Windows Phone 7 Thought: Jim T

image Well the day is almost over, and here is the second to the last reader though that will be posted until further notice.

I am, or was until Windows Phone 7 was announced, a big fan of Windows Mobile based on the following features which are important for my mobile needs:
easy UI customization
plethora of business class 3rd party apps
available alternate browsers which did both the full / mobile web well
the ability to purchase apps from multiple places
open file system with included file explorer
a wide variety of screen sizes / physical keyboards
Copy / Paste
I will reserve final judgement on Windows Phone 7 until the specs are finalized, and I have a chance to play with the new OS. I like the current 6.x and earlier WM interface customized with utilities such as Pocket Plus, and I multi-task applications daily. I have tried the slicker UI shells for WM, but usually return to the standard UI utilizing Pocket Plus enhancements. Since I prefer the larger screen devices (Toshiba e830, Dell X51v, HP210, Samsung Mondi), I rarely use a stylus. Even the standard Windows Today screen is finger friendly on a large screen.  With Pocket Plus, I can customize the Today screen to allow easy access to frequent tasks with a minimum of steps.  Both Resco Keyboard Pro, and SPB Keyboard are easy to use, and finger friendly particularly on the larger screen devices. Although both are finger friendly, and easy to use, SPB Keyboard is now my preferred input method because it is more customizable.
From my perspective, the pendulum has swung way too far in the direction of how pretty, animated, and slick the UI’s are vs. does the device do what you want easily, quickly, reliably, and with the minimum number of inputs. It seems that no matter how feature deficient a device may be, how "locked down" the device is, or how many more steps it takes to perform a task, it is ok with the tech press as long as there are multiple animated transitions, and it looks "cool"  I realize MS had to make a major change to keep pace with the more modern, finger friendly, eye candy centric phone OS’s, and I do not have a problem with that per se.  Non-tech consumers today expect eye candy, finger friendly UI’s, and Microsoft desires to focus on consumers with Windows Phone 7 rather than their traditional business / enterprise focus with older WM versions. Unfortunately, IMO, they went too far, and threw the baby out with the bath water, Based on the limited info available, the things I liked about WM such as multi-tasking, and customizable UI’s have been discarded for extensive social network integration, and slickness.
The Metro UI is certainly different, and less flashy than some other UI’s. Although not a huge fan of eye candy interfaces, Metro almost looks a little too bland aesthetically. With prior WM UI’s, if I wanted a different look, I could change the interface easily with numerous 3rd party options which will no longer be allowed with Windows Phone 7. Maybe Metro will look better when I see it on a device vs. the video demonstration. The Hub concept is also interesting, but I reserve judgement until I use it. Not sure whether the hub concept is the next step forward in UI design, or the next Edsel (for younger, and international readers, the Edsel was a late 50’s car that did not sell well, and was cancelled quickly).   I know I am probably in the minority, but I am disappointed with Windows Phone 7 based on:
no / limited multitasking
no UI customization
no external storage cards
all apps must be purchased from the Microsoft Marketplace
no copy / paste
no user accessible file system (apps can only see their directory) – this is the killer for me
A further expansion of that last bullet point is needed. I use multiple HanDBase databases daily, and several spreadsheets. Due to the plethora of mobile devices I have, I always keep the latest version of data files on my home NAS, and on my website. With files in both locations, I always have access to the latest versions of all files no matter where I may be located,  no matter which device was used to perform the latest update, and regardless of which device I am using at the time. With the iPhone, and now with Windows Phone 7, I may be able to download the latest version to the device using a third party app, but the app on the phone may not be able to access the file due to the restricted file access.  I know HanDBase on the iPhone can not see / use HanDBase files that are loaded via a 3rd party FTP application from a NAS, and initial info indicates Windows Phone 7 may not be able to either.   I need the ability to upload / download files directly to a mobile device without being tethered to a computer, and all apps on the mobile device need the ability to see / use associated data files no matter which directory they are located in, or how they were loaded.   In addition to using a NAS and my website as repositories for the latest versions of data files, I frequently exchange files / CAB’s  between mobile devices, or between a PC and a mobile device using Bluetooth.  It is essential that my mobile devices offer a robust, non-restricted Bluetooth stack.
I do reserve final judgement until Windows Phone 7 is released.  Hopefully, Microsoft will return the features I need.  If not, I may be switching to Android.

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