Windows Phone 7 Review

It’s now time to take an in-depth look at Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system now that the project has finally seen the light of the day after years of tumultuous developments. This review is quite long so I’m first going to give you a quick history reminder about the development of the OS followed by description of the product’s features and my opinion of it.

Officially unveiled back in February 2010 during MWC in Barcelona, Windows Phone 7 is Microsoft last attempt to be relevant in the mobile market after the slow demise of Windows Mobile 6.X that took place during past few years. Contrary to popular belief Windows Mobile as we knew it wasn’t a bad OS, but it greatly suffered from Microsoft’s total lack of support and interest in its product and the only reason why it managed to survived this long was because OEMs like HTC poured R&D and money into developing alternative UIs to compete with Apple’s iPhone and later, Google’s Android. What many people don’t know is that Windows Phone 7’s development initially started back in 2004 when it was called Windows Mobile 7 (code named Photon) but because of a lack of motivation, foresight and some relatively stupid decisions taken by the Redmond company (like the Danger acquisition that later gave birth to the Kin devices) the development was a total mess and in Fall 2008 Microsoft finally decided to stop all ongoing Photon / Windows Mobile 7 development and re-start everything from scratch with a new team composed of the developers of the Zune media player and Windows Media Center.

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Video: Windows Phone 7 Beta Emulator ROM tour

I’ve just recorded an 9 minutes long video walktrough of the latest Windows Phone 7 Beta Emulator rom (6414) that was released on Monday in the Windows Phone 7 Beta SDK to show you how things look like now that we are getting closer to RTM. The first thing you will notice is how smooth things are compared to what was available before (it is like that on the protoypes too). You will notice that the browser (IE Mobile) is now super fast at loading pages and scrolling is now silky smooth (and there’s no checkerboard effect anymore). The rom also seems to be feature complete so we shouldn’t expect to see anything really new between now and the official launch in October. Contrary to the previous emulators there’s no more access to the task-manager and other “under the hood” features that were unlocked. The whole UI is a pleasure to use (especially on a real phone ;-) ) with only a few feature still missing (copy and paste, tethering etc…). Check it out after the break (it should be in HD quality once YouTube finishes to process it):

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In-depth look at Office, Exchange and SharePoint on Windows Phone 7

One more Windows Phone 7 TechED session for the day. This time you’ll get an in-depth look at the Office 2010 integration (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) in the Windows Phone 7 and how you can deploy WP7 in SharePoint Server 2010 and Exchange Server 2010. If you had any doubts about Microsoft’s commitment to the business user here’s you answer (video after the break):

Windows Phone is an important tool for personal productivity and collaboration. Windows Phone 7 will be taking this to the next level. In this session, learn what’s new in Office Mobile, how it integrates with SharePoint Server and how to create the highest impact for users. This session also presents the new functionality that is available with Exchange Server 2010 in combination with Windows Phone and offers deployment guidance.

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Microsoft Forefront Unified Access Gateway (UAG) on Windows Phone 7

Two days ago Microsoft made it clear that Business users and ITs will not be left out of Windows Phone 7 and that they are aiming to provide the best Office, SharePoint, and Exchange experience ever seen on a mobile platform. So without further talk I highly suggest you watch the following TechED session (video after the break):

A growing number of employees are using their smartphones for business purposes. This makes planning secure access to email, documents, and applications a mission critical job for IT. Learn how Forefront Unified Access Gateway makes accessing email and documents from Windows Phones secure. This session presents the top things you can do to improve the security of your Windows Phone deployment, including deploying ActiveSync with Microsoft Exchange Server, providing secure remote access to Microsoft SharePoint, planning and publishing line-of-business applications, to take advantage of this evolution. Take full advantage of your IT investment in Exchange Server and SharePoint. This session covers architecture, deployment best practices, application publishing and traffic filtering for better protection of information.

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Microsoft TechED: Windows Phone 7 Overview session

Lots of Windows Phone 7 info is starting to come out of Microsoft’s TechED event which is currently taking place in New Orleans. The first video below is a overview of the Windows Phone 7 development platform and Office 2010 integration with some talk about the genesis of the project.

Terry Myerson is the Corporate Vice President of Windows Phone Engineering. He shows how Windows Phone will excite business end-users and enable rich applications that run on PC, Web, and phone. He covers all aspects of Windows Phone 7, highlights the use of Windows Phone in key work scenarios, discusses IT capabilities to support these, and illustrates the rich development platform for applications run across PC, Web, and phone.

