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Windows Phone 7 Hits Technical Preview Milestone 195

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the touch-me-there dept.
suraj.sun writes "Microsoft's upcoming Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system has today reached its biggest milestone yet, with a technical preview announced placing the OS on the 'home stretch' to launch. 'We are certainly not done yet — but the craftsmen (and women) of our team have signed off that our software is now ready for the hands-on everyday use of a broad set of consumers around the world — and we're looking forward to their feedback in the coming weeks, so that we can finish the best Windows Phone release ever together,' Terry Myerson, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President of Windows Phone Engineering, wrote tonight." There's coverage around the net including CNet, NeoWin and Engadget.
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Windows Phone 7 Hits Technical Preview Milestone

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  • Nice (Score:2, Informative)

    by TrisexualPuppy (976893) on Monday July 19, 2010 @10:23AM (#32950666)
    I foresee that this will be like Vista, Win7, or Zune. It's all hyped up by Microsoft's marketing department where advertising money is no object, and a few people buy it, and whammo! Kludgy, weird user interface that is harder to use than what they had out ten years ago (e.g. Win CE).
    • by DWMorse (1816016) on Monday July 19, 2010 @10:27AM (#32950718) Homepage

      I disagree that Win 7 is ALL hype, though it was fun to attend the conference for a half-hour, get free donuts, and a copy of Win 7 Ultimate, and a shirt. There's substance to it, regardless of whether or not it's on par with [insert favorite distro here.]

      Last I heard, Phone 7 didn't even have copy-paste. Is that still true?

      • by ashridah (72567) on Monday July 19, 2010 @01:10PM (#32952946)

        It won't, on launch, but it'll probably catch up with one of the first few 6-month mandatory updates (the carrier can't hinder that process either, it's in the contract they have with MS), i'd imagine.

        That said, i can count on one hand the number of times i've used copy&paste on my old g1. I think i did it to copy content from failed SMSs that bounced due to network congestion/no signal, and that's about it, so i find it hard to get worked up over that. Perhaps i wrote more on my phone (i tend to browse content, and issue shorter messages, c&p just doesn't seem as necessary yet), which is likely if i had access to word.

    • Re:Nice (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hedwards (940851) on Monday July 19, 2010 @10:33AM (#32950792)
      To be fair, the Zune could've been a success had MS not screwed it up. The hardware was actually quite good and the few people I know that owned them really liked them.
      • Re:Nice (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday July 19, 2010 @11:08AM (#32951236)
        The Zune could have been a success if MS hadn't decided to basically be late to the iPod revolution. I don't think there is a single person who looks at the Zune and doesn't see it just as an MS branded iPod in poo colors. Yes, the Zune's hardware was nice, but the average person sees it as a crappy rip-off of an Apple product, not to mention MS has tried to do things similar to the Zune with "Plays For Sure" except for the fact that the Zune can't even play that content.

        The Zune was dead on arrival, had it come before the iPod and done everything it would have been a modest success, but how can you look at the Zune and -not- see that this is just an MS branded iPod?
      • Re:Nice (Score:3, Informative)

        by GF678 (1453005) on Monday July 19, 2010 @11:31AM (#32951564)

        Well it would have been nice if Microsoft bothered to sell the Zune overseas, such as here in Australia. But they didn't. Why they didn't is an exercise left up to those who give a shit. Not my problem if Microsoft didn't think seriously enough about their product to warrant worldwide competition with the iPod.

      • by dmgxmichael (1219692) on Monday July 19, 2010 @12:27PM (#32952296) Homepage

        Inertia is a powerful thing though. A system must be a LOT better to displace an established competitor. Linux fans should know this well, their OS is technically superior to Windows in pretty much every way, but Windows has the established customer base. Once systems are in place they tend to stay in place.

        That's why getting into the phone market is so important to Microsoft. If they can't break in soon they never will. It may already be too late.

        • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday July 19, 2010 @01:26PM (#32953132) Homepage Journal

          A system must be a LOT better to displace an established competitor. Linux fans should know this well, their OS is technically superior to Windows in pretty much every way, but Windows has the established customer base.

