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Microsoft Windows Technology

Does Microsoft Finally Have a Phone Worth Buying? 427

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the send-me-a-demo-unit dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft has finally shown 'Windows Phone 7 Series' and it's supposed to be a completely new smartphone OS. A phone from Microsoft to get excited about that is going to work properly and take on the iPhone's world domination? "
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Does Microsoft Finally Have a Phone Worth Buying?

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  • by seasunset (469481) on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:08AM (#31144140) Homepage

    Iphone world domination?

    I don't know what world is being referred here, probably the marketing and fairy tale world. Last time I checked, Apple was a marginal player in the real world (i.e., not some particular geography or some fashionable pundits).

    In the real world, Nokia might be the one to talk about, but even so, its share is far from "world domination"

    • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:23AM (#31144294) Journal

      In the real world, Nokia might be the one to talk about, but even so, its share is far from "world domination"

      And yet, the iPhone is the phone that everyone is talking about. New phones are being touted as "iPhone killers", not "Blackberry killers" or "Android killers". When it comes to usability and design, the iPhone is the yardstick that other phones are being measured against. In that sense, it does dominate the market... or at least the marketing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by foniksonik (573572)

      Are you talking phones or smartphones?

      Apple's iPhone Continues to Outpace Smartphone Industry Growth [macrumors.com] - while proving your point in one sense, regarding Nokia, also demonstrates a counterpoint to your 'marginal' comment - 3rd worldwide in volume and market share with over 10% is anything but marginal. With a growth rate of > 90% there is every reason to believe iPhones will over take RIM in the near future. If you were to look at "Consumer" phone usage/market share I'd be willing to bet iPhones are alread

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by derGoldstein (1494129)
        It's 16%, which I believe is in between "marginal" and "quaint". Growth rate is the much more impressive stat on that particular graph, but keep in mind that Androids are on their way to far more countries than iPhones are. The iPhone has a dominant position in several large markets, even influential ones, but it's still A) a consumer device, and B) completely locked down -- making it inappropriate for commercial/corporate use, even if some sectors *wanted* to use it (doctors, lawyers, etc.). There are quit
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)
          Note that it's 16% of the smartphone market, not 16% of the mobile phone market, or even 16% of the mobile-phone-that-can-run-third-party-apps-and-has-a-multitasking-operating-system-with-protected-memory market, which includes smartphones and feature phones, with the feature phone part of that market being about four times the size, although with lower margins. Nokia and Apple, sabre rattling aside, both still make the majority of their money in markets where the other has absolutely no presence.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Algan (20532)

      Mind share domination. The iphone might not have a large chunk of market share, in terms of raw numbers. But it is the device to beat, the bar every other smartphone manufacturer suddenly found itself being compared to. Sure, there are phones that are better for this and that. Geeks might go for the relative openness of Android. Corporate types will probably prefer the enterprise integration of Blackberry. But the average Joe will always compare them to the iphone.

      • So if it's the device to beat and the blackberry has more market share does that mean it's already been beaten?

    • by mblase (200735)

      According to this article, Motorola is #1 in world mobile phones, while Blackberry is #1 in world smartphones. Blackberry is at 41%, the iPhone is 25%, but you ought to consider that (1) iPhones are slowly eating away at Blackberry's share and (2) the iPhone is doing amazingly well considering it's only available on one network, unlike Blackberries.

      • by mblase (200735)

        Sorry, it's this article [macvideo.tv].

      • by Laglorden (87845)

        You mean the article with the headline "comScore: Apple gained US smartphone market share in December"

        Which only talks about US market share, is that the article you are basing your "worldwide" market share data on?

      • not to mention there were only a small variety of iPhones versus god knows how many Blackberry devices currently available on the market for god knows how many networks.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)

      Others have mentioned how they're talking about smart phones, and the iPhone is fast-growing in that market and gets most of the attention.

