Microsoft is changing the game. Yeah, I said it, and this comes from an Apple fanboy.
Two weeks ago Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7 in the UK. Unlike most technology launches, the software giant's latest gadget has had very little hype. Last night I had the pleasure of visiting Microsoft's swanky offices in Central London to check out the new smartphone, live and in colour.
I'm not going to lie, I'm a tech geek so I already had a pretty good idea of how the Windows Phone 7 operating system worked. Going in to the presentation I was certain that I could not be won over. How wrong I was.
The interface is fresh, beautiful and intuitive. Instead of apps, the Windows Phone 7 OS uses "Live Tiles". These genius little things are just that, genius. They update as and when things happen, much like Apple's Push notifications, only quicker and a little more subtle. As you can expect these tiles can be moved around and placed wherever you like, added to or deleted. The thing I like most about the home screen is that you don't have to have every application on earth on there, just the ones you want quick access to.
Microsoft have cottoned on to something with this system, and that's the need to make a phone, well, a phone again. By that I mean they've put people and social interaction at the heart of everything. Search for your friend Paul and you'll see all the information you need. Swipe right and you can have a nose of Paul's latest Facebook activity, post to his wall and view his pictures. Making stalking (Disclaimer: The friendly type) even easier.
Windows Phone 7 is super fast too. In fact, I'd hazard a guess that it's the quickest smartphone available. Microsoft's 'Smart Design' means that users just know what to do, saving valuable real estate for developers. And, as you would expect from any good smartphone bidding for a share of the market, email and calendar features are quick and easy to use. Running late for a meeting? Touch one button, enter the address and you're done, notifying colleagues instantly of tardy timekeeping. Open up the email app and there's all your mail ready and waiting, swipe to your right and there's everything you've yet to read, right again and you've reached the urgent zone. Pretty handy.
The calendar isn't lacking either. A tap of the tile and you're viewing your schedule for the day, separated between work, family and personal appointments.
While we're on the subject of business and organisation, it'd probably be a good time to mention that the Windows Phone 7 OS comes with Microsoft Office 2010. Presentations, spreadsheets and Word documents all work perfectly. Create, view, edit, save, it's all really easy.
Microsoft insists they've put the end user first with the 7, and I'm inclined to agree with them. Whether using it for business or not, it's the type of system that will have your friends gasping to have a go.
Sorry Apple, you've been outplayed.