BARCELONA, Spain--Mobile World Congress 2010 has finally come to a close, and it's been one of the busier shows in recent memory. As the dust settles, we're finally getting the opportunity to reflect on this year's show and process all the news (look for our show wrap-up next week) but if we had to pick out one highlight of the show, it would be, without a doubt, Windows Phone 7 Series.
Much like Palm at CES 2009, much of the tech world and cell phone fans were watching to see whether Microsoft would finally deliver a mobile operating system that could not only address all of its previous issues but also advance the way smartphones work and offer a competitive edge over the iPhone OS, Android, and WebOS.
From what we saw at the official unveiling event, we think, for the most part, the answer is yes. Microsoft pretty much started from scratch and created a user interface that's fresh and intelligent--completely different than any iteration of Windows Mobile. The design team stripped away everything that wasn't necessary--something Microsoft calls a chromeless UI--and only kept the most relevant information to the user.
From the Start page, you can quickly launch a number of programs and a quick swipe of the finger brings up a list of all your apps. Hubs collect all the relevant data and functions of a category (People, Music and Video, and Office, for example) in one convenient place. In addition, the contextual Pivots (essentially like tabs at the top of the screen) and app bar make it easy to access menu options without having to dig through a number of layers. Windows Phone 7 finally gives us that simpler user experience we've been asking for all this time.
Not only that, Windows Phone 7 is one good-looking OS. From the dynamic widgets on the Start page to the typography to the turnstile motions, the UI is flashy yet elegant. I do worry slightly about all the motion/animation. As pretty as it looks, it slows down the phone's navigation just a bit. In the brief hands-on time that we did get with a prototype device running Windows Phone 7, we noticed some delays and inconsistencies in terms of touch-screen responsiveness. However, we're fully aware that the software is still in the earlier stages, so there will be bugs.
Of course, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. Can Windows Phone 7 multitask? Is it backward compatible? We're also fully aware that we won't be seeing Windows Phone 7 Series till the holiday season and a lot of things can happen between now and then. However, based on what you've seen, including the Zune and Xbox Live integration, we have to ask: Would you consider getting a Windows Phone 7 Series handset? Why or why not? What do you like about the OS? What don't you like? What questions do you have about Windows Phone 7 Series? Let us know. We've got some time to kill before we see the first phones, so we might as well fill it with some lively discussion.