Windows Phone 7 has been among us for just over two months now. It's already had quite a few achievements like 5,000 applications in Marketplace and seemingly decent sales. Microsoft has been waiting with bated breath to see if their new operating system will gain more traction in the mobile world among some serious competition. Entering an already crowded market, there are several things that can decide the fate of a platform like hardware, application support, and the overall experience delivered by the OS. Microsoft has hardware in the bag and with over 18,000 developers, even more application support is soon to come. But what about the operating system itself? What kind of experience does it offer up to end users?
The OS is off to a good start, but with competition like iOS and Android, Windows Phone 7 has a steep mountain to climb. WP7 does have one key benefit over the little green robot though, simplicity. Something that smartphone newcomers have dealt with when adopting Android is a significant learning curve. Some important settings tend to be buried deep in menus, making them hard to find at first. Mobile platforms like WP7 and iOS are extremely simple to learn; everything is laid out in an easy-to-understand, fashion. You know how to use them when you pick them up the first time.
This is perfect for someone who has never owned a smartphone before. It eases them into the idea of being connected 24/7 and weans them off of their aging RAZRs, without scaring them back into the dark ages. But for people who have tried other operating systems and consider themselves tech-savvy veterans, they may find Windows Phone 7's minimalistic user interface downright boring; I did at times. It works very well and I had little to no problems from it, but there are very few customization options. As beautiful and simple as the UI may be, it is very uneventful and can get old very quickly.
One of Android's biggest selling points is customization. Whether it's the user or the manufacturer making the customizations, the UI of nearly every Android handset looks different. And let's be honest, it brings out the tinkerer in all of us. Windows Phone 7's user interface encourages little to no tinkering. You have the ability to manage the order of your tiles, change the tile color, and toggle the background between either black or white. Beyond that, the only customization you have is setting your lock screen image. The worst part of the typography UI is that if it does begin to bore you, so will third-party applications. They continue the “Metro” design and save for color differences, everything begins to look the same, regardless of which application you're in.
While it isn't the most boring mobile experience I've ever had, it isn't exactly what I would consider fun or exciting. The only thing about the entire first experience with Windows Phone 7 that truly impressed me was the software keyboard. I'm not saying Windows Phone 7 is destined for doom, or they won't survive among competitors, but Microsoft needs to bring something a little more fun to the UI. Luckily, it's been said that the two upcoming updates will be very significant changes. We have to remember that this is still first version software. Android wasn't very appealing when it first hit the market, and it took quite a while for it to come around, too. So don't write Microsoft off just yet. Does Windows Phone 7 bore you? What do you wish Microsoft would change about it?