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Lessons Learned: From Zune HD to WinMo7

by Travis Harvey | February 1, 2010February 1, 2010 6:52 pm PDT

As February’s Mobile World Congress approaches, Microsoft’s already hogging the spotlight and for good reason.  Windows Mobile 7 is set to be officially announced and demoed as a preview of what’s expected to hit the market later this year.  As most rumors suggest the OS to follow closely with many elements of last year’s Zune HD, there are a few things Microsoft can improve upon.

Screen Size

The Zune HD’s screen, although gorgeous, is all too tiny for a modern smartphone.  If you compare the Zune HD alongside the iPhone, the Nexus One, or the HD2 the limitations that come with a smaller screen become more apparent than ever.  The more you can cram onto our mini tabzunehdlets the better, especially when it comes to the browser.  While the HD’s screen is more than capable of scaling information to fit the screen, it’s always displayed in much smaller text that requires far too much squinting.  Give us considerably more screen real estate where multitouch gestures can be performed without fear of reaching the screen’s edge.

Responsiveness

The biggest gripe I had with the Zune HD came from the device’s inability to consistently capture single and multitouch gestures.  As a webpage was loading, it took several gestures until the HD acted on them, presumably dedicating most of the to loading and rendering incoming data.  Both the hardware and software need to be able to keep up with rapid touch input that gets executed immediately.  It’s unreasonable for delays in touch recognition, especially since there’s no feedback to reassure the user that any input was made. All too often, the Zune HD will sit at a black screen as it quits an application, leaving the user to wonder if the device actually ‘heard’ them.  Don’t make them wonder, create a UI that’s fast and fluid, that signaling to the user that their interaction with the software has been identified.

Appszunehdapps

The applications on the Zune HD are atrocious and unforgivable.  If the industry has learned anything it’s that software will make or break a device’s success.  Create a development platform that allows anyone to make applications that can be distributed through a central store with a side-loading alternative.  Ditch the ad supported loading screens.  It’s tacky and makes the experience feel cheap.  Embrace, encourage, and support developers by communicating clear requirements for their applications.  It’s already rumored that your app store will have a lenient approval process, but don’t get carried away.  Consumers will keep coming back for a well-developed and well-maintained user experience.

Clearly, Microsoft has already built the foundation for a strong push with Windows Mobile 7.  The Zune HD’s framework for a strong user experience just needs a little nursing and it can catch up to Android, iPhone, and WebOS.  The mobile world is eagerly awaiting what many expect to breathe life back into Windows Mobile.  Any other suggestions for Windows Mobile 7?   Is the Zune HD perfect?  Let us know in comments.


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