Zune on Windows Phone 7


Having Zune on my Windows Phone 7 device is great and something I use at least once a day. However this constant use means I’ve found a few niggly things that I’d like to see changed.

1) You can’t create playlists on the device. This is something I’d do on my Android device quite a lot…a great way to quickly create lists on the fly. Only being able to create them on the pc feels quite restrictive.

2) You can’t put playlists on random. Now if one created a playlist with proper care & attention, I can see that this probably wouldn’t be necessary. However I don’t put that much effort into my playlist creation! I usually go through my catalogue by artist and add songs in that I’d forgotten about…this means I get runs of one artist for maybe a dozen songs, and I like my playlists to be much more varied than that…

3) You can’t spend Microsoft points. This one I really don’t get. I can spend Microsoft points in Zune on Xbox, Zune on PC but not Zune on Windows Phone 7…why? If you want to purchase something from the Zune marketplace, you have to use real money and that just seems odd. This means I tend to wait until I’m at a pc to purchase anything from the Marketplace…which certainly defeats the mobile aspect!

Windows Phone 7: My thoughts


Windows Phone 7 has been with the world for 5 or so months, and I’ve had the Samsung Omnia 7 for 3 of those:

This is, I believe, enough time to have formed some proper, coherent thoughts on what I do and don’t like about Microsoft’s new Mobile OS. First of all though, the device itself…

The Samsung Omnia 7 is by far the nicest mobile device I have ever held.

It’s light, it’s slim, it’s smooth, it’s sleek and yes…it’s sexy. It’s brushed metal body feels cool to the touch and looks great, as does the huge 4.3” screen. Not only is it a great size, it’s AMOLED…giving a clarity and brightness that puts most, if not all, other mobile devices to shame.

I haven’t seen another device that comes close to it’s overall aesthetic appeal.

Now on to the big one though, The OS!

I’m not going to go into hugely detailed comparisons with other mobile OS’s, just my opinions and what I think are it’s strong points. As a bit of background, I had an Android 2.1 device for over 12 months before getting WP7.

The first thing is how striking it is, especially on the Samsung screen. You can see in the pictures above, the “Live Tiles” in WP7…as you get an email/text message etc, the totals in the tile increase.

  • The Xbox tile is truly live…your Xbox avatar pops in from the side of the tile.
  • The Zune tile shows a scrolling image of the last artist you listened to.
  • If you pin a contact to the home screen it scrolls through their name and their picture.

Having these ever changing sections, right on the home screen, make Windows Phone 7 feel fluid, dynamic and interactive right from the word go.

Two huge, brilliant, unique features of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 are:

Xbox & Zune

Xbox:

The Xbox integration is still in its infancy but already is cool, useful and fun. There are 2 sides to it: interaction with your account & games.

Having it on my phone makes it much easier to do things such as editing my avatar, comparing my game progress against friends & inviting new friends. All things that can be done on the console but all much easier to do via the mobile OS.

Even better than that is the ability to earn actual Xbox achievements and gamer points on your mobile Smile I’ve currently got 5 games that contribute to my gamer score and they make gaming on my mobile more worthwhile, at least in my opinion!

Zune:

I’ve wanted a Zune device for years but, being in the UK, they’ve never been officially available to us. I’ve looked at Ebay many a time and got close to buying one, but when I heard the rumours that Microsoft’s next mobile OS would include Zune, I decided to wait. Lo and behold, WP7 arrives with full Zune integration Smile

I’ve been using the Zune desktop client for quite a while now and it is brilliant – check out my post here:

Read Zune 4.0 Desktop Software

The Zune client on WP7 is, like the rest of the OS, very slick, great to look at and great to use. No music player that I saw on Android came anywhere close to the polished look and feel of Zune…it really is a joy! It has so many great features such as:

History – This section shows the last 6 media items you played. Note I said “media items” not just “songs”…it includes videos too and not just local videos but also videos from YouTube too.

New – This section shows the last 8 items added to Zune…songs, videos and playlists.

Both of these sections are very visual, they both use album cover art and, if it’s a video, a screen grab.

Marquee

This section is pretty special and not something I was expecting. If you have other apps that tie in or relate to Zune in some way, then they appear here. For me this section includes:

  • YouTube
  • Last.fm
  • Lyrics

Office:

This is something I missed when I moved from Windows Mobile 6 to Android. Not having Microsoft Office on my mobile made things just that bit more difficult. Microsoft makes up a big part of my job so Word documents, Excel sheets and PowerPoint slides feature pretty heavily day to day so being unable to read them on my mobile device was pretty annoying!

Now with Windows Phone 7, I’ve got:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • OneNote

at my fingertips and boy is it useful.

The other day I was at home when I came across a MAP 5.5 document that I thought might be useful, so I downloaded it and it showed up in the Office hub on my phone. Today when talking to someone at work about MAP 5.5, I pulled out my phone and quickly showed them the section they needed.

One random thing is how much quicker it is to connect to wireless networks that my Android device. It’s usually a matter of seconds between me arriving at home/work and my phone being connected automatically…that never happened with Android 2.1…

I’m sure there are other parts of Windows Phone that I’ve missed here and when I remember, I’ll put another post together Smile

Microsoft EES–Missing Licences


For all you schools out there looking to enroll into Microsoft’s new academic licensing program, EES (technically OVS-ES), I’ve just come across a small hiccup.

Remote Desktop Service (RDS) CALs, the new version of Terminal Service CALs, are missing from the price file, so resellers can’t give you a price for them. I’ve been told that they will appear in the May price file but that still leaves a 2 month window.

We’ve got customers who need to renew their agreements, which contain RDS CAL, before May so I’ve asked Microsoft what the official line is and will update ASAP.

Cheers

Rich