Written communication is an important part of business. And since Microsoft has a strong business-oriented past, we did not expect anything else than the best in the non-verbal communication area. There's not much to say about regular messaging in Windows Phone 7. It is probably as good as it gets with your text correspondences displayed in threaded view, while options like adding additional recipients or media files are just a tap away.
The email client works great. As soon as you've entered your account details, your emails start to populate the app. Everything works buttery smooth. Unfortunately, you do not get a universal inbox like in bada or iOS, so your different inboxes are displayed as separate apps/tiles. Still, this isn't much of an inconvenience really. In your list of emails you can easily notice details such as who has sent you the email, a short preview, whether or not there's an attached file and the date on which you've received the mail. Once you open an email you get a nice HTML view so that you don't miss a thing of the content.
Swipe gestures again work well for you here as a swipe to the left will leave you alone with only your unread messages, and yet another swipe will take you to the urgent emails.
Strangely, when you press the attachment key you don't get the option to attach an Office file. Instead, you're being prompted to select a picture from the gallery. Thankfully, you can still choose to send an Office document via email through the Office Hub. Why this option is lacking in the email client we don't know, but it would be nice if we see it added soon.
Another area where we expect a respectful performance by Microsoft's latest and greatest invention is the organizing capabilities. Starting with the calendar, we are once again presented to the new clean look of the OS. You can synchronize it with Windows Live, multiple Exchange ActiveSync accounts and Google Calendar, with the latter having to go through an Exchange server as well. It is a good touch that you can color-code your different calendars for better organization.
You switch between Agenda and Day view with a simple swipe, and by pressing an on-screen key you get into Month view for a better overview of what's ahead. We noticed that your appointments are market in the respective dates in Month view, but this should have been executed in more intuitive way. Right now, appointments are market with an incredible smallish text, which you can sometimes even fail to notice. Because of that, you'll always have to enter the specific day in order to see what tasks await you there.
Adding an appointment while in Day view is very easy. Similarly to Android, you only have to select the desired hour, then input a subject, some other note if you wish, and you're all set.
Another basic, yet always crucial feature is the Alarm. Setting an alarm just couldn't be easier than what you get in Windows Phone 7, and thanks to the nicely animated interface it is also a fun thing to do too.
Windows Phone 7 is stuffed with other ordinary features like a calculator, but for additional productivity tools you'll have to spend some time in the marketplace. And of course, why should you have a handset full of stuff you don't need/want. What you want you can find it in the marketplace... in theory at least. But we'll get back to the marketplace in a while, let's first see what Microsoft managed to create out of one of the industry's lamest browsers – Internet Explorer.
To Microsoft's shame, its browser has been replaced by third-party solutions in its own phones (phones using its OS that is) for quite some time. This was necessary because Internet Explorer has always lacked in many aspects when compared to the competition.
Ladies and gentleman, we now feel confident enough to state that the guys from Opera can now take well-deserved rest, because the all-new Internet Explorer, coming with Windows Phone 7, is, shockingly, one of the best browsers ever put in a phone. There, we said it!
Okay, it might have taken them quite some time to figure out how to do it right, but now they have really nailed it. Well, there are some small tweaks that could be done to enhance the experience a bit, but still, pages now load very quickly, while scrolling and zooming are buttery smooth. Speaking of zooming, you can do this by either double-tap, or pinch-to-zoom. The thing here is that the double-tap method works as accurately as on the iPhone, making it equal to the best in that respect. Actually, the same goes for multi-touch-aided zooming, which lets you pan the page around while in the middle of a zoom function, identically to Safari. Pages, of course, render as on a real computer.
The user interface is also an important part of a mobile internet browser. There are good and bad things we can say about the one of the new Internet Explorer. First off, we don't like that there is no full-screen option in portrait mode. Fortunately, you can view web pages in full-screen when in landscape mode, but then another issue arises. There is no address bar at the top, meaning that you have to return to portrait mode to enter a new web address. This isn't a big deal, since switching orientations is very snappy, but still we cannot see a clear reason why they didn't put a simple address bar at the top of the page. However, Safari isn't without its issues either, as it lack a full-screen mode whatsoever.
Internet Explorer lacks Flash or Silverlight support, which is on one hand unpleasant, but on the other, it guarantees its flawless operation, so we can live without it. Android has the advantage here, but we shouldn't forget the fact that scrolling when a Flash element is present is far from smooth in Google's OS.
Anyways, the browser naturally supports tabs as well, and you can open quite a few of them without a hitch. Switching from one tab to another gets done really quickly.
So, if we have to rate the mobile OS's browsers, we would say that Safari and Internet Explorer (as found in Windows Phone 7) have the lead, followed by Android and webOS. Who would have thought!
While we are on the topic of internet, pressing the search key will bring up Bing search. It's only natural that we see strong Bing search support in Windows Phone 7, with all those beautiful images accompanying your search actions. Additionally, you are presented with three interesting facts related to the image, so you might even widen your knowledge base, who knows.