Windows Phone 7 Critics Need to Take Time to Actually Use It
NEWS ANALYSIS: The vast majority of Windows Phone 7 critics apparently have never actually seen a Windows Phone 7, much less actually used one. Maybe they should.
The question of Windows Phone 7's place in the wireless marketplace has jumped into the foreground with the wide online discussion about a question raised in the blog of Charlie Kindel, a former Microsoft employee and WP7 evangelist.
Kindel asked why WP7 hasn't taken off, considering that the product is, in his view, superior to the iPhone and especially the Android platform. My eWEEK colleague Nick Kolakowski addresses Kindel's blog and the resulting analyst discussion in his article on the topic.
I've read Kindel's blog posting and some of the other comments from a variety of sources. I've also talked with Nick Kolakowski since he's eWEEK's resident Windows Phone 7 expert. But unlike many of the critics of the Windows Phone 7, I decided I owed readers my own, at least a marginally informed, opinion. Since Nick is in the process of putting WP7 through its paces, I decided to try it out for myself.
This is when I discovered one of the first problems that Microsoft has in selling Windows Phone 7-finding a phone that actually runs it. While several carriers sell WP7 models, finding one in a location where you can try it out and where you can talk to someone who has a clue is easier said than done. So after a few phone calls, I headed over to the T-Mobile store in Manassas, Va., where they had an operational HTC Radar which runs the Mango update to WP7. Also at the store was one of T-Mobile's employees, Adela Durmishaj, who it turns out is an expert with WP7.
Durmishaj showed me how the HTC Radar worked and even demonstrated a capability that I haven't found on other phones--you can scan text in a foreign language and have it translated. When I travel this would be seriously useful. When I tried out the WP7 Radar on my own, I found that while the Hub interface was quite different from the icon grid you find on iOS and Android devices, it's no less useful and it is in some ways more intuitive.
Now, I realize that spending 20 minutes with a phone isn't the same thing as a thorough review, but I did have the chance to see the basics of how it works. My initial impression is that the critics of the interface either haven't tried it, or they're so set in their ways that their belief system doesn't allow for a user interface that's not the icon grid that they've become familiar with on iPhone and Android devices.