Mark Pearl

It has been several months since I originally got my Omnia 7 phone. You can read about my first impressions of the phone – after actually using the device for a few months I have begun to enjoy it, but a few times I felt that I was missing out on something. My biggest gripe on why I felt the device would not gain traction in the South African market was mainly due to market place problems (being South Africa we could not buy apps).

The Upgrade Experience Two days ago when a message on my phone popped up saying a new update was available I was interested to see if the “mango” update was all it was hyped to be. Plugging in my phone to my PC and Zune things began to happen – I wish I could remember the exact process I went through to update the phone but it was so uneventful that all I remember was plugging in the device, agreeing to the license agreement and then returning an hour later with an updated phone… as simple as that and to me that’s how an upgrade should be – uneventful and non memorable.

What was memorable was what I got after the upgrade…

I now have access to the marketplace – yes, this has turned my wp7 from high powered pod cast player and phone to a very useful device with all sorts of applications available in my local currency. The new features are definitely an improvement – it felt like I was still working on WP7, everything felt comfortable, yet there were a number of new features that elegantly fitted into the same ecosystem I was used to – my favourite for now is grouping contacts, but as I use my device more and more I am finding other features that just add sparkle So, as a end user I am very happy with the Mango update – those things I felt I was missing – most of them are gone – my only big need now is Skype on the device (I hold my breath expectantly) – with Mango it has been like getting a new phone without having to actually buy a new phone and without going through the uncomfortable experience of learning a new UI – it’s the same as it was before but better.

Warm Fuzzy Feeling for Microsoft South Africa and their MVPs So, I like the device… but I must also say I have been impressed with how proactive Microsoft has been in the developer community in South Africa. Yes, I have heard the complaints about MS over the years but the Microsoft today is not the same beast it was ten years ago – they seem more proactive, more open and more innovative. Locally they also seem to really be listening to our problems and doing stuff about it. First of all it was the local deal with Yalla Apps – where for a limited time local South African developers could sign up and sell apps via the Yalla Apps market place – and then as the wp7 market place was made available within South Africa you could once again migrate for free from Yalla Apps to the marketplace. So I know some will argue that all this is motivated purely to get developer traction on the WP7 device – and it may and that isn’t a bad thing - as a developer what I can say is that it definitely has increased the chances of me developing and releasing an app for WP7.

Secondly, Microsoft has sponsored several local events to promote developing for the device – as a local developer there really is no excuse to be ignorant of developing software on a WP7 device – I understand the submission process, how to use the tools, what to look out for etc. Also I have been impressed by the dedication of some of the local MVP’s who have been really proactive in the community namely Rudi Grobler and Robert MacLean. Both these individuals have been great in organizing and presenting at local community events and deserve a big thumbs up – these guys are what MVP’s should be, proactive and community driven.

I also recently attended another local workshop for the WP7 and would really recommend that all local developers make use of this great resource.


(Picture Above – Rudi Grobler going through what’s new in Mango at the last WP7 training event)

So, in a nutshell warm fuzzies all over for WP7, MSA & the MVP’s. It has been a while since I have gotten home after a long day at work and had a real itch to develop something and lately every night the itch has been to do WP7 apps, with the new features in Mango the itch is increasing and for the first time in a while I am really amped to do something… so now for me the next big indication of where WP7 is going will be on what Nokia does with the platform. I am hoping they see the opportunity this is and really deliver some solid hardware… till then… I love Mango’s

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