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What is hot (and not) about Windows Phone 7

After more than a month of living with Windows Phone 7, I have to say, Microsoft’s new phone operating system is starting to grow on me.

Although I liked the general look of the operating system, I suspected its simplicity was only skin deep and that over time I would uncover both annoying glitches and places where the phone was all too much like a little computer.

Instead, there are hidden pleasures. Last week I found the cursor, speech recognition, and missed other things I play in my first days with the phone. Here I noticed just a few examples of functions that only recently: in an email or other place where you want a cursor that maybe are you hold a finger in a place and a cursor appears you then drag to the place where you want to go. Click on an email links and it opens the check boxes used to multiple e-mail messages can – delete one of the most common tasks people on their cell phones.

Holding down the camera shutter button lets you take a picture–even if the phone is locked. As for the voice recognition, holding down the Windows button brings up an array of voice-controlled features that draw on Microsoft’s Tellme technology.

A decent case can be made that these features should be more obvious, but what’s nice is that these features are discoverable through serendipity as well as from a manual.

Microsoft throws often around the phrase “it just works” as a design goal for a new piece of software. In practice however rarely of products to meet, that settlement. That said Microsoft seems to be pretty close with Windows Mobile 7. Although the software is not final and is on prototype hardware (in my case runs the Samsung Taylor), clean appearance by error messages, hiccups, or some other form breaks is interrupted.

Above all, Windows 7 is–dare I say–elegant. Even my foreign-language spam looks beautiful on the device. It almost makes me wish I understood all those messages in Japanese, Korean, and Arabic.

Its beauty is more than skin deep, too.

One of the things I demand in a phone is that it behave like a portable consumer electronic device, not like a tiny computer. It should be instant on, easy to navigate without too much thought, and hide nearly all its complexity. To me that’s what made the original iPhone and all its successors such a hit. (It’s also why I think the iPad poses a serious challenge in the market for highly portable computing, but that’s another story.)

With Windows Phone 7, Microsoft doesn’t make up for all of its years of lost ground in this area, but what it does, it does very well.

The camera application makes it easy to take photos and videos and share them to Facebook or send them via e-mail or multimedia message (MMS). The mobile version of Internet Explorer adds pinch-to-zoom and other features that put it in the same league as other mobile browsers.

I’m not a huge fan of virtual keyboards in general, but the one built into Windows Phone 7 is pretty good, especially when accounting for how good it is at making suggestions for what one mistypes.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though.

Most of what I do not have Windows phone 7 goes back to the fact that this – how despite his Polish – what a new first attempt for Microsoft. There are some important things are missing, can be found in competitive products. The lack of copy and paste is high up on this list for me. I know a lot of E-Mail on my phone, and one thing I like to do is copying chunks from an E-Mail and paste it into another. Occasionally I write even whole stories on my BlackBerry. I can not on Windows Mobile 7.

My biggest gripe is battery life. Despite being a vast improvement over the hour-and-a-half life it once got, my Windows Phone 7 device won’t get me through a busy workday–and that’s without listening to music or playing games (I still don’t have any third-party apps on the device).

That said, I’m told that Microsoft and its partners have made further gains in battery life and that the shipping devices should at least reach my goal of being able to be used hard for a full day (and I’m not talking just an 8-to-12-hour workday here).

I hope so, because the built-in Zune player–particularly streaming music over the Web–is one of the selling points of the phone. And, although we haven’t heard a lot about Microsoft’s app strategy, Windows Phone will launch with a whole lot of programs; and it would be a shame if one has to ration use of those programs to conserve battery.

One of the most important yet to be questions answered is how well will the final hardware. Microsoft has said that the Samsung Taylor units are meant only to show the software and are no indication what the first crop of the real phone will look like. Several models are designed for the market – including mobile phones from LG, HTC and Samsung – received regulatory approval, but we still have time to see how they stack for both rival Android and iPhone up.

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