Robert’s Ramblings

Robert Alonso’s Thoughts on Technology and More…

I have not written about Windows 7 Phone because I have been contemplating its implication to the advancement of computing, telephony and gadgetry in general. Microsoft wiped the slate clean with Windows Phone 7 and acknowledged that its previous offerings were less than stellar. I never thought that the Windows Mobile platform was undesirable, it had just become very dated compared to offerings from Apple, Sony, Nokia and Google. Windows Phone 7 may just be Microsoft’s lucky seven that wins back some of the phone users that have moved on. It may also lure in a new set of consumers. I can easily see it as very appealing to two sets of customers—the very young, hip social crowd and the serious business user. You may not think that this is possible, but it is because of the magnificent user interface that Microsoft has designed (and is still improving).

The user interface is no longer an underpowered version of the Windows desktop with a “Start” button and menu system. Instead, it is a series of large colorful tiles that expand into spaces. Each of these spaces is a window into a large pane that is full of information. Some of these spaces are dedicated to People, Music & Videos, and Pictures. Others are more business oriented like e-mail, search and office connectivity. The People space includes information gleaned from Facebook and presents a constantly updated view of your friend’s updates and profile pictures. This will attract the socially voracious younger crowd. The Xbox Live platform that is integrated into the device will also appeal to the younger user. Everyone loves Music, Videos and Pictures so these spaces will have broad appeal and are so well designed and tightly integrated with the phone that they surpass the iPhone. The business oriented space contains sophisticated Outlook-like e-mail that is constantly synchronized with Exchange server. It also synchronizes with Microsoft Office OneNote and SharePoint Server. These business functions put it ahead of all other phones and makes the Microsoft server offerings even more appealing.

The hardware that is planned for the Windows Phone 7 must adhere to a hardware specification that Microsoft has created. All the phones must have multi-touch screens, a powerful processor and three buttons for navigation. This is a departure from Microsoft’s laissez faire attitude from the past. Fortunately, it should help create a Windows Phone 7 experience that rivals Apple’s iPhone experience. The viewing spaces are all larger than the viewing area of the screen and are navigated by dragging them across the viewing area with your finger. Responsive hardware is critical to making the Windows Phone 7 navigation work well and feel like a quality product.

I am excited about Windows Phone 7, but not because it is a new generation device that integrates personal and business information seamlessly. I am excited about it because it is a new software platform that demonstrates Microsoft can still be creative when challenged. It has the potential to be much more than a phone platform. I believe that Microsoft could use it as a new tablet operating system. I can see it being more useful on a tablet form factor than the iPhone (or iPod Touch) operating system. It is more intuitive, more beautiful and encompasses everything that the vast majority of people would want to do on a tablet. I also think it is better than having Windows 7 on a tablet. It is perfectly geared for touch computing. I give Microsoft an A+ for Windows Phone 7 and for the potential that it has on other form factors.

To see demos of the user interface:

Robert Alonso
Alonso Consulting

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