      I'd also like to point out that the iPhone has been extremely influential in the smart phone market. Look at smart phones before the iPhone came out and compare them to what's coming out now. Everyone is the copying design concepts, UI conventions, and capabilities of the iPhone. Carriers are losing control of the devices being put out these days, and it started with

  • by Blazarov (894987) <blazarov @ m a i l.bg> on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:10AM (#31144174)
    There are still a lot of questions to be answered, before I can say if I like it or not... Does it support multitasking? How are notifications handled? How efficient is the down-scrolling action compared to the sideways swipe in a real world usage? How would apps look with this spill-over-the-side text philosophy? I agree that the fact that they have started completely from scratch is rather exciting, and also the minimalist design approach is rather bold, but until the above questions are answered it is hard to tell if this will end the "iPhone Domination"
    • by derGoldstein (1494129) on Monday February 15, 2010 @12:20PM (#31145100) Homepage

      Does it support multitasking?

      How sad is it that this is a serious question? Not too long ago, "does it support copy&paste" would have also been a legitimate question to ask. Thanks, Apple.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Gordo_1 (256312)

      Does it support multitasking?

      My blackberry Bold supports multitasking. What to know what else? I have to manually prune the running app list almost every day when the phone inexplicably becomes unusable due to various 3rd-party app memory leaks. Then again the screen is too small to have a taskbar that shows at-a-glance what's actually running in the background taking up memory or CPU, so I have to click a button and open a menu and scroll around hunting for apps to kill one at a time until the phone becomes responsive again. We all kn

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:10AM (#31144176)

    One reason why the iPhone is such a phenomenal phone is that the user interface permeates everything. Not just the immediate application screen or the app transitions, but at a fundamental level there is a symmetry and orthogonality of conceptualization that leads to a seamless user experience.

    While that might sound like marketing gobbledygook, compare the Toshiba T-1 to the iPhone. Both have very cool initial user interfaces. In fact, the Toshiba (WinMo6.x) has a more interesting interface in that it changes to meet the user's needs without hardly any user input. However, once you dig past the first interface, it becomes clear that the WinMo phone is the same old WinMo crap underneath. There is no good widget set, there is no clear UI design guideline, and there is no good way to develop an app that doesn't end up feeling like a clunky mess. The iPhone, on the other hand, has a widget set that is reusable and has intuitive usage, there are very clear design guidelines, and most of all there are real artists who want to make apps for the platform.

    If WinMo7 can break the Windows Mobile mold and really create something that provides a cohesive user interaction concept, then we may see a WinMo8. Otherwise, it may be the end of the road for this OS.

    • by RealErmine (621439) <commerce@wordPOL ... et minus painter> on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:27AM (#31144354)

      at a fundamental level there is a symmetry and orthogonality of conceptualization that leads to a seamless user experience.

      The words! They burn my brain like acid!

      • by selven (1556643) on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:45AM (#31144622)

        The space-separated lexical units! They cause rapid oxidation in my cranium like low-PH compounds!

        Fixed.

      • That's only because he left out some words: "... at a fundamental level there is a symmetry and orthogonality of conceptualization that leads to a seamless user experience to empower the core business for enterprise synergy and a strong paradigm shift."

        Now, instead of burning, you fell asleep, right?
    • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:31AM (#31144404) Journal
      Don't forget the physical aspects either. The iPhone's GUI is succesful partly because the phone has an exceptionally good touch screen. And I don't mean multi-touch or pinch zooming, I mean a screen that registers touches and gestures accurately, so that the interface is easy to use even with fat fingers. Show me another phone that I can operate (even quickly type an SMS) one-handed using the thumb of the hand holding the phone... My message to manufacturers of competing phones would be: don't skimp on the screen!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Have Blue (616)
        It's not just that, it also has a lot of hidden software tricks that make it easier to communicate your intent. When you put your finger down on a button, it invisibly grows larger, so your finger is less likely to slip off if you move it a fraction while tapping. The keyboard keys also do this, based on the text predictor, to make the next letters in the likeliest words easier to hit. Safari allows you to scroll in every direction if you want but it also makes the horizontal and vertical axes "sticky" so i
    • by dubbreak (623656) on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:59AM (#31144850)

      There is no good widget set, there is no clear UI design guideline, and there is no good way to develop an app that doesn't end up feeling like a clunky mess. The iPhone, on the other hand, has a widget set that is reusable and has intuitive usage, there are very clear design guidelines, and most of all there are real artists who want to make apps for the platform.

