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MWC 2010: Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Series

Gordon Kelly

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MWC 2010: Windows Phone 7 Series First Impressions

While the Web is awash with talk of Microsoft's next generation of Windows Mobile, the real question is: is it any good? Well, let's take a look.

Rechristened 'Windows Phone 7 Series' (wordy, I know), the latest in the company's much derided platform has been under intense scrutiny, but it might just pull it off. In short Windows Phone Series 7 is a brave and radical reinvention of the Windows Mobile OS and is unrecognisable from previous editions. As expected, it now has the look of a slick combination of Zune HD and Xbox 360 UIs and the theme feisty MS CEO Steve Ballmer was keen to stress was "consistency of experience".

The hardware

Seems a strange place to start, but Microsoft is actually now regulating exactly what hardware Windows Phone 7 Series can be deployed on. This takes the form of an official minimum specifications list, though Microsoft wasn't sharing that at this point. What we do know is every WP7S (had to be done) handset will need to have a capacitive, four-point multi-touch display with at least an HVGA native resolution, optimised Qualcomm core chipset with accelerated graphics and three physical keys on the phone's facia: 'Start', 'Back' and 'Search'.

This may seem out of character and indeed somewhat despotic, but Microsoft is desperate to ensure a guaranteed level of performance and a more consistent platform for apps developers so it gets my seal of approval.

The Homescreen

The homepage of WPS7 is now made up of dynamic and customisable 'Live Tiles' which lead off to the usual shortcuts, but are also synced online to bring the latest relevant information: weather shows current temperature, calendar your next appointment, etc etc. Contacts follow the well worn route of aggregating with Facebook (Microsoft calls this a 'People Hub'), but go a step further in individually listing their most recent social media activity and replies to this can be posted directly from here. It's rather neat.

Browsing

The ominous phrase 'based on the same architecture as Internet Explorer for your PC" was rolled out, but this does mean we get full rendering browser with pinch-to-zoom and multi-touch support. A new form of text enhancement called 'sub pixel positioning' is in there too which Microsoft regards as the successor to Clear Type and it does produce fantastically sharp text that is easy to read on a small screen.

Office

Not enough information here, but Microsoft will be integrating OneNote for note taking and syncing documents between Word and Sharepoint on the desktop. More handy Cloud implementation is here, though we do wait to see just how much flexibility in terms of editing and document creation will be provided.

Mail

Much tighter Outlook integration with the ability to swipe between read and unread mail, the ability to label urgent emails and flag up key messages. Personally I'd like to see wider support for other email provider's key features such as Gmail labelling, but it is another step in the right direction.

Helmore

February 16, 2010, 5:30 am

Isn't it Windows Phone 7 Series, instead of the other way around (as used in the article)?

AlexRat

February 16, 2010, 5:32 am

Unfortunately I'll be 7-9 months into an 18/24 month contract when these devices start becoming available (same thing happened to me when v6 came out, Grr!), but they're taking grand leaps this time rather than baby-steps.





So... who's going to make me a WPS7 skin for my v6.5 phone? Form an orderly line please...

rav

February 16, 2010, 5:33 am

Although I think I'll stick with Android I think it looks good. They've done their own thing and not tried to just copy.





Everyone keeps saying that by the time this comes out Android/iPhone will be even more advanced but do you really see either platform changing that radically in the meantime?





Now fingers crossed the best bits get copied/ported to Android!

lifethroughalens

February 16, 2010, 5:41 am

Oh dear...I must be a wrong'un - I think i'll stick with 6.5X over that mickey mouse OS for kids. What a let down! At first glimpse they appear to have removed so much functionality and flexibility that it's lost a lot of it's appeal. I'm sure after a years worth of updates, when my contract expires on the HD2, it'll be worth another look. Ho-Hum. There's just no pleasing some people!

Kieran

February 16, 2010, 9:53 am

Well looks pretty good to me, nice to see them following on from W7's success, Shots 5 and 6 have a rather large amount of smudges on though...





No just to see what the iPhone 4 is all about then

Premfab

February 16, 2010, 10:56 am

Looks tempting. Can't wait to see a real working phone.





One thing is for sure - the OS will be more readily accepted by companies than the iphone.

Moche

February 16, 2010, 12:53 pm

Is it just me or does the abbreviation WPS7 pop out in your head as "Woopsy".





Usage: "Ooo Betty. I've done a woopsy" - Frank Spencer

Cub

February 16, 2010, 1:30 pm

Colour me impressed.





Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to leave my iPhone behind, but Microsoft have done the decent thing and literally scrapped all their old code and started a'fresh. Looks swish. No doubt that like the Zune (snigger...) it won't work on a Mac anyways, so even if I did want one, it wouldn't be possible...





@lifethroughalens - like it or not, this is the kind of functional, integrated, fun and easy to use device that people want these days; the vast majority of people just want their devices to work, and work together at that, it&#8217s nice to see MS understand this now. Android would be your new toy of choice if you want something to tinker on, no?





@Prem - you think so? Integrated xBox live/games, facebook... Is that really what businesses want? MS are surely aiming for personal use here.

Gordon394

February 16, 2010, 2:32 pm

@Helmore - no, it's Windows Phone Series 7 (hence why used in the article ;) @Moche - yep, naming is worst part about it

Cub

February 16, 2010, 2:45 pm

@Gorden - are you sure? All other sites list it as Windows Phone 7 Series... as does the official site www.windowsphone7series.com - although it's servers are unavailable at the moment!