          Windows' dominance comes from the fact that damned near every PC sold has it preinstalled. Were all PCs shipped with Linux preinstalled, it would be dominant and MS would be dying.

          • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Monday July 19, 2010 @01:53PM (#32953420)

            Windows' dominance comes from the fact that damned near every PC sold has it preinstalled. Were all PCs shipped with Linux preinstalled, it would be dominant and MS would be dying.

            That's technically true and yet misses the point completely.

            Windows, whether you think it merits it or not or was simply coasting on application offerings / inertia, was what people mostly wanted. If it wasn't, it wouldn't be on damned near every PC. Microsoft would have had zero power to strongarm OEMs if they didn't have a product that was in such high demand, most consumers didn't consider there to actually be an alternative.

      • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday July 19, 2010 @01:12PM (#32952964)

        The Zune wasn't a bad player, but MS was going into a very crowded market and there wasn't much to distinguish it from all the other players including the market leader, iPod. Squiting would have been nice it hadn't been so crippled.

        In my opinion, MS messed up badly on the marketing. They wanted it to be cool and obscure and marketed it that way. Unfortunately, that's the wrong way to get people to use your new product in a crowded field. Watching the TV commercials, the general public would have no clue what a "Zune" actually did, who made it, or even that the commercial was about a music player. It could have been a commercial about a new energy drink and nobody would have known the difference.

        Contrast that with the first iPhone commercials. Each of them highlighted a feature: Google maps, web browsing, etc. It also showed that it was a cell phone. And it was made by Apple for the AT&T network. More importantly, each commercial was a functional demo showing the new touch interface and how to use this new phone.

        The other thing was MS was always behind Apple and chasing the wrong targets. They were always going against where Apple was last year. With the Zune HD, MS finally matched the iPod Touch feature wise. But Apple spent years making the iPod Touch an app platform and not just a music player. The Zune unfortunately is nothing more than a music player with WiFi. MS hasn't spent time and effort in making the interface to be a platform and they have no developers for it so they are years behind.

        Add to that MS wiped out any advantage they had by not leveraging their existing customer base or products. The Zune format wasn't compatible with PlaysForSure or their former partners so all their existing customers might not be interested. They insisted on creating a new buggy application insteading of using WMP, etc.

      • by MemoryDragon (544441) on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:34PM (#32953886)

        Heck, Microsoft never even sold it outside of the USA.

  • My question is... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Monday July 19, 2010 @10:27AM (#32950720)

    Is this a release that, purely on quality/merit (let's not talk about mindshare or openness -- presumably both are lost causes), is at all competitive with the alternatives?

    In a sense it's amazing to me, given how much longer Microsoft's been trying to get something done in the Mobile arena, that they have been completely unable to gain any traction so far. Were Windows CE etc. trying too hard to be compatible with Desktop Windows? I don't know, but it's baffling that a company with so much of a headstart over would now be its chief competitors managed so little.

    It's hard to point to openness as the reason with Apple's walled garden as a ready counterpoint, but what did go wrong?

    • by hedwards (940851) on Monday July 19, 2010 @10:36AM (#32950832)
      I had a Win CE device, and the problem was that the Desktop paradigm doesn't really translate very well to mobile devices. Pushing it to the netbooks is a bit of a stretch, but by the time you get to PDAs and mobile phones it completely breaks down. The iPhone and Android UIs work a lot better for screens that size, I think that they might even translate up to around about the netbook range without a whole lot of trouble, but then again trying to go beyond that point would likely cause trouble in that they're meant for small devices.
    • Never a head start (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday July 19, 2010 @10:36AM (#32950842)

      I don't know, but it's baffling that a company with so much of a headstart over would now be its chief competitors managed so little.

      The thing is, they never had a head start at all - because they were always going down a different path. It's not so much compatibility with Desktop WIndows, as it was reliance on a stylus and a physical keyboard.

      Android and iOS were built from the ground up to make use of touch. Neither iOS or Android (to some extent) are reliant even on a physical keyboard, though one can be present... for small mobile devices that simply is a better path, and one Microsoft never chose to explore.

