Windows (7) Phones Get Mixed Reviews but Establish a Mobile Beachhead for MSFT

The fact that Windows Phones are getting mixed reviews is a victory for Microsoft after the disaster of Kin. While many reviews say the phones are not entirely competitive with the iPhone and Android they are celebrated in a number of ways. But this is generation one and help Microsoft establish a beachhead in the mobile market that it can improve upon and advance later.

Had Windows Phones been a total failure it might have meant the end of Steve Ballmer's tenure at the top of Microsoft. Now everyone can breathe a sigh of relief -- they have a competitive product. There's absolutely no chance it's going to "bury" the iPhone or Android, as the bizarre funeral ritual last month in Redmond argued. But some people will buy them and more people will buy them in the future as they improve. 

Here's a representative excerpt of reviews that came out today: 

Mossberg

My conclusion is that Microsoft has used its years in the smartphone wilderness to come up with a user interface that is novel and attractive, that stands out from the Apple and Google approaches, and that works pretty well. Instead of multiple screens filled with small app icons, or the occasional widget, Windows phones use large, dynamic tiles that can give you certain information, like your next appointment, at a glance.  . . .

Overall, I can’t recommend Windows Phone 7 as being on a par with iPhone or Android—at least not yet. Unless you’re an Xbox Live user, or rely on Microsoft’s SharePoint corporate Web-based document system, it isn’t as good or as versatile as its rivals.

Engadget

Microsoft has done an outstanding job with lots of aspects of this UI, particularly when it comes to navigation and ease of use -- but there are holes here as well. It still feels like the company is a good year behind market leaders right now, and though it's clear the folks in Redmond are doing everything they can to get this platform up to snuff, it's also clear that they're not there yet.

But that isn't -- and shouldn't be -- a deterrent to taking a close look at the handsets being offered. Microsoft isn't walking away from Windows Phone 7 anytime soon, and the company has created an incredibly promising base set of features to build off of. With terrific Zune and Xbox Live integration, a fast and smart method of getting around the OS, great Office and email experiences, and a genuinely beautiful and useful user interface, Microsoft has definitely laid the foundation for the next several years of its mobile play. 

IntoMobile:

Like Android in its infancy, Windows Phone 7 still needs to grow up a bit. Not as much as the iPhone or Google’s mobile platform but you’re still going to be missing some features you’d expect from a top-shelf smartphone.

Xbox and Office integration, the interface and Maps and Navigation were singled out for kudos. And the most enthusiastic review that I saw was at Compterworld: 

Good writers borrow, great writers steal, or so the saying goes. Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 (WP7) operating system borrows heavily from Apple's iOS and Google's Android but then takes the interface and navigation in an intriguing new direction, offering a user experience that at least equals and in some ways surpasses them.

There are two interesting questions: 1) how many units will sell when these phones start to show up later this month (in Europe) and early next month in the US? and 2) which OS or company will they impact most?