In Defense of Window Phone 7 March 3, 2011Posted by Marcus in Hardware.
Tags: Microsoft, Operating System, OS, Smart Phone, UI, User Interface, Windows Phone 7, WP7, Xbox, Xbox Live
I feel that windows phone 7 has been getting a pretty rough time lately. I’m not saying it doesn’t deserve it. From low sale numbers to the ever allusive updates, WP7 deserves quite a bit of criticism. On the other hand, the OS does one thing that I feel is revolutionary in this space. For that WP7 deserves a shout out.
I think the best way to explain the genius behind WP7 is go back to its origins in a device called the Zune HD. The Metro UI took its first baby steps onto the scene in this device, and I was immediately hooked. Despite my contribution of one purchase, the Zune HD was a commercial failure. But the Zune HD is not the story here; the story lies in the metro UI. It is easy to argue that this was most likely the first time a user interface was put onto a device as part of a larger development program. I’m not saying that the Zune was never supposed to succeed; I’m just saying that Microsoft might not have been too concerned with its success.
Let’s come back to present day. Microsoft has released Windows Phone 7 onto the market, and it hasn’t been easy going to say the least. Problems with the software, lack of updates, and slow adaptation of the product have plagued the device. There were terrible rumors of sales fewer than fifteen thousand, and people had started to look at the device as the next Kin. Yet despite all this there are certain aspects of this phone that are genius simply a stroke of genius.
First off is the user interface that found it’s infancies in Zune. What is amazing about it, is the fact that the UI is so distinct. Really no one has ever done a text based UI for a phone before or any other device. This gives developers an amazing opportunity to developers. Applications don’t feel like applications when they use the same interface as the OS, they feel more like a natural part of the phone. Windows phone blurs the line between itself and third party apps, and for that it deserves credit. The other thing Microsoft did developers right by is Xbox integration. This isn’t really about Microsoft’s benefit as much as it is the developers’ benefit once again. This allows for game makers to jump on to the xbox brand, and entire xbox live ecosystem for their games. No other platform offers that.
I don’t know if WP7 will be successful long term. However, if they do manage to take a large chunk of the market, it will remind everyone about what is important to a platform. Applications are what make or break a platform despite the form factor, and it is nice to see that when companies like Apple do all they can to control developers that someone is still looking out for them.