      So it's not so much Desktop compatibility, as it is trying to simply move the existing UI conventions to mobile (unless that is what you meant by compatibility).

      • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Monday July 19, 2010 @10:53AM (#32951048)

        So it's not so much Desktop compatibility, as it is trying to simply move the existing UI conventions to mobile (unless that is what you meant by compatibility).

        It wasn't, but that's a really interesting observation.

        I kind of hate touchscreens (especially on something like an mp3 player -- buttons I can operate without looking at decreases my chance of dying while driving or running) but I have to agree that on something like today's incarnation of a smartphone, there isn't any other form of UI that's even competitive in terms of its appropriateness, and it makes sense that whoever "gets" that first is really who has the headstart.

      • by samkass (174571) on Monday July 19, 2010 @10:53AM (#32951052) Homepage Journal

        Android and iOS were built from the ground up to make use of touch.

        Every prototype of Android device looked like a Blackberry until the iPhone came out. At that point Android bolted on their multi-touch look and feel... there's no "ground up" design relating to touch in either the iPhone or Android. The core OS just handles files, memory, network, power, processes, etc. Apple could replace UIKit eventing with some keyboard/stylus-based input API and replace a small fraction of iOS.

        To get it right takes a lot more than the touch UI being right. It takes an entire infrastructure to make the device disappear and become the task. Despite Microsoft's size, they've never been an infrastructure company so it'll be a challenge.

        • by GooberToo (74388) on Monday July 19, 2010 @11:09AM (#32951248)

          Can you point me at some pictures? Every android prototype I've seen looked like an iPhone rival (mytouch 3g basically). Considering Android, from the get go, has been looking to directly compete with Apple, frankly, I'm not sure that prototypes really have anything to do with anything.

          You need to keep in mind, especially during early development, its not uncommon to develop on easily obtainable, low cost hardware simply because actual production units are not available, available in low yields, or too cost prohibitive to make widely available to developers right out the gate. In other words, its not uncommon or even unreasonable for development prototypes to have absolutely no form factor in common with production hardware. In fact, they are often even missing core hardware - GPS or phone/dsp chips. None of that means it has any influence on its true market goals or direction.

        • by Skuld-Chan (302449) on Monday July 19, 2010 @01:28PM (#32953184)

          Thats because they were made by TI:

          http://www.crn.com/hardware/206504527;jsessionid=JH3QI5R0XZVC5QE1GHRSKHWATMY32JVN?pgno=2 [crn.com] - this was a device built to develop Android on OMAP cpu's. It was never even intended to resemble a shipping product.

          The first Official Google/HTC dev phones shipped to the public like the ADP1 and ADP2 were made by HTC - and was a slider that can be totally operated by touch - so I dunno - Android 1.0 certainly seemed more touch friendly than WinCE ever has been.

          That's one of the coolest things about Android though - the OS is really designed from the ground up to be compatible with whatever input metaphor you care to design - whether is a blackberry like device, mouse/keyboard, touch, voice command or stylus it has support for it.

    • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Monday July 19, 2010 @11:16AM (#32951342)

      >It's hard to point to openness as the reason with Apple's walled garden as a ready counterpoint, but what did go wrong?

      This has nothing to do with openness and has everything to do with MS giving up on improving their products. The WinMobile line, at the time, was pretty hot stuff. You could install whatever program you wanted and there was no shortage of apps. I remember owning a Treo on Sprin't EVDO network and calling Russia on Skype on EVDO. I'm not sure what phone lets me do that today. iPhone has AT&T imposed limitations on VOIP and there's no official Skype client for Android.

      Windows Mobile got the same treatment IE6 got. MS felt it was good enough and its main competitors like Palm and Blackberry were doing a worse job than them somehow. It wasn't until the iphone came out that MS was forced to up its game, but it was a little too late. They tried to bank on WinMo 6.1/6.5 but it just had too many legacy limitations. Or at least polish 6.5 to the point where people would buy it while 7 was being developed, but competing products like the Pre, Droids, and iPhones were just much better. The 7 rewrite is turning into a Vista fiasco that's just taking too long and no one wants to wait, especially with native ActiveSync on iPhone and Android.

