Just as we were finally getting to know all the ins and outs of Windows Mobile 6.5, Windows Phone 7 is getting ready to drop - ain't that just like Microsoft? According to the guys at PC Magazine , who recently got some hands-on time with the new platform, we've wasted all that time fiddling with Windows Mobile (as we had already suspected), because Phone 7 is nothing like Mobile, especially its earlier versions.
The concept behind the Windows Phone system - acting as a 'hub' for all of your digital everythings - is far from groundbreaking, and it's an idea Microsoft has been trying forever with its desktop Windows OS, as millions of users and the Justice Department know well.
Still, the upcoming new mobile OS iteration is one giant leap for Redmond-kind in catching up with Apple and the Android, even if the privilege of being able to sync with your Zune doesn't matter so much in an iTunes world.
Built-in Facebook integration is already a part of the beta test Phone 7 version being passed around now, with seamless integration with contacts and similar support in the works for Linkedin, Twitter, MySpace and other social networks. That's a major upgrade from the days of Mobile 6.1, which essentially assumed you'd continue to use a clunky version of Internet Explorer on a tiny screen to get what you needed online onto your phone. And only with Mobile 6.5 was a practical (and still small) App Marketplace introduced. The app marketplace for Phone 7 is currently empty, or perhaps just not live, but that's bound to change before the phones start shipping.
Early beta reviews are mostly positive, but note how far behind Microsoft is in bringing a serious team to the smartphone game, and then there is this review from Infoworld , which is filled with blistering passages like this one:
No caveats now: Windows Phone 7 is a waste of time and money. It's a platform that no carrier, device maker, developer, or user should bother with. Microsoft should kill it before it ships and admit that it's out of the mobile game for good. It is supposed to ship around Christmas 2010, but anyone who gets one will prefer a lump of coal. I really mean that.
Ouch. Dude almost makes us actuallyfeel sorry for Microsoft with that word weaponry. But with CNET bringing word that 2010 Microsoft apparently forgot to consult 1985 Microsoft to include such no-brainer features as the ability to copy and paste, we must concur that we're a little worried.
All in all, the consensus seems to be that Microsoft has come a long way with this latest mobile iteration, but it still has plenty of work to do, and may not have enough time to catch up.
Photo by Jeffwilcox on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.