My thoughts on Windows Phone 7, and why I shall be getting one
Earlier this week Microsoft announced their new mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7, along with a host of new phone devices on which it will run. They become available in the UK in 7 days time and I shall be getting one, in this blog post I am going to explain why.
Almost five years ago (on 1st November 2005 to be precise) Microsoft released Windows Live; a set of online services -some of which were re-branded from MSN- that were intended to…well…no-one was really sure what they were intended for. The progress of Windows Live since then has been rocky to say the least (including some high–profile departures) although I do believe that the brand now represents a concrete set of products and services that bring value and have a strong future. The change in strategy from trying to be all things to all comers to partnering with best-of-breed services (e.g. Facebook, WordPress, LinkedIn, TripIt, Last.FM) whilst doubling-down on their own popular brands (Office, Messenger, Hotmail) and then building desktop tools to support all those services is both palpable and to Microsoft’s credit in my opinion.
I have been, and still am, a keen follower of Windows Live since those early days (my first Windows Live related blog post was in September 2006) and since then I have endured much ridicule from friends and colleagues who wondered why I bothered maintaining an interest in it when everyone else was jumping onto the MySpace, Facebook and Twitter bandwagons. You can imagine that the phrase “Microsoft fanboy” has been uttered in my direction many times and frankly, given the evidence , its not something I can legitimately deny. They questioned why I bothered with Windows Live and the answer back then was essentially this:
Microsoft’s breadth of products and services that can get unlocked by a single Windows Live ID is greater than anyone else
Four years ago there was no other single organisation that offered (or were going to offer): music and video, gaming, email, instant messenging, online storage, social network aggregation, desktop computing, search, synchronisation & mobile computing (and not forgetting a software platform that I make my living off of) all tied to the same login and it is that simple fact that I always found so compelling. Moreover, even in the face of competition from heavyweights like Apple, Google and Facebook I still find it to be overwhelmingly compelling today. The potential for a fantastic integrated experience incorporating all of the above was always, in my opinion, greater than anyone else could provide but for the last five years that all it has been – potential.
So what has all that got to do with Windows Phone 7? For me, Windows Phone 7 is the first embodiment of that latent potential. I didn’t think it would take five years to arrive at this point but arrive we have. And how. The reviews have generally been very positive (anything from Microsoft that gets Stephen Fry and Jemima Kiss singing its praises must be worthy of a second glance at least) and at the centre of it is Windows Live; not plastered over the top as it was in previous incarnations of Windows Mobile but actually woven into the core of every Windows Phone 7 to the extent that it powers everything from the Facebook-heavy people hub to the online accompanying service at http://windowsphone.live.com.
So to sum up, why am I getting a Windows Phone? In a nutshell its not because I’ve been waiting a few months for this thing, its because I’ve been waiting for four years and I’m not going to turn my back just as we enter the finishing straight. I will be getting a Windows Phone in 7 days (I am as yet undecided about which one though it will probably be the HTC HD7) and I’ll tell you all about it right here.