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Windows Phone 7 Business features

Microsoft has just posted a long post discussing Windows Phone 7′s business features. Sure there won’t be any VPN support (among other missing features..) like in previous of Windows Mobile but Microsoft wants to make it clear that even though they are principally aiming WP7 at the consumer market business users won’t be left out. Here’s a short snip:

The vast majority of individuals make their own personal decision regarding which Smartphone to purchase. Given this, we often hear from IT professionals that their most important considerations for Smartphones are that they are phones people want and that they meet the organization’s IT needs– enabling them to increase usage and productivity. Organizations are interested in investments they have already made (e.g. Exchange, SharePoint, Office). Windows Phone 7 enables the IT support most organizations need without the need for additional infrastructure.
Specifically, Windows Phone 7:

  • Is built from the ground up using industry best practices in secure software development (Secure Development Lifecycle).
  • Deeply Integrates email, calendar and contacts with Exchange Server enabling rich, seamless email and calendar management to enhance productivity.
  • Integrates with SharePoint through the SharePoint Workspace client, enabling enhanced collaboration through offline document access and syncing.
  • Helps protect corporate informationby securing the device through PINs and passwords. Information is further protected by not allowing access to data via PC tethering or support for removable SD cards. In addition, Windows Phone 7 supports IT managed EAS policies such as Require Password, Password Strength, Remote Wipe and Reset to Factory Settings with multiple failed unlock attempts.
  • Helps ensure data reliability and integrity through application sandboxing and managed code. Windows Phone 7 ensures communications channels between applications cannot be opened and critical system resources cannot be accessed. Most malware threats are introduced through the browser. IE Mobile helps ensure that malicious code cannot be launched from web sites, thus reducing this threat.
  • Provides certification and verification of applications and content through Windows Phone Marketplace, further enhancing security.
  • Enables secure data transmission through 128 or 256 Bit SSL Encryption.
  • Supports secure access to on-premise applications and network resources using Forefront Universal Access Gateway (UAG).
  • Is future ready with cloud / services integration. Through the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), Microsoft offers hosted Exchange and SharePoint services. Windows Phone 7 will support mobile access to BPOS from Outlook Mobile and the Office Hub.

Windows Phone 7 is a new platform that we will continue to improve and evolve. We needed to restart in order to build the right foundation for the future. We are delivering a great business phone that improves productivity by taking a fresh approach to the most common Smartphone business usage scenarios such as email, calendar, contacts and collaboration. At the same time, with support for Silverlight, XNA and the full suite of development and design tools from Visual Studio 2010 to Expressions, Windows Phone 7 provides a rich, efficient and familiar development platform that also meets the IT needs of many organizations with support for the most common EAS policies for management.

Update: The new Window Phone 7 Marketplace policies

Source: Windows Phone Blog

PowerPoint 2010 and SharePoint 2010 on Windows Phone 7 showcase


Here’s a short clip from yesterday Office 2010 keynote in NYC showcase the PowerPoint 2010 broadcasting feature on Windows Phone 7 and also the SharePoint 2010 integration in the Office Hub. You can watch the full keynote on Microsoft’s PressPass website here and also check my video walkthrough of the Office HUB here.

Source: Microsoft

Windows Phone 7 Phone Dialer and Office Hub video walkthrough

I just captured -minutes walkthrough of the latest Windows Phone 7 Emulator rom (build 6176). You will first see the phone dialer in action with the new notification bar that fits at the top of the screen when you’re on a call and do something else (just like on the iPhone). I then take a in-depth look at the latest build of the Office Hub, also note the build version of the ROM: 6176.WM7_RC1escrow(buildlab). This one looks a lot more feature packed than what was present in the previous build and nearly fully functional (no, there’s no copy & paste…;-)).

Windows Phone 7 Emails, Calendar & Events Schedules integration in Outlook

Here’s the latest walktrough video posted by Microsoft on the Windows Phone 7 Backstage website. This one shows the Email, Calendar and Events intergration in Outlook mobile in Windows Phone 7. You can also see some Powerpoint éditing in there too.

Source: Microsoft Backstage

Windows Phone 7 Office Hub Video

Microsoft has posted a new video domonstrating the new Office Hub included in Windows Phone 7. The version shown in the video is obviously a new build compared to the one availalbe in the WP7 CTP emulator currently available.

See how the Windows Phone 7 Office hub gives quick access to docs on SharePoint for dynamic document sharing, editing, and uploading.

Source: Microsoft Backstage (registration required,so I uploaded the video to YouTube)