Today has been one heck of a busy day. If you read this blog, you know that today, Microsoft officially announced Windows Phone 7 Series (gotta love Redmondian branding), its brand new mobile platform geared to getting it back "in the game" and more aggressively compete with the likes of Apple, Google and Palm.
The new user interface relies heavily on the Zune user experience, but adds a broad array of real-time connectivity through "Hubs" and "Tiles." Boy did this get my curiosity going.
Like Ballmer did, let's get right to it. Net net, I am supremely excited by what this new platform from Microsoft can become. I very much enjoy and appreciate the rather minimalistic look and feel. Crisp fonts, pretty pictures, nice color contrasts. The demo left me wanting more. And that perhaps is the rub. It left me wanting to know a LOT more about how things are going to work in the real world.
There is NO question that Windows Phone 7 Series is geared towards the consumer. The presentation today focused tremendously on its connectivity aspects, as well as its rich integration with Bing, XBox and other Microsoft consumer properties. However, the amount of time devoted during the presentation to "Productivity" was disappointing for me. Sure, I'm not expecting to see a full blown technical demo when a company is launching a brand new platform, but I would have loved to see how an actual email (and not just the Inbox), as well as accepting a calendar entry looks.
I love the fact that Microsoft is putting its foot down on the user experience. The comment made during the presentation was "extensible as opposed to replaceable." Hallelujah...Google, you can and should learn from this, because otherwise, you will go down the same path that Windows Mobile did and cause very poor and disruptive fragmentation in the market. Now mind you, this "lock down" by Microsoft will have another effect on the smartphone market. It will further accelerate the commoditization of the smartphone market. Just like when PC vendors stopped trying to skin Windows 95/98/Me and just started adding their own crap-ware, uhm, I mean value added software. In this context, I think companies like HP and Dell who have been highlighted as "launch" partners from the OEM side will be at a competitive advantage, as opposed to the old world where they have struggled in mobility. By the way, I'm sure I was not the only one to notice that Motorola was conspicuous by its absence on the OEM partner slide. To quote Leonard Nimoy (a.k.a. Mr. Spock): "Fascinating."
The new user experience looks great (I can't wait to play with the thing for real), but I can only assume that legacy applications will not work on the new platform. Microsoft won't comment on any of this until MIX. I can't even visualize right now how a compatibility layer will work. Some other quick comments/thoughts/questions:
- It looks like Zune is the new software for physically syncing a Windows Phone with your PC. What if companies won't allow that software to be installed on the PC?
- How easy will it be to change settings? Not just ring tones, but VPN, certificates, etc.
- Multi-tasking? Still no word. How will this play out for enterprise mobility management?
- What about ruggedized devices? I can't imagine (today) how this would look/feel/work
- Policy management - Again, I am expecting that Windows Phones will support all 50 IT policies in Exchange, but what kind of heavy lifting will be possible or necessary for 3rd party mobile device management providers?
- Application deployment. How's that going to work in the future? Will companies still be able to push out CAB files?
- .Net CF - no mention here of anything
- Microsoft is doing a great job of integrating its consumer properties into Windows Phone 7 Series (or at least talking a GREAT game). What about its more corporate properties like Azure and OCS?
- Live tiles on the Start page. Really cool (didn't Sony try something like that?). How does that impact battery life?
- What about boot up time? Windows Mobile devices are notoriously slow to start up. PLEASE tell me this has been improved.
- Third party browsers and search. Can I make Google my default search integration or is this a way for Microsoft to be pushing Bing to the masses. Mind you, I prefer Bing, but what about the mantra of "choice?"
So many questions with so few answers today. Congratulations Microsoft. You have absolutely piqued my interest in Windows Phone 7 Series. Now I just want to know more and see devices out ASAP.