MWC 2010:Microsoft Claws Back with Windows Phone 7
Rahul Srinivas, Feb 15, 2010 2333 hrs IST
Is this the best thing that has happened to phones since the iPhone?
In what has to be one of the most significant announcements that Microsoft has made in recent times, it has made the next generation Mobile OS public with the unravelling of Windows Phone Series 7. A few hours ago, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft, for the first time, displayed what might well be the iPhone Killer you were eagerly waiting for.
We don't know if the Series 7 moniker at the end reminds you of the BMW 7 Series - a car known for its exclusivity, style and panache. For us, it did and we think it's cool, even though that effect might have been unintentional. That said, let us inform you that it would be an understatement if we said that Windows Phone 7 is just an impressive OS. In fact, it just blows you away. This, coming from us, even as we have the iPhone amongst our midst, does convey a lot. Windows Mobile 7 (as it was known till today) was Microsoft's chance to redeem itself and get back the position it was steadily losing to faster, nimbler, slicker Operating Systems -- and for once, it seems Microsoft has delivered. And how! With one master stroke, Windows Phone 7 Series has turned Microsoft into the maker of the coolest Mobile OS on the planet.
There's lot to say and talk about Windows Phone Series 7. But first, we will start with the major highlights.
User Interface The OS might turn out like nothing you have used before (Zune HD users please excuse). Simply put, this IS the best thing you might have come across, this side of 2007, ever since the iPhone happened. To describe the UI of WP7S (short for Windows Phone 7 Series) simply remove all the pre-conceived notions that you have regarding a typical phone UI and start afresh. There are no typical icons for launching apps in the same old boring style. Instead, WP7S uses an unusual grid of oversized squares that take up huge screen real estate and at the same time makes the user feel that reaching other areas of the menu is just a flick away. It is elegant, simple and like we said before, it's nothing like you have ever seen on a phone - iPhone included.
Sections The menu is divided into six sections namely, People, Games, Music+Video, Pictures, Me and Search from where you can access everything on the phone. The People section is nothing but the contacts option. However, it hardly resembles just another contacts list. Like the Timescape application seen on the Xperia X10, the contact list is connected with their social networking accounts and you can see their updates right within the contact screen.
The Games section houses the Xbox live application. Now, we know what you're thinking but no, there are no games to play here (the Xbox versions) but what can do is to access your Xbox live account from your phone and play simple games that can be handled by the phone. WP7S has a separate section for the image gallery. The Music and Video section does what it is supposed to pretty well.
Rounding Up Windows Phone 7 Series is a complete ground up product. It has nothing to do with previous generation Windows Mobile OS. This also means that things you have been used to on previous generation WM devices have seen a dramatic change. For example, support for custom interfaces (like Touch FLO, SENSE and the likes) stands revoked. All WP7S phones will be similar and will need to conform to certain standard that Microsoft has put forth, This includes capacitive, multitouch laden touchscreens (resistive screens can die now) and the presence of three buttons on the front fascia for Start, Back and Search.
The first phones with Windows Phone 7 Series will arrive by the end of the year and HTC has already announced that it has started working on these phones. Except for Nokia, most other major handset makers are still with Microsoft. Look's like the underdog has decided to bite back.
We will leave you with images of the UI at work. Leave us a comment and let us know if it's good enough.