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Gizmodo declares, "Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a race" in smartphones.  (Source: Gizmodo.com)
Apps are rough and no multi-tasking blows, but not a bad start from the new OS

With the U.S. launch of Windows Phone 7 devices just around the corner (November 8), early reviews of the new mobile OS from Microsoft (and the hardware it runs on) are starting to emerge. So far, it appears that the product has a real chance to carve out a nice little niche in the budding smartphone market, though there are a few early hiccups.

Engadget didn't see a reason to completely re-write their mid-summer review of a developer device running Windows Phone 7. At the time, they said it felt incomplete -- which it was -- but there haven't been any major overhauls since then. Instead, they went back and annotated their original review with some nice additions. The following are a few take-aways:

- The software's touch-responsiveness and speed are to be celebrated, though the way applications appear in long, alphabetized lists can become tedious -- no improvement over iOS and Android's grids.
- The lack of copy-and-paste is unforgivable, though a software fix is coming "early 2011".
- No support for third-party multitasking of apps is "practically inexcusable".
- The WP7 touchscreen keyboard is very good. Almost as good as Apple's, and definitely better than stock Android.
- Facebook is deeply integrated into the OS, and is unavoidable, which could irk some. Lack of Twitter integration is puzzling.
- Web browsing is "a really pleasant experience," despite the fact that many websites that detect iPhone and Android devices to show tailored versions don't have the same functionality for WP7, and instead load unsightly WAP versions.
- One troubling area was third-party apps. "In almost every application we used besides some of the Xbox Live titles, there were major problems with either loading, rendering, navigation, or stability," Engadget writes. "Even from respected app-makers like Seesmic, the results seemed second rate in comparison to same applications on other platforms."
- Their closing comments complimented the effort, but said that the OS is at least a year behind market leaders.

Anandtech also conducted its own (very) in-depth review of Windows Phone 7. Some highlights:

- "The underlying architecture is well engineered, high performing and extremely efficient."
- Anandtech had a difference of opinion about the listed apps, praising the format's simplicity and ease of finding items over a grid.
- The UI is very clean, attractive, and smooth, thanks to a minimalist approach.
- Facebook integration is the best out of any other device.
- XBox Live integration and Windows Phone cloud access are nice touches.
- Internet Explorer mobile is much slower at loading webpages than on other OS's because of lower Javascript performance.
- The lack of quality apps and conventional task switching "are the two biggest issues facing Windows Phone 7 today."
- Windows Phone is more like an iPhone than an Android.

If the Anandtech review is too exhaustive, and you want a simple, straight-to-the-point overview, the folks over at Gizmodo have provided one. Gizmodo does a particularly good job of breaking down the OS's interface to three core concepts: Hubs, which are panoramic apps that span multiple screens; Live Tiles, which are home screen icons that update with new info (though not quite as in-depth as Android widgets); and the App Bar, "a semi-persistent menu/taskbar that hides deeper actions—like starting a new email or switching tabs in Internet Explorer."

Gizmodo also applauds WP7 for striking the "best balance of any smartphone between web-oriented and local storage, using the cloud for info like contacts and apps, tying itself to a PC (or Mac, with a basic client) only for big updates, music and video syncing."

Overall, they like the polished feel of the OS, with its beautiful, minimalist appeal. What they don't like is the fact that the home screen can only hold eight tiles, requiring a lot of side-swiping. Other drawbacks include the lack of a singular e-mail app (each account takes its own tile), lack of multi-tasking, and the cumbersome nature of searching for apps. Again, apps and multi-tasking.

The verdict? "Windows Phone 7 is really great. A solid foundation, it's elegant and joyful." It may not be an instant iPhone or Android killer, but it certainly is an option to consider. Once the bugs are worked out and the developer ecosystem is filled out, we'll have a clearer picture.





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RE: It begs the question...
By jimhsu on 10/21/2010 5:37:21 PM , Rating: 2
From a technical perspective no. From a usability standpoint, yes copy and paste is REALLY difficult.

Mobile devices these days are essentially one button mice with a large touch surface. Now to implement copy and paste, do you:

1. Use a keyboard shortcut - too convoluted. And how would you select content?

2. Hold down a finger on the screen. Should you show it in the context menu (or is there too much stuff there already). Should you show it next to the item - what if the pop up box covers the content you're trying to copy, or goes off the screen, or is too small to be readable? What about the duration of touch - too long, too short? How do you handle HTML elements - copying from the middle of one DIV to another, more than one TABLE cell, interactive content, pop up content, modal content, etc etc.

3. Use an external button that brings up a selector - too many buttons on the device already! What if the user accidentally presses it? How can you tell if the user wants to cut, copy, or paste?

You see it's an enormous usability issue, not a technical issue.


RE: It begs the question...
By wanorris on 10/21/2010 11:14:05 PM , Rating: 2
From a technical standpoint, the other issue is security. If you copy private data from app 1 to app 2, it could be a security breach for that data to be hanging around in your clipboard for some random app to find. Considering all the Android apps that have been found to not play nicely with your data, this isn't a purely theoretical problem.

Having said that, the only reason I give Microsoft a pass on a feature I consider fundamental is that they're supposed to have C&P by the time they release a CDMA phone anyway.


"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser











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