Windows Mobile 7 Details - It's Not Pretty
Inside Microsoft has exclusive details on the next major release of Windows Mobile. As expected, Microsoft has taken notes from Apple and Windows Mobile 7 will feature touch controls and motion sensing technology. Reading the notes from the document raises a bunch of issues regarding Microsoft's take on this-gen (for the iPhone) and next-gen (for everyone else) phone OSes:
- It seems to be meshing too many interaction paradigms - in addition to the new touch/motion controls (flicking to scroll, tiliting and shaking, etc), they're also leaving in button controls (the old Windows Mobile menus everyone loves to hate) and finally "[a] stylus will be required on devices meeting certain screen size, orientation, DPI and resolution marks." Three interaction paradigms makes for a steep learning curve and a lot of energy wasted by users when they have to remember to switch input methods because an action can't be performed in the current interaction mode.
- Shaking to wake up your phone? Definitely not as classy as sliding to unlock.
- The phones will use the camera as the motion sensor. I can't see how well this will work in a dark room or when the camera is obscured, such as when you're holding it in your hand.
- It's coming in 2009. This should be out mid-2008 at the latest if Microsoft has any hope of stopping the iPhone juggernaut. By 2009, Apple will have had a two year lead. Competing with the 2007 iPhone in 2009 makes Microsoft look foolish and reactive; similar to how they looked when Vista was released to match features with an Apple OS that came out two years prior.
So while it's nice to see that Microsoft is actually doing things to advance it's mobile offering (unlike Palm), again, my criticism of Microsoft's efforts boil down to too late and too complex. This report makes it seem as though they're making Windows Mobile 6+1 by bolting on iPhone features to a broken UI instead of doing what they should be doing: starting from scratch and developing a consistent and enjoyable user experience.