Windows Phone 7 Series live demonstration

Tom Warren and I just got out of a short but sweet private demonstration of Windows Phone 7 Series in a series of dungeon-like rooms here at Mobile World Congress 2010. Suffice to say the Zune HD-like user experience looks even better upfront and personal.

Here’s a bunch of closeup photos of the phone, user interface and a Microsoft representative’s hands.

One feature of the user interface that was not explained at all in the press conference was that the arrow button in the top-right of the “home screen” actually takes you to a more traditional Start-menu like list where you can browse all the applications.

Subsequently I also got some photos from the Calculator and Dialer application which show off a more traditional single-screen application experience that reflects the new look and feel although the lack of menu icons on the Dialer might suggest it’s still in development.

Check out Tom’s post over at Neowin.net for the video recording of the demonstration.

Whilst Microsoft representatives made it quite clear the build shown off today is not quite final and that was reflected in a number of minor connectivity issues we witnessed during our 30-minute demonstration, but having said, the OS itself appeared quite solid and stable as the applications that broke subsequently recovered without any intervention.

Overall I’ve been pleasantly surprised and impressed by what they’ve shown off today and it’s a great sign that not only has Microsoft taken a giant leap forward in the mobile space, but also is offering something that is far different to Windows Mobile today if not everything else on the market.

30 insightful thoughts

  1. Yes, WP7 looks so awesome and promising, but I hope it won’t get so locked down like the iPhone. Also I wonder what will happen to xda-developers if it won’t be customizable any more…

  2. Based on this new UI approach, I can understand why they’re staying away from “multi-tasking”. It appears that multi-tasking is still present in a way, but not in the traditional sense of having multiple separate applications running simultaneously. It’s more abstract than that.

  3. Thanks for the fantastic pictures, and showing us the dialer! I, for one, am a fan of this minimalistic approach. Very clean, unlike the current WM.

  4. @maurice
    the main change is not the UI itself, is the service-centric approch instead of the application-centric one.
    Of course the UI plays a major role in order to deliver the new concept, but it’s functional to the services beneath. I wouldn’t worry right now about the multi-tasking, today they gave an overall idea of what Windows Phone 7 is, there’s plenty of time for digging into technica details before it will arrive on the market, and it might change until then.

    1. @EnricoG
      I think we’re saying the same thing. I was merely making the point that although people have been complaining about the lack of multi-tasking, it’s not necessarily a bad thing in this case. There’s still much more simultaneous functionality going on compared to a device like the iPhone.
      I also get the impression that MS specific services will take advantage of multi-tasking, but maybe 3rd parties won’t have as much access.
      Either way, I’m looking forward to MIX and finding out the real details.

  5. The question I’m asking all you guys I know is this: have you seen enough, and believe enough in the forthcoming Windows Phone 7 operating system and the associated new class of devices to wait for it?

  6. I think the UI is somewhat interesting and as a developer I am keen to see where this is going.

    However, what has become very obvious is that Microsoft is a very poor communicator. I think they should have waited till they had a more polished looking version of the OS before unveiling it. Right now there seem to be more questions than answers.

    I doubt we will see stable APIs, a stable SDK or stable tools at MIX10. More likely as a developer you’ll be flying blind at the mercy of Microsoft changing and shifting things around as they please. Windows Presentation Foundation was such a mess while it was going through beta I don’t I’d want to repeat that experience.

    I know it’s tricky to keep things secret when you have that many OEMs and Carriers involved but they could have taken some note of how their friends down in Cupertino run things.

    On a different note, what people forget is that the iPhone UI is based on what they learned for more than 10 years of continuously improving Mac OSX. Apple didn’t come up with their Human Interface guidelines over night.

    When you look at Windows Phone 7 (that product name is just awful, I can never remember what it actually is) they obviously have taken a lot of design hints from their work with the Zune as well as the Xbox UI. Some conspiracy theorists might even say there are similarities to the PS3/ PSP interface. What really remains to be seen is a) how much of the underlying code has really changed and b) how well they will get developers/ designers to play nice with their designs for the home screen. From the little I have seen I am already expecting the homescreen to become a big mess without the right guidance.

