It seems that Microsoft has finally decided to enter the Mobile market with their own OS. Oh what’s that you say? They’ve had a mobile version for years now? Oh yes, I remember now. It was that bland “mini me” copy of 2000/XP, with it’s cute little Start button, it’s cluttered home screen, it’s ‘massive’ collection of some of the worst software to ever be conceived. It replicated all the hardships of Windows in a convenient, on-the-go handheld headache.
Back in the day when “Mobile OS” meant PDA’s (not phones), I remember all the fun I had with Palm’s simplistic, minimalist PalmOS. It made a casual device feel, well, supremely casual. I remember the clean white sheets laced with playful colors on my Handsprings, the slick stylings of the menus on my Clié. Thinking back even further to the powerhouse that was the Apple Newton - a device so ahead of it’s time, so feature rich than even it’s modern equivalents don’t exceed it functionally – I recall hours wasted playing games, taking notes in classes, even downloading programs straight from the internet. In 1994.
What I remember of Windows Mobile was an unnavigable sea of horrid software, a clunky port of Win2000′s already unimaginative interface, and the inevitability of freezing, crashing, and force-quitting whatever you managed to get running on the retched thing.
The lack of good software wasn’t really the programmer’s fault, however. I remember having to write a program on the platform, nothing too complex mind you, simple data entry with a server-side back end. Getting code to run on it was like a dream … in which I was being constantly beaten over the head with a splintery baseball bat. It’s a shock people bothered coding on it at all.
There’s a reason it’s popularity has dropped year over year and why the devices running it were the first PDA’s to die off and disappear. There was plenty of room for Windows Mobile to grow, but instead they lost ground to a (at the time) comparatively feature-poor RIM Blackberry, whose terrible click-wheel interface, dreadful setup and unreliable syncing stand as a testament to exactly how much worse Windows Mobile really was. When you boil down the argument to it’s most basic form, there is really only one reason Windows Mobile died off:
Not even the most dedicated fanboys have carried the flame. If there ever was a time for it to be born again from the ashes – what with Apple, RIM, and Palm gobbling up all the nooks and crannies in the booming mobile market – this is it.
And so it has been reborn, as the blogosphere is raving, and “Everything is Different”! All I can say is thank god. I hated how complex and frustrating Mobile Windows has been. It’s going to be cleaner, sexier, and so much simpler. So, please tell me, what did they call this revolution?
Windows Phone 7 Series.
Seriously? You’re going with that? That phrase barely makes sense … It sounds like something you’d see spelled out accidentally in magnetic fridge-poetry. Maybe they forgot to name it, and this morning when they wrote the press release, Balmer just started spouting words. “Oh what’s it called? It’s … uhm, windows … ph-phone, yes that’s it, windows phone .. the number seven …. er, series.”
We’re off to a fantastic start.
It’s clear from the name alone that Microsoft has really spent the time to drastically simplify the experience for their end users. NOT. Let me see, since we didn’t spend any time picking the name, they must have spent all of it revamping the interface. You know, really tearing down all their preconceptions and starting from square one.
Well, looking at the new home screen (on the right), I think they took the “square one” thing far too literally:
It’s hard not to improve on the word-vomit of Windows Mobile 6, really. So let’s see, with <do I have to type it? Ugh…> with Windows Phone 7 Series you can see at a glance:
- How many phones you have (in this case, 2)
- Your collection of canoeing pictures from StockPhotos.com
- An animated GIF of the logo for Xbox Live
- A mosaic of your ex’s from Facebook
It astounds me how Microsoft always puts emphasis on shear quantity of features over the slightest thought to real usability. Now instead of word-vomit, we have what I will coin as colored-squares-vomit. This interface is literally assaulting me with color and 90° angles.
While it tip-toes on a ingeniously simple getup, it still manages to miss the mark on what people will probably use it for. A link to my Xbox profile taking up precious home screen real estate? There is literally no reason for me to want to check my Xbox profile anywhere, anytime other than when I’m on the Xbox. I just don’t get why this is cool. You can already look this crap up online, not that it was particularly interesting to begin with. And it made the home screen?
Ok so let’s move on, we’ve got photos, social portals, solitare:
Nothing to big to complain about here. I can’t really say I’m excited about a photo collection on my phone, I guess welcome to the 21st century on that one. I love the idea that I can simultaneously spam Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter at the same time. God knows I love redundancy. The Games section looks pretty sparse, and I am not liking that it’s bookended by ‘Spotlight’ ads on either side. Bleh.
Now let’s get onto the really important part of any mobile platform these days: the internet!
Oh for the love of all that is holy – it’s running f#@%ing Internet Explorer. Blog post over. Seriously, I can’t believe I didn’t see this coming. I honestly thought the only people that still used IE these days were the last 3 AOL users and companies with Stalinist IT departments. Get ready to hate the web all over again!
The only way I think it could be worse is if they integrated it tightly with Bing…