Bing and Zune

By Nicholas Kolakowski  |  Posted 2011-01-04 Print this article Print

Bing and Zune

Microsoft's massive investment in initiatives such as Bing pays off in Windows Phone 7. The phone's Maps app looks spectacular, shifting to a satellite view as you zoom closer to the ground. However, this element also comes with some kinks: I kept trying to navigate from Manhattan to Queens, for example, only to have the app's Directions feature repeatedly try to direct me to Long Island. Eventually, I had to activate Internet Explorer and use Google Maps. Other addresses proved less of a problem.

In a development that will shock exactly nobody, Bing is also Windows Phone 7's default search engine. One of the smartphone's better features is voice search, which seems responsive and relatively accurate. For example, when I told the device, "Chinese restaurant" while standing on a busy street in Midtown Manhattan during New Year's Eve, it heard me accurately; a few seconds later, I had a list of nearby eateries serving highly questionable egg rolls. Specific place names take a little work, requiring you to clearly enunciate clearly and loudly into the device, but ultimately work as intended.

Likewise, Zune is a very pretty piece of software for navigating through one's music collection. It earned high marks from critics when installed on Microsoft's Zune HD device, and the company wisely made little changes when porting it over to the Windows Phone 7 platform. But at least for the time being, Zune's lack of recognition could harm it with those used to iTunes or other applications.


It took me about five minutes to set up the phone with my Gmail, Outlook, Twitter (which requires an individual app download), Windows Live and Facebook accounts. Windows Phone 7 also ported over my calendar appointments without a hiccup. The "Metro" theme, familiar to those who've used the Zune HD, offers intuitive navigation and a handsome interface. 


Windows Phone 7's most seamless feature, at least in this reviewer's opinion, is the "Office" Hub, which allows workers on-the-go to perform light edits on Word documents, Excel worksheets and PowerPoint presentations. Those items ported from my 15-inch laptop to the smartphone, via e-mail, with nary a glitch or a flub in spacing or formatting. All elements seemed right-sized on a 4.3-inch screen, and simple functions-such as italicizing-came off without those frustrating bugs that often grip first-generation software (the WP7 keyboard is also well-executed, even for big fingers like mine). Saving and porting those documents to e-mail was likewise a snap. For business users, Windows Phone 7 also offers integrated SharePoint.


Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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