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Windows Phone 7 impresses, but just how customizable is it?

by Paul Brown | 10月 12, 2010

image Microsoft today officially  launched Windows Phone 7, eight months after it was first announced at MWC 2010 in Barcelona. The hardware specs of the initial nine devices that will run Windows Phone 7 are all pretty impressive. The Samsung Focus, the first WP7 phone that will be launched in the US on AT&T has a very impressive 4-inch Super AMOLED display, and at only 9.9mm thick, presents a very appealing form factor. Other WP7 devices to follow at AT&T bring in a variety of form factors – the LG Quantum with a slide out keyboard for those who reject touchscreen only devices, and the HTC 7 Surround with a kick stand and slide out speakers, providing an optimized multimedia experience. Despite these variations in hardware, WP7 should provide a consistent experience with the same look and feel of the homescreen and standardized ’Back’, ‘Windows’ and ‘Search’ keys on every device. Based on the launch details, Windows Phone 7 does provide a number of compelling features. The 6 ‘Hubs’ provide a centralized access point to content on the device, from people, to pictures to games. Integration with XBOX Live will allow gamers to control their avatar across multiple screens, while PowerPoint with editing capabilities and full animations is an innovative feature. Having already used WP7, I found that there are some features which are not entirely intuitive, especially accessing menu options from within applications. Windows Phone Newsroom Live Press Conference - Windows Internet Explorer provided by Strategy Analytics 11102010 144449  My main concern with Windows Phone 7 is about the process of customizing and personalizing my homescreen. Yes, the tiles can be moved around by dragging and dropping them. I can add live tiles for individual contacts for quick access to not only speed dial and speed text but also speed social networking and photos. But, with only one homescreen, I can imagine that after adding a few contacts to this homescreen, along with downloading numerous applications, I could find myself scrolling through a very long list just to open up an application or contact card, or whatever other content I am able to put on my homescreen. Suddenly, I have to do a lot of searching and scrolling to find one of the 50+ applications which I have organized across multiple homescreens and in multiple folders on my current device.  Here, Android, iOS4 and Symbian ^3 appear to have an advantage over WP7 in terms of customization and organization options. Based on what I have seen, I have no doubt that Windows Phone 7 will provide a “user experience which is consistent and delightful” – the question that remains is just how intuitive it is to use in everyday situations and how easy it can be personalized. - Paul Brown Strategy Analytics’ Wireless Device Lab will be conducting an end user benchmark of Windows Phone 7 when it is commercially available.

Update - 4 March 2011: Wireless Device Lab clients can read a review of the Windows Phone 7 - HTC Trophy user evaluation here

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