A quick return to "life" is being promised by Microsoft's commercials for Windows Phone 7 devices, which will debut in the U.S. on Nov. 8. Microsoft insists its operating system is up to 20 percent faster than other mobile OSes. The first Windows Phone 7 devices to be offered in the U.S. will be Samsung's Focus on AT&T and HTC's HD7 on T-Mobile.
Microsoft 's commercials for Windows Phone 7 devices have hit the airwaves with a distinctive consumer message: You'll be obsessed with our phones, too, but get more done faster.
One campaign touting the Nov. 8 release of devices by Dell, Samsung, LG and HTC show people distracted by their phones while jogging, on the beach, in the shower, in the operating room, playing with kids, or even in a romantic encounter, evoking cries of "Really?!" from disbelieving companions. An announcer says it's "time for a phone to save us from our phones" and promises that the system is "designed to get you in and out and back to life." The ad does not refer to the phone system as Windows Phone 7.
20 Percent Savings
A Microsoft spokesman explained the campaign by saying, in an interview with Computerworld, that internal research shows Windows Phone 7 requires up to 20 percent fewer steps to perform common tasks than other smartphone operating systems. Microsoft didn't respond to our request for comments in time for publication.
Samsung's Focus, to be sold by AT&T, and the HTC HD7, to be sold by T-Mobile, will be the first Phone 7-based devices to premiere on Nov. 8, followed by the HTC Surround in the middle of the month. Dell's Lightning and Venue Pro are also expected in time for the holiday season, available from Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile, respectively.
Wall of Tiles
Early reviews of Phone 7 devices say the operating system is consumer-friendly with its wall of tiles that can be used to set up icons for games, applications, web sites, or social-media contacts, and it has quick access to Xbox Live and Zune. Phone 7 also includes mobile versions of Microsoft's Office, a draw for business users.
"Windows Phone 7 has been significantly updated from its predecessor, Windows Mobile," said wireless analyst Alex Spektor of Strategy Analytics. "The new user interface has been optimized for common tasks like search or social networking, potentially allowing fewer clicks or button presses by the user."
Spektor said Microsoft's tiles interface is a step apart from the interface of Apple's iOS or Google's Android, the fastest-growing systems. But he added "it remains to be seen how much the consumer masses like the new approach in the long term."
How fast the system works depends on both hardware and software. But Spektor notes that Microsoft has set minimum requirements for its hardware partners, including processor speed, random access memory, and screen resolution, "which helps to establish a baseline user experience and uniform responsiveness across different vendors' devices."
Windows 7 phones went on sale in Europe and Australia on Oct. 21, and British carrier Orange UK has struggled to keep up with demand, but it's unclear if the shortage is from high consumer interest or manufacturers' difficulty in getting touchscreens.