Some of you may have already noticed, but this morning, many of the prominent tech media sites have published reviews of their experiences with the Windows Phone 7 developer preview build.

Here’s the background story on those devices. As more and more developers are downloading the free tools and signing up for Marketplace accounts, they are itching to try out their applications on actual hardware. To that end, there are a very limited amount of spec hardware devices that Microsoft is providing to developers, and (as evidenced by the reviews below) to tech reviewers and bloggers.

The devices running this build are hardware spec – meaning they won’t wind up as consumer devices in a store. But they run the full version of the OS (sans the FM tuner) and provide enough hardware muscle to give a true sense of what it will feel like to use the phone – and your apps. (more on that later)

Here is a sampling of the reviews out there.

  • Engadget has a nice write-up and a short video of the UI. They go quite in-depth with subtleties like how IE smoothes out zooming in and and out, how the Marketplace will feel, etc.
  • A brief review from PC Magazine with a good perspective on Windows Phone 7 tries to “connect the dots” for the information you’re trying to work with.
  • Over at Mobile Crunch they find that “Windows Phone 7 is actually really, really pretty.” Oh, and they love the keyboard,too. Smile
  • Finally, if you have some time to kill, watch this video series by You Tube user palmsolo (Matthew Miller) from ZDNet. Below is the first video in the set, the unboxing experience. What he discovers in the box at 3:40 literally made me LOL. [UPDATE: Here's the full ZDNet post which has all the YouTube videos embedded, and some good editorial alongside it.]

 

It’s fascinating to me these reviews represent peoples’ experiences with the “discoverable” user interface that is Windows Phone 7. Meaning, things that people can learn by playing around with the device. It really does seem that what’s intuitive to one person is a bug to another.

Case in point, the Engadget reviewer noticed the feature that after you take a picture or video, the captured image slides to the left, and you can see a sliver of it to the left of the live camera preview. Tapping that sliver allows you to proceed backwards though the collection of shots you’ve taken. He commented that “It's a neat user experience that we suspect novice users will pick up on very quickly.” The PC Magazine reviewer, however, “noticed a unusual-looking bar to the left of my [camera] screen that I didn't quite recognize: it was a portion of the previous image. This, obviously, may be a beta bug.” I love it!

An ubiquitous theme throughout the reviews is complaints about the People hub pulling in *all* your Facebook friends. I suspect that might be a problem unique to super tech savvy folks, but for my wife, for example, just about every person she has on Facebook is someone she’d want to contact another way – phone, email, etc.

As you might have read on blog posts by folks like Brandon Watson, we will be making devices available to application developers as well. If you live in the southeast (Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina) and you have an exciting app under development and have gotten to the point where you would like to test on an actual device, please be sure to reach out to me and we can start discussing it!