The first round of Windows Phone 7 devices have been sent out to a number of critics. This is a non-retail phone, which was designed for developers, so it isn’t quite a normal cellphone, but it’s enough for a number of critics to come to grips with the OS, and its strengths and weaknesses.
So, who got the phones? Not us, unfortunately. Come on, Microsoft, aren’t we cool enough for you? Apart from us, there’s Michael Gartenberg, Wired, Paul Thurrot, CNet, ZDNet, Engadget, and BGR [update: Gizmodo, TechCrunch].
So, what do these lucky few think? The consensus is generally pretty good. Almost everyone loved the look of the new OS, especially the minimalist email app. WM7 puts much more of a focus on social networks than on individual apps, akin to the, well, Kin. While some writers really liked this integration, Engadget pointed out that it sometimes pulls a lot of info from people you only peripherally care about. The keyboard is also a consistently cited high point.
Of the reviews, only BGR’s was overtly negative. However, all of the reviews made a couple of caveats. Apart from a few minor bugs and tweaks, the thing that really stands out is the competition. WM7 can’t merely be good. Android and iOS are both behemoths, and Microsoft needs to be at the top of their game to take them on. Missing features like copy-paste and multitasking make for black marks against the OS. Microsoft needs to pull out all the stops in order to take on the rest of the smartphone market.