Hey, maybe Microsoft isn’t screwed when it comes to mobile, after all.
Windows Phone 7, its forthcoming mobile phone platform, just got a rave review from Daring Fireball‘s John Gruber, who has extremely high user-interface standards and a strong preference toward Apple products.
This via the podcast that Gruber co-hosts with Dan Benjamin, “The Talk Show,” which you can listen to here. Gruber’s comments about Windows Phone 7 begin around 54 minutes, 30 seconds in.
The quick points, paraphrased unless in quotation marks:
- Gruber got to play with a Windows prototype phone for 5 minutes at a cocktail party after the Web 2.0 conference in New York last week.
- His first impressions were “very, very favourable.”
- It was “really nice” and Gruber was “really impressed.”
- The software-based keyboard is “fantastic.” This was a big problem with the Google/HTC Nexus One when Gruber tested that earlier this year.
- There is very little latency for touch input and scrolling — “iPhone calibre” versus the “jaggy” Nexus One.
- “Browser seems good.”
- Gruber doesn’t know how Windows Phone 7 will play out in the market, but it’s a “real, credible competitor” in the space, “in terms of polish and quality, it’s absolutely very, very impressive.” (There are potential issues with the business model.)
- The platform feels more thoughtful than Android. The whole thing feels like it was designed by the same team, versus Android, which feels like it was made by a bunch of different people.
- And the lack of hardware “menu” button is a good thing — the user interface is much more of an iPhone calibre than Android.
- If he had to pick between spending a month with an Android phone or a Windows 7 phone, just based on 5 minutes of use, he would rather have the Windows phone.
I also got my first hands-on time with a Windows Phone 7 device last week, though only for a minute or so. I was also pleasantly surprised and impressed, but I am going to reserve judgment until I’ve had more time to spend with it. Still, encouraging.
Now Microsoft will have to make sure its marketing and distribution are adequate for the devices, and that they give people a clear reason to buy Windows 7 phones over Apple or Google phones. That part isn’t as clear yet.