Friday, March 19, 2010

A tour of Windows 7 Phone

Last night, once again in Italy (there must be something good there, if the best mobile hackers live In Italy: I bet it is the food), someone cracked yet another mobile operating system. This time is the new kid on the block, Windows 7 Phone.

I would not have cared for a Windows 6.x crack, but the new Windows 7 is the real deal, when it comes to Microsoft attempting to survive: if desktop becomes mobile (see the iPad), Microsoft 90% lead on operating systems is gone. Gone. They will be remembered as the pioneers of the PC era. Like people remember who built the Mini operating systems... Gone the desktop, gone their monopoly. Microsoft knows it well, and they went all the way, throwing in the trash 6 versions of Windows Mobile (six: didn't people always say Microsoft needed three versions to get good? Not this time, apparently).

Windows 7 Phone Series came out at the Mobile World Congress. They released an emulator for developers, but with no feature enabled. Last night, Dan managed to enable all the features of the emulator and boom, now we have access to the whole phone. Actually, he pulled the file from his site afterward, worrying about Microsoft, but he did it when he woke up (good hackers work at night, reach their objective, spread the word and they go to sleep). And as you know, when you sleep in Italy, we are awake on this side of the globe...

Short story: I put my hands on the ROM (hey, I am an Italian hacker after all, sorry Microsoft) and played with it a bit.

The home page looks like this:

It is very nice. Very smooth. Very non-Microsoft (ooops). Impressive and user-friendly. The start page is customizable, and you can put your favorite apps on it. Very different from the iPhone grid of icons (copied by Android). Different is cool, these days.

If you click on the little right arrow on the top, you get the apps screen.

A lot of applications, as you can see. Office is there in force, with Word/Excel/Powerpoint. And OneNote. There is a converter (cute). And the calendar app is pretty nice.

Obviously, a lot of emphasis is in cloud syncing and social networks. Here is the messaging setup page:

Facebook is there. Yahoo! is there. All Microsoft is there. Wait... Is there one big portal missing? Gasp, where in the world is Google?? Just when I wrote that Microsoft was the beneficiary of Apple fighting with Google. C'mon guys, be nice. Add Google. Be friends.

What else? Well, the Settings app shows a Backup and Find My Phone feature. Both are part of the MyPhone offering, allowing over-the-air backup and to find your phone when you do not know where it is. More, there is over-the-air update of the operating system (wow, just a few years too late, but glad to see it anyhow). You can't sell a phone without a cloud service these days.

Ok, almost done. What else is cool?

One for the geeks: the Task Manager!!!

There you have it, a tour of Windows 7 Phone. Impressive mobile OS. Different from anything we have seen coming out from Microsoft. Even different from the iPhone. And Android.

They are late, late, late, late, late. But I still feel they have a chance. They definitely have developers. And developers now make the difference between making it or breaking it in mobile (right, Palm?).

If they only would understand the business model of selling a closed source operating system is gone... They could be a monopoly.