Windows 7 on a phone: the 2-hour post-PC device

Fri Jul 22, 2011 6:49pm EDT

Fujitsu is launching a unique dual-mode smartphone tomorrow in Japan that doubles as a handheld Windows 7 computer. Known as the Fujitsu F-07C, the device works as a Symbian phone for standard phone use but can switch to Windows 7 with the touch of a button, notes SlashGear. Pricing won’t be announced until the device goes on sale through NTT DoCoMo, but since the phone has some high-end hardware, it’s likely to cost far more than even the most expensive pure smartphones available today.

If that doesn’t convince folks to buy it, perhaps the “up to two hours” of runtime in Windows mode will. I’m being facetious, of course, mainly because this is as niche as a mobile device gets, and I think Fujitsu would be better off spending the R&D dollars for this product on something with stronger mass-market appeal. While the phone will surely find a small market, I can’t help but think this is the worst possible combination of product brands when it comes to a mobile device.

Symbian was fine in its day and still has a massive global following, but even Nokia, its biggest supporter, has dumped it for Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform. Speaking of Microsoft, using Windows, a desktop operating system, on a 4-inch, 1024×600 mobile device screen will be an exercise in frustration for all but the most patient. Optimized for mobile use, Windows Phone 7 is enjoyable; Windows, not so much without a mouse and full keyboard. And I suppose that Intel, which has been claiming it will power smartphones this year, can add this as a feather in its cap.

There’s a problem though: Intel’s 1.2 GHz Atom Z600 chip is under-clocked to run at 600 MHz in the F-07C, and that won’t bring stellar performance to the phone’s Windows personality. Fujitsu could probably boost the chip to run at full speed, but the handset would then use more power and that quoted “up to two hours” of Windows runtime might be closer to one. Even worse, once you run down your battery using Windows, you’re stuck without a mobile phone.

Don’t get me wrong; the concept of a full computer in your pocket has sounded cool for years. In a world of smartphones and post-PC devices, however, this approach by Fujitsu takes a traditional computer view, and some would argue that today’s smartphones essentially are pocketable computers. It also exemplifies that some companies still don’t understand the mobile space and sadly appear destined to become mobile losers.

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