Windows Phone 7 practically useless without Windows Live

If you don’t want Windows Live, you might as well forget WP7

Microsoft really, really wants you to sign up for Windows Live – to the point where a Windows Phone 7 smartphone is practically a brick without it.

I am demoing an HTC Arrive from Sprint that runs Microsoft Windows Phone 7. I had already demoed another WP7 phone in November, also an HTC but running on AT&T, and didn’t have this experience, but Microsoft must have gotten smarter with its plans to leverage WP7 to promote Windows Live.

I took the photo of my nine-year-old Welsh Cardigan Corgi named Yankee (pictured here) using the HTC Arrive’s camera, which I lauded in my previous review of the HTC 7 Surround. But I had a devil of a time moving the photo from the smartphone to my laptop.

As with other smartphone cameras, there’s a “Share” option that allows you to e-mail the photo, send it as an SMS, post it to Facebook, etc. However, on this phone, my only option was messaging. Oddly, while I could designate who to send the photo to and add some text at the bottom, when I hit “Send” all it did was create another text window. I tried e-mailing it but the photo didn’t attach to the e-mail.

All this changed when I capitulated and signed up for Windows Live. That allowed me to use SkyDrive to place the photo up in Microsoft’s cloud for music, photos and video, and from there download it onto my laptop.

The HTC Arrive with WP7 was practically useless without Windows Live. I needed it to open Internet Explorer and to download any of the apps from its Windows app marketplace, including a game called “Love” whose icon photo is a flower: “Find out if your crush loves you back. Pluck the flower to discover your fate.”

To be sure, Microsoft, like Google with Android and Apple with iPhone, wants to create a mobile ecosystem where you come to use other services from the OS provider besides the OS. My personal smartphone runs Android and I love it when I enter an appointment on my laptop on Google Calendar and it also automatically appears on my phone. But why couldn’t WP7 let me send the photo via e-mail directly from the “Share” feature on the camera? Was it because it was going to a Gmail address?

As I’ve written before, I think WP7 is a very competitive mobile OS despite the fact that sales of the phones running it have been modest. I like the tiles user interface on the home screen to organize functions. But making me sign up for Windows Live to use many of the functions on the phone I found to be a real irritant.

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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