Last week I attended the very first edition of the Windows Phone Get Together event in Utrecht, the Netherlands. I think it is pretty unique to have an event in which a large company like Microsoft directly interacts and engages with end-users of their products.
You can read an extensive event report on MobilityMinded, and please put November 9th in your agenda when the next Windows Phone Get Together event will take place @ Microsoft Netherlands HQ.
Meet the local Dutch Windows Phone Team !
Maarten Sonneveld, Business Group Lead Mobile @ Microsoft Netherlands, opens the event with an introduction of the local Dutch Windows Phone team, and the Dutch Windows Phone Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVP), Jaap van Ekris, Mark Briggeman, Halil Yüksel.
Johan van Mierlo was visiting the Netherlands for a few days and was announced as well, as a USA Windows Phone MVP visiting the Windows Phone Get Together event.
Windows Phone Forum application – Aggregation of Dutch Windows Phone news
Windows Phone Forum application 1.0, that aggregates news and information from the Dutch Windows Phone Forums, the Blog of the Dutch Windows Phone team and its Twitter feed.
MobileLayers, the company of Halil Yüksel, has developed this application for Windows Phone, commissioned by Microsoft Netherlands. In the review of the Windows Phone Forum application 1.0 you can read more about the features and functions of this application.
Download the Windows Phone Forum application directly from the MobileLayers website.
Windows Mobile 6.5.3 – Now and the future strategic direction
Windows Mobile 6.5.3 powered Phones (and its applications) will continue to exist and continue to be supported. Meet some of the latest Windows Mobile 6.5.3 phones: (1) Samsung Omnia Pro 4, (2) Sony Ericsson Aspen, and (3) HTC HD Mini.
It was great to hear some official news/information about the strategic direction of Windows Mobile 6.5.3, despite the intense focus on Windows Phone 7 !
Windows Phone 7 – A different kind of phone, designed for life in motion, with integrated experiences
HTC, Samsung, LG, Sony Ericsson, Dell, Toshiba, Acer, and Asus are original equipment manufacturers who have committed to build Windows Phone 7 devices.
Great news to see the hardware part of the Windows Phone 7 ecosystem take off, and I’m looking forward to some new fresh hardware designs that maximize productivity and efficiency of the Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system. Without giving any preference to anyone of the Microsof OEM Partners above, I would like to recall my excitement about the Dell Lightning Windows Phone that cleverly integrates a physical full QWERTY keyboard.
Furthermore it seems that you can expect the first Windows Phone 7 device(s) become available in the Netherlands via online retailer Coolblue around October/November this year.
Back in March this year I was fortunate to interview Charlie Kindel, Partner Group Program Manager for the Windows Phone Application Platform & Developer Experience, during the DevDays 2010 event in the Netherlands. The questions in the Q&A session of the Windows Phone Get Together Event showed some resemblance with the questions that I asked Charlie Kindel. The audience was a great mix of 90 people that approached Windows Phone 7 from different perspectives (customer, developer, technical decision maker, resulting in a highly interesting and lively discussion.
Developers who want to learn more about Windows Phone 7 development, could read the DevDays 2010 event report which addresses the sessions of Rob Miles, Microsoft Most Valuable Professional and lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Hull. The slide decks, recordings of the sessions and code samples on his website can really help you jumpstart development for Windows Phone 7.
Image used from Pocket Lint article “Windows Phone 7 and LG Panther hands-on, Fully-working prototype spied at Microsoft demo“
Hands-on time with a LG Panther Windows Phone 7 prototype
By far the coolest part of the Windows Phone Get Together event is the hands-on time with a (working) prototype of the LG Panther running a recent build of Windows Phone 7.
Everyone from the audience was allowed to get an idea of the real look and feel of Windows Phone 7, which is completely different than seeing it in PowerPoint SlideShows or YouTube videos. This is the real deal, and if you think about this, it is a very unique situation that Microsoft allows end-users to have some hands-on time with prototype hardware AND software !
It is very special and exciting to hold the LG Panther and make the first gestures through the Metro Windows Phone GUI, even despite the private demo of Charlie Kindel a little while ago. Overall the LG Panther and Windows Phone 7 felt snappy, responsive and showed fluid motions.
Unfortunately there was no copy of the Harvest, a 3D Xbox Live game on Windows Phone 7, loaded onto the LG Panther. Since the gaming hub has been one of the items that really impressed me during the MIX 2010 keynotes in terms of performance and power.
We were asked not to take pictures of the device, and of course I play by the rules of the game. There for I included the picture above of a Pocket Lint article, showing a very similar LG Panther (except for the color of the theme). In the context of these Windows Phone 7 prototypes I would like to bring the Samsung Omnia i8910-based Windows Phone 7 prototype phone, to your attention that has been covered by the Engadget team.
Despite it is still uncertain if you will see successors of these prototypes on the massmarket it is very nice to see different hardware designs and formfactors. This partly answers the question that differentiation in terms of hardware is possible.
I’m really looking forward to the Windows Phone 7 devices from the mentioned Microsoft OEM Partners !
Concluding thoughts and wrap-up
I think it is pretty unique to have an event in which a large company like Microsoft directly interacts and engages with end-users of their products.
It is even a more unique situation that Microsoft allows end-users to have some hands-on time with prototype hardware AND software ! However I think this has been the coolest part of the Windows Phone Get Together Event for a lot of attendees. Furthermore it helps in the process of telling the story and spread the news in an open and transparent way !
The LG Panther prototype and Windows Phone 7 had responsive look & feel resulting in fluid motions. Furthermore I see more and more awesome (concepts of) Windows Phone 7 applications like BusTrack, used for real-time tracking of Chicago buses, or the good old Minesweeper ! This clearly shows that the Microsoft Ecosystem is in the move, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming months !
Finally it was great to catch-up with old friends, the local Dutch Windows Phone team, and the attending Microsoft partners.
My compliments to Microsoft Netherlands and the partners Samsung & Coolblue for the excellent organization of the Windows Phone Get Together event, and see you all at the second Windows Phone Get Together Event on November 9th !!