11:44 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman

Windows Phone 7 Launch In Review

Microsoft debuted its new smartphone operating system -- Windows Phone 7 -- this week. How well did Microsoft do?

Microsoft has gotten off to a good start with Windows Phone 7. First impressions across the Web are generally favorable, and Microsoft has delivered the message loud and clear that it is still serious about the smartphone space.

Microsoft's Windows 7 Revealed
(click image for larger view)
Microsoft's Windows 7 Phone Revealed

Good first impressions don't always lead to success, however, and Microsoft still has a lot of work to do, and competition to overcome. Let's look briefly at what Microsoft revealed and what is had yet to do.

New Operating System

Windows Phone 7 is an entirely new platform from Microsoft based on Silverlight and XNA. The user interface is slick and looks good, but isn't quite as customizable as Android and iOS are. It packs in most of the essentials, with only a few items missing.

Robust Exchange email and Office support are on board, as are solid social networking and calendaring tools. The way WP7 marries Facebook with a users' contact lists is elegant and useful. Microsoft has taken its productivity tools to the next level, and integrated them across the platform in a way that is appealing and works well.

The heavily revised browser is a giant leap forward for Windows Phones, and integrates piece of IE7 and IE8. It nails pinch-to-zoom, and has the right amount of pizzazz and ease-of-use to keep users within the browser environment. It's not perfect (it lacks Flash, for example), but it is world's better than what Microsoft offered before.

Other missing items from the first version of WP7 include cut-and-paste, support for mobile hotspots/tethering, and (initially, anyway) software that allows Mac users to sync their content with their phone.

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