When Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage Feb. 15 to announce his company's new Windows Phone 7 Series, there was significant doubt in the room and around the globe. Could Microsoft, the company that once led the way in smartphones, revitalize its mobile brand after Apple, RIM and Google have surpassed it with new and more viable technology?
It would be difficult. Microsoft has been lagging behind for a long time. Apple's iPhone is capturing more and more market share by the day. And RIM still reigns supreme in the enterprise. Microsoft's platform would need to boast something special to make anyone notice.
In many ways, the Windows Phone 7 Series delivered. Although the name is a mouthful, Microsoft's latest mobile software delivers on several promises. It includes a gaming element, an outstanding new user interface and much more. When folks first had the chance to see what Microsoft has been working on for so long, they were impressed.
It's a good first step in the right direction for Microsoft as it attempts to rebuild its mobile brand. But not everything is worthy of praise. There are some issues with the Windows Phone 7 Series. And we need to acknowledge those as well. Take a look at the 10 things, both good and bad, that you need to know about Windows Phone 7 Series.
1. It's Part Zune Phone
Unlike every other iPhone competitor in the mobile space, Microsoft also offers an iPod competitor. The Zune plays a major role in the Windows Phone 7 Series. The full slate of Zune features makes its way to the software. Users can listen to music, check out FM radio and use Zune Social to share their music recommendations with friends. It's no small addition. Prior to the release of Windows Phone 7 Series, Apple's iPhone was the only device to double as an PMP. All that has changed.
2. Gaming Plays a Major Role
For the first time, gaming is playing a major role in a mobile platform. According to Microsoft, Windows Phone 7 Series will integrate Xbox Live. Gamers will be able to play Xbox Live games on their Windows Phone 7 Series devices, sync with their accounts on their Xbox 360s, and look up other gamers right from the device. Considering Xbox Live currently has over 20 million subscribers, Windows Phone 7 Series might be the chosen device for gamers.
3. Go Social
Although the iPhone and Android-based devices feature social applications that can be downloaded from their respective app stores, Windows Phone 7 Series software has social elements built right in. The software's "People" hub allows users to see all their friends' latest status updates from the social networks they're using. It even provides the ability to update Facebook status out of the box. Microsoft didn't announce Twitter support just yet, which will hurt the software, but it deserves kudos for realizing the importance of mobile social networking.
4. The Name Might Hurt It
There's little debating that Windows Phone 7 Series was a bad idea. Whatever made Steve Ballmer and his team decide that they should go to market with such an awful name is anyone's guess. Soon, you'll be able to buy an iPhone, an Android device, a BlackBerry or a Windows Phone 7 Series product. Yikes. There's still time for Microsoft to come up with a better name for its software. And although it won't look good if it changes things up, it doesn't have much of a choice-Windows Phone 7 Series just doesn't cut it.