Windows Phone 7
by Christina Belisle
When Microsoft announced the new Windows Phone 7 operating system, tech journalists were elated to hear that the ailing Windows Mobile platform (which hadn’t seen a true ground-up overhaul since the release of Windows Mobile 5) was getting a facelift. After a year of delays and the too-little-too-late release of Windows Mobile 6.5, Microsoft is finally stepping to the plate with its revamped mobile OS. By the end of this year, consumers will have the choice of nine phones running the new operating system. People can already check out the features at the Windows Phone 7 website,
or on the Windows Phone 7 Facebook page.
The OS will be released in Europe and Asia on the October 21; America will have to wait until November 8 to get their hands on this piece of technology. For now, let’s take a look at
The Operating System
Users of Microsoft’s Zune HD will notice that the look and feel of its screens and menus are very similar to those of Windows Phone 7. The main screen is broken into “hubs” allowing access to various phone functions. There's Phone and Messaging, along with People, Outlook, Pictures, Xbox Live and Me. Each hub leads to a submenu that leads to more options. The hubs themselves are represented by large, crisp icons, allowing “glance and go” access to be used.
The phones will double as Zune music and video players. The Zune is Microsoft’s answer to the iPod and has an online marketplace where users can buy and rent movies and shows, and download music and podcasts. Users can pay $14.99 a month for a Zune Pass, which allows unlimited streaming and downloading of music to computers, Xbox 360s, Zunes and Windows Phone 7 smartphones.
The people hub interfaces with Windows Live and Facebook, syncing your contacts and address book with your online identity. This hub also allows the reading of updates and news feeds without having to go to Facebook or open a separate application.
Office Mobile provides a full office suite in the palm of your hand; Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote are all represented, and the suite even allows the recording of voice clips, which can be added to the notes. Documents can be downloaded from SharePoint, which is Microsoft’s file sharing software, edited on the go and then synced back to a computer.
The phone can be connected to the user’s Xbox Live profile, bringing their avatar and achievements wherever they go. Games downloaded from the Windows Phone app store can be played in this hub as well.
By the end of this year, Windows Phone 7 will have an impressive selection of phones supporting it. Made by Samsung, LG, HTC and Dell, each of them has its own specialties. The Samsung Focus is light weight, the LG Quantum has a slide-out keyboard, the HTC Surround has slide-out speakers for music playing, and the HTC HD7 has the largest screen of the bunch. The Dell Venue Pro sits in a category of its own, offering a more rugged body and a scratch resistant and shatterproof screen.
Windows Phone 7 has the potential to be an exciting alternative to existing smartphone operating systems. Microsoft is expanding on current services such as their Live gaming platform and the Zune media service, bringing them to the mobile front. Combined with the productivity powerhouse of Microsoft Office, Microsoft is bringing a lot to the table this fall.