatically altered the Kernel (in fact far more than what was done between CE5 and CE6), yet even Microsoft won't go as far as to claim its a completely new OS.

No that was not my logic at all. See, this is where your reading comprehension completely fails. I argued the complete opposite . People don't care about the kernel at all. They only care that it looks similar, functionality improves (features are not removed), thier older software works. In this regard, Vista/7 (no matter how radiacally different it was from XP) is seen as an upgrade.


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