While, I won't be there today, I was able to spend some time with Oded Ran (UK Head of Marketing for Windows Phone) the other week. While I didn't learn anything I hadn't heard before (because I already know loads - not because there wasn't anything interesting said) I did get to see a few more apps that will be available on launch.
The really interesting point that was raised though was that it's about how the phone does what it does and not about what it does.
This is an important distinction and one that has been seemingly overlooked in terms of a lot of what has so far been communicated to developers.
Lots has been said about a lack of third party background processes and cut and paste support (amongst other things). These things matter in small part to most and for those who they really matter to they will be available in time. Having these things is unlikley to be a deciding factor to a lot of people though. It's going to take something special to differentiate these phones such that people will want to buy them.
Let's talk about who those people are for a minute. Not everyone is going to buy a Windows Phone 7 device. That's Ok. Not everybody is the same. Not everyone wants, needs or can afford a smartphone.
So let's consider the people who want and can afford a "smartphone". As far as I'm concerned, in the UK smartphones mean iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7, Blackberry, some Nokias & Palm (but nobody has one.)
Guess what? there's room for all of them. Despite what some people seem to think there won't be a single/company/platform which ends up being the only one.
Currently (before the WP7 launch/release) smartphones differentiate themselves on apps and features. Windows Phone 7 is different. It differentaites itself on execution and integration.
What does this mean?
It means it's not going to try and differentiate itself based on what you can do with the device. Afterall you can get a phone which will let you access Facebook for just a few pounds. What WP7 does is offer an amazing, integrated experience with Facebook that is a pleasure to use.
It doesn't stop there though:
The mail application is the best I've seen on any device.
Integrated XBox Live gaming is incredible.
The "authentically digital" interface is fast, responsive and beautiful.
It's simple to use and navigate around the different applications.
And it even makes and receives phone calls!
No, it doesn't do everything - yet. But what it does do it does with a level of style, polish and finish that people will love. Personally, I can't wait to get my hands on a final device.
I'm happy that I'm not going to convince you with words that you should consider Windows Phone when you're looking to get a new smartphone. What I will say is that I'm not aware of anyone who has tried using one and not found it great. Borrow one, or try one out in store (when available) and see what you think. Put any perceptions you have based on Microsoft's previous mobile offerings and prepare to be impressed!
Ok, rant over, lets see what the launch brings....