Xbox Live for Windows Phone 7: your Xbox isn't in your phone yet, but we're getting there

We just spent some serious, and we mean serious time with Xbox Live for Windows Phone 7. Just like your Xbox, this is sort of an amalgamation of "the place you go to play games" and "the place you go to ping and taunt your friends who also play games." Unfortunately, it seems there's a bit of a disconnect between phone-based scores and records and Xbox achievements -- they all add up to the same gamerscore, but you can't easily there are separate charts to pull up your most recent Halo exploits to show off on your mobile, for instance. Luckily, that still puts Microsoft in a better position than any other mobile games platform (until Apple can get Game Center to stop sucking, at least). Being able to message and challenge friends all from the same "hub" where you keep your games is great, and being able to view your avatar and the avatars of friends (you can even play dress-up with your own) is nice gravy on top.

Of course, what really matters is the games, right? Luckily, Microsoft has a pretty strong launch lineup, with some of the regulars like EA's The Sims 3 and Need for Speed, along with some exclusives like Rocket Riot and the hotly anticipated The Harvest. The good news? Games look and play great, just like you might expect from an iPhone or Android level capacitive touchscreen platform, with The Harvest as an obvious and very important standout in complexity and polish. The bad news? Everything takes forever to load (our rough estimate is about three minutes to start playing in The Harvest), and when you don't have any multitasking, that's a really bad thing. Check out some of the Xbox Live hub and capabilities after the break, along with some games, and make up your own mind.

Update: We got some bad info from the rep in this video: you can view Achievements earned anywhere on the Live service, including games on mobile, the PC, and the Xbox 360 -- that's what we thought! Also, as should seem pretty obvious, the Avatars are being live rendered on the phone.