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Windows Phone 7 Series is official!

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Microsoft's new attack on the mobile space - Windows Phone 7 Series - is now official!

Steve Ballmer has just been on stage at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and i'll be updating this topic with all the details on the new OS and all the related announcements from around the web. I'll also be posting my own thoughts and Chris and I will be recording a special WP7S edition podcast this evening.

Please feel free to call in to the show to share your thoughts - you can leave us a message on 01379 888101 (UK) or +44 1379 888101 (outside UK).

What is it?

'Windows Phone 7 Series' is the next iteration of Windows Mobile. You know how WM in the past has been successive iterations of an increasingly ageing platform with only limited change and innovation? Well, not any more. Windows Phone 7 is a ground up rebuild of the Operating System. You know how we've all moaned for years about the wasted opportunities in product synergy for things like XBox Live (promised years ago), Zune et al on mobile? Well, forget about that... WP7S is all about exploiting those synergies.

Forget everything you know about Windows Mobile / Windows Phone, everything is different. The tagline for the product is 'Designed for Life in Motion'. WP7S is designed around a simple layout based upon 'live tiles'. The Start screen (or home screen as we would historically have referred to it) shows a scrollable view of the tiles, which update in real time to show content - in stark contrast to other mobile OS' paradigms of 'static icons to launch an application'. For example, creating a live tile of a friend provides an up to date view of all relevant data about that person - status updates, pictures, messages etc.

With WP7S, Microsoft is very specifically mandating the hardware requirements for devices, including the hardware button configuration. Every WP7S phone will come with a dedicated hardware button for search (Bing), which itself will be optimised to provide intent-specific results, delivering the most relevant Web or local results, depending on the type of query. Every device has a big, touch, capacitive screen. Au-revoir WM Standard. Sort of...

Central to WP7S is the concept of hubs. Hubs draw in content from different sources into a single place to provide a unified view. Out of the box default hubs are...

Windows Phone 7 Series creates an unrivaled set of integrated experiences on a phone through Windows Phone hubs. Hubs bring together related content from the Web, applications and services into a single view to simplify common tasks. Windows Phone 7 Series includes six hubs built on specific themes reflecting activities that matter most to people:
  • People. This hub delivers an engaging social experience by bringing together relevant content based on the person, including his or her live feeds from social networks and photos. It also provides a central place from which to post updates to Facebook and Windows Live in one step.
  • Pictures. This hub makes it easy to share pictures and video to a social network in one step. Windows Phone 7 Series also brings together a user’s photos by integrating with the Web and PC, making the phone the ideal place to view a person’s entire picture and video collection.
  • Games. This hub delivers the first and only official Xbox LIVE experience on a phone, including Xbox LIVE games, Spotlight feed and the ability to see a gamer’s avatar, Achievements and gamer profile. With more than 23 million active members around the world, Xbox LIVE unlocks a world of friends, games and entertainment on Xbox 360, and now also on Windows Phone 7 Series.
  • Music + Video. This hub creates an incredible media experience that brings the best of Zune, including content from a user’s PC, online music services and even a built-in FM radio into one simple place that is all about music and video. Users can turn their media experience into a social one with Zune Social on a PC and share their media recommendations with like-minded music lovers. The playback experience is rich and easy to navigate, and immerses the listener in the content.
  • Marketplace. This hub allows the user to easily discover and load the phone with certified applications and games.
  • Office. This hub brings the familiar experience of the world’s leading productivity software to the Windows Phone. With access to Office, OneNote and SharePoint Workspace all in one place, users can easily read, edit and share documents. With the additional power of Outlook Mobile, users stay productive and up to date while on the go.

It all looked fast and smooth, if not overly full of eye-candy. Was it smoke and mirrors?

Probably not! Microsoft has simplified the UI (they call it 'less chrome'), making it look attractive without being overly busy or complex. As well as providing a clean look this means that, coupled with the powerful hardware mandated in the chassis design, the whole experience should be smooth and fast. Which is good.

Now, a chunk of the guts of WP7S clearly comes from Zune, and this comes with a significant benefit. No more ActiveSync. No more Windows Mobile Device Center. Your WP7S series device will be managed using the Zune software, which IMHO is quite excellent. This is GOOD NEWS!

Will my old apps etc. work?

We don't know yet, but I suspect not. Microsoft is expected to announce a WP7S SDK to developers at the Mix10 conference in March. Nobody knows what this consists of yet but I suspect it'll be a hugely upgraded release of the Compact Framework coupled with (PLEASE MS!) a version of Visual Studio tailored to WP7S development with a much lower cost of entry than what is available today. We'll know more in about a month, but Microsoft absolutely needs to woo developers, particularly if legacy apps do turn out to be incompatible.

