Mobile deathmatch: Windows Phone 7 vs. Apple iPhone 4
Microsoft has a very slick device, but it can't do nearly as much as the iPhone -- especially in businessFollow @MobileGalen
Ironically, Windows Phone 7 lets you access SharePoint servers to open documents stored there -- yet any organization that uses SharePoint is certain to require security policies for corporate access that Windows Phone 7 does not support. Document access via cloud services such as Box.net and Dropbox are not supported.
The iPhone comes with a basic note-taking app. It uses a hard-to-read font but is otherwise easy to work with for simple documents (no formatting allowed). If you want Office-like functionality, you'll need to buy an app such as the $15 Quickoffice or $17 Documents to Go. Both are far superior to Windows Phone 7's Office apps when working with Office documents, so keep your fingers crossed for Windows Phone 7 editions.
App stores and app installation. Windows Phone 7 is too new to have much in the way of third-party apps available in the Windows Phone Marketplace, and most of the current stock is basic or forgettable -- I haven't seen attractive apps yet. Apple's App Store also suffers from having lots of junkware, which comes with the territory of 99-cent apps, and it took some time for really useful apps to become available.
As a store, the Windows Phone Marketplace is poorly designed. You can choose from a bunch of categories and search within a store, but there's no way to sort through the long list of options. By contrast, Apple's App Store lets you view and sort categories much more easily.
Installation of apps is similar: After selecting an app, you confirm your store account information and wait for the app to download and install.
Both Windows Phone Marketplace and App Store reside on the home screen and alert you to when updates are available.
App management. The iPhone has a simple app management process. For example, it's easy to arrange your home screens to cluster applications both on your iPhone and on your desktop via iTunes; you can also put them in your own folders. Just tap and hold any app to invoke the "shaking apps" status, in which you can drag apps wherever you want or tap the X icon to delete them (press the Home button when done to exit that mode). You can also arrange and delete apps using iTunes on your desktop.
Windows Phone 7 lets you pin apps to the home screen, creating a tile for each app there. You can then rearrange tiles by dragging them to a desired location on the app screen or delete them by tapping the X icon. All apps are available in an alphabetical list if you slide to the right of the home screen. You can't rearrange the list or create folders, though.
The iPhone has long let you add Web pages to home screens as if they were apps. That's great for the many mobile Web pages such as iphone.infoworld.com that are essentially Web apps. Windows Phone 7 has a similar capability.
Both the iPhone and Windows Phone 7 let you manage apps on your desktop using their iTunes and Zune clients, respectively. Microsoft has a beta sync client for Macs that works reasonably well for transferring video, music, photos, and podcasts to the phone -- but it doesn't let you manage apps.
Multitasking. iOS 4 brought multitasking, in a limited way, to iPhones this summer, providing APIs that let apps enable multitasking for specific functions, as well as a mechanism to switch among and close running apps. iPhone apps must be enabled by the developer to use the limited set of multitasking capabilities iOS 4 provides.
Windows Phone 7 doesn't support multitasking at all.
The winner: The iPhone, thanks to a selection of apps and strong app quality that far outshine what's available for Windows Phone 7. Plus, the absence of multitasking is a serious omission in Windows Phone 7.
Deathmatch: Web and Internet
In the desktop world, Microsoft is behind everyone else in its support for HTML5. The same is true in mobile, where it alone does not support the common draft specifications for HTML5.
For regular HTML4 pages, Windows Phone 7's IE7-based browser works well, displaying pages with good detail, and allowing panning and zooming with the same gestures that the iPhone has popularized. The Web viewing experience -- both quality and rendering speed -- of Windows Phone 7 is similar to that of the iPhone, though zooming is not as smooth.
On some mobile-formatted pages, such as iphone.infoworld.com, Windows Phone 7 had trouble displaying the contents, while on others (such as m.yahoo.com) it did not. The pages Windows Phone 7 had problems with render perfectly fine in iOS, BlackBerry OS, WebOS, and Android.