Windows Phone 7 Reactions

We began the week on President’s day, with the big news of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 Series announcement at Mobile World Congress. Over the week I have written at least one post each day about Windows Phone 7. Todd and I both follow Windows Mobile, and now Windows Phone, very closely because our mobile roots are tied to these products. Even though today we both use Android devices perhaps more than Windows Mobile, we still want to see Microsoft have success. The idea of three or four big companies successfully competing which each other in the mobile space is good for consumers because we benefit from the innovation that arises from that competition.

As a wrap up of this week’s news about Windows Phone 7, I want to point you to some additional editorial about it because I found them interesting. Mobility Digest asks a good question, What Do We Call This Thing? A consensus amongst all the news I read this week is that Windows Phone 7 Series is an awful name. The “Series” part is meant to imply that what was announced on Monday is one of an iteration of devices/operating systems, so I think we can drop it from the name, but still Windows Phone 7 is a mouthful. Apple and Google both had the foresight of one-word brand names, so following that idea the device could be simply called Zune. Whatever Microsoft comes up with in the future, I personally think Windows should be dropped from the name. The operating system I saw on Monday bears no resemblance to Windows, and while I know Windows has a huge amount of brand recognition, I don’t think there is anything wrong with Microsoft starting over with a new name. After all, that is what Microsoft is doing, starting over. (I am not going out on a limb by predicting that Microsoft will change the name.)

Mobility Digest has another good post titled, Windows Phone 7 Is A Leap Forward. I think it is consistent with many other observations that the changes are significant and necessary for Microsoft to continue competing. If I were asked for a common thread in Engadget’s editorial on Windows Phone 7, it is surprise that Microsoft did what many have been saying it needed to do for several years.

Ed Hardy at Brighthand also notes the change that Windows Phone 7 brings, but also makes mention of a very big negative aspect of that change, the lack of compatibility with current applications. Hardy writes,

“The vast majority of current Windows Mobile apps were written to be used with a stylus and so are virtually unusable with a fingertip because all the control elements are too small. Finding a way to force developers to update the user interface on their apps makes sense.

But getting to this goal requires so much sacrifice. It feels to me like Windows Phone is chewing its own foot off to escape from a trap.”

The Silicon Angle blog is even blunter by asking Is Windows Mobile 7 A Mistake? and says,

“Microsoft has attempted to out-iPhone the iPhone, and has thereby forgotten about the core values of its operating system.”

In summary, the reviews, comments, and editorials I have read this week about Windows Phone 7 have been positive. To me the most significant thing about the announcement was Microsoft’s blunt acknowledgment that people do not want a desktop operating system UI on their mobile phone. Since the beginning when Microsoft first released Windows CE for Handheld PCs, Microsoft emphasized the familiarity with Windows as a positive. In fact, that familiarity is what I also emphasized in the introduction of my books about Windows Mobile, and I think it did make sense when the majority of people used the devices for work. However, Apple changed the game because the iPhone turned the smartphone from a work tool to a personal tool and put emphasis on doing personal things like playing music, video, and viewing and taking pictures. When a smartphone is not used for work, it shouldn’t function like a work computer. Windows Phone 7 is like the iPhone in that it makes the smartphone personal, and therefore Microsoft is hoping the risk of alienating corporate customers and software developers who want a more “work-like” smartphone is made up by a growth in sales to consumers.