Why I'm returning my Windows Phone 7 smartphone

It wasn't supposed to be this way. But arbitrary limitations -- some of which you may not be aware of -- are sending this Windows Phone back to its maker

When I first saw the demos of Windows Phone 7, I was psyched. My iPhone is getting long in the tooth, and I was ready for a change. The Windows Phone 7 UI looked good. I liked the idea of an Outlook client on my smartphone, not to mention the rest of Mobile Office.

Yes, I knew about the lack of multitasking, cut and paste, and Flash support. Those issues just didn't seem to be showstoppers. I mean, why not give it a shot? Microsoft was putting a lot of its chips on Windows Phone 7, and it was time to give Microsoft a fair shake.

[ See Galen Gruman's Mobile deathmatch: Windows Phone 7 vs. Apple iPhone 4. | Keep up on the latest in mobile developments with InfoWorld's Mobilize blog and Mobilize newsletter. ]

When I arrived at the AT&T store on Nov. 8, the on-sale date for Windows Phone 7, it was 10:30 a.m. -- half an hour after the store opened. I was the first Windows Phone 7 customer. Well, I thought, no one said buying anything Microsoft was considered cool, but one of the sales guys in the store, who had been trained on the new operating system, was genuinely enthusiastic. He felt the UI was as good as the iPhone's and steered me to the Samsung Focus model.

I played with the device, and it was blazingly fast -- the graphical UI, which was even better than I'd hoped, zipped and spun its way into my heart. Score! Apple and Android had all the buzz, but Windows Phone 7 would be the sleeper hit of the year.

It took me all of four hours to decide to bring it back.

InfoWorld's Galen Gruman flagged the main issue yesterday: Windows Phone 7 doesn't support device encryption, which means I can't use it with InfoWorld's Exchange server. True, not every Exchange server is configured to deny a connection to unencrypted devices, but in this day and age, you'd be hard-pressed to find an enterprise-class Exchange server that allowed it.

So ... no work email.

Then I took the little bugger home. For a variety of reasons I won't go into here, I have a static IP network. And guess what? Windows Phone 7 supports DHCP only. You can't configure it for static IP -- something I was able to do years ago with a first-generation iPod Touch. Unless I went to the trouble of configuring my wireless router to mix DHCP and static IP, I couldn't connect to Wi-Fi at home.

Galen's deathmatch between Windows Phone 7 and Apple iOS 4.1 delves into other deficiencies, including the low-functioning version of Mobile Office and the browser's lack of support for HTML5. I might have been willing to forgive those sins. But no work email? Fuggedaboutit.

It left me wondering: Who at Microsoft makes these decisions? Yes, I understand that Microsoft wants to have a killer consumer smartphone. But does that mean it has to omit basic functionality that excludes it from business use? The dev time to include it would have been trivial, and it leaves business users like me -- who wanted to like the phone -- mystified, disappointed, and a little pissed at having to pay a restocking fee.

At this late stage, Microsoft should know that the notion of a consumer smartphone as distinct from a business smartphone is old hat. People and companies are moving to smartphones that live in both worlds. So should Window Phone 7.

This article, "Why I'm returning my Windows Phone 7," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter and on your mobile device at infoworldmobile.com.

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