Windows Phone 7: Beautiful, But Too Late

From David Pogue in the New York Times:

Microsoft is belatedly trying to take on the iPhone and Android phones with its own phone software.

What does Microsoft’s new phone do?

Its new software contains what the company says are hundreds of new features. The most eye-popping enhancement is speech recognition: you can tell this new phone to call someone, text someone or give you driving directions.

Sounds familiar. So, it’s just like Apple’s Siri on the iPhone, right?

Well, O.K., it is not just like Siri. The recognition is nowhere near as good or as broad. You can’t actually dictate what you would otherwise type, as on Android and the iPhone; the only things you can dictate are text messages, search terms and e-mail messages. And Microsoft makes no effort to give the phone a personality, as Apple did.

What about apps? Are there apps for Microsoft’s new phone?

Windows Phone’s app store has 30,000 apps, which is an achievement — but Android offers 10 times as many, and the iPhone store has 16 times as many.

Uh oh. I see a trend here. How about name brand apps?

Microsoft says that it’s quality, not quantity, and that all the important apps are there. Unfortunately, a long list of essentials are still unavailable: Pandora radio, Dragon dictation, Line2, Flight Track Pro, Ocarina, Instagram, Hipstamatic. You should note, too, that Microsoft’s schoolyard grudge against Google manifests itself in several disappointing ways: you can’t export your videos to YouTube, and you can’t search with Google.

I’ve seen this movie before. It’s wasn’t pretty.

Microsoft has seen this movie before. Remember the Zune, which Microsoft took off life-support this month? In the end, it was a beautiful, capable, highly refined music player — but nobody bought it. Why would anyone buy the kooky off-brand player, when the iPod offered safety in numbers?