Consumers around the world will be able to purchase the first Windows Phones starting late this month (November in the US), triggering a renewed effort by Microsoft to compete with the upper eschelon of the smart phone world, RIM's Blackberry, Google's Android, and Apple's iPhone. Much has been written about Windows Phone both here and elsewhere, but there's one thing of which I'm certain: Virtually no one outside of Microsoft has had as much real world experience with Windows Phone 7 as I have. I spent several grueling months writing a book about the product, Windows Phone 7 Secrets, this year, and a Windows Phone has been my daily use phone, my sole phone for the most part, for almost four months now. I feel more qualified than usual to help guide you in a decision about this platform.

(That sounds pukey, in a Walter Mossberg kind of way, and I apologize for it. But the fact remains: I've been using this platform for a long time.)

Much of this review will need to wait on an OK from Microsoft. But I feel comfortable providing some upfront recommendations to you about preparing for Windows Phone because it's important that you have this information now, before you actually purchase a device. Unlike any smart phone before it, Windows Phone is connected to online services in a deep and pervasive way, and as Microsoft breaks all ties with the PC desktop--and believe me, the company is barreling in that very direction--it's imperative that any and all potential Windows Phone users prepare accordingly. So the initial part of the review, like the beginning of my book, covers this all important preparation phase.

One thing I'd like to discuss before getting started, however, is my plans for ongoing coverage of Windows Phone. I feel that Windows Phone has what it takes to compete with the Big Two (tm)--Android and iPhone, currently-- from both technical and marketing perspectives, and because this platform is as important to Microsoft as, say, its mainstream Windows, Windows Server, and Windows Live platforms, I intend to cover Windows Phone very regularly going forward, as often as I do with these other Microsoft platforms. But that doesn't mean I will ignore the competition: This review will focus solely on Windows Phone 7, and what you get (and lose) by adopting this innovative and exciting platform. But post-review, I will be examining, more closely, how Windows Phone stacks up point by point with the leading smart phone platforms of the day. In other words, this is an ongoing discussion, and one that will extend far beyond this first review. Everything I've worked on this year has led not to the review, but to what will come after it.

And allow me to blow away any chance of surprise and tell you right up front that my experiences with Windows Phone over the past several months has led me to one very clear conclusion: Regardless of my need to cover the platform as a job requirement of sorts, I will be using Windows Phone going forward. This is the system I prefer, honestly and openly, and I feel as strongly about this as I did about the inevitability of Windows 95 over 15 years ago or the righteousness of NT over 10 years ago. The quality of Microsoft's work varies from product to product, and certainly my enthusiasm can wane depending on what we're talking about. But I have very rarely ever been this excited about any technology

product, from Microsoft or anywhere else, or in its ability to transform a market that has grown very stale with copycat features and products. Windows Phone is not just another smart phone. It's a revolution. It's right. Heck, it makes me smile. I want it to make you smile too.

 

It will.

Next up, Part 2: Getting Ready for Windows Phone...