November 08, 2010, 10:38 AM — As the first U.S. Windows Phone 7 handsets go on sale Monday, Nov. 8, Microsoft shrewdly has created an application environment that will make the phones instantly useable for many of the e-mail, social networking, photo, video and work tasks people do every day.
Assuming early adopters like what they experience, their enthusiasm could achieve what seemed impossible to many just a few months ago: user excitement about Microsoft's smartphone platform.
Microsoft has been modest about the number of apps available on Day One, promising "over one thousand." That seems ludicrous compared to the vast number of apps on Apple's iTunes App Store and Google's Android Market, which recently surpassed the 100,000 mark.
But a review of the apps on Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Marketplace, part of its Zune media service, shows the company's approach: focus on a mix of high-profile, highly popular marquis brands, such as Facebook, Flickr, Netflix and Twitter; highlight the platform's power and graphics with a ton of sophisticated games; and exploit its integrated Microsoft Office capabilities and Exchange Server support to appeal to enterprise users. Finally, there's the vastly improved mobile version of Internet Explorer, coupled with the multi-gesture support in Windows Phone 7, which finally makes the Internet readily accessible for mobile Windows users.
Windows Phone 7 apps rolling out
First, although consumers won't be able to choose from hundreds of thousands of Windows Phone 7 smartphone applications, they will be able to choose from some essential ones that target popular social networking, entertainment, travel, finance, and other Web sites and services. Familiar names already on the Marketplace include: eBay, Facebook, a third-party Flickr UI, Foursquare, Loopt, Netflix, Shazam, Travelocity, Twitter and Yelp.
For many of these applications, early reviews on the Marketplace site are favorable, with the style and fluidity of the Windows Phone 7 UI being a key part of those high ratings. Microsoft is finessing the initial absence of Adobe Flash and HTML5 video support with an app that brings up the greatly improved Internet Explorer browser and redirects it to YouTube's mobile site.