Windows Phone 7 First Impressions

I got the unlocked Samsung Focus that I bought on eBay last week. I've been playing with it for the past couple days. Here are some first impressions:

- The hardware is great. The device is very similar to the Nexus S I use. Great screen, very light, good screen size, feels great in my hands.

- The UI is slick. Very intuitive. It takes no time at all to figure out how to get around the OS. The home screen in particular works very well.

- The Facebook integration is excellent. If you are a serious Facebook user, this phone is for you.

- The way the contact book is totally integrated with Facebook shows that the Windows Phone 7 team gets that the contact book can be the unification point for all of our social graphs. However, it is more of a proof of concept right now because Facebook is the only integrated social network on Windows Phone 7. If they integrated a dozen or so of the most popular social services, we'd see this vision in full force. I hope they do that and do it soon.

- The explorer browser is a disappointment. It is not nearly as good as the Android and Safari browsers. And I hear we are getting a full Chrome browser in the Honeycomb version of Android. Microsoft needs to up its mobile browser game if it wants Windows Phone 7 to be competitive with iOS and Android.

- Windows Phone 7 offers gmail support in the mail app. But I have a hard time using any mail app other than the gmail app on Android which fully supports priority inbox and a host of other power user features. This for me is a very big deal. For others, maybe not so much.

- The marketplace requires a windows live login. I have one of those but it's a bit fubared because I've used it for my son's Xbox and there is some kind of parental controls setting that makes it impossible for me to download apps onto my Samsung Force. I found a support thread that explains the problem and how to fix it, but I could not make it work.  And I am worried about messing up my son's Xbox profile. So I have not been able to download any apps onto the phone. It's a frustrating experience and I'm not entirely sure why Microsoft needs a Windows Live login to allow me to download apps onto the phone anyway.

- There's an Xbox Live app on the home screen. My son saw this and lit up. I didn't play around with it, but the idea of a seamless experience between the Xbox and the mobile phone is interesting.

The bottom line is I don't think this phone is for me, but it has a bunch of features that make it a compelling phone. I think I am going to give it to my son. Facebook and Xbox are his two most important networks and this phone apparently supports both of them very well.

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