Windows Phone 7 comes with plenty of standard applications and features some of which I have already mention liked the Windows Live ID integration and Xbox Live if you have an account.
I’ll start by naming the worst application the phone has in my opinion, Internet Explorer. Now Microsoft said a long time ago that IE on the phone would be a mix of IE 6 and 7 made suitable for phone and would be updated over time once IE 9 has been officially launched and integrated into the phone. So I guess we can live with that for now, I just hope we do not have to wait a year.
Other standard applications which live on the start screen are Xbox Live, Zune, and the email accounts. So everything else lives to the right of the start screen as I mentioned in my last post:
- Internet Explorer
- Maps (Bing Maps)
- Zune music and videos
So more then enough to get started.
With all the apps in one place though is not a problem, if you would like your favourite app to reside on the home screen. Simply touch and hold and a context menu will appear. The menu has several options from delete to pin to start, its that simple. When it appears on your start screen you can drag n drop the tile where you would like it then tap off the side and its in place.
Before I write about the applications I have downloaded there is something special about Windows Phone 7 applications on the market store you need to know, they are free to try before you buy! Thats right, download an application try it out, if you like it go back to the market place and buy it, if it sucks, simply delete it from your phone. The only other platform that comes close to this is the Google market place for Android. On an Android device you purchase the application, download it and start using it. If you delete it within a 24 hour period Google refunds your purchase. So the big losers here are those with iPhones and the iOS platform, however many applications in the iTunes store do offer “lite” versions for you to try before upgrading to the real deal such as Echofon the Twitter client.
My apps, I am yet to pay for an application, as you would expect all the apps for the online services we all use day to day are free. Many applications that you would pay for such as to do lists apps have very good free alternatives, either from Microsoft itself or third parties. HTC actually have a surprising amount of free apps which you could choose even if your phone is not a HTC phone, this is an excellent feature of the Windows Phone 7 platform.
The apps I have downloaded so far are:
- Adobe Reader
- Australia Post
- HTC Converter (Imperial to Metric)
- Level (MS)
- HTC Lists
- myChannel9 (Microsoft MSDN network)
- HTC Notes
- Shopping List (MS)
- Unit Converter (MS)
- Voice Notes
- World Clock (MS)
- Xbox Live Bejeweled Live $6.50
- Xbox Live The Harvest $9.00
All prices are in AUD
Now so far not one of these free apps are ad supported. Personally I hope it stays that way though as a developer I realise developers need to make money.
So far out of the apps listed above only two I have had issue with. The Australian Rugby app opens and closes and so does the miTodo app. I have yet to re-boot to see if that helps these apps work. One app which just wont play is the IMDb.com, it downloads but wont install suppling a licensing issue warning.
As you would expect the standard Microsoft apps work well on the phone. But the one application that wins me over with my work place being all Microsoft is the Office application. Office features OneNote, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and SharePoint.
OneNote notes can sync with your Office.Live account which is part of the Windows Live suite, where it is stored in your SkyDrive (25Gb). As for Word, PowerPoint and Excel, you make new documents of each on your phone and save them there or you can email them out through Hotmail or Outlook. Also you can open, edit or add new documents via a SharePoint 2010 server. Being made by Microsoft it all just works as you would expect unlike some of the third party apps that are on the iOS and Android platforms.
Application market places as it turns out are a mess no matter how new, remember Windows Phone so far has only been released in a hand full of countries and already has over 1,500 apps. Having said that the market place especially on the phone is quite navigable, and the search function works well. The biggest issue with the Windows Phone marketplace I see going forward is how do developers link to their applications when the marketplace is desktop/phone only? I am sure developers will have Microsoft fix this going forward.
Pricing of applications to me anyway is way to high. Looking at where the Australian dollar currently sits against the green back I am amazed that a game such as The Harvest cost $3.oo more in Australia. This pricing structure however is nothing new to phone users, Apple have always charged $3.oo extra for certain apps in Australia or making a 99 cent app in America a $1.19 in Australia.
Next post I will attempt to show you how the “Metro” UI works on Windows Phone 7.