>Windows Phones Not Particularly Innovative

>Let’s face facts, iPhone people are going to remain faithful iPhone customers, and people wanting iPhones are a persistent bunch.  But, what about people that are on the fence, who want something different?  Today, Steve Ballmer and Microsoft released their selection of Windows Phone 7 (WP7) smartphones.  The field of smartphones has now grown by six interesting offerings.  The question becomes, do these new smartphones represent a contender within the smartphone arena, or will they be fodder, and fall at the feet of Android and iOS?

PCWorld has evaluated these new devices, and run comparisons against iPhone and the Droid X (PCWORLD).  On the surface, WP7 smartphones appear to have a number of weaknesses when measured against the iPhone, Droids, and even Blackberry (though no Blackberrys were part of the evaluation).
First, no WP7 smartphone has a better resolution than the Droid X (480×800), which itself has a lower resolution than the iPhone.  The HTC HD7 does have a larger screen than the iPhone and equal in size to the Droid X (4.7in).

Common to all devices measured is a 1GHZ processor.  However, engineers must have sized up their devices against the Apple iPhone, as they all seem to have the same limitations, with few exceptions.  Each device has a fixed amount of internal storage, ranging from 8GB to 16GB.  Droids can accept upto a 32GB user-installable microSD card.  Three new WP7 phones (50%), from Samsung, Dell, and HTC have slide-out keyboards; only the Samsung Focus has a front-facing camera.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer speaks during the Windows Phone 7 launch in New York October 11, 2010. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (United States - Tags: BUSINESS)

Next, WP7 smartphones have some interesting software limitations.  WP7 does not support cut-and-paste operations, which are supported by the iPhone 4 and Droid.  Also, for as tight as Adobe and Microsoft appear to want to be, the WP7 smartphones do not support Adobe Flash, which Android does.  New WP7 smartphones support Wi-Fi but do not support Wi-Fi HotSpot, so forget about tethering.

Finally, what makes people envious of smartphones?  Well, one thing is cool apps.  People love their apps.  WP7 smartphones have few apps to pick from.  Microsoft was slow to make their developer’s toolkit available.  As a result, the app marketplace for WP7 is slim.  Obviously, that will change, given enough time, and financial incentives from Microsoft to developers.  Another hindrance that many makers are crying foul over is the software agreement that restricts changes to the user interface (UI).  Expect all of the new WP7 phones to have an identical interface.

Do Microsoft Phone 7-based smartphones change the game? Do six new phones from prominent makers HTC, LG, and Samsung put Motorola and Apple on notice that there are new rules to play by? 

Unfortunately, unless Microsoft plans on performing an upgrade to WP7 in the near future, and changing the licensing of the user interface, Apple, Motorola, Blackberry, and Nokia have nothing to fear.

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