Windows Phone 7 you say?

By on October 13, 2010
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Will Windows Phone 7 succeed or fail?

What Microsoft dubs as a “Complete Reboot” for their mobile strategy; the Windows Phone 7, is set for imminent release in Europe and Asia on October 21, 2010, and in the US on November 8th, 2010. Windows Phone 7 has been built from scratch, bearing no resemblance to its predecessors. It is considered by many as the last chance for a Microsoft come back to the mobile platform.

In the past, the Smartphone OS market had few competitors running against Microsoft, now the tides have changed, with big players getting in the ring, like Apple, Blackberry, and the rising contender: Android. According to Gartner research, Microsoft’s global Smartphone OS market share dropped further to 4.7%, while IDC showed some mercy, claiming it was down to 6.8% only!

So will users ditch their iPhones and Blackberries and line up outside of stores like with the iPhone? Guess not. Nevertheless, there are lots of new features which are worth checking, like:

Firstly and finally, Windows Phone 7 will use multi-touch technology. After relying for long years on the plastic stylus, Windows fans can use their fingers to navigate the interface. We are yet to see if this new feature is glitch-free.

Then comes the large and dynamic ‘live’ tiles, with the usual small icons gone, it’s all large and dynamic tiles. Those tiles allow for quick access to applications: sending emails, browsing the internet, playing music and exclusively, games on the Xbox system. Claiming to save power, the default theme has been set to a dark one, but it looked too dull for me. Luckily, this can be changed later on.

But it’s not only good looks that matters the most, it’s the ease of use and upgradability, and most notably, the application front. Installing an application on the Windows Mobile phones used to be a mental challenge, not guaranteed to work, or not to suck up the available memory needed to run other applications. Microsoft stated that what they lack in quantity of applications for the Windows Phone 7, they’ll make up for in quality. Gizmodo’s editor was impressed when managed to go through some of Windows Phone 7′s first games and apps, which are expected to total 2000 apps.

On the other hand, there are a handful of missing features, like the cut, copy, and paste function, full multitasking, and the inclusion of Adobe Flash. Recently Microsoft has announced that copy and paste function, along with the Adobe Flash support, will be added to the platform with future updates, but without setting a fixed date. Other features support remain tentative, or MIA.

The final verdict:
Will it top or flop, that’s the question we’ll have an answer for in the coming days. Rumors have it that the expected retail price for the first Windows Phone 7 will hover around $700 (without a service contract) and that’s a bit steep in the days of the global crunch. Personally, I tend to believe that Microsoft innovates only when cornered by strong competitors, but this belief is deterred by the unhappy memory of the ill-fated short-lived Microsoft Kin mobile phone, which was cancelled few months after its launch early this year, causing the head of the Devices division at Microsoft to quit his job.

Microsoft is also notorious for missing things up, pushing unfinished products to market, and relying heavily on later updates and fixes. Microsoft stopped innovating till the iPhone came out and forced the Microsoft lads to role up their sleeves to catch up. For all of that, I won’t hold my breath much, but I sure wish Microsoft would prove me wrong here.


Raouf Shabayek, an editor, blogger and writer residing in Dubai, UAE. He writes in his blog:

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