What is Windows Phone 7?
Is Windows Phone 7 as good as iOS or Android? I'm shopping for a new smartphone, and have been intrigued by the Mango interface. But there aren't many phones that offer it. Can you tell me more about Windows Phone 7, and compare it to the alternatives?
Is Windows Phone 7 (Mango) a Serious Contender?
Windows Phone 7 is the Rodney Dangerfield of mobile operating systems; it doesn't get any respect from most end-users, and it certainly isn't scaring competitors such as Google Android and Apple iOS, which currently dominate the smartphone and tablet scene. The latest version of the OS, version 7.5, is also known as "Mango".
Market research firm Gartner reported a Windows Phone 7 worldwide market share of just 1.5 percent in the third quarter of 2011. For the same period, Nielsen reported a 3 percent U. S. market share for all Microsoft mobile operating systems, lumping Windows Phone 7 in with its predecessor, Windows Mobile.
It's unfortunate that the name of Microsoft's mobile operating system sounds a lot like "Windows 7", the flagship desktop OS from the same company. And for me, it recalls unpleasant memories of Chris Kattan playing "Mango" on Saturday Night Live.
None the less, reviewers have been generally positive about Windows Phone 7, with some reservations about missing features such as VPN support and cut-and-paste in Office apps. For certain types of users, Windows Phone 7 represents a dramatically different and preferable approach to mobile communications.
Both iOS and Android are app-centric. Windows Phone 7 revolves around the presentation of information, regardless of the underlying app. This philosophical difference is obvious in the things that different smartphones display. iPhones and Android phones display app icons, while Windows Phone 7 displays tiles and "hubs" that, in turn, display information. For example, the People hub holds contacts from a variety of apps including Outlook, Gmail, Facebook, and other sources. There are 30,000 apps available for Windows Phone 7 as of this writing. Android and iOS apps exceed 300,000 each. But collecting apps is not everyone's cup of tea.
Comparing Mango to Android and iOS
Some people like to customize the look and feel of smartphone apps; others just want one interface that works without a bunch of time-wasting tweaking. Android is highly customizable; iOS and Windows Phone 7 are much more rigid. Only two screens are available in Windows Phone 7, compared with 7 and 11 for Android and iOS, respectively. If you like the familiar uniformity of fast-food restaurants, you may well prefer Windows Phone 7.
PC Magazine says that the latest version of Windows Phone 7, nicknamed Mango, is "a teriffic OS for smartphone beginners" because it's easier to use than Android or iOS. They also praised Mango because of the hubs concept that focuses users on "People," "Pictures" and "Music" instead of apps.
People who rely on Microsoft tools such as Office and Exchange will lean towards Windows Phone 7, which naturally integrates MS products and services more seamlessly than other operating systems. In fact, Microsoft Office Mobile edition is embedded in the Windows Phone 7 OS, providing word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, and other Office functions at no extra charge. The office suites available for Android and Apple mobile devices will probably seem more like toys than serious tools, for those who are accustomed to Microsoft's Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
Carrier choice is middling for Windows Phone 7. Microsoft has partnered with more carriers than Apple (which supports only AT&T, Verizon and Sprint) but not as many as Android. But lack of support for 4G LTE and dual-core processors remains a stumbling block to customers who want a fast phone with a fast data connection.
Nokia is releasing their first Windows phone in the U.S. in early January targeted for those who do not yet have a smartphone. T-Mobile will carry the Lumia 710 that runs Mango, and has a modest price tag of $50 with rebate. The HTC Radar 4G is another smartphone that runs Mango. It gets high marks for a slick design, takes great pictures, and has a price tag of just $100. But don't be fooled by the "4G" in the name. T-Mobile's 4G service is MUCH slower than the true 4G LTE network that Verizon offers. (See my related article Should You Buy a 4G Phone?.) But as of this writing, Verizon offers only one phone that runs the Windows Phone 7 OS (the HTC Trophy) and none that run Mango.
Microsoft has its work cut out for it in establishing Windows Phone 7 as the third horse in the mobile operating system race. In a survey conducted by NPD, 45 percent of consumers were not even aware of Windows Phone 7. About 44 percent of smartphone owners who plan to buy a new phone said they would "consider" Windows Phone 7. Twenty-one percent said they have too much time and money invested in their current OS to make a change.
Have you tried Windows Phone 7 "Mango" on a smartphone? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 22 Dec 2011
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- What is Windows Phone 7? (Posted: 22 Dec 2011)
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