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Before the final version of the Windows Phone 7 operating system is released, Microsoft has sent out technical preview units to developer partners with feedback to shape the real thing, due out later in 2010. Previews have been mixed.
Before we get into what testers have been saying about the Windows Phone 7 OS, Microsoft says the software has been tested by more than 1,000 employees and the preview version just signed off is ready for "the hands-on everyday use of a broad set of consumers around the world".
Amongst the early adopters given a preview model was Matthew Miller of ZDNet and contrary to last week's damning review by Infoweek who declared "Don't bother with this disaster" as a headline, Miller says: "I can honestly say that I am quite excited."
Infoworld went on to say that Windows Phone 7 is "a tepid knockoff of a 2007-era iPhone" and bluntly stated: "Windows Phone 7 will be a failure."
It is interesting to note that other previews have not had quite the same view. Miller praises the stable operating system, compares the user interface to that of the Zune HD and says the virtual keyboard is superior to that of the iPhone while loading times for hubs and apps are impressive.
He concludes by saying "the user interface is completely different than any other smartphone operating system and is a nice, refreshing change" but raises concerns about lack of Twitter support, no copy and paste or multitasking for apps and no USB drive mode.
Engadget has some equally pleasant things to say: "For as much crap as Internet Explorer gets (less, admittedly, now that the debacle of IE6 is finally starting to fade), we've got to say that web browsing on Windows Phone 7 is actually a really pleasant experience," says Chris Ziegler while going on to commend the Office integration.
Overall, Ziegler's conclusion echoes what a lot of people are thinking: the preview version of the mobile operating system doesn't seem totally complete while this indicates a potentially exciting clean-slate approach for a unique mobile OS that has never been dreamed up before, there are worries.
"On the other side, Microsoft has to turn this into a viable retail product that can hang with the fiercest competition in the history of the cellphone in just a few months' time, and there are some serious issues that need to be addressed. Frankly, it's a little scary," says Ziegler.