News analysis: There's a lot that's still not known about the Windows Phone 7, the biggest of which is how exactly it'll fit into the enterprise. That could prove to be a problem for Microsoft.
launch of the Windows Phone 7 was one of those great hooplas that the
company rolls out when announcing a new product, but this time it was some
pretty important hoopla.
A lot depends on whether Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 gets
off to a big enough start to succeed in keeping the company relevant in the
mobile market. Right now it looks like Microsoft is giving it the best shot it knows
how to make.
Unfortunately, whether Microsoft's best is good
enough remains to be seen. The phone looks like it has all the right parts,
meaning that at first glance Windows Phone 7 will look a lot like an Android
phone, but once you get past the first look, there are differences.
Most notably, the screen is organized around functions
rather than applications. So you'll see things like an icon for the e-mail hub,
or one for the Office hub. These hub icons and their enclosed application icons
apparently can be animated and can show a tiny view of what they'll look like
when opened-kind of like the view you get when you pause your mouse pointer
over an icon on the Windows 7 Taskbar.
This approach is vaguely reminiscent of Microsoft's
ill-fated Kin phone that so horrified the consumer base that it was withdrawn
within weeks. That phone used tiles that opened on to e-mail, instant messaging
and social networking sites. But there are differences. The most notable is
that Microsoft is launching this phone globally. Furthermore it's using a
variety of manufacturers and carriers. In the United
States, AT&T will get the phone first
followed a week later by T-Mobile. Manufacturers will include
Samsung, HTC, Dell and LG.
Much has been made about the fact that Microsoft Phone 7
is launching on GSM networks first, but this makes a lot of sense. While the
CDMA networks of Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel are big in the United
States, most of the world is GSM. This is
likely the same reason that Apple stuck with GSM carriers so long-it ensures
the biggest global user base. Unlike Apple, however, Microsoft is said to be
planning a launch of CDMA versions of the Windows Phone 7 in early 2011.
Unlike the hapless Kin, the Phone 7 devices will at least
have the capability of doing actual work in a business environment. Microsoft
will include a mobile version of Outlook with the capability of connecting to
more than one Exchange server, and it will have a fully functional calendar and
Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.
He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.