Windows Phone 7: First Impressions

My new Windows Phone 7 device arrived today and after playing with it for a few hours, I wanted to give my initial impressions with WP7.  To give a bit of background first, I have been an iPhone user since day 1 with my last phone being an iPhone 3GS.  After following the WP7 development for a while, and combined with a special sale on Amazon, I figured it was time to make the switch.  I ended up going with the Samsung Focus, which seems to be the favorite among the Windows Phone 7 handsets currently offered.

samsung_focus_01.jpg

Setting up WP7 took less than 5 minutes.  Just answer a few simple questions and it is ready to go.  I was excited to get to the home screen with the live tiles that you see so often.  The screen on the Focus is simply beautiful, and just makes the WP7 layout even that much better.  The one thing I immediately noticed is that the interface is very user friendly and intuitive.  Using an iPhone for years, and not having any hands-on experience with a WP7 phone before today, I assumed I would have a hard time getting used to the layout and functionality.  I was wrong.

Within minutes of using the device I was gliding through setting up more features like e-mail accounts, getting Facebook setup, etc.  It really gave me the impression that there was little to no learning curve which I was very surprised at.  Even though I’m not your typical user, I could tell that Microsoft really put a lot of effort into this aspect of WP7.  My wife grabbed the Focus for a few minutes, and she was also browsing through the device like she owned it.  A real accomplishment for Microsoft if I may say so.

The live tiles have to be my personal favorite so far.  Being able to look at the screen and see what the temperature is outside without having to click through apps was refreshing.  Reading and creating e-mails is a breeze, and the WP7 keyboard is a step above the iPhone’s.  The People hub is quite an interesting concept, and they actually pulled it off quite well.  The simple way to describe it is it’s an all-in-one view of your contacts from various places (Hotmail, Facebook, Gmail, etc.), with the added bonus of seeing their statuses and being able to interact with them like writing on their Facebook wall.

Xbox and Office integration are also great features.  I haven’t spent a ton of time with them yet, so there’s much more to discover, but so far my initial expectations have been met.  I’m really looking forward to exploring the integration with Skydrive and other Windows Live services.

Overall I’m very impressed and very happy with my decision to switch to Windows Phone 7 so far.  I’m going to save my small gripes and suggestions for my next article, but every “issue” I have come across is minor, and I still need a bit more time with the device to get more experience with it.

 

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