      To me this is the most important change required to make this successful. I dev for WinCE currently (not phones, but the product does have a UI and a small touch screen). The tools suck. MS doesn't have a nice widget set like Apple. You want anything pretty or intuitive that doesn't look like it's straight out of windows 2000 you either have to build it yourself or dish out and pay for a 3rd party kits (which would be fine if the pickings weren't so lean).

      I've dabbled with xcode and what's available for the iphone (I have a mac and itouch, just limited time to play), and what's available is a world of difference. Plus they have UI guidelines which I see as a good thing since consistency is a very important part of HCI. The tools combined with the guidelines mean it's easy for a developer to create an application that looks and feels like it belongs on the iphone and doesn't clash with the metaphors of the initial interface. To me this makes the iphone and apps feel cohesive instead of an OS and Apps that you happen to throw on there. It's the cohesiveness that makes it better than previous offering in the arena.

      If MS steps up to the plate and creates some great tools things could be interesting. Mobile tools haven't been release for VS2010 yet, so maybe this is why they have been delayed...

    • there are real artists who want to make apps for the platform.

      Software developers are artists now? What???

      • Software developers are artists now? What???

        Well, right now they're mostly "starving artists", which, as any artist will tell you, is the most pure form of artist.

    • While that might sound like marketing gobbledygook

      It does. I checked with my gobbledygook-o-meter, and it's screaming like a geiger counter in chernobyl.

    • Exactly right (Score:3, Informative)

      by Dan East (318230)

      You are exactly right, and other manufactures, like HTC, also provide their own UI which serves as the primary first-layer (and often second-layer) interactiveness that the user experiences. Generally this interface is very good, but as you say, when you get into the nitty-gritty, it's just WM underneath, which is the child of Pocket PC, which is the child of Palm-Sized PC (windows CE 2.11), which is the child of Windows CE 1.0, which was an _exact_ copy of the Windows 95 user interface. And here's the rea

  • Does Microsoft Finally Have a Phone Worth Buying?

    *Looks at old POS Moto Q9C*
    *Looks at current POS Palm Pro*

    Combining the canard that "It isn't the OS, it's the hardware" with the admonition about fooling me twice, I'm gonna have to say... "No."

    • I actually like windows mobile.
      I started with a HTC Wallaby in 2003 and had 6 different HTC devices over the years and never had a major problem with the operating system (WM2002 through WM6.5). And in terms of features they always were the best devices you can get.

  • Nicely done. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by quadelirus (694946) on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:17AM (#31144238)
    As a complete Apple fanboi, and one who owns 3 macs and swears by his iPod Touch (I don't like AT&T), I've got to say, that thing looks like it has a really nice interface. Kudos to MS, just from glancing at it (and not having played with it) it looks like the interface could be nicer than both the iPhone OS and Android. If this came out for my cell carrier I would have a tough time deciding between it and an Nexus One. I use Windows 7 at work and have enjoyed it (mostly because MS copied so many of things I prefer about the Mac interface onto Win7, it isn't OS X yet, but getting closer) and I'm willing to keep an open mind about this.
    • by 1s44c (552956)

      It doesn't matter how pretty the interface is if it crashes every few days like my last windows phone.

      Phones should do one thing well, they should make and receive calls. You can't do one thing well by taking a huge monster like windows and hacking it down to phone size. You need to start with a small embedded OS or at a push unix.

      • You do know that all of Microsoft's phone offerings are based on WinCE, an embedded OS with a very limited relationship with desktop Windows, right?