When can we have it?

Microsoft has announce 'holiday season 2010' as the target date for Windows Phone, and it's a pretty safe bet that they'll hit that date. Come Christmas, you'll be unpacking a WP7 device in your stocking.

Which manufacturers are building the devices?

HTC have already announced their support for WP7 and in the press conference today Microsoft reeled off all the big names you'd expect as WP7 licencees. They include Dell(!), Garmin-Asus, HP, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba and Qualcomm. Operator partners include AT&T, Deutsche Telekom AG, Orange, SFR, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Telstra, T-Mobile USA, Verizon Wireless and Vodafone.

If Microsoft are prescribing such a unique UI and also mandate specific hardware features, where is the differentiation for HTC et al?

This is a good question, and a very interesting one. The simple answer is - we don't know yet. I imagine that device manufacturers will be able to have slightly different hardware design (albeit broadly conforming to a chassis spec), customised colour of the UI, their own tiles and their own hubs. What I don't expect to see is wholescale skinning of the UI as we've seen with Sense / TouchFlo 3D. A WP7S phone will be unmistakable from the moment you pick it up.

So that's it for Windows Mobile 6.x and non touchscreen devices then?

Well, no, not exactly. Steve said on stage that Microsoft would continue to develop Windows Mobile 6.x. Whether this will be a business class OS, a OS for lower spec devices or become purely an OS for non touch devices, it remains to be seen.

Now how about some random facts?

OK, since you asked!

It has multitouch - 4 point multitouch is mandated in the hardware, as is a WVGA screen. It runs a version of the IE8 engine for browsing (it seemed very fast!). The text rendering uses a technique called 'sub pixel rendering' for excellent readability even when zoomed far out.

P

Resources

Microsoft

- Microsoft Unveils Windows Phone 7 Series
- Windows Phone 7 Series official site
- Additional video / multimedia content
- "Life in Motion" Drives Development of New Windows Phone 7 Series
- Video replay of Steve Ballmer's Press Conference Launch

Partners

- HTC to deliver portfolio of Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Series phones

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Posted · Report post

cant wait to get it on my o2 ))))

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Posted · Report post

Looks good so far, but yet to see anything from the way of apps, how old "legacy" programs will run on this new platform (if at all) and how they will be organised.

I think we will need to see a leaked rom and judge this for ourselves. That is of course, if they still work in the old way of roms. By the sound of it, there will be no need to have a rom anymore!

Certainly interesting times ahead. Ill reserve judgement until then!

Cheers

Phill

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Posted · Report post

What are you most excited about re: WP7S? I'm really looking forward to seeing how the XBL integration works, and I already love Zune! :D

P

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So the key message here is:

"You know all that cool stuff that Apple and Google can do now, well we will be doing it at the end of 2010!"

But by the end of 2010 Apple and Google will be doing much more new cool stuff and yet again Microsoft will be 6 months behind.

Microsoft- you needed to blow people's minds with your announcement today but you didn't blow, you sucked.

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Posted · Report post

I just love how it looks :D

A bit concerned that it might not work with old apps, but if it doesn't, I'll just move on...

I'm finding myself moving towards web-based stuff anyway and as long as it integrates Twitter I'll be happy!

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Posted · Report post

I do wonder what everyone else will be doing come Holidays 2010!

P

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I'm really looking forward to seeing how the XBL integration works

Well hopefully someone over at XDA-Developers (if they continue with WP7S) will bastardise this to give us a Playstation Network version (subject to appropriate meta data being available). Or who knows. Maybe even Sony Ericsson will do this for us?

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Posted · Report post

I think that's VERY unlikely...

P

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I like Windows Mobile and I like Zune = me :D :D :lol:! Reading rumors early last week that 7 couldn't multi-task made me think of getting an android device when I upgrade later on in the year, but that video has made me change my mind on 7 completely.

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I like Windows Mobile and I like Zune = me :D :D :lol:! Reading rumors early last week that 7 couldn't multi-task made me think of getting an android device when I upgrade later on in the year, but that video has made me change my mind on 7 completely.

I think we'll be having a hard time - my contract also ends this year, but if WP7 devices do not show up by then..or it appears to be crap somehow (marketing and reality are 2 different things)....I believe we could end up with another platform until WP8 comes...

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I think we'll be having a hard time - my contract also ends this year, but if WP7 devices do not show up by then..or it appears to be crap somehow (marketing and reality are 2 