Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer wasted little time touting the updated Windows mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7 Series, as a new way for end users to connect to their mobile devices. Along with revealing a long list of hardware and carrier partners and a launch date for the OS-Christmas 2010-Ballmer book-ended the official announcement of the operating system at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, while Joe Belfiore, vice president of Windows Phones, demonstrated the features and functionality of the operating system. Perhaps surprisingly, for a company best known for business, the emphasis this time was overwhelmingly on the personal.
Belfiore repeatedly used words like “intimate,” “unique” and “individual” when describing the ideal interaction consumers should have with their mobile devices. He often reiterated the notion that a phone is not a PC and should therefore not be treated like one. “We wanted to go back and revisit the design and come up with a user experience that’s new and different,” he said. “How can we build a phone that focuses on the end user and the things that make the phone reflect your unique personality and needs?”
The goal, Belfiore explained, was to make an operating system that was more organized and task-centric and that helped organize information and applications. He spoke of building a modern phone that “takes advantage of users’ complex lives to make something unique and individual.”
In the live demonstration that followed, the focus remained on the personal and the social, demonstrating the integrated experiences with music, pictures and video users would access to stay connected to friends and family. “We want a smart design that puts the user at the center of their experiences and moves beyond separate applications,” he said, scrolling through photos of friends. “Using your phone should be a delightful, fun experience, an expression of your personality that makes people smile when they use it.”
While Belfiore slipped into tech-speak every so often (sub-pixel positioning technology) and highlighted, if briefly, the productivity features of Windows Phone 7, social connection features and location-based services took clear precedence. “Office is good at things like taking notes,” he summarized when speaking about the Office Hub. “It’s terrific for people who want to be productive.” Then it was back to the school of snowflake philosophy.
“I hope the main things you’ll take aware are a smart design that makes the phone a unique reflection of who you are. We think this altogether is a different kind of phone,” he said in conclusion. “We want it to be easy-to-use and delightful and something new.”