Chris Kelly

Why I've gone Windows Phone 7


I’ve been a long time iPhone fan. I purchased the original iPhone on launch day in 2007 for its unsubsidized price. In fact, I bought two, one for myself and one for my girlfriend Erin. I even upgraded to the iPhone 3G the following year.

Starting today, I’ve switched to Windows Phone 7.

For months I’ve been torn over whether to get an Android phone or an iPhone 4. I came very close to jumping on an HTC EVO 4G before the release of the iPhone 4 brought me back to my state of indecisiveness.

But then details about the Windows Phone 7 (WP7) platform started coming out. And it became so appealing to me that I made the jump.

Complete do-over

Microsoft saw that they were lagging horribly behind in the smartphone race. At one point they had (truthfully so) admitted they missed an entire product cycle. Early versions of Windows Mobile 7 were simply continuing the Windows Mobile 6.x product line, including look and feel. This also continued the more complex UI motifs of the WinMo 6.x line, which stood no chance in the post iPhone smartphone world. I personally would not have even given a Windows Mobile 6.5-derived product a second thought.

The decision was made to jettison all work to that point and rebuild the mobile product into a lean, mean touch-friendly machine. Judging from what is being released this week, I believe this was the right decision and puts them back in contention with the likes of Google and Apple.

Metro

Microsoft has designed a completely new interface “language” for WP7 called Metro. Metro is a complete departure from the icon-on-a-grid interface design of iPhone and Android, and I’ve personally found it to be a very refreshing change of pace, and one that I think I’ll enjoy from a daily use standpoint.

Instead of app icons, WP7 uses tiles to show your pinned apps and allows them to be “live”, periodically updating with information such as the status of the weather and the description of your next calendar appointment. information such as this allows me to see more information without digging into the apps themselves. On top of that, the lock screen shows a lot of information itself – for example, unread email counts for each account I have set up. It’s just enough information that I don’t have to even unlock my phone to see what is likely the information I pulled my phone out for.

Competition

I love Microsoft when they are the underdog/ challenger. Much more willing to take risks and iterating much faster. When Microsoft are feeling the heat of competition, they build some of their best products: XBox, Bing, Windows 7, IE9. I think that given what is at stake for their entire mobile strategy, they’ll carry over the trajectory/ momentum they’ve been on over the last year or two into the next several versions of Windows Phone.

Having another major player like Microsoft in the game makes Apple, Google, Nokia, Palm/ HP and the rest that much better, and work that much harder. Most importantly, the added competition is good for us customers. More competition is always better, especially in technology arms races.

The Apps

What would any modern-day smartphone platform be without apps? Windows Phone 7 carries the tradition forward. I’ve heard plenty of talk about not having as many apps as Apple and Google, but they are launching with all the right ones. Every app I would consider absolutely essential on a day-to-day basis on my iPhone I am now running on my Windows Phone: Twitter, Facebook, IMDB, Shazam, Yelp, Netflix. All are on the Marketplace, and all are free.

The Games

Given its tight integration with XBox Live. Windows Phone appears poised to have some of the best gaming experiences of any mobile device. Achievements you earn on the phone are tied into your Live Gamerscore, meaning all those little games you play on your phone help build your overall score across your phone, xbox, and web games. Actual games appear to be a slightly different story at this time, with the major players on iPhone (Rovio/Angry Birds, for instance) not (yet?) on the platform. My guess is its only a matter of time before many of these games are brought over to the Windows Phone/ XNA platform.

Betting on the Future.

The Smartphone race is far from over. Relatively speaking, it’s barely begun. I’m very impressed with Microsoft’s initial release of Windows Phone, and I believe it’s going to be a major player and one of, if not the best mobile OSes in the years to come. I’m making the switch because I believe Microsoft has brought some very new and interesting ideas to the mobile space, and I’m hoping that by getting a Windows Phone, I will be helping to ensure that they continue Windows Phone development long into the future.

Chris Kelly is a Software Enginner on the HubSpot Blog Team. Subscribe to get updates by email.

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