Microsoft has finally taken the wraps off Windows Phone 7 Series (once called Windows Mobile 7), and the name change isn’t the only departure Microsoft’s taking from its existing mobile operating system.
Compared to Windows Mobile 6.5, whose utilitarian approach seems geared towards business users, Windows Phone 7 Series looks much more consumer-friendly. For that matter, I’ll eat my words and say this could very well be the “Zune-like phone” one industry analyst foretold last month, except that Microsoft hasn’t unveiled an actual phone yet, just the operating system. But it does have the Zune music player and the same thin sans-serif font across the entire interface.
Judging from the photos, Microsoft is clearly trying to break away from the app tray mentality of the iPhone and Android phones, relying on big, square menu icons that push people towards different sections of the phone. There will be apps, of course, but they’re not front-and-center in the Zune’s interface.
The interface is divided into six sections: “People” pulls social networking updates and photos into one central location; “Photos” allows users to view and manage photos, and to share them with social networks; “Games” integrates Xbox Live games, achievements and profiles, but the extent of the mobile version isn’t known yet; “Music + Video” is a hub for media stored on the phone or a PC, FM radio and online music services; “Marketplace” is the requisite app store; and “Office” includes mobile versions of Office, OneNote and SharePoint.
According to Engadget, Microsoft will wield a heavy hand in development of phones running Windows Phone 7 Series. Manufacturers won’t be able to use their own customer user interfaces, and they must adhere to certain standards for processing power, screen aspect ratio and resolution, button layout and memory. Microsoft hasn’t gone into specifics on hardware, but all phones running the OS will have a dedicated “Bing” hardware button, allowing you to quickly jump into Microsoft’s search engine, along with “Back” and “Start” buttons.
So far, Windows Phone 7 Series is a nice-looking, but unfortunately-named, mobile operating system. I’m curious to know more about Xbox Live integration, how big a role apps will play, and how much variation we’ll see in the hardware. But Microsoft has clearly abandoned its old, clunky approach to mobile phones, and that’s always a good thing.
You can check out a video demo of Windows Phone 7 Series in the embedded video below.