Windows Phone 7 Series: Now that’s exciting!

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I’d say this. The recent announcement of The Windows Phone 7 Series is what I’ve been waiting for a long time. This is how the smartphone’s OS should have been evolved to. It’s nice and sleek and meant to be used, not tweaked like the aged old WinCE-based OS.

If you’re wondering why it’s so exciting? Well, check out the coverage of the Windows Phone event here.

And no, this post is not to proof that I’m not an Apple Fan-boy. LOL! Neither would I be getting a 7 Series phone as soon as it’s released. I just love it when technology evolves. And the Windows Phone finally has.

It’s nice to see when an organization put ego aside and deliver what the consumer needs for a change. Here are some of my personal thoughts on the Windows Phone 7 Series from the perspective of a person who’s used WinCE since it’s v3.0 days, then the PocketPC 2002, Windows Mobile 2003, Windows Mobile 5, then 6 and finally6.5 before switching over to the iPhone OS 3.0+.

1. Tighter control on the end product

With the 7 Series smartphones, Microsoft would be defining most of the phone’s hardware specifications as well as the user interface of the phone. No more fancy 3rd party UI such as the TouchFlo from HTC. It’ll be interesting to see how the various phone manufacturers would be differentiating themselves if the phones will all almost look the same, apart from the form factor.

This allows more control and consistency in the delivery of the product to the consumer. It’s much like how the PCs has been all this while. A Windows-based PC, no matter what the actual hardware that is running it will always feel the same. Installing new applications, applying patches and updates are all consistent. What more for a phone  which is targeted to be used by almost anyone, not just the technology-savvy consumers!

Apple has always had full control of their products which made it very consistent throughout it’s product lines. With the 7 Series UI based on the Zune HD, Microsoft definitely taking the right step in making the 7 Series easy to use.

2. It’s not about the phone, it’s all about what you want to do!

From what I’ve seen on the web, the phone does present a very personalized user interface. It reminds me of the Andriod OS that puts information that matters to you onto the UI itself. On this note, I like this over the rigid interface of the iPhone. It’s nice to have a home screen that allows me to see latest status updates from friends and families, as well as a quick access to my emails and contact list.

However, this would also present the possibility of information overload. If you have more than 500 facebook friends, each updating their statuses in an average on twice a day, you’d be presented with 1000 data updates just from that channel alone. The UI would definitely need to be carefully and intuitively designed to prevent such information overload.

Well, it’s yet to been seen how the new tiles-based UI would fare in real life. It’s very similar to the iPhone application icons but having a larger size and being update-able makes it far more useful than just being a static icon. I also like the way the phone organizes the information within the phone around the concept of hubs. This is a very intuitive from a users POV. What to find out what your friend Bob is doing over the weekend? Just tap into People and you’ll be presented with a live stream of status updates from Facebook, among others.

I do have some reservations of the rather flat UI though. It’s definitely simple and minimalist. No faux-3D, bezels, or even drop-down shadows. Just flat coloured tiles and a simple icon and the occasional photos.

3. Applications and Windows Marketplace

This is what I believe would make or break the Windows Phone 7 Series. It’s no doubt that the success of the iPhone is mainly attributed to the plethora of high-quality applications available for the iPhone on AppStore.

It would be interesting to see if Microsoft would impose a much tighter control and approval over the availability of applications for the 7 Series phones. It would also be interesting to see if Microsoft would make Marketplace the main delivery channel for applications like the Apple AppStore. By doing so, Microsoft would be able to concentrate all the applications in one place for everyone to browse and purchase if they like it.

Currently, with only 700+ applications on Windows Marketplace, it’s not going to make it all that exciting to browse through it daily to discover new ways to make use of your cool phone. And it’s definitely not a good indicator of the actual number of good applications available for the Windows platform itself! So, if Microsoft establishes an official catalogue of applications in the form of the Windows Marketplace, it would be very interesting to the Windows Phone platform.

Since Microsoft has always been very developer friendly, I wouldn’t be surprise to see an explosion of applications available for the 7 Series eventually. And when that happens, I do hope to see a lot more cross-platform applications available for the iPhone, Windows Phone and Andriods. 🙂

Closing thoughts…

There’s still very little that’s truly known about the new phone platform. Hardware specifications have yet to be announced and not much is also known about the SDK. However, it certainly has created a lot of buzz and I’ll be very interested to see how it will take on the iPhone and Android. Like Windows 7, I like what’s been coming out of Redmond lately. Looks like the house is back in order.

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