Microsoft recently announced the availability of the Windows Phone 7 shipping this holiday season (rumored for October or November). With recent releases for Apples iPhone 4 and Google’s Android phone, the updated Windows Phone has received limited press. Formally Windows Mobile, the updated Smartphone will take advantage of touch screen technology and more advanced security than most of its competitors. Security is a welcome feature based on Microsoft’s storied past with security.
At first blush, the new phone appears to blend a more consumer look-and-feel with the business features that are expected from a Windows based phone. This new look-and-feel along with the Mobile Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) should help it compete in the accelerating battle of the Smartphone space. Microsoft also includes cloud/services integration in the new phone, with hosted Exchange and SharePoint services. The offering will include access to Outlook Mobile and the new Office Hub for Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) customers.
The Team at ISBX had an opportunity to check out an early prototype of the Windows 7 device at a recent event we were invited to. We have to admit, we were impressed. If anyone is going to be able to make a run at this market, it is going to be Microsoft. We are planning on supporting development of applications for the Windows 7 platform for our clients as we pursue true cross platform application development. New feature and function information is below.
New Touch Friendly User Interface: The Windows Phone 7 development team worked closely with the Microsoft Zune Player (Microsoft music player) team to develop a new user interface that is fluid and clean. Big icons that reflect real time information help in finding the information you need on the go. Social and Productivity Hubs: According to PC World, “The people hub aggregates your friends from all of your social networks in three screens.” “The Pictures hub lets you see all of the pictures on your hub, your most recent pictures and what’s new with all of your friends.” The Office hub lets you easily sync your documents between your phone and your PC.” Zune Player and Xbox Live: It has been rumored that the new Windows Phone 7 will ship with the same music and video features as the Zune HD. Xbox Live functionality will include tracking other gamer’s achievements, and will ship with a mobile version of Xbox live games. Gamers will also have the ability to purchase games from the Windows Marketplace.
Security: Over the past few years, security has become a priority with Microsoft and the Windows Phone 7 is no exception. It is built from the ground up using industry best practices in secure software development (Secure Development Lifecycle). The new phone will support IT managed policies such as remote wipe, require password, password strength, and the ability to shut off removable SD Cards. Secure data transmission will also be supported through 128 or 256 Bit SSL Encryption. Office Applications: A key advantage of the Microsoft Phone is the inclusion of Microsoft Mobile Office Applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and SharePoint). This allows the Smartphone user to take and update documents and presentations on the go. These applications are currently not available on other mobile platforms, and a challenge that many iPad users have voiced. Collaboration: Microsoft is making some tweaks to the familiar rich email, calendar, and SharePoint applications in the new phone. The backend integration with the industry standard Exchange Server should provide one of the best email user experiences of the mobile phones. This along with the Social and Productivity Hubs make the new Windows Phone 7 a highly collaborative business device. ISBX is engaged at a local level with Microsoft to get a head start on building applications for the new Windows Phone 7. With our previous Windows Mobile development experience, we will be ramped up quickly to provide new applications for our clients. Based on our research and discussions with Microsoft, we feel this new mobile phone will be a strong contender in the mobile space especially at the business level. The tight integration with Exchange Server, mobile Office Applications, and security features with IT managed policies set it apart from the iPhone and Android. Availability of business applications will be an early challenge for this late phone entry. For the consumer, the new release of the Windows Phone 7 shows promise as well. The new user interface is smooth and slick, the Social Media and Productivity Hub is new to the mobile phone arena. It is also rumored that Microsoft is holding off discussions for major features to create buzz for the launch. Baring any major snafus, such as pushing out the launch date to 2011. It appears that Microsoft is back in the mobile game.