Monday, August 29, 2011

Windows Phone 7 Operating System

Windows Phone 7 is the baby operating system of the phone operating system world. Introduced by  in late 2010, Windows Phone 7 brings a fresh outlook to the smartphone world. It is easy to use, yet smart. It is simple, but elegant. But is it enough to stand up to other operating systems in the highly competitive smartphone market where Android, iPhone, and Blackberry have already staked their claim? Has Microsoft changed the old windows platform enough to get away from their old, confusing mobile operating systems? You'll find out what my take on it is as long as you keep reading...
"Windows Mobile, anyone? Windows Mobile on a phone?" is not what you'll be hearing Microsoft advertise with their phones. In the past, any operating system that Microsoft has released on a phone has just been a smaller version of their computer's operating system. If you haven't experienced the frustration of previous "Microsoft Mobile" operating systems, picture this. Slap Windows on a touch screen that is only 2.3" big and give the user a stylus to hit the way-too-small buttons and windows start menu. It was worse than frustrating. It was clumsy, stupid, and not innovative, to say the least.

This time around the Redmond giant that is Microsoft actually learned from it's mistakes... as they should. This is their last stab at a mobile phone operating system. They have said that if Windows Phone 7 fails, they will shift their focus else-where. So with Windows Phone 7, they needed to come up with something that is everything their previous mobile operating systems are not; innovative, smart, easy-to-use, elegant, and simple. They have delivered on most of these and plan to hit the ones they've missed with their new Mango update that is scheduled to release in September of this year.

So where have they missed? Well, first of all, the company's first smartphones to be released with Windows Phone 7 didn't have even the most basic functions that we've all come to assume will be included. Copy/Paste was the function that received the most attention. There was no looking up a street address in Internet Explorer and then copying and pasting that into another window. That would have to be done from memory. That was fixed with an update that Microsoft released later, but the earliest phones like the Samsung Focus and the HTC Surround do not come with those updates pre-loaded. They have to be installed by the user.

Even after the newest updates, they're still missing several important things; the ability to send and receive video through text message, the ability to use the phone as a mobile hotspot or tether it, the ability to multi-task by getting out of an application and then getting right back into it where you left off, the ability to talk on the phone while using all of the other features on the phone, the ability to view flash-rich websites, the ability to view a lot of websites in their smartphone-friendly mobile version, the ability to view certain websites at all, the ability to do pretty much anything from the Facebook application, the ability to set or even download more ringtones or notification sounds than the ones that come pre-loaded on the phone, the ability to change the background to a picture... just to name a few. These features are all basic features included in every other smartphone that comes out today and they're all missing on Windows Phone 7.

Now, to be fair, Windows Phone 7's update, "Mango," is supposed to include all these features, plus quite a few more. These features that will be included in the Mango update are perfectly outlined in an article on Engadget, so I won't go into it any further in this article.

What Windows Phone 7 has brought to their operating system thus-far is a very artistic look and feel. The tiles on the front page are beautiful and simple. When you switch from page to page, it isn't just an instant switch, the tiles flip over in a wave pattern and reveal the next page, rather than just switching to it. The transitions from page to page are not boring, they're fun. With operating systems like Android and iOS, transitions are more of a means to an end. The contrast is also amazing. Black background with white writing or vice-versa, the beauty of this operating system shows through on every page.

Windows Phone 7 also brings Bing search to the table. With a simple tap of the "Search" button (a little magnifying glass at the bottom of the screen, reminiscent of Android buttons) it will bring you to a Bing Search page where you can perform a local search, a news search, or a web search. If you type in "sandwich" you can switch back and fourth between those three search options. You can see restaurants where you can purchases sandwiches in the local search, the latest news on sandwiches in the news search, and web pages that mention sandwiches in the web search. This may sound a lot like Google search for both Android and iOS, but Windows Phone 7 does it in style, just like the full Bing website does.

And we must not leave out one of the important differentiators of this phone. While every other operating system has a copy-cat, third-party application that can open up, create, and edit Microsoft Office documents, these phones have the real-deal. You can tell the difference too. You have far more abilities with Windows Phone 7 in Microsoft Office than you do with Android, iOS, or Blackberry. This makes sense, given that Microsoft owns Microsoft Office. Suck on those eggs, Quickoffice!

Another great feature of this OS is that the live tiles on the front deliver a "Glance-and-Go" experience. Each live tile shows updates as you get notifications from it. For example, when I get a new text message, the text message tile updates to include the number one in it. That means that I have one new text message. If the e-mail tile updates and has a little number 5 above it, it means that I have 5 new e-mails I have to check out. By opening up my home menu, I can easily see all the new things on my phone and then get back to normal life.

Although the Windows Phone 7 operating system is not something I would ever recommend to my friends and family at this point, I am seriously considering the next generation Windows Phone 7 devices with the juicy Mango upgrade to be my next phone. It is going to be sweet and will be a major competitor in the market once this update is available to consumers. But for now, I'll stick with my HTC Inspire.

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