Microsoft just announced the Windows Phone 7 Series. So yeah, they still need to work on naming, but folks seem legitimately excited about this.
Quick thoughts on the app experience: It looks as if it’s going to be way different than the iPhone. The iPhone treats applications as isolated silos. The home-screen is a nice metaphor for this — little self-contained boxes lined up in a grid. With the 7 Series, Microsoft seems to have put an awful lot of time into the home-screen and other “first impression” user experiences. My guess, and it’s only a guess, is that Microsoft’s goal is to treat apps less as isolated tidbits and things that modify the core user experience. That is, they’re going to be focusing heavily on things like unified inboxes, apps that modify the home-screen, etc.
This line of thought isn’t new. It’s basically what Palm was arguing with Synergy, but more relevantly, it’s what Microsoft used to sell the Xbox 360. 360 games are not just isolated worlds, but things that are integrated deeply with the Xbox 360 “OS”. All 360 games share a uniform gamer profile and Achievement system. They share the same friends list and use the same messaging system. “Virtual goods” are all purchased through the same Xbox Live Marketplace. There’s a level of vertical integration here that would make Apple jealous.
And now, hopefully, they’re bringing that to the phone. There are obviously a lot of risks here. People don’t necessarily think of apps that way post- (and maybe pre-) iPhone. Compared to a grid of apps, a more integrated UI also looks like it could get very confusing, very quickly (I personally find the 360′s dashboard to be somewhat unintuitive at times, even if it is pretty). It could also get messy (see MySpace).
Still, there is hope, and for once, people seem to be rooting for Microsoft.