Windows Phone 8 Is A Great Big, Crazy, Beautiful Mess

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The Future Of Microsoft Is Sunny With A Chance Of Thunderstorms

The Lumia 900 sold me on Windows Phone. The 900 is a marriage of fresh hardware with a fun operating system. I dig the Start Screen with the Live Tiles. There are some shortcomings. The camera sucks, to be sure, and the phone isn’t yet available on Verizon. Plus, after using the phone for several weeks, it was clear that the phone’s large screen is wasted on Windows Phone 7.5. It’s more of the same concerning the 900’s HTC cousin, the Titan II. Microsoft clearly agrees.

Full disclaimer: I haven’t touched a Windows Phone 8 device yet. That said, it’s hard to look at the several dozen screen shots and demo videos from today’s event and not be excited about the future of Windows Phone 8. Yes, it’s a busy interface. But my oh my the new Start Screen is – if I may – a clusterfuck of goodness.

Windows had some cojones releasing Windows 7 some 18 months ago. It was totally different. It lacked key features. It had poor hardware and carrier support. But clearly ignoring analysts, pundits and ignorant bloggers, Redmond kept at it, steadily releasing updates that solve current issues while introducing new features.

The current release, Windows 7.5, is a solid mobile platform worthy of serious consideration. Admittedly, it’s not necessarily better than Android or iOS, but rather different in key ways that make it special. And now with Windows Phone 8, and in the interim, Windows Phone 7.8, the core system might actually be better than its competitors.

The new Start Screen will debut on some current devices with Windows Phone 7.8. The Live Tiles are now customizable, allowing owners to completely reshape their Start Screen in a grid of application shortcuts. What’s more, an upcoming SDK will allow app developers to utilize this ability and craft their respective Live Tile for different sizes and functions.

This evolution matches the industry’s trend of supersized phone screens. Why have a relatively standard grid of Live Tiles when there is so much screen real estate on new phones? Short answer: With Windows Phone 7.8 and 8, you don’t have to!

Microsoft is allowing phone owners to totally customize their phone in ways not possible with iOS and Android. All iPhones look the same but no Windows Phone 8 device will look like any other. For better or worse, this organized chaos is a result of a philosophy that has always centered around users getting tasks down quickly. The New Start Screen is just the next step towards this goal – and it’s totally fresh.

Microsoft pulled out all the stops on today’s Windows Phone 8 event. Plus, this was just a preview of the Windows Phone 8 and 7.8. More info will come later. It was a media bonanza complete with pre-briefings and the like. Microsoft is clearly proud of its new baby and wanted to show it off — just like it did two days back with the Surface unveiling. It’s also clear that Microsoft has found a new swagger. Microsoft might be back.