The future of smartphones has arrived – Windows Phone 7 series!

Microsoft, the company largley accredited for starting the mainstream adoption of home PCs, has now announced their latest initiative – Windows Phone 7.

First, let’s talk Windows Mobile.  Windows Mobile was the pioneer in smartphone technology, launching in 2003 on Palm handsets.  Windows Mobile grew and became known as the mobile OS of choice for the business user.  Of course, the launch of Apple’s iPhone in 2007 was the beginning of the end for WinMo (the nickname us geeks use).  Now, in 2010, Windows Mobile has slipped to only 18% of the market.  WinMo is still a great system, however.  The main problem with WinMo is that it lacks the “bells and whistles” of the iPhone and Android.  Windows Mobile needs a reboot, and Windows Phone 7 is just that.

The old face of Microsoft's Phone OS.

Now, lets talk Windows Phone 7.  As we called Windows Mobile “WinMo,” we will call Windows Phone “WinPho.”

WinPho is completley different.  It is like nothing the world has ever seen before.  Microsoft has really outdone themselves with this.  Lets’s start with a comprehensive feature list:

  • Features an entirely new user interface, that features live “tiles.”  These tiles are live in that they provide bits of real info and then can launch you into whatever application for the full expierience.
  • Simple, classy design.  The home screen is comprised simply of the afforementioned tiles, laid out on a black backround.  The accent colors of the tiles can be changed.
  • No more Start menu.  What?  Yes, the Start menu interface is now history, as most tasks will be done through the new tiles. 
  • To access different sets of tiles, simply swipe left or right to get different home screens.  All of the screens feature large classy font with beautiful graphics.

The new "home screen," shown with different color themes.

  •  The screen is actually one, long, contiuous screen that you swipe left and right to see a particular part of.

The actual image shown behind the visible portion on the handset.

  • Here’s another first for a WinPho: touch control.  Almost all of the functions of WinPho 7 are intended to be used with a capacative touchscreen!
  • There are several main “hubs” for accessing the features of WinPho: People, Pictures, Games, Music + Video, Marketplace, and Office.  They are pretty much self-explainatory in their purpose.
  • WinPho can synchronize with Xbox Live, providing the user with all of their info. Also one can even play mini-games to add achievements to their profile!

The Games hub featuring Xbox Live integration.

  • Internet Explorer Mobile will be the default internet browser for WinPho, as it was for WinMo.  But, it is much improved here, even featuring multi-touch support right out-of-the-box!
  • The Office epeirience is unlike any other smartphone out there.  It is simply unrivaled.  It features dedicated Outlook Email with Exchange support, Word, Powerpoint, Excel, and OneNote.

The Office hub in Windows Phone 7.

Let us now move on to another crucial aspect of any operating system – its applications.  Windows Mobile had a huge library of apps, and was the platform of choice for many people who created functional apps on a low budget.  Note I said “had.”  Windows Phone 7 will not support Windows Mobile apps.  Yes it’s unfortunate, but it is what needed to be done to create the great expierience that Windows Phone 7 offers.  So how will WinPho get its apps?  Through the new Marketplace hub, of course!  Theoretically, there should be a ton of apps availiable on day one due to the relatively long time developers have until it launches late this year.  There will be free apps as well as apps you pay for.

Lastly, let’s talk about hardware.  The phone in the pictures above is not a real phone; it is just a model used to represent what many real phones may look like running Windows Phone 7.  With Windows Mobile, Microsoft would simply sell the software to any company and that was it.  This explains why some phones worked great and others were unbearable, because Microsoft had no regulation over the way in which the companies integrated it into their phones.  With Windows Phone 7, Microsoft is seeking to provide a much more universal expierience by restricting the hardware makers in several ways:

  • All phones must have a capacative multi-touch touchscreen.
  • All phones must have an accelerometer.
  • All phones must have at least a 5 MP camera.
  • All phones must have an FM Radio.
  • Every Phone must have a Bing (search) and Windows (Start) button.
  • Custom interfaces like Sony Ericsson’s Panels are now banned.
  • Only corporations can buy an OEM copy of WinPho.
  • Basically the phone maker gets to decide the look of the hardware, but not the software.

Microsoft has announced what companies are in line to build Windows Phone 7 devices: Qualcomm, LG, Samsung, Garmin-Asus, HTC, HP, Dell, Sony Ericsson (yay!), and Toshiba.  Steve Ballmer also noted that AT&T will be the “premier” carrier of Windows Phone 7 devices. 

AT&T, the "premier" partner of Microsoft for Windows Phone 7.

Expect to see it on handsets at the end of this year.  Stay tuned to Tech Talk for all the latest news regarding Windows!

Leave a Reply