As someone who has suffered from almost a decade of desperately mediocre Window Mobile devices, it was with a specific reason I chose to switch out of iPhone to Verizon’s HTC TouchPro2 last fall. There is a program called Walking Hotspot which turns any WinMo device into a Wifi hotspot and I felt that it would support my iPhone and future devices like the current iPad the best.
The phone turned out to be a load of turd as far as smartphones go, but I blamed it mostly on Microsoft and not HTC. HTC puts a skin called Sense UI on all of its Android devices and a similar skin called TouchFlo on Windows devices, and I turned it off several days ago after finally just being unable to deal with the screen lags and freezes. Lo and behold, underneath all the TouchFlo cosmetics was the outdated and ugly Windows Mobile 6.1, which ran pretty well on this latest and greatest hardware.
So it was a no brainer for me to try the Windows Mobile 6.5 upgrade offered by Verizon. I saw several warnings on blogs that it would slow things terribly, but I sensed that it was the TouchFlo skin and not Windows Mobile. The upgrade went well, and lo and behold, turning off the beautiful TouchFlo skin resulted in a spiffy windows 6.5 smartphone that actually works. The screens snap and the device really does alright with Wifi and Bluetooth, things that it was gasping at before. The browser still sucks compared to Safari on iPhone, but borders on usable to where I no longer use iPhone for email so much.
Which leads me to this conclusion: Microsoft spent a decade missing the opportunity to grab and dominate the smartphone market by creating a horrible interface (6.1 and prior) and then allowing third parties to skin up the phone to copy iPhone without regard to performance or battery life. If 6.5 is any indication, Windows Phone 7 will be a formidable entry to the market, more so than Android which is already confusing because of the plethora of skins, form factors, and OS versions.