MWC 2010 - A Look at Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Series


Explaining Windows Phone 7 Series

Windows Phone 7 Series - Interface

Before we move on to the various hubs, we take a look at the main screen. The lock screen is retained, albeit slightly different with a slide up unlocking motion instead. Once the phone is unlocked, a series of "live tiles" are presented. Named as live for the fact that it retrieves data on a real-time basis, these individual tiles will reflect the latest changes in the people hub.

Think of the home screen as an extension to what you'll see on the hubs (which we'll talk about soon). Whatever is being updated on your hubs, will be reflected on the "live tiles". Of course, you'll have to assign specific tiles to pull data feeds from your contacts. As Joe Belfiore, Vice President of Windows Phone puts it, customization will also be a key component in the Windows Phone 7 Series.

Windows Phone 7 Series - Hubs

Windows Phone 7 Series, as mentioned earlier, will be focusing on six specific hubs. But as seen during the press conference, social networking will be the key to the mobile OS. Belfiore also highlights that the experience is all about bringing together discrete sources of data into one easy to access location.

The new OS is essentially a new experience, going back and revisiting how the company designed the user interface, and coming up with a new experience. More importantly, the aim of the mobile OS is to focus on the individual and their tasks, to help organize information and applications for easy access. In this case, the mobile OS aptly splits the most common activities on a smartphone into six different, yet interconnected nodes known as hubs. We start off with the hub that gives an insight to the aesthetics of Windows Phone 7 Series - Music+Videos

Music+Videos

Perhaps the biggest clue of how the new Windows 7 Phone Series interface looks like is via this hub, Music+Video. Sporting exactly the same interface as you have come to know on Microsoft's Zune HD, we see a striking resemblance and consistency of the interface across the other hubs. Furthermore, each Windows Phone 7 Series device will be able to synchronize multimedia content via the Zune software. During the demonstration, we were shown how a Windows Phone fires up the Zune software upon connecting it to a PC. What really matters here is the consistency of the interface, thus giving one a more intuitive user interface to familiarize with.

People

As mentioned, social networking is going to play a major role in how one communicates on the move. Within the People hub, the people that you have most recently contacted will definitely be the first to appear when you access the hub. Beyond that, any updates related to the folks in your contacts will be listed in the What's New page. This includes more than your usual messages and call history; it also pulls the latest updates from sites such as Facebook and list it on the People hub.

Pictures

Likewise, the Pictures hub will also be well connected to the web, giving you a list of updates for your social networking sites. But it's not simply an image uploading or downloading portal; the Pictures hub works seamlessly with Windows Live services and synchronizes images from both ends. This is just another example of the integration of Microsoft's cloud services with future smartphones running the mobile OS.

Office

With a Windows Phone, you definitely can't miss out a productivity option, and in this case, an Office hub. The usual suspects are available on the Office hub, such as Word, Excel and Powerpoint. To highlight the importance of over-the-air services, Windows Phone 7 Series will also support Microsoft Office's SharePoint, allowing you to download documents straight to your Windows Phone via the server.

Games

Another important aspect of the Windows Phone 7 Series is the integration of your Xbox Live account onto a supported Windows Phone. The Games hub is going beyond your Xbox Live avatar, giving you access to a wide variety of games available on the Xbox Live service. And this, ties up to the next point, which wasn't shown during the demonstration.

Marketplace

Apps. While it seems like Microsoft is falling far behind on the apps ecosystem, it is making an attempt to regain ground in this aspect. As we see it, this will be a double-edged sword. While it might be a great way to fully integrate everything onto a Windows Phone, there is still no confirmation on whether apps side-loading will be available on the new Windows Phone 7 Series. Nonetheless, Microsoft is making headway with developers and bringing them into the apps equation with the Marketplace, and it's still anybody's game when it comes to the apps delivery.

Availabilty

According to Microsoft, Windows Phone 7 Series has a large pool of partners from around the world making plans to include the new mobile OS in their devices. For now, the list of manufacturers include Dell, Garmin-Asus, HTC Corp., HP, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba and Qualcomm Inc. The first phones will be available by the year-end holiday season of 2010.

At the end of the press conference, the question was once again posed to Microsoft: will Flash be supported on Windows Phone 7 Series? The answer is once again, no. Ballmer, however, did announce to the crowd that they have no violent objections to having Flash on Windows Phones. We could take a pinch of salt with that comment, but there's still nary a word on Flash support. Just yet, that is.