Okay, so it looks like Microsoft has finally done something right. Window Phone 7 Series is a disaster of a name but a great mobile OS that, surprisingly, brings a refreshing breath of fresh air to the mobile OS market. It approaches the mobile OS from a completely different perspective and succeeds at it with a lot of elegance and class. This goes to show what pressure can do to a company. The good things that pressure can do that is. This was Microsoft’s do or die moment when it came their mobile business and they are most certainly not dying any time soon.
What Microsoft has done, in my opinion, is take every good thing about the latest wave of mobile OS’ and rethought how people should interact with small screened devices that take advantage of a high-resolution touchscreen. The first thing that strikes me about WinPho 7 is its complete break from the desktop OS influence. WinPho 7 does not look anything like Windows 7 and thank God for that.
It is also clean break from the legacy (what legacy?) of the horrible, horrible Windows Mobile OS. I mean it was such an eyesore that it took HTC that long to cover it all up on their HTC HD2. But they can’t do that anymore because Microsoft has ensured that users have a standard experience throughout. This is something I really appreciate as an average user and I am sure developers appreciate this as well. Ask any major Android developer how crazy it is supporting their apps through custom Android deployments on multiple major phones. They can’t ignore it and it takes time away from developing their apps forward.
The iPhone OS, as well as the Android, still reminds me of traditional OS with their app icons and one screen apps. Windows Phone brings a lot of innovative thinking to the fray and their multi-screen spanning super-apps like the Music+Video hub. They are panoramic apps that are very Zune-like (especially the Music+Video one, of course!) and they make see Windows Phone as achieving something that Apple has been aiming at all this while — a truly consumer computing experience where the consumer does not see anything that is remotely low level.
The home screen and the way it works especially reminds me of this. Those big squares with their basic colors and minimal displays remind me of real life desktops where objects are familiar and they usually do one thing and they do that very well. The ability to pin things to the homescreen is also something very welcome. It is how a consumer device should be — show me the most relevant thing in a format that does not make me squint. Make it nice, big, bold and non-flashy.
The non-flashy nature of the OS impresses me a lot. It is actually what makes it so very refreshing to me — it does not hurt my eyes and reminds of very futuristic things. It is sort of like the change from Vaio to a MacBook — you go from flashy to the clean and aesthetic. Yes, the irony of that comparison is not lost on me but I stick to it.
So is Apple’s OS flashy? No, not on its own. But when compared to the really staid and simple home screen of Windows Phone, I’d say it looks unnecessarily prettified. Time to turn to minimalism again. I do not want to stare at my phone all the time. I want to glance at it and from that brief glance I want to know — the weather, the time, the latest updates of a pinned contact and some more. Doing away with everything and displaying only the information is really what it is all about in my opinion and I really like that.
We don’t know what surprises iPhone OS 4.0 has in store for us, we believe it will be big (more on that soon) but I sure hope that Apple makes its case against this new adversary. The ginormous App Store will surely tilt things in Apple’s favor for quite some time to come but not forever.