The Office Hub is probably a place where future Windows Phone 7 users will spend quite a lot of time. And unlike what we experienced with Microsoft's great new browser, we were a bit underwhelmed by what we found in the Office Hub.
The panoramic user interface is great for the purpose. Swiping left and right to navigate between the different Office Mobile features feels great. Your first stop is OneNote. We have no complaints about it whatsoever. You are presented with some quite satisfying note-taking options (like image and audio attachment), and once you're ready with a note, you can email it, or pin it to the desktop... the home screen, that is.
The fun stops once you get to knowing the new Word Mobile. Stuff like word correction and find is present, plus there's even the option to place comments, but when it comes to formatting, available options are as scarce as hen's teeth. Since they are so few, we can list them here: bold, italic, underline, strike-through, increase/decrease font size, along with three highlight colors (yellow, green, red) and three font colors (orange, green, red). That's it. No insert image or table, you can't even change the alignment. Pretty weak stuff, to put it mildly; and it seems like Quickoffice will have to intervene.
Of course, you can also create, view and edit Excel files. Thankfully, there are some decent options here with regards to the functions, where some advanced choices are available. You can also apply filters to cells and format them as currency, date or percentage type cells. General functionality here is still limited though, as there are no handy features like insert/delete row or column, while text formatting capabilities in Excel Mobile are as scarce as in Word Mobile.
PowerPoint support is present in Windows Phone 7, although you are only allowed to view and edit presentations, not create them. Sadly, by editing options here we refer to text editing.
With Windows Phone 7, you can also work with Microsoft Office SharePoint servers, to enable easier collaboration with your colleagues.
Using Bing Maps in Windows Phone 7 is really a joy. Panning the map around is very smooth, same as pinch zooming. The available options are pretty standard – you can search for a specific location, go to you position, and get directions from A to B. Unfortunately, there is no support for voice-guided directions so far.
Once you open the additional options menu, you're then allowed to clear the map of markers, as well as switch to aerial view (satellite view).
Searching for POIs is very intuitive, of course, and once you open a POI in order to see more details, you are presented with the exact address, an option to get directions and a phone number. You can also pin a certain POI to the home screen, as well as share it via text or email.
As a whole, we really appreciate the cool visual presentation of Bing Maps, which makes for one pleasant and seamless experience. It now seems that the only notable missing feature is voice-guided turn-by-turn directions. We hope that we'll see this feature make its appearance in WP7 sooner than later.
Microsoft's Windows Marketplace for Mobile had an unexciting lifespan in the Windows Mobile 6.x days. Thankfully the company has reworked its application so as to make it more comfortable and easy for customers to discover and purchase new apps.
First, you are treated to the main content categories in the Marketplace Hub - applications, games and music. Swipe to the left and you'll get acquainted with the featured stuff.
Back to the categories screen – this is where you'll also get to access the available updates for your downloaded apps. The number of available updates is also displayed on the Marketplace live tile.
Enter the applications screen and you'll see which are the current top items, what's new, what's featured, what is... kind of super-featured, and finally a list of all the categories.
In the games menu, you're presented respectively with Xbox Live-enabled titles, the current top offerings, the new stuff, free stuff, and finally, all categories.
This is how the app content is organized within the new Marketplace and we have to say that it's definitely fun to browse through different apps. With regards to their quantity, we cannot go as far as to say that there will be an abundant amount at launch, but it will surely not feel like a wasteland.
We feel very positive towards the Zune Marketplace that is integrated in WP7. It sports an attractive visual presentation, with a different panoramic background almost every time you enter, depending on the featured artist. Additionally, it provides information as to which are the new releases and top albums. Finally, you can browse through all offerings by genre. The Zune Marketplace allows you to listen to a 30-second sample of a certain song. Which further solidifies its stable performance.