What it is: A not quite yet finished version of Windows 7 Mobile, Microsoft’s latest operating system for smartphones.
What’s new about it: Redesigned from the ground up. Apple and Android were thrashing Microsoft in the mobile OS sector so it was decided that previous versions of Win-Mo would be scrapped and a new OS would be built from scratch. The result is an OS that’s graphically focused, easier to navigate, and lets you easily aggregate contact info from multiple sources (Facebook, Windows Live). Also integrated are icons dedicated to accessing Bing (search), Xbox Live (gaming) and the Zune marketplace (wait, what?).
Our first thoughts: Major, major improvements here. Because the applications are laid out in what Microsoft calls “Tiles” (really, these are customizable icons that can be manipulated on the Start screen), navigating the OS is exponentially more simplistic than previous versions of Win-Mo. The focus on mining social networks and address books across platforms for contacts is definitely not a new idea (Palm OS hello!) but for Microsoft it’s a pretty big jump in the right direction. Still the lack of any kind of real app store is a major hindrance. Also, Microsoft just will not give up on the Zune marketplace. It’s admirable, but maybe they should re-examine their reasoning for keeping it.
This was an early build of the OS. There were a few bugs, most notably voice search for Bing which worked accurately about half the time. Also the Xbox Live Icon doesn’t allow you to play games yet — just access your gamerscore and view achievements. And the woeful Zune marketplace is still painfully lacking in content. Still, it looks like a substantial improvement for Microsoft. The finalized version of Windows 7 Mobile should be available sometime in November. We’ll be pretty stoked to see what tweaks they make.
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