      In other words Android/iPhone are like Firefox to MS's IE. MS can't sit on products in competitive markets. Someone will always eat their lunch.

    • by CODiNE (27417) on Monday July 19, 2010 @11:49AM (#32951798) Homepage

      It's hard to point to openness as the reason with Apple's walled garden as a ready counterpoint, but what did go wrong?

      One part may be what I recently noticed with my wife and her iPad. You see she immediately wanted one instead of a laptop, and she's immensely more satisfied with it than her previous (more powerful) laptop. Here's one reason why iOS is successful.

      She can install apps on her own. Previously I'd tried to train her on this... you find the download link on the website (not always easy). You go to the downloads folder (she forgets where it is). You locate the file you just downloaded (forgot what it's name was, or the name doesn't match the app). Double-click it to get the disk image open (the what?) then either drag and drop the app on the Applications folder OR run the Installer if it's set up that way (huh?)

      Now she just goes to the store with one tap. Hits the little search button, types draw or whatever... checks out the apps, and clicks Install. It's done.

      I believe the mobile app stores such as Apple's and the Android store (there is one on the phone right?) significantly lower the barrier of entry to trying out new apps on the device. For us downloading and installing are simple as can be, but to a non-techie it's just a fog of gibberish and confusing steps. Most people don't install ANY new apps on their computers, it takes a "power user" to download and install Google Earth. You hear people like that say "I hate computers" but really it's the basic file system management and app installation process they can't grok.

      So yes, openness and the "walled garden" is a significant part of Apple and Google's success. It's not so much a "cool factor" as it is a eureka! moment to people when they too can try new things on their device. The model of downloading an app on the computer, plugging in a phone and then using some sort of installer process is a bit overwhelming for the majority of people. Simplifying the phones has empowered the common user.

      • by lowrydr310 (830514) on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:10PM (#32953598)

        For us downloading and installing are simple as can be, but to a non-techie it's just a fog of gibberish and confusing steps

        For me, a techie, I think the App Store and Android Marketplace make downloading a fog of gibberish and confusing steps. All I can think about is the underlying file structure of the downloaded content, and paranoia of malware (at least Apple sort of has a leg up on Android, requiring approval of apps prior to making them available to the masses, but on the other hand Android is more open and will give me some access to the filesystem), but that's the problem with being a techie. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. I really wish I didn't think this way.

        Now I just ordered an Android phone a few days ago (expecting delivery tomorrow!!!) and I'm really interested in learning the platform. What worries me is that I can't just be content using things the way they are - I need to know HOW everything works. It's a sickness.

      • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:54PM (#32954208) Journal

        So yes, openness and the "walled garden" is a significant part of Apple and Google's success.

        Android's store is not quite a "walled garden". For the most part, anything goes there.

        Then again, the usage scenario that you've described does not need a "walled garden", either. It just needs an easy-to-use centralized software repository.

  • by filesiteguy (695431) <kai@perfectreign.com> on Monday July 19, 2010 @10:39AM (#32950876) Homepage
    ...run Linux? :)
  • by yelvington (8169) on Monday July 19, 2010 @11:03AM (#32951174) Homepage

    From http://www.infoworld.com/d/mobilize/windows-phone-7-dont-bother-disaster-211?page=0,0 [infoworld.com]

    There's no kind way to say it: Windows Phone 7 will be a failure. Announced to much bravado in February as the platform that would breathe life into Microsoft's mobile ambitions, Windows Phone 7 looked based on very early previews as if it might bring something new and exciting to the table. Back then, I noted that I was impressed by what I saw -- with the caveat "so far."

    No caveats now: Windows Phone 7 is a waste of time and money. It's a platform that no carrier, device maker, developer, or user should bother with. Microsoft should kill it before it ships and admit that it's out of the mobile game for good. It is supposed to ship around Christmas 2010, but anyone who gets one will prefer a lump of coal. I really mean that.

