Windows 7 Gets Some Positive Early Reviews

At a Bing search event last week in San Francisco I very briefly held a Windows 7 phone in my hand. All that really allowed me to do was flip through a few screens and take in the interface, which was slick and distinctive. I liked it, except for the "boxy" home screen.

A number of publications got developer preview versions of Windows 7 phones and last night shared their reactions. Below is quick sampling of the mixed but generally favorable comments. 

CNET -- Windows Phone 7 preview: Part 1

What's interesting about Windows Phone 7, though, is, at times, it feels like you're getting two completely different experiences on the phone. The Start screen/menu list, and some apps like the phone dialer, e-mail inbox and calendar, are completely minimalistic, while other aspects of the phone, like the aforementioned hubs and multimedia features, are more sophisticated and elegant. It doesn't hurt the navigation, per se, but is doesn't really make the phone feel like a cohesive unit either. 

Endgadget -- Windows Phone 7 in-depth preview

Microsoft's Bing Maps implementation on Windows Phone 7 is pretty great -- they've done a fantastic job of blending the experience of using a mapping app into their so-called Metro design language. You've got access to satellite imagery and real-time traffic information; location fixes happen quickly, though we found that they tended to be a little less accurate than Google's when indoors and out of GPS reception. Pinch-to-zoom is smooth and fast, and we liked the almost ethereal appearance of the map tiles as they loaded after panning or zooming in -- it's hard to describe, but it's a pretty neat (though admittedly unnecessary) effect. 

Boy Genius Report -- Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Preview

We liked using the OS in general, though the experience for us felt a little too much like our time using the Microsoft KIN 2 . . . There’s practically no real innovation we can see with Windows Phone 7. It’s a decent mashup of some already pioneered features like aggregated status updates linked with your contacts, customizable homescreens, and a mobile apps and music marketplace, but we’re not sure that’s enough to push WP7 ahead of the three big juggernauts. It’s a fantastic featurephone, but as a truly competitive smartphone platform, we’re just not sure at this point in time.

ZDNET -- Definitive Guide to the Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Technical Preview

Welcome back into the smartphone arena Microsoft, it looks like you have a serious challenger entering the ring and I will definitely be purchasing a device as soon as I can . . .  After the Kin disaster, I honestly wasn’t expecting much from Microsoft. After using the Technical Preview version of Windows Phone 7 in an up close and personal way I can honestly say that I am quite excited for the holiday season when we will see these devices launching from Microsoft.

Microsoft has also integrated Tellme at a deeper level into Windows 7. Tellme, since the acquisition, has been an underutilized asset on the consumer side at Microsoft. Now the company is trying to do more with Tellme and Sync, as well as on handsets. We think this is smart; however Google has also invested heavily in speech and offers a very good speech capablity on Android handsets. So this is no longer the differentiator for Microsoft it might have been a year or so ago. 

There are still several months to come before Microsoft and hardware partners release one of these handsets to the public but these reviews argue Windows 7 is clearly not the "disaster" that it was previously reported to be. 

Here's one of the early Wndows 7 UI videos that Microsoft produced: