Seems that Microsoft is making a play to make their smartphone OS a bit less of a joke, and catch up to where the iPhone and Android are. They launched Windows Mobile 7, which has what looks like a Zune-like interface, a concentration on social media (status updates, XBox Live integration) and some fairly cool looking UI ideas. The link is maybe not the best place to get information (it's a Mac blog) but that's the first one I saw the story on, and it has the "press video" and a clip of Steve Ballmer on stage (sorry, but he's got about the stage presence of a turnip).
Will it do it? Can it do anything? Who knows. Some of the UI (from the glossy press video anyway) looks pretty cool, but as the iPhone and iPod has shown, having a "better" product with more features doesn't mean you will take over. There have been far "better" (in terms of features anyway) mp3 players and smartphones that have gone nowhere. Will WinMob7 be one of these? Who knows. They have a couple of things going for them, the Zune-like UI ditches (at least on the surface) the old stylus driven "hey it's Windows 95 on a phone!" interface (at least I assume there's no stylus anymore), and that the last 3 years of "next gen" smartphones have been a good benchmark of what works and what doesn't.
Will the business world want a phone that gives you XBox Live and Facebook (oh, and Windows Live, for the 3 people who update their statuses through there) integration? Will the business apps available be good and "corprorate-y" enough? Or will people choose to go the iPhone/Android direction instead?
That they have some of this social media built in vs the nothing that we got with the "naked" iPhone is good, it'd have been awesome for the iPhone to have a built in Twitter/FB client, not so much for the fact they'd be there from the start, but because then they'd be given some Apple-Love and maybe come with background processing and push notification from the start.
The one thing that the iPhone has shown is that the attention to detail and UI do make the experience that much better. I hope that WinMob7 will be as good in this department, and that their improvements are more than the skin-deep changes that we saw in WinMob6.5. Hey, as much of a fanboy as I am, competition is always good :)