Windows Phone 7 doesn't suck (and it has a good core concept)

I’ve had a chance to play with Windows Phone 7 at South by Southwest for the past couple of days, and it’s confirmed an opinion I’ve had for a while:

Windows Phone 7 doesn’t suck.

That may sound heretical to those who know me as an iPhone-carrying, Mac-using, iPad (and iPad 2) owning Apple fan. I love the Mac OS. I love my iPhone. In fact, I’ve used Macs for over 20 years.

But still, it’s true.

While Windows users such an infrequent sighting at SXSW (I think I’ve seen 11 so far) that I almost feel sorry for them, Microsoft has a decent-sized booth on the trade show floor and a couple of other demo areas around the conference session areas. And there’s plenty of demo units to play with.

The core idea of Windows Phone 7 is unification.

The panes (yes, window panes …) on the front of Windows Phone 7 integrate information from a variety of sources and attempt in aggregate to present a holistic version of your digital phonish self: what you’re doing, who you know, news you follow, games you play, people you’re connected to, and so on.

That core idea is smart.

It’s directly opposed to the iPhone/Apple current app-centric model. The opposition is visual, branding, marketing, and some reality: there is a lot of sharing built into the Apple iPhone model of common data such as calendar and contacts … but not as much.

I’m sure Apple will address this to a degree: siloing our lives into apps is problematic. Not because we don’t want great apps that are entirely internally consistent and solve a specific problem in a comprehensive, elegant manner … but because we want our apps to be smart not only about what we’re doing in them, but in other apps, sites, and places as well.

I still MUCH prefer my iPhone. But props to Microsoft for smart positioning.