    Lastly, watch how Microsoft will be caving to Carrier and OEM demands for interface customisation prior to launch. What they keep forgetting is that OEMs are paying a license fee for their OS. As such I doubt they will let Microsoft tell them how to market the phones.

  7. @tom: This UI is clearly coming a long way from Windows Media Center (vertical and horizontal scrolling) and Zune HD’s UI.

    About the iPhone OS: I think you are wrong here. The iPhone OS’ interface has nothing to do with Mac OS X’s interface! Really they started from scratch with their mobile UI. And that’s why it is so successful, IMO. There is nothing left from Lisa or NextStep.

    And I don’t see why the home screen should get messy? As I understand it developers may be able to put notifications as text, images and a number into these tiles. The shape, position, color and so on is defined by the system. But we will see if thats true at MIX ;)

  8. @tino,

    If you read the iPhone and now iPad Human Interface guideline document published by Apple you can see that they have borrowed a lot of their thinking from the Mac OSX. And when you read the Interface guidelines for MacOSX you can see they borrowed a lot from the guidelines for Mac OS9.

    I once had a copy of their two volume interface guidelines for Mac OS7 published around 92/93. The interesting thing about it was that it was so universally written that it could be easily applied to development on other platforms. It was more a philosophy than a strict guideline.

    A lot of that original thinking can still be found in their guidelines today. A lot of their UI elements really extend Mac OSX to a mobile environment.

    It was similar for the Windows 3.1 right through to Windows XP environment and later Windows CE and Mobile. I think with their Windows 7 UI they have really gone into a completely new direction. It does remain to be seen how well they can communicate this change to developers that have been conditioned into a certain way of thinking for the past 20 odd years.

  9. @tom: Well, I think what they have done with Office (Ribbon) and Vista/7 (contextual menus) is exactly the same direction they were starting to move forward with Windows 95: away from app-centric to task-centric design. Maybe you know the “Program Manager” from Windows 3.x ? It was very focused on the apps just like how the iPhone and Mac OS still are.

    With this new mobile UI they even move faster forward in the same direction: task oriented and almost “chrome-less”. The information (or the content) is the UI. I really like that. In some way it is a funny reference to DOS ;)

  10. From the touch screens to the zoom in/out…I still feel that Microsoft is playing catch up to Apple. I’m still waiting for them to take the leap and try something different different and go from following to leading…

    1. Catch up?

      This surpasses anything Apple has as of now upon first impressions. The iPhone OS sucks compared to this. This is revolutionary instead of evolutionary. It doesn’t build on top of an already developed platform. It goes beyond it to create an entire new user interface somewhat like the change from Windows XP to Vista. It’s an entire new experience!

  11. @tino,

    Good point… of course the bad thing with a task based approach is that if it works it great but if it doesn’t I really sucks… take the Office Ribbon for example. I great for some things but royally suck for others. I cant even remember how many times I have been trying to do something that used to be a single menu item but is now hidden inside an obscure grouping under an even more obscure name and icon.

    My biggest concern still is that the UI approach they have taken will require a lot of discipline by developers to get it right… and lets face it, when you look at the majority of apps on Windows Mobile in the past they certainly weren’t designed by UI experts but mostly developers.

    That’s why I am saying I am keen to see how they will provide guidance.

  12. The iPhone is definitely very old fashioned as far as UI is concerned, literally just rows of icons…and the settings are spread out all over the place, just look at something as simple as settings that affect battery life…whever I take my phone off the cradle to go out for a meeting I need to go to three or four different screens to set everything the way I want…it’s just pathetic

    What Apple is good at is making toys that look fun during the initial purchase experience…but inevitably they disappoint–I am very much looking forward to trading my iPhone in for a Windows Phone (yes, the name is SOOOO confusing)

    What Apple is terrible at is developing solid extensible UIs…their dock is mutating into a Windows task bar because the idea of a floating row of huge icons is so self-evidently dumb…they resisted two button mice for decades…they continue to separate the application menu from the application window! Tell me again how great they are at UI design…they break rules left and right all day everyday…only Mac zombies think otherwise

  13. This thing looks like garbage, it will go away like the zune did and like Windows vista/7 did.

    Android rules, and is taking over.

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