  • by aapold (753705) on Monday July 19, 2010 @11:04AM (#32951186) Homepage Journal
    And "mobile". Hell, just called it Seven.
  • by sargeUSMC (905860) on Monday July 19, 2010 @11:06AM (#32951202)

    My guess is that the thing that will kill this device (like most MS devices that have to compete in a market they haven't cornered), is the fact that by the time the management, sales, and the lawyer teams get done "improving" the device, you won't be able to do anything on it without having to pay through the nose. Repeatedly. Forever.

    So, even if the device ends up being a marvel of technology (which seems unlikely given the MS mobile paradigm), it will end up being locked behind a walled garden, which is locked up in a castle, surrounded by a moat, filled with alligators, etc. Sorry, couldn't resist a little hyperbole.

  • Hmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jav1231 (539129) on Monday July 19, 2010 @11:09AM (#32951254)
    Seriously, if they're building a phone OS at this point in the game, it better offer a paradigm shift. Otherwise, it's the Kin or at best the Zune, relegated!
  • by vlm (69642) on Monday July 19, 2010 @11:11AM (#32951276)

    has today reached its biggest milestone yet,

    So what exactly is the milestone? I'm used to milestones being a big logical-AND of finally successfully achieving a bunch of technical requirements. This seems to be a "marketing milestone"?

    The concept of a "milestone" from hiking or whatever, is that according to the surveyors you've come exactly 5280 feet since the last milestone. Not "here is a pretty picture", or "we figured we'd generate some buzz by placing the milestone here".

    As a side question to all you hikers from the civilized world, do you guys have "kilo-stones" or whatever? Seriously?

    • Microsoft uses the term "milestone" to denote steps along a product's development. They have various names - some actually have the word 'milestone', such as Milestone Quality, Milestone 1 (M1), etc. - but CTPs (Community Tech Previews, essentially early non-public betas), public beta, RC, RTM, and the various post-release maintenance and service packs are all milestones (SPs often have multiple milestones of their own). Unlike "traditional" milestones, the distance (either in time or changes) between milstones varies widely, but conceptually they are just markers for the current stage within a product's development.

      WinPhone7 just hit the CTP milestone, meaning that it's now close enough to complete that MS is willing to show it to people outside the company. This is a pretty big deal to the company, though the general public won't see anything new except for hands-on reviews (of which there are plenty). Release (and, if a lot has to be changed at the last minute, RC) are bigger milestones, but the first CTP is always a big step anyhow.

  • by KshGoddess (454304) <kshgoddess@NoSPaM.gmail.com> on Monday July 19, 2010 @11:33AM (#32951604) Homepage Journal

    "We've got the software running, someone give us some hardware to run it on!"?

    Seems a bit bass-ackwards to me. But then again, it's windows. Sorry, "Windows Phone 7."

  • by Ranger (1783) on Monday July 19, 2010 @11:35AM (#32951626) Homepage
    it will place and receive calls without giving you the "blue screen of death"?

    "I'm sorry your call to 9-1-1 cannot be placed at this time because your phone is rebooting. Please try your call later."
  • by Stan Vassilev (939229) on Monday July 19, 2010 @01:22PM (#32953098)

    I just want to let the quotes say few things first:

    However, customizing and navigating the screen can sometimes be a cumbersome task.

    More importantly, we're just not sold on the layout.

    Now, some might complain that this type of navigation requires too much scrolling and can be overly complicated and admittedly, when compared to iOS and Android, this is true we fear this will be a turnoff to consumers.

    I had the same exact observations few months ago when they demonstrated their new mobile OS for the first time. Looks like Microsoft's attempt at making an interface that's easier and more innovative than Android/iPhone ends up "complicated" and "cumbersome".

    If their goal was to make a complex post-modern interface targeted to a small niche of geeks willing to get involved with such a taxing concepts as their scrolling clipped hub views, that'd be fine.

    But they're achieving exactly the opposite of what they want, which is tragic. It means very likely their marketing will go "mainstream" and it'll be largely ignored, just like their Kin series (which, by the way have mostly the same GUI as Win 7 Mobile).

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