Windows Phone 7: Everything you (almost) want to know!

by Mike
Posted February 15th, 2010 at 10:32 am
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Today hold’s host to what is quite possibly one of the biggest, most important releases for Microsoft in the companies history. Yes, Windows 7 for the desktop was a much needed (and now successful) revelation, moving users from the gut-wrenching experience that Vista bestowed upon the company. On the mobile front however, Microsoft has been lagging for several years now. So for all intents and purposes, Microsoft needs Windows Mobile (now renamed) Phone 7 to be a slam dunk and then some. With rumors pegging huge improvements in UI and social networking as well as tight integration with Zune and Xbox Live, Windows Phone 7 is set to thrill. So come on in for the full rundown of anything and everything you could possibly want to know about Windows Phone 7…

The entire basis of Windows Phone 7 Series is about real-time, media rich information and entertainment. The new OS is broken into several large and encompassing categories: People, Pictures, Games, Mustic + Video, Marketplace, and Office. A few quick examples of the new categories — People is a phonebook on steroids with not only basic contact information, but said contacts’ social networking info and status all bundled into one. Games + Video is pretty much the entire Zune environment bolted into Windows Phone 7 — and that’s not a bad thing by any means. But there’s plenty more to know.

People

As we touched on previously, People is a contact list/phonebook and then some. Instead of a static list of text, “People” in Windows Phone 7 is an always connected contact information mecca with strong ties to social networking services for constantly updated information. Supported People services include Outlook, Facebook, Gmail, and more.

Pictures

A huge departure from photo browsing on pre-Windows Phone 7 hardware and software for sure. As with many other aspects of Windows Phone 7, the new Pictures hub is stylized heavily on the Zune interface and layout. **Bonus for Facebook junkies: Facebook photo uploads integrated straight into the photo app. Now there isn’t a reason not to share.

Besides uploading content to Facebook, albums on the social networking site are also pulled down to your phone and displayed right alongside the local albums — nice touch.

Games

Perhaps the coolest and most exciting thing (for me anyway) about Windows Phone 7 is the Xbox Live integration. Now, you obviously can’t play Xbox 360 games on your phone. However, there will be special Windows Phone achievements and “mini” games of sorts that can be synced back to your “full” Xbox 360 game and Xbox Live. So in a sense, you do get some mobile Xbox Live gaming to chew on.

Besides the mobile gaming aspect, badges, achievements, profiles, chatting (we hope), spotlight updates, requests (game invites) and more! Are included. Sadly, we’ll have to wait for more information on Xbox Live integration as well as Microsoft stopped right there. No game demos or any further dive into Xbox Live integration. Somewhat of a letdown on this front. Moving on…

Music + Video

Finally — “Every Windows Phone 7 device will be a Zune”. Ok, so now the iPhone has a direct competitor (for real this time) from Microsoft. One nice feature that was shown off during the unveiling was a Pandora tile within the Zune application. Having an infinite library via Pandora streaming radio baked right into the Zune app and OS as a whole is a really nice feature for music buffs and should make for a very robust music listening experience on Windows Phone 7 going forward.

Marketplace

Ok, let’s get this out of the way: All Windows Mobile apps won’t work or work right on Windows Phone. Does it suck? Ya, a bit. But it’s needed — drastically. Of all the Windows Mobile apps I’ve seen, most of them still looked as if they belonged in ‘95 and operated about as well. Windows Phone 7 is a fresh start for developers and end users alike. Let’s hope that devs get to it and help provide a vast assortment of apps come Windows Phone launch day later this year.

Office

What do you want to hear? It’s basically Microsoft Office reconfigured for mobile use. Unfortunately, at the grand unveiling, there wasn’t much Mobile Office to see. Looks like we’ll be waiting (again) for the official launch for more info and pics.

Besides the 5 main hubs broken down above, there are numerous other things to talk about…

  • Browser: Clearly one of the most important apps on any modern smartphone, the browser is literally the window to the outside world. Based off of the latest IE 8 desktop version, the new mobile IE browser in Windows Phone 7 claims to be Redmond’s fastest and most enjoyable browser yet. One of the more important features that stood out to me — “pixel position” — a more advanced form/variant of “Cleartype”. Sweet.
  • Multi-touch: Going above and beyond — Windows Phone 7 features 4-point multi-touch support. Given the smallish nature of smartphones (even the larger 4″+ sizes), I’m not sure how fun or comfortable four fingers on screen will be. But hey, it’s an option I’m more than happy to play around with.
  • Manufacturer Partners: Just take “Everyone” as literally meaning just about everyone. Qualcomm, LG, Saumsun, HTC, HP, Dell, SonyEricsson, Garmin.
  • Carrier Partners: Again, (Everyone) — AT&T (dear god), Orange, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, SFR, vodafone, Telstra, Telefonica
  • AT&T and Orange “Premiere Partners”: I understand the iPhone platform as a whole is worth copying/imitating, but please for the love of god Microsoft, do not tarnish Windows Phone 7 by copying the worst aspects of the iPhone (ie: AT&T dependence in the US and lack of multi-tasking — more on multi-tasking later this year I presume).
  • Availability: Windows Phone 7 will be ready for public consumption “Holiday Season 2010″. See you at Christmas!

So far, Windows Phone 7 definitely has some potential to compete head-on with Apple and Google in the mobile sphere. Unfortunately, what we saw today was rather limited and all that Microsoft would divulge for now. There are still plenty of questions in my head and I’m sure plenty of yours as well. For more information on Windows Phone 7 — especially the software/developer front — we’re going to have to take another look at MIX later this year. Until then, let us know what you think of Windows Phone 7 below!

Gallery

**All pictures property of Engadget


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