Should You Consider Windows Phone 7?

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Despite speculation that Windows Phone 7 devices weren't selling well, Microsoft reported sales of 1.5 million handsets. Of course, as ITWorld reported yesterday, that's the number that manufacturers have sold/shipped to carriers worldwide and not the actual number sold to consumers. Microsoft also seems to be lowering sales expectations by using language like "we're in it for the long run" - not something that inspires a lot of immediate confidence. It does, however, illustrate that WP7 will be around a lot longer than the ill-fated Kin.

What does this mean for users? Is Windows Phone 7 a viable platform worth a new two year contract?

Yes, but maybe not just yet. The truth is that WP7 has a lot of good but like the original iPhone, it's rough around the edges. A lot of those edges will be smoothed over the coming year.

Here's a quick recap of advantages the Windows Phone 7 offers over other platforms:

  • Start screen/menu navigation
  • Tiles that can be easily added or removed and provide constant updates
  • Apps that can extend content off screen and be swiped through for additional features
  • Social media integration baked into the OS
  • Office and Sharepoint built-in
  • Access to the Zune market (including subscription-based music)

On the flip side, here are some of those rough edges that Microsoft is still working out:

  • A CDMA version for sale on Verizon and Sprint
  • Copy and paste
  • Multitasking (ideally something similar to Apple's iOS approach rather than true multitasking like what you see in Android and the older Windows Mobile releases, which reduces performance and eats away at battery life)
  • Enterprise management and integration (something that's still shocking to me given the management capabilities in Windows Mobile that were part of Exchange)
  • A more robust app Marketplace and better relationships with developers

Ultimately, this list of issues is a big part of the reason that sales haven't been all that strong (though lacking the two biggest U.S. carriers for the launch is likely the biggest factor). It's worth remembering that the first iPhone didn't have anywhere near the success of the iPhone 4 when it launch three and half years ago (mostly for similar reasons).

So, should you consider on Windows Phone 7 on your next smartphone? Maybe, but probably not for at least two or three months.

Ryan Faas writes about personal technology for ITworld. Learn more about Faas' published works and training and consulting services at Follow him on Twitter @ryanfaas.

Front-page thumbnail courtesy of Long Zheng

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