Blogosphere reactions to Windows Phone 7 is all over the map, but veteran users and developers are not happy with the loss of features they've come to expect and to rely on.
"A year ago, who would have believed Windows Mobile 7 would lack cut and paste, multitasking, memory cards and the ability to run arbitrary applications?" writes Surur, one of the trio of bloggers at WMPoweruser. "In many ways the [new Microsoft] OS is worse than the iPhone, since we have been used to our freedom for more than a decade and have had it snatched away."
The website will move to Windows Phone 7 but only under duress. "We still love Windows Mobile but we are not stupid enough to believe there is any point in hanging on to a platform abandoned by its founders," he writes.
But their decision to upgrade is for different reasons than those desired by Microsoft. "This however is not because we are accepting of the limitations Microsoft imposed, but because we know, lurking under the layer of Microsoft's stupidly imposed restrictions sits a Windows directory and a Registry, and we wish to report on the community wresting away control from those who think they know better," Surur writes.
In an accompanying poll of reader plans for Windows Phone 7, about one third say they will stick with the current Windows Mobile 6.5 platform. Almost exactly the same percentage say they will upgrade, though 10% of these say they are doing so "reluctantly." The remainder say the will abandon Microsoft, with the vast bulk of them, 26%, opting for the Google Android phone platform.
The hackers at the XDA Developers Forum have begun picking apart Windows Phone 7 based on extracting the emulator image from the new Windows Phone SDK, and running this on an X86-based PC. This was widely but wrongly understood as instead being a leaked ROM of the full pre-release OS. XDA has a FAQ that tries to clear up the most common questions and issues based on this misconception.
Q: If we have a real WP7 device and extract the ROM can the great developers at XDA please put it on my HP IPAQ?
A: WP7 is based on a new kernel and you don't have WP7 drivers for your device. It won't be possible to run WP7 on any older device.
AnandTech, an IT-oriented news site, has a comprehensive, straightforward and clear technical analysis of Windows Phone 7, posted by Brian Klug, based on his attendance at the recent MIX10 conference.
Klug treats seriously Microsoft's claims and assertions for the new platform, and then deconstructs to tease out their meaning for the site's IT-oriented audience. "Microsoft wants developers to forget about Windows Mobile and immediately start thinking WP7S. The sense of urgency is because Windows Phone 7 Series will ship before the end of the year ('Holiday 2010')," he writes.
The analysis includes straightforward explanations of new terms like "live tiles" and "hubs." On key issues such as multitasking, Klug goes into detail to show that Windows Phone 7 is in fact a multitasking operating system, but this capability is not open to third party applications.
Klug avoids snark and attempts to understand and analyse Microsoft's thinking. "You're probably wondering, why can't third party developers write applications that run persistently in the background?" Klug writes. "For now, it's because Microsoft isn't sure how to allow it without the potential for battery-draining to happen. Power users like AnandTech readers are able to make the distinction between a dead battery caused by the platform being poorly written, and poor battery life caused by running an application in the background. But ultimately, Microsoft is worried that your average end user won't see the distinction, instead faulting the entire platform as having poor battery life and power management."
At the same time, he's more than willing to engage Microsoft staff, developer to developer. "I pitched an idea to Andre that he seemed receptive to while we talked about the reaction tech community had to the no third-party multitasking announcement," Klug writes. "…What I argued is that users need to be empowered to make the decision between unitasking and multitasking themselves. They need a clear and obvious visualisation about what the current power demands on the hardware are, and a prediction of how long the device will last based on that current use scenario. The analogous comparison is so obvious, I'm surprised nobody has made it yet: the laptop."
Any number of Microsoft design decisions prompted irritation, condemnation, outrage or some combination.
CoolSmartphone's Leigh Geary argued in a post that the lack of copy-paste is just one example of some major missteps. "I'm sorry Microsoft. We've got some pretty big issues here," he writes. "...[T]he lack of copy and paste is something we all laughed at when the iPhone appeared in 2007… Three years (and several months) later, is it wise to release a new OS that does everything we hate about the iPhone?"
The options for synchronising Windows Phone 7 content and applications caught the eye of PocketNow's Chuong Nguyen, who summarised a conversation with Microsoft's Todd Brix on this topic.
"Brix told us that contacts, calendars, and emails will be handled by some client or methodology on the device and can synchronise with the cloud; music, movies, apps, and games will be handled through a desktop client; and there is still an unannounced way to handle Office Mobile files," he wrote.
Wireless synchronisation will be possible for contacts and calendar events, with various web-based services, through the phone's People hub. "Additionally, corporate users and consumers with an Exchange account can also handle contact and calendar synchronisation that way," Nguyen reports. Music, movies and games on the phone will dispense with the traditional Microsoft desktop clients in favor of the Zune "Dorado" PC client, according to PocketNow.
He notes that one question still unanswered is how phone users will handle Microsoft Office files. "[The] company says it is working on something, which Brix did not elaborate on except to inform us that it will be much different than how users handle files today," Nguyen writes.
There's a lot of interest in how Microsoft will actually carry off its Windows Phone Office hub. Engadget's "Complete Guide" to Windows Phone 7, by Chris Ziegler, took note of the challenges and opportunities.
"There's an emphasis on [Microsoft] OneNote and SharePoint Workspace that should be pretty interesting, however," Ziegler writes. "Ultimately, based on the new UI paradigms and user experience directives of Windows Phone 7 Series, Microsoft is going to have to rebuild these applications from the ground up. As long as they're able to make them super functional while keeping the Metro look intact, this should be a real win, we're still curious as to how the company plans to cram all that information into a UI which is focused on doing away with visual noise, and the lack of system-wide clipboard functionality is going to be an issue here, no matter how much Microsoft insists users only want to view documents and add comments."
Microsoft folks have been posting and blogging as well. One of the key development tools for Windows Phone 7 is Microsoft's Expression Blend, a visual application design studio that generates the code needed to run the final application. One member of the Expression Blend team is Christian Schromann, who has a good introduction to the Windows Phone capabilities in the Expression Blend 4.0 beta release, which Microsoft announced at MIX10.
You can begin developing applications now for Windows Phone. Engadget walks you through downloading the Windows Phone Emulator program.