        Now, WinCE has been called "wince" for a reason; but it is an embedded OS, not a cut-down of any of the NT based ones.
      • by Pojut (1027544)

        I keep hearing about how unstable WinMo is...yet my HTC Ozone has never crashed or locked up on. Is it because it uses a non-skinned version of WinMo, because of superior hardware, or because people are universally silly with how they treat their gadgets, or...?

    • I've played with a Zune recently, and was pleasantly surprised. The UI is similar, and it had a very smooth feel to it. I think there was something slightly confusing about it to me, but I wasn't used to it. I didn't know what to expect to happen if I swiped my finger this way or that way. It was pretty sleek.

      One of the things I liked about it is that it didn't seem to be the same old "here's a icon, now click on it" sort of interface. I've been wondering lately if computers will start to move away fr

      • One of the things I liked about it is that it didn't seem to be the same old "here's a icon, now click on it" sort of interface...

        Sorry to reply to my own post, but I wanted to throw something else in. There were a couple of things I found disappointing about the iPad launch, but one of the immediate "first impression" disappointments was the home screen. All the applications they showcased seem to have fairly refined interfaces that would appear to give a lot of information and control, and then you have a home screen that looks like it's just a bunch of poorly spaced-out icons for you to punch. With all the possible GUI options,

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I think it looks nice, but I wonder how usable it is. It's hard to tell from a short video. It does seem like they have sacrificed a bit of functionality for the sake of being stylish. Such as the giant words at the top that get cropped as you scroll sideways, yet don't really tell you which page you're on. It's looks as if they were trying to use the title as a scroll indicator, which would have been stylish and functional, but it doesn't seem to work well.

      Hopefully it turns out to be a good device, becaus

  • by mr_death (106532) on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:21AM (#31144266)

    Even if Windows Phone 7 (or whatever cute name marketing comes up with) is the best thing since sliced bread, Apple and Google will continue to release three software versions for Microsoft's one, ensuring that MS will once again be left in the dust.

    You have to wonder why MS continues to try their hand in areas where has no advantage -- or clue, really. The best engineers on the planet can't win in the face of poor management and squabbling VPs.

    Ballmer's arrogance knows no bounds.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Etherized (1038092)

      This is a valid point. The "MS Phone" at this time isn't even a product - it's just a demo. By the time something actually gets to market (later this year, maybe?) Android, WebOS, iPhone OS, Maemo, etc will have had a good bit of time to "catch up" with any missing functionality.

      MS is, essentially, the last to the table of those I mentioned, and that's a dangerous place to be, even with a superior product. All of the others (well, possibly excepting Maemo) already have mind share and already have, more impo

      • by mmarlett (520340)

        MS is, essentially, the last to the table of those I mentioned, and that's a dangerous place to be, even with a superior product. All of the others (well, possibly excepting Maemo) already have mind share and already have, more importantly, applications. The Windows 7 phone will mystifyingly not support any legacy winmo apps, so it's starting off at a massive disadvantage.

        Well, it looks like a Zune clone, which is to say that it looks like it's trying to do the iPod/iPhone/iPad trick. Microsoft was really one of the first at the table with a phone OS, but it's scraping its broccoli off to the dogs and hoping no one complains while it whips up something new. Unfortunately, it doesn't look terribly new nor is it building on a wildly successful platform -- the Zune may be getting better, but it's not getting better than its competitors and the niche market it has "carved out" i

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:52AM (#31144726) Journal
      For exactly the same reason that Google has been branching out into OSes and Office suites, I'd expect.

      Secondarily, the hope to make some money at it; but, primarily, the hope to disrupt a competitor's area of strength before that competitor is able to use it to expand.
    • Burdened by management? Interestingly, the success of Apple's products is often attributed to design decisions that have been directly influenced by Jobs. One article even went so far as to state that Apple designs for a single tarket market: "Steve Jobs"; success in other markets follows from that.
  • by micron (164661) on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:24AM (#31144310)

    This is a serious step 1 here. I have had several Windows Mobile phones in the past. What sold me on the iPhone was that I could hear the phone ring, and actually receive the call. With Windows Mobile, more often than not, I would get the call.. go to answer... phone locks up... reboot phone... call person back. FAIL on the basic UI of the phone. The other features would work well... just often found myself rebooting the phone when it came time to get a call.

