Deb Shinder shares her wish list of Windows Phone 7 Series features and attributes. One wish is for Microsoft not to go too far in emulating Apple.
We've been hearing a lot about the next generation of Windows Mobile, which has been rebranded as Windows Phone 7 Series, since its unveiling at the 2010 Mobile World Conference in Barcelona in February. Microsoft generated a lot of excitement by showing off a completely new, finger-friendly user interface. There has been some controversy, too, as facts and rumors about the new phone OS have trickled out. The following Microsoft video runs through the current Windows Phone 7 Series features:
At this point, it's important to remember that the Windows Phone 7 Series phones aren't scheduled to hit the market until the end of the year, and the feature set isn't yet complete. The development of Windows 7 shows that Microsoft does make an effort to listen to its customers, and there is still time for changes to the prototypes that have been displayed to the public thus far.
Of course, you can't please all of the people all of the time, but here is my wish list of Windows Phone 7 Series features and attributes.
Easy transition from Windows Mobile
I understand that in order to create a brand new phone experience, backward compatibility had to be sacrificed. I accept that I won't be able to install the Windows Mobile applications I've bought onto my Windows Phone 7 Series device. But my wish is that Microsoft not just completely abandon those of us who are coming to the new platform from many years of faithful Windows Mobile use. Please provide an easy way for us to at least transition our data to the new phones, and either build in the functionalities of the most popular Windows Mobile applications (such as SPB Mobile Shell and SPB Pocket Plus) or work with developers to ensure that versions of those applications are available for Windows Phone 7 Series.
The number one reason I love my Omnia II (Windows Mobile 6.5) phone is Swype, the text entry technology that makes it possible to create long email messages or other text documents without a physical keyboard, at up to 50 wpm. Swype is one of those apps that comes along every now and then and makes you wonder how you ever lived without it. My wish is that the Swype technology will be made a standard part of all Windows Phone 7 Series phones and not just appear on selected models, as is the case with Windows Mobile 6.5 phones.
I would love to be able to replace my in-car GPS with my phone. The iPhone's GPS app is cool, but it doesn't give turn-by-turn directions. I want to be able to snap the phone into a holder in my car and have it automatically recognize that it should go into GPS mode, too. If Android can do it, why not Windows Phone 7?
Better battery life and charger, connector
No matter how long the battery lasts, we'll always wish it lasted longer. One really great feature that everyone would appreciate: a standardized battery charger and connector. Why should every phone model have a different charger?
And while we're at it, how about a solar panel on the back of the phone, that would let it charge up when you sit it in the direct sunlight? The technology exists and has been included in several phones but has never taken off. Maybe it's time.
Don't forget business users
Apparently Microsoft concedes that Windows Phone 7 Series is targeted at consumers. That's all well and good, but please don't forget those of us who use our phones for both work and play. Will we have to stick with Windows Mobile 6.5, or will there be a "Professional" version of Windows Phone 7 somewhere down the line? Or will we all end up switching to BlackBerrys?
Here are a few wish list items that would make Phone 7 more attractive to business users:
- Multiple mailboxes. One feature we'd like to see for business users is the ability to access multiple mailboxes easily, including multiple Exchange accounts. The Droid already has that and many business users want and need it.
- Front-facing camera for videoconferencing. Microsoft has specified at least a 5 megapixel camera with flash for Windows Phone 7 Series devices, but business users would appreciate a second, front-facing camera that's easy to use for videoconferencing, as some Nokia phones have.
- Built-in projector. Sure, this may be a way-out wish, at least for now, but a good projector built into the phone that could be used for "quick and dirty" PowerPoint presentations or displaying photos or documents to a small group would be a great addition for business users.
- Easy-to-use tethering and/or WAP. Business users want to be able to use their phones' 3G/4G Internet connectivity with their laptops. Support for tethering (at no extra cost) or the ability of the phone to act as a wireless access point would win over many of those users.
- Better security. Two factor authentication via fingerprint sensor would be a good start. Business users who have sensitive company data on their phones need strong security. (It should go without saying that Windows Phone 7 Series should support encryption, remote wipe, and the other security features that Windows Mobile 6.5 now supports.)
Don't go too far in emulating Apple
Sure, the iPhone has been a huge success, and there are certainly some of its features that I'd like to see incorporated into the next Windows phones, such as a more responsive touch interface. But there are also reasons that many of us didn't get on the iPhone bandwagon. Chief among those reasons were:
- No ability to add storage via a microSD slot.
- No ability to swap out batteries.
- High cost of the first releases.
- No ability to cut and paste in the first releases.
- No ability to get applications anywhere except from the Apple App Store.
- Lack of multitasking ability.
- AT&T network
Although nothing is set in stone, it appears from official announcements and rumors that the new Windows phones may be following in Apple's footsteps on at least some of these issues. Hey, Microsoft: If I wanted all the locked down disadvantages of an iPhone on a congested network that doesn't provide the coverage I need, I would have bought one in the first place.
These are just a few of the features that I'd like to see in the new Windows Phone 7 Series handsets. Most of them are already available in various other phones, but wouldn't it be great if they could all be brought together and standardized across the board for all of the new Windows phones?
More about Windows Phone 7 Series
- Windows Phone 7 cheat sheet
- Podcast: Is Windows Phone 7 Microsoft's last stand in mobile?
- If history repeats itself, Microsoft will dominate mobile platforms
- Image gallery: Windows Phone 7 Series
- Photos: Windows Phone 7 Series
- Images: A look at Windows Phone development
- Gallery: Test apps for Windows Phone 7
- Photos: Windows Phone 7 Series FAQ
- Images: Windows Phone makes the rounds at Mix
- Images: The unlocked Windows Phone emulator
Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP is a technology consultant, trainer, and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security. Deb is a tech editor, developmental editor, and contributor to over 20 additional books on subjects such as the Windows 2000 and Windows 2003 MCSE exams, CompTIA Security+ exam, and TruSecure's ICSA certification.