wp7-screen1A long road to testing the new Windows Phone 7 operating system, but at the end of our road together, I’m a little sad to see it go.

Microsoft first supplied me with an HTC phone, which had an older version of Windows Phone and the hardware was an absolute pig. Then at the Microsoft Partner Summit they realised that I was not a happy camper and offered me the Samsung Omnia 7, which has been a pleasure – but not without a curved ball when the SIM card reader failed and had to be repaired at the Samsung Repair Centre.

But having overcome those obstacles, I really got stuck into the Samsung Omnia 7 and the Windows Phone 7 (WP7) operating system. As this is more about the operating system, I’m going to focus very little on the phone hardware – but I have to say that Samsung have a solid, quick and reliable phone.

Flow of the features
The WP7 takes a little getting used to as it is quite different to the Nokia Symbian and BlackBerry OS’ I have used in the recent past – in fact, longer than adapting to other operating systems, but once you get past that it works very well.

Battery life
It is hungry and I’m not sure that Samsung could do much about it – you get a day and a half maximum. But to give it some credit, I did have all the push and pull applications on all the time. But these days most smart phones are hungry, I think this will improve with time.

Buttons
WP7 has a minimum spec to all manufacturers and included in the spec are the three buttons at the base of the touch screen, back arrow, menu and the search keys. The back and menu keys are fine and work well, but I find the search key often gets pressed by mistake and you end up with the search screen when busy in other applications.

Messaging
I found the messaging rather slick and effective – it keeps all the communication threads nicely organised. The configuration of email was simple enough. I added WhatsApp as well which worked alright.

Synchronising
This is all done through the Zune desktop on your computer, much like you use iTunes for the iPhone/iPad/iPod. I use Gmail to synchronise all of my email, calendars and contacts – so just about any smart phone will work well.

Screen locking and menu
The screen saver is funky and functional, with auto locking and easy recover from sleep mode. The main menu is made up of application tiles and you can customise the tiles as you wish – this was strange in the beginning, but with time I enjoyed this flow – moving some of my applications through to the front main menu.

Applications
The application store which Microsoft call the “Market place” is growing, in July 2011 it had 25 000 apps, now the store front talks of many tens of thousands applications. I was impressed by what was available from both business and fun usage. Microsoft have offered simple ways for developers to offer their mobile applications via the store, this will help boost the development of new apps.

WP7-peopleSpeed
I never found myself waiting for the phone, so that can only mean that the speed of the OS is impressive, or as good as you would find on other good smart phones.

Documents, spread sheets and presentation software
Microsoft phone operating system, Microsoft Office and now Microsoft Office on the phone…..hello need I say more? It works very well, especially with the Skydrive and Office365 offerings.

Photos, Music and camera
The syncing is done through the Zune application – but the flow of pictures on the front screen in the tile is rather nice adding that personal touch to your device. The camera application is acceptable but this is really dependent on the hardware.

Contacts
The accumulation of information on your contacts is really impressive giving you plenty of information on the contacts including maps of the address. Searching for contact is simple allowing you to search other contact lists not included in your phone contacts.

Games
From what I know they looked rather good and get better the more you pay. I know Angry Birds has been around for a while, but I enjoyed tossing the little buggers into the air – if you have not played Angry Birds, find an app and give it a try!

Conclusion
I am very impressed in the latest version of Windows Phone, the OS is quick, clean and very functional. The pulling together of information for the phone user is brilliant, the business applications and linking to external business information sources is clever. This new OS plus the manufacturing capabilities of Nokia and Samsung are going to drop future Windows Phones right among the smart phone leaders.

Contributed by:
Malcolm Pearson
www.tech4law.co.za

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