Microsoft’s next-generation operating system for mobile phones isn’t expected to launch for at least a few more months. But the company has started sending out demo units to a handful of reviewers. And the results are… interesting. Engadget and Gizmodo have both written up fairly lengthy articles about the phones they’ve received with a pre-release version of Windows Phone 7. Neither seems all that impressed. Here are some of the highlights:

Engadget:

  • The user interface is speedy and responsive to touch.
  • The UI is divided between homepage tiles, an app list, and hub pages .
  • There’s a drop-down menu for notifications (like Android) instead of pop up alerts (like iOS).
  • There’s no copy and paste.
  • Third party apps don’t support multitasking (like playing music in the background).
  • The on-screen keyboard rocks.
  • The People app is a mess, which adds social networking data to your contact list whether you want it or not.
  • The web browser includes desktop browser code, and is almost as fast as Safari on an iPhone 4.
  • There’s no support for Adobe Flash or Silverlight in the browser.
  • Mobile Office has some handy social features, but not a lot of editing features — you can’t change fonts, for instance.

Gizmodo:

  • Windows Phone 7’s biggest strength is probably integration of Microsoft services including Bing, Zune, Xbox Live, and Office.
  • The “hubs” are sort of like multi-page, multi-faceted apps. For instance, the people hub has a screen for contacts, flick to see  a news feed, flick again to see recent contacts, and so forth.
  • There’s no support for widgets, but the Live Tiles on the home screen show live updates of things like incoming email messages.
  • The keyboard looks like it should suck… but like Engadget, Gizmodo seems to really like it.
  • “The Outlook app might be the best mail app on any phone.”

You can check out a hands-on video with the prototype from Engadget after the break.

Brad Linder

Brad Linder is editor of Liliputing and Mobiputing.He's been tinkering with mobile tech for decades and writing about it since...