Matrix XD

Matrix XD: Hands-on and impressions with Windows Phone 7 Series

Hands-on and impressions with Windows Phone 7 Series You will be impressed with this one. Forget everything you know about Windows Mobile. This is new concept about windows. Seriously, throw the whole OS concept in a garbage bin or incinerator or something. Microsoft has done what would have been unthinkable for the company just a few years ago: started from scratch. At least, that's how things look (and feel) with Windows Phone 7 Series. This really is a completely new OS and not just Microsoft's new OS, it's a new smartphone OS, like webOS new, like iPhone OS new. You haven't used an interface like this before. Still, 7 Series goes wider and deeper than the Zune by a longshot, and it's got some pretty intense ideas about how you're supposed to be interacting with a mobile device. We had a chance to go hands-on with the dev phone before today's announcement, and hear from some of the people behind the devices, and here's our takeaway. And don't worry, we've got loads of pictures and video coming, so keep checking this post for the freshest updates.

Ok... now I will tell you about this one by one. First, the look and feel. The phones are really secondary here, and we want to focus on the interface. The design and layout of 7 Series' UI (internally called Metro) is really quite original, utilizing what one of the designers (formerly of Nike) calls an "authentically digital" and "chromeless" experience. What does that mean? Well we can tell you what it doesn't mean -- no shaded icons, no faux 3D or drop shadows, no busy backgrounds (no backgrounds at all), and very little visual flair besides clean typography and transition animations. The whole look is strangely reminiscent of a terminal display (maybe Microsoft is recalling its DOS roots here) -- almost Tron-like in its primary color simplicity.May be you will ask why??? To us, it's rather exciting. This OS looks nothing like anything else on the market, and we think that's to its advantage. Admittedly, we could stand for a little more information available within single views, and we have yet to see how the phone will handle things like notifications, but the design of the interface is definitely in a class of its own. Here's a few takeaways on what it's like to use...

Start screen: the Start experience is completely revamped, now focusing on sets of tiles which represent links to applications or contacts. It's a completely contextual experience which can be customized both by users and carriers, and allows people to "promote" items higher up in the list. To the right of this screen is a long, vertical list of all your apps for quick jumps. It will take some time getting used to this layout; one or two tiles per line, and that long list which goes up and down rather than left and right, but honestly -- this does have some advantages. Things seems less out of reach in this configuration, and Microsoft swears that they'll be working closely with developers to build widgets that make use of the concept.

General phone navigation: If you've used the Zune HD, you know what this is like. Lots of bold text on the device, lists with text cut off on the sides of the phone, and additional screens to the left and right driven by arrows pointing you in either direction. For the most part this works, though in instances like email, it feels like there's a bit of wasted space. Everything else is super stripped down -- the calendar app looks like vector line art, the browser seems to be using the bare minimum to show its content (which isn't necessarily a bad thing), and the phone application is essentially monochromatic. On the other hand, you've got a beautiful and robust photo app (with pinch to zoom, as in the browser), and the Zune experience is perfectly integrated... but what did you expect?

This is a developing story, and we're updating the post with more info, pics, and video as it becomes available, so stay tuned for more!

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Posted By Sutrisno
Created on Monday, February 15, 2010

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