A Windows Phone 7 simulator now allows users to try out the platform on their non-Windows smartphones.
Microsoft’s operating systems may be the platform of choice for a vast majority of computing devices (though it is finally below 90%) but Microsoft dropped the ball when it came to the mobile platform. At the beginning of 2000, Microsoft released the first Windows Mobile platform which went on to power devices such as Palm’s Treo handsets, HP’s iPaq, and Dell’s Axim. The business-oriented platform would give way to Research in Motion’s BlackBerry, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android and in the late 2000s, Microsoft then shelved Windows Mobile and started from scratch.
With the explosive growth and adoption of smartphones, mainly powered by the Android and iOS operating systems at the expense of BlackBerry, the Microsoft mobile team has its work cut out for them. Like Google’s Android operating system, Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7 can be licensed by any hardware manufacturer as long as they meet the minimum hardware specifications such as 6 dedicated hardware buttons (Start, back, search, 2-step camera button, power/sleep, volume).
For anyone who’s never used Windows Phone 7, it is a completely different experience than iOS or Android. The home screen is made up of large “Live Tiles” which are interactive and informative, constantly being updated with notifications, interactions and other data. User interactions are based around what Microsoft calls “Hubs” which consolidate related information. For example, the “People” hub integrates Email, Facebook, Twitter, and Windows Live as well as mobile communications such as text messages.
Windows Phone 7 also integrates technologies from Microsoft’s other platforms such as the Xbox, Internet Explorer and now defunct Zune, among others. For users who are familiar with the Windows operating system and (still) use (the world’s most popular email service) Hotmail, Windows Phone 7 easily and fluidly integrates with all these platforms.
Now, Microsoft is trying to make it easier for those considering their first smartphone or even a switch from another platform with a full-fledged, web-based simulator. The simulator allows users to go through many of the functions including making (simulated) calls, viewing photos, reading emails and other functions found on today’s smartphones. It lets users try out the unique Windows Phone interface before having to commit to buying a device.
The simulator is only accessible on mobile phones and is available at http://aka.ms/wpdemo
For someone who’s constantly trying out new phones, each with their own design elements, even I am impressed with the clean, sleek Windows Phone 7 interface.
Check out the simulator on your iPhone or Android device and let us know what you think. What do you like/don’t like about Windows Phone 7? Would you switch to Windows Phone 7 (even if it was to just get rid of the terrible software that is iTunes)?