HarryGlass

February 16, 2010, 2:52 pm

I think MS have done the unimaginable and come up with something fresh, exciting, intuitive and useful that will appeal to both business and casual users. I'm amazed with all the "leaks" nobody was even near to guessing what they had. And people were impressed when Palm came out with WebOS; I wonder where this will leave Palm & Blackberry. Can they compete with the desktop triumvirate of MS, Google & Apple? Where is Nokia now? Is there room for niche players like Else?





Most of us change our phones every year or two and we want something fresh. I think this gives MS a chance, one people saying "but Apple (and Android) have so many apps" forget. Plus this is a radically different platform, one that negates apps to an extent. People might invest in their iPhone with apps and such, but when they can get better across the board functionality, and potentially much better games there's less reason to stick with their iPhone when the contract ends.





I think MS have cleverly looked at the market, seen that they cannot be just another me too, thrown away the past, thought outside the box and come up with a clever new OS which competes on every level and has answers for all the reasons you might otherwise choose a different phone. Think Different, sorry whose slogan is that? It's a brave and broad vision and one that whether it succeeds or not makes the mobile phone OS game all the more exciting for consumers. I think this time next year a lot of people will have a hard choice in choosing their next phone. It doesn't matter that it's a year, or more, MS have deep pockets and can wait to climb their way, if not to the top, then at least to sharing a large slice of the pie.

Alex.rar

February 16, 2010, 3:18 pm

yep - definatley Windows Phone 7 Series

Tariq Pugh

February 16, 2010, 3:44 pm

To quote Kanye West... Me likey! It looks like it does everything I'd want out of the box (particularly Facebook integration and multimedia support). Part of me agrees with lifethroughalens's sentiment though, i kinda like the austere, wordy but efficient Windows Today screens of old. Though the screenshots do look significantly more adult than the iPhone's primary coloured icons.





Really like the look of the 'Zune Phone'. It looks more pocket friendly than most current smarts. If it lives up to it's multimedia pretensions i.e. great sound quality through 3.5mm jack, will talk to my AV receiver and bluetooth car stereo, and has LOTS of storage potential (microSD-XC please?) then i could be sold this winter...





...Assuming the HTC Bravo doesn't steal my heart (and money) in the meantime!

Tariq Pugh

February 16, 2010, 3:56 pm

@HK - Wow, do you have a Bumper Book of Metaphors there on your desk? Concur though, MS have cleverly thought through the problem of breaking down the brand loyalty built up by the paid-for apps craze. Well done them.

Chris Beach

February 16, 2010, 5:39 pm

Apps wont be a problem I think...it'll have the latest .net framework and MS will very quickly have a massive developer support infrastructure in place (as already evidenced by the msdn channel9 vid giving more details about wp7s: http://channel9.msdn.com/posts...

Ash

February 16, 2010, 5:50 pm

Looks a bit like the TAT Print UI concept. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

xbrumster

February 16, 2010, 6:13 pm

I find those over-sized letters very annoying. They're so in your face. When I click on Music or whatever, thats the function I want to use and whats the point to use large space on the top just to show you where you are. And those boring fonts look just so dated to me.





not very impressed, looks a lot more complicated than android & iphone & symbian etc.

JohnH

February 16, 2010, 6:49 pm

@cjb: Great link - once you remove the trailing ')'. Really interesting new direction. It might just work. They'll need to embrace incremental updates IMO though.

Helmore

February 16, 2010, 7:03 pm

@xbrumster - That over-sized text at the top also functions as a back button, just hitting it brings you back one level in the menu. Pretty handy if you ask me, especially in the Zune HD where there is not dedicated back button.

lensmann

February 16, 2010, 8:03 pm

I'm with the Register on this one. What I want is a device that uses these nice faster processors *and* gives me the flexibility I had with my TyTN II.





http://www.theregister.co.uk/2...

HarryGlass

February 16, 2010, 8:06 pm

Actually I'm using "Bumper Book of Flowery Language", but they're from the same series.





It's interesting to see such a reactive response to the market from MS, it's different from their usual attempts to bully and buy out. They deserve a lot of credit for taking this approach, it's the kind of thing you expect from a new company trying to break into a market, not an old dog.





Also the more I look at it, THIS is the OS you'd want on something like an iPad. Sure there's questions still to be answered about multi-tasking, 3rd party development, customisation and the web browser - but whatever the answers it's almost certain to be more open than the stance Apple takes. I wonder if MS have any plans to put this onto tablets. If they are worried about Chrome OS, Android, etc then this could be the answer.





@xbrumster: I do also see your point, it seems a little angular & harsh. I think it depends just how custimisable it'll be. Whether or not xda-devs can skin it. Still lots to find out before I'd consider WinPho7 but my contract isn't up for ages.

JohnH

February 16, 2010, 8:09 pm

Decided I quite like the phrase "7 Series".

lensmann

February 16, 2010, 9:47 pm

@JohnH: Perhaps Microsoft is signalling that this is going to be the luxury sedan of smartphones?

ffrankmccaffery

February 16, 2010, 11:26 pm

It certainly looks impressive, especially the typeface used and I'm particularly looking forward to seeing the 'sub pixel positioning' technology displayed in person. If it's one thing that Microsoft do well is their ability at rendering fonts clearly on screen.

Mo

February 17, 2010, 1:10 am

I was loving it while watching the live keynote.

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