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MWC 2010: Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Series

Maps
Designed to predict human behaviour, Bing Maps will automatically switch to satellite modes when zoomed to impractical map zoom levels and also tie local business searches to thumbnails on the map. The latest company information and independent reviews are also dragged in to help make quick decisions without the need for third party apps. In essence this is essentially click saving, but it is very welcome click saving.

Multimedia
"Every Windows Phone Series 7 phone is a Zune HD" declared Ballmer with great joy and he's right. Full Zune HD features and functionality have made it across so while the iPhone effectively has an iPod touch inside, the same can now be said of WPS7 and the Zune HD. When plugged into a PC, Windows also recognises, syncs and allows dragging and dropping of files to and from the device. And yes, it can be synced to more than one PC while newly added, most played and playback histories all sync between PC and handset.

Games
Here's something to get excited about: Xbox 360 Live functionality is natively built into WPS7 and you can access and update your Avatar and search for friends and their recent activity. Games you play on WPS7 will also affect your gamer score on Live. Similarly achievements you gain on one platform can be used to unlock content on the other.

We await hard details of specific titles, but the specific hardware requirements for WPS7 handsets and four point multi-touch (the iPhone is limited to two) suggest a uniformity for developers to come up with some top notch content.

Pictures
Like the contacts aggregation this will merge newly added Facebook and Windows Live photos and your contacts can also be checked here to see what are the latest photos they have uploaded. These can be viewed directly on WPS7 and comments posted directly on them to Facebook and Windows Live.

Support
As you might expect this is massive with LG, Samsung, Garmin-Asus, Toshiba, Sony Ericsson, HTC, HP and Dell all confirmed to make devices come launch. On the network side Vodafone, Orange and T-Mobile are already signed up for the UK (expect O2 to follow soon after).

Caveats
It isn't all smooth sailing. For a start there will be no Adobe Flash support at launch (yes, that old chestnut) though Microsoft does at least admit it is in talks with Adobe about putting it onto WPS7. Furthermore Microsoft was coy about how much editing and functionality will be built into the Office productivity suite, while there was no evidence of multi-tasking.


Apps developers could get a little concerned too about Microsoft's emphasis on converging functionality. Traditionally apps provide this individually, but the likes of handset wide Facebook integration and local business reviews could make some redundant. On the other hand, developers will benefit from a more fixed hardware experience so it isn't all bad news for them.

Lastly, the time frame for WPS7 is late 2010. Given both iPhone OS and Android will have launched major new versions by then this could provide Microsoft with substantial challenges before it is even ready.

Overall
Windows Phone Series 7 is certainly a far more thorough and daring rejuvenation of its mobile OS than we would have dreamed possible. It isn't without its flaws, but Microsoft is definitely back in the game and Apple and Google suddenly have a hungry new rival on their hands.

Check out page three for Live shots.

 
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