We've outlined most of the key aspects to Windows Phone 7, but the real question is how does it actually feel to use?
As we mention at the start, the overall interface feels very slick and generally pretty intuitive. The lack of any overarching organisation to the Live Tile interface can leave you a little flustered at first but once you 'get it' then it feels like a doddle to use, and though quite different in style it's easily as slick as iOS and WebOS.
Tapping out a few messages threw up no immediate problems as Microsoft has got basics like the onscreen keyboard spot on. It's essentially an identikit version of that on the iPhone but with squared off keys instead of rounded corners.
One particularly neat trick we noticed was that the dedicated camera button will bring the phone out of a hibernated/locked state ready to take a photo, so you don't have to unlock the phone first. Obviously there's potential for this happening accidentally in your pocket, but you have to hold it down for a moment for it to happen so it shouldn't be a problem.
Aside from the lack of Flash, the web browser was fast and easy to use though perhaps still a touch behind the competition when it comes to rendering speed and accuracy. All the other key apps, like the calendar, the music player, and email reader, also performed well. We particularly liked the ability to show emails tagged as urgent with just a sideways swipe of the screen.
Generally, we're certainly impressed by the general usability of Windows Phone 7, though as previously mentioned we are concerned that its very stylised and tightly controlled interface could be limiting once you've filled your phone with lots of apps.
There are, of course, many even bigger caveats like the lack of multitasking and copy and paste, but until we get to have a longer play we can't say for certain how these affect general usability.
Probably our biggest overarching feeling as we wondered from phone to phone was how similar they all were. Thanks to Microsoft's stiff rules on hardware design, all the handsets were essentially identical aside from Dell's one with its slideout keyboard. While this certainly has its plus points, it also means there's considerably less choice for the consumer and a for many it will simply come down to which phone they prefer the look of. To our minds that honour went to the HTC Trophy with is aluminium body and touch sensitive buttons incorporated into the same single piece of glass covering the front.
So should you be buying a Windows Phone 7 device? Well, we're sorry to say but it really is too early to tell. our inclination is to wait until at least the first update. As always, though, we'll reserve finally judgement until we've had a decent play with the handsets on offer. Only then will we really know if all this hard work by Microsoft has paid off and we'll have another strong contender in the mobile phone space.