With iOS, Android, WebOS, and BlackBerry dominating the smartphone scene, Microsoft has been noticeably absent from the game. Now they are aiming to change that with Windows Phone 7. Whether Microsoft will be able to pull a rabbit out of its hat and become relevant in the hearts and pockets of users is completely up to what Windows Phone 7 can do. The OS was recently previewed and it is promising to say the least, but is still flawed in some key areas.
- While in lock mode you will have an at-a-glance look at time and date, incoming emails, calender appointments and texts. A simple upwards slide of the screen reveals the elegant dashboard, which uses a “tile” interface that is very well done. Your tiles are completely customizable, allowing you to “pin” your favorite and most used tiles to your home interface, such as playlists, people, webpages, and apps.
- What you will notice right off the bat is that the touch screen response is incredibly fast. In fact, the smoothness of touch is right up there with iOS 4 as the most responsive UI on a smartphone ever.
- The keyboard is one of the more important aspects of a smart phone (who talks anymore?), as users will definitely need a cooperative keypad when sending texts and emails. Windows Phone 7 manages to pull it off exceptionally well. The virtual keyboard works in both vertical and horizontal modes, and as expected, is better suited for horizontal use. Though, the feel of the keyboard shouldn’t be taken too seriously just yet, as we will have to wait to get our hands on a finished piece of retail hardware to gauge its comfort in use.
No, this isn’t the most exciting story about mobile devices this weekend, but we’ve gotta hand it to Microsoft for listening to the masses on the whole Windows Phone 7 Series branding. It was too long, there was no simplicity, and frankly, it made no sense. Rather than stubbornly sticking with it, they’ve heard our cries, and Windows Phone 7 Series is now simply known as Windows Phone 7 from here on out. This doesn’t change the hardware or software in any way, mind you, it’s strictly a branding change. A smart branding change.
So last week when Windows Phone 7 Series was introduced to the world, one of the major bulletpoints was the fact that Xbox Live integration would be a big part of the platform, although Microsoft didn’t give too many details. That changed on during a conference call this morning, where Microsoft mobile communications chief Andy Lees gave a bit on insight on hat we can expect to see in the mobile version of Xbox Live:
“We are very excited about the way in which the platform works across screens, so we have commonality of platform across the PC, the Xbox, and the web and the phone. We provide a new set of tools that makes it easy and very fast for people to develop applications for the phone but also in a way that works across screens, and we’ll announce details of that at MIX. You’re also right to point out that a marketplace is included, and the marketplace will work for applications but also for games, so the gaming marketplace for the first time will utilize Xbox Live, and that enables you to create multiplayer, multiscreen games, and the marketplace will facilitate that, so that it will actually work across screens.”
We like it, especially that whole multiplayer, multiscreen aspect, although of course we have to see how it actually looks and feel before making final judgment. We’ll know about when Microsoft’s MIX conference kicks off next month.
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Microsoft has got some big things planned for Zune this year, not the least of which is Windows Phone 7 Series. At CES 2010, we talked with the Zune team’s Mike Yaeger about some of the other new hotness we can expect from the Zune service, all of which will be arriving later this Spring, such as Smart DJ right on the device.
Speaking of Zune, Amazon’s selling them at a nice discount right now, at $40 off.
So, aside from that Windows Phone 7 Series keynote video, we thought you might want a condensed version that will allow you to just take a look at what all this Windows Phone 7 fuss is all about. Microsoft took the liberty of putting together this much shorter demo video to explain. Here you can get a look at all of the design elements and decisions that have gone into Windows Phone 7, which fundamentally set it apart from other mobile operating systems on the market. Here’s a quick rundown:
- Every Windows Phone 7 device will have three physical buttons on the front: Start, Search, and Back.
- There’s a focus on productivity, simplicity, music, and gaming. Both Xbox Live and Zune are deeply integrated into Windows Phone 7.
- People hub: Pulls in live data feeds, bringing you social networking status updates and photos from services like Facebook, Twitter, and Windows Live.
- Pictures hub: Brings together picture and video assets from your phone, web, and PC, allowing you to view your entire collection.
- Games hub: Check out your Xbox Live messages, achievements, avatar, and even play some games. Achievements can be earned on the phone.
- Office hub: Access to Microsoft Office suite, including OneNote and SharePoint Workspace. Also includes new version of Outlook Mobile for email.
This is definitely the biggest step that Microsoft has taken in the mobile phone space, and they do it over three years after Apple announced the original iPhone. The competition is heating up, and we are super-excited about it.
The big news today is the announcements of Windows Phone 7 Series over at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and Microsoft has released video of the announcement and reveal of their new mobile OS. Let it be said right now, Microsoft has essentially killed what we all know as Windows Mobile, and has replaced it with what may, in fact, be the slickest interface we’ve seen on a mobile phone. They borrowed heavily from the Zune HD navigation scheme, but made it highly polished and optimized for a device that is constantly connected to a cellular data connection. Also, it looks like that whole Xbox Live Anywhere demo that we saw at E3 a few years ago is finally coming to fruition, as Windows Phone 7 Series includes Xbox Live gaming built right in. Hit the play button on the videoafter the jump for a look at everything, but color us impressed.
Hey, Apple, the ball is in your court.
You can expect to find Windows Phone 7 Series devices in stores this holiday season.