Paul's Picks: Windows Phone 7, Apple MacBook Air

Windows Phone 7 "NoDo" Update

PROS: Copy and paste; faster application start and resume; better Marketplace search

CONS: Slow time to market; inconsistent rollout due to wireless carrier blocking; doesn't fix most of Windows Phone's shortcomings

RATING: Two out of five stars

RECOMMENDATION: When Microsoft delivered a buggy and incomplete Windows Phone 7 in late 2010, it seemed like the right thing to do: Get the product to market quickly, then iterate on updates throughout 2011 to bring Windows Phone up to speed with the iPhone and Android competition. That latter bit isn't happening. Microsoft will instead deliver just two notable software updates for Windows Phone in calendar year 2011—the first, code-named "NoDo," should have appeared in December 2010 but was instead delayed for months while the company's wireless carrier partners got around to OK'ing the release. After all the waiting, NoDo is a snoozer, and it comes with just broadly useful changes: A limited form of copy and paste, faster application start and resume times, and better searching capabilities in Windows Phone Marketplace. But NoDo doesn't fix the dozens of problems and missing features in Windows Phone, and there's no apparent plan to make that happen. And the next update, code-named "Mango," isn't due until very late in the year. Many have predicted that a recent alliance with Nokia will save Windows Phone from oblivion, and that may be true. But so far, the software giant has let this otherwise innovative product languish in the market. NoDo is just the most obvious example of this unfortunate truth.

CONTACT: Microsoft •

DISCUSSION: SuperSite for Windows: Windows Phone 7 NoDo


Apple MacBook Air (Late 2010)

PROS: One of the thinnest, lightest, and most elegant 13-inch notebooks anywhere; instant resume

CONS: High price; Mac OS X is no Windows; installing Windows costs extra

RATING: Four out of five stars (Three out of five stars with Windows 7)

RECOMMENDATION: Apple unveiled its second-generation MacBook Air notebooks in late 2010, in both 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch variants. After lusting after the machines for months, I finally bought one in early 2011, and there's a lot to like: Quick boots and instant resume, surprisingly solid performance despite aging Core 2 Duo processors, the crazy-thin and crazy-light and elegant form factor. And the decent battery life, about six to seven hours for the 13-inch version. But it runs Mac OS X, which is less than ideal in corporate environments. So I took the plunge and tested various ways of installing Windows 7 on the machine: via virtualization, through a dual boot, and as the only OS on the Air. In that last configuration, the Air is a decent Windows machine, but not perfect thanks to a non-standard keyboard, less thrifty power management, and slow boot and resume times. But it's still a MacBook Air. And that’s one beautiful machine.

CONTACT: Apple •

DISCUSSION: SuperSite for Windows: MacBook Air

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