    • How long ago was that? I've had a winmo phone for 3.5 years now (okay, technically two since I upgraded). I can't remember the last time the phone kept me from answering a call. Dead headset? yes. Hitting the wrong button on the car's bluetooth interface? yup. Having the phone lock up? Nope. About the only time I have to reset is when a poorly behaved application causes a UI issue (I'm looking at you, Opera).

    • by Andy Dodd (701)

      Which ones?

      I've never had any such problems with my AT&T Tilt or Tilt 2. OK, maybe not never, I think I've had one crash during a call in 3 years.

    • "FAIL on the basic UI of the phone."

      It's "Family Day" but I'm working, so I'm cranky and willing to burn the mod points (certainly off-topic for sure).

      Using the word "fail" in broken english has now become classic douche-baggery. Don't just parrot the same tired crap you heard a couple of years back. Think up something new, please. I'm surprised you didn't find a way to work "Micro$oft" into the post.
    • by abigsmurf (919188)
      I've had the iphone fail to answer a call on two occasions (slider on the unlock screen wouldn't budge). Infrequent but it is an issue that lots of users occasionally get.
    • by Sabalon (1684)

      Similar problems on 6.1 and wm6.5. It's the reason I moved away from WinMobile. That and my verizon coverage was useless too

  • by smackenzie (912024) on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:26AM (#31144338)
    Has anyone posted this video of the interface yet?
    http://www.windowsphone7series.com/multimedia/Media2 [windowsphone7series.com]

    I hope they keep the UI design team that put this together. It's a refreshing change from the escalating UI-candy wars.
    • Video provided by YouTube, thats pretty hilarious! (its a Microsoft official site)

    • Well, the video looks less enticing than the text description. I'm afraid it's more like Windows Media Center on a phone. I hope it's better in its final incarnation.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by voidstin (51561)

        I totally agree. Still way to many animations and eye candy. UI designers should keep the focus on what works well and fast not what looks slick, but the slick looking designs are the ones that get picked in the meetings...

        My favorite part is the "find people faster".... that's what you're selling? exactly how is that faster, or at all different from your competitors? My treo 300 could get to contacts quite quickly, and the iphone search is easy and works well - is this a still a problem?

  • The fact they're dictating the exact hardware and layout makes me wonder whether (even though the software looks decent) this could crash and burn. Why should hardware manufacturers give up [what is effectively their creative control] for this OS, when they can make whatever they want and shove Android on it with no restrictions?

    • Actually, this is why the iPhone is a success. Developers don't have to wonder which of the 400 variants of phone might be using their software, at what resolution, with what hardware capabilities. The iPhone works because there is a great deal less development required to get software to work on the devices - less testing and fewer hardware options makes for a much easier job on the software end.

      The one thing Apple has right is unifying the user experience. There's no shame in taking that part they do wel

  • This came up [volkskrant.nl] in the Dutch 'Volkskrant' (newspaper, literally "people's paper"). It purported to show some live video [studiosevent.com] of the phone 'launch'. I did not get to see this video, instead I was told that my browser and platform were not supported so sorry this Silverlight video is not for you.

    Funny, that. This browser and platform have no problems showing video. I guess this phone is just not for me...

    Silly Microsoft. You can not even show a video without building walls around it and still you want me to believe y

  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:32AM (#31144412) Journal

    No goofy shading and transitions? Simple design? No backgrounds?

    This has promise. I'm a "black screen wallpaper" guy, and until Windows 7 I used the "classic" look in windows (I'm still considering switching back, as the whole translucent thing is more a distraction than anything else).

