Unlike overseas, it's almost impossible to get any information out of the local Microsoft subsidiary when it comes to Windows Phone 7. In Australia, Telstra and Microsoft is already talking about handsets, albeit in a mumbly fashion that doesn't mean much, but in NZ, nothing. Telecom NZ has been working very closely with Microsoft NZ, so I wouldn't be surprised if XT gets WinPhone7 devices before Vodafone.
There were going to be handsets for developers and lowly media types like yours truly to look at in August. Nothing appeared however, and now the idea is to keep schtumm until close to launch, with just a few reviewers getting phones under NDAs apparently.
Apparently, NZ WinPho7 developers have been allowed to look at a total of
two nine devices from LG all on loan from Microsoft. The ones that they were meant to be able to buy from Samsung sourced from ASUS didn't materialise. The LG device seems OK, but a slide-out keyboard? Hmm.
The point of the locals being secrets squirrels is lost on me, because every man, woman and dog interested in WinPho 7 can satisfy their curiosity through a quick Internet search. Even Microsoft's website has a fair bit of info, and anyone can download the WinPho7 SDK (apparently, 300,000 have done so already) and fire up the emulator that comes with it. You could even write some apps for it, but it might be a little hard to test these under real-life conditions for the reasons described above.
October seems to be when Microsoft lifts the curtain on WinPho7, with devices from LG, Samsung and HTC. New Zealand is, I hear, in the first wave of countries to get WinPho7 devices. Hope that's true, as it would make a nice change from the way Apple and Amazon for instance treats us when they have new stuff.
Still, October is quite a long wait, considering Windows Phone 7 was announced at the beginning of the year. Nokia, another company that's similarly reluctant to show off new stuff, should have its N8 smartphone out by then. Android phones are meanwhile dime a dozen and let us not forget the iPhone 4…
While it's probably helpful for Microsoft to have other companies set and define the smartphone market, and thus taking pressure of the need to innovate and bring out features that could fall flat with customers, WinPho7 will have spectacularly good to get anywhere. What we've seen so far points to a tidy, Zune-like interface, integration with Xbox Live for games, and presumably, a hook-up to the Microsoft cloud with the Live services there.
That's quite a serve of stuff, and probably not easy to accomplish on time.
Here's a taster of what to expect, from Pocketnow.com that checked out web browsing the LG developer WinPho7 device, Google Nexus One and an iPhone 4. Browsing seems much better than on Windows Mobile but… look at the other phones as well. Is WinPho7 final going to be good enough to be compelling the same way the iPhone 4 is?
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