Paul's Picks: Windows Phone 7 and Office 365 beta

Windows Phone 7

PROS: Innovative and usable new UI; powerful hardware; excellent cloud services connections
CONS: No cut and paste and third-party multitasking yet; only partial EAS policy support
RATING: Four out of five stars
RECOMMENDATION: Windows Phone 7 is a game changer, for both Microsoft and the broader smart phone industry. Though new to the smart phone market, it’s already the most user-centric system out there, putting the iPhone, in particular, to shame. Windows Phone isn’t perfect: It’s missing obvious features like copy and paste and multitasking for third party apps, though Microsoft says it will be adding those in 2011, for free. It’s also only partially compatible with Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) policies, meaning that the tired Windows Mobile system will be kicking around for another year or so until Microsoft fixes that as well. No matter: Windows Phone 7 offers an innovative UI that users are going to love and deep integration with consumer-oriented online services. This is a great start, and already a thoroughly capable alternative to the now dated iPhone and Android hegemony. It’s time to move on to the next generation, people: Windows Phone is it.
CONTACT: Microsoft
SuperSite for Windows: Mobile

Office 365 Beta for Small Businesses

PROS: Lower pricing and less restrictive than BPOS
CONS: Still more expensive than Google Apps Premium; no client version of Office included
RATING: Four out of five stars
RECOMMENDATION: Microsoft's office productivity solutions have always been excellent, but although the company had previously made some strong moves to the cloud with offerings like Office Live Small Business and hosted Exchange and SharePoint in the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), these products—especially BPOS—were priced well out of the reach of most small businesses. Meanwhile, Google offers free and inexpensive ($50 per user per year) versions of its Apps suite, an obvious alternative for budget-strapped businesses. So with Office 365, Microsoft finally get it right, both from a pricing perspective—the small business version is $72 per user per year—and from a branding perspective: Now, rather than a confusing mix of disparate brands, all of the company's online productivity tools are branded as Office 365. All that's missing is the full client Office suite, though larger businesses can get that in the more expensive and capable Office 365 for Enterprise.
CONTACT: Microsoft
SuperSite for Windows: Office 365

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