    What I want is a finger-operable OS that allows quick access to all my programs (and easy program switching), is finger operable, makes scrolling and web browsing easy (I've yet to see a browser that can reliably determine the difference in a small swipe vs a click), is finger controllable, and allows customizable parameters for most actions (when to ring, when not to, when to wake, when to sleep, when to check email, etc.), and - most importantly - is finger controllable.

    I know that there are lots of people who want a PDA instead of a phone, and prefer using a stylus. Really - it's a phenomenal annoyance to have to pull out a stylus for practically every operation because the icons are the size of a piece of glitter. It's nice to see that they might be moving into the 21st century with their UI.

  • Sorry, Microsoft, but you guys claim that every release is the best thing since sliced bread. Having just finally gotten rid of my Samsung BlackJack II, with Windows Mobile 6.1, I can say that it was simultaneously the most promising, and most disappointing phone I've ever owned. I won't ever buy another Windows Mobile phone.

    For now, I've got a used Blackberry (even this old one is way better than the Blackjack) while I wait for my AT&T contract to expire, then it is hello, Android.

    Necron69

  • Work properly? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Roadmaster (96317) <roadmr@tomecLISP ... m minus language> on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:35AM (#31144460) Homepage Journal

    Work properly? from Microsoft? the company that made "Microsoft Works" an oxymoron? I don't think so.

    On the Desktop OS arena, one always has to have SOME degree of MSFT compatibility. On smartphones there's plenty of choice and Microsoft is but a small player. So why even bother? let's keep them relegated to a corner.

  • No.

    In two words, Hell no.

    We don't need another fucking mobile platform, let alone one that Microsoft doesn't even have the balls to make a phone from. Google at least has the Nexus One.

  • Did you see that for a manufacturer to get a license they have to dedicate a hardware button to the Bing-thing? I like my HTC with antiquated Windows Mobile, but with that condition I wouldn't upgrade even if it were feasible and free.
  • Those seem to be the big areas where MS is falling behind in this race.

    Slick interface on a smartphone that syncs to the desktop and has a modern embedded browser? There are plenty of those on the market today.

  • by fermion (181285) on Monday February 15, 2010 @12:19PM (#31145080) Homepage Journal
    Blackberry has the corporate market, integrates with Exchange. The Google phones integrate with the million of people who use Google services. The iPhone integrates with the millions of users that use the Apple services.

    Where is a MS phone going to fit in? Users are not going to pay for MS services as they do for Apple services. If MS was going to give away online service, they already would. Well, I guess they do but not with the popularity of Google, since such services are ties to the OS, which is counter to what the web is.

    No matter how pretty MS makes the phone, it is unclear why anyone would buy it. It could be that MS leaves the corporate market to blackberry, and focuses on consumers. This might work if the sold the phone for significantly less than cost, as they did with the xBox. If they did, they would be the only cell phone provider who does so. If they teamed with cricket and the low end carriers they could demolish the competition. Other than that, I hardly see anyone leaving a phone so they can be locked back to the desktop.

  • UI Failures (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BodeNGE (1664379)
    The amount of dead space on the home screen is really, really bad. Forcing any text on the home screen to be small is a disaster and will lead to eyestrain for many users. The on screen keyboard also look far too high up the device leading to even more black, dead space under the keyboard. Thanks for covering up well over half of my application whenever a keyboard is on screen! Didn't really need to use a full screen anyway.

    Actually that would be if my app actually ran on this pig. I have to rewrite i

  • by abigsmurf (919188) on Monday February 15, 2010 @12:46PM (#31145440)
    I'm really loving that interface. Stylish minimalism that should make it even easier to use than the iphone.

    Best of all, solid, bold colours. None of that plasticy, shiny stuff that has been everywhere since the early days of 'Web 2.0'.

    A real attempt to innovate mobile interfaces rather than cloning the iPhone is really surprising. I just hope they've really made an attempt to make it reliable unlike previous versions of WinMo.

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