OK, I’ll come clean and admit, my name is Gregg, and I am a Zune HD user. There I said it. I get strange looks and take a lot of crap for using the Zune HD, but if you havent used one, you don’t know what you’re missing. The Zune HD is every bit as good of a media player as the iTouch and better. The only item that’s missing is a large library of apps, but since I don’t use it for apps, I don’t care.

So when I hear that Microsoft is going to leverage the Zune HD interface for Windows Phone 7, it gets me excited.  The Zune HD interface is the most intuitive user interface I’ve used. It groups things logically and is a breeze to navigate. You will pick up a Windows Phone 7 device and be an instant expert – trust me.

Obviously, with Windows Phone 7, Microsoft has the advantage of knowing what has worked with iPhone and Android and incorporated it into their playbook. Here are the best features they’ve copied implemented from the existing phones:

  • Hardware versatility: Instead of taking the closed system approach to hardware, Microsoft is providing hardware requirements for phone manufacturers to work within. As with Android, this will allow manufacturers to differentiate their offerings and get more players to join the party.
  • Apps marketplace: Microsoft is planning a marketplace for people to download apps and have development partners lined up. While I am not a fan of apps and don’t believe they matter long-term, Microsoft is doing the right thing by developing a robust app platform.
  • The “reverse-mullet” approach: First generation phones took the business first, social second approach, much like the mullet haircut – business in the front, party in the back. Windows Phone 7 took its cue from the iPhone and Android by using a social first, business second approach. People love the social aspect of their phones, but want to be able to do business on them – not the other way around.

On the other hand, for some strange reason, they have also incorporated some of the worst features:

  • Lack of true multi-tasking: Even Apple realizes this is a problem as they are expected to address it in the iPhone 4 OS release. Are the people at Redmond insulated that much from reality?
  • App approval process: Microsoft is going to implement an app approval process similar to Apple, but with more transparency. Right! Approval processes do not work and are only going to frustrate developers and slow the growth of the app marketplace.
  • No copy and paste: Given all the complaints regarding the iPhone, this one is mind boggling. Microsoft claims they know the use cases and that we don’t need copy and paste. Guaranteed this feature makes the first release patch.

Despite the shortcomings, I’m impressed that Microsoft started from scratch instead of trying to build on top of the existing Windows Mobile 6 platform. It shows just how far WinMo has fallen behind the curve. Starting over will be the best decision they ever made in mobile. I urge you to try it before you knock it.

Deep down, I believe that Microsoft will succeed with Windows Phone 7. Maybe I’m a closet Microsoft fanboy, but a strong Microsoft is good for mobile. I don’t want to see Apple and/or Google dominate mobile with their OS. The more players, the more competition, the more innovation, and the more we win. Now, if Microsoft can just stick to their release schedule of late 2010 – let’s just say that I’m not holding my breath….

For a more thorough review of Windows Phone 7 with pictures and video, I highly recommend “Engadget’s Windows Phone 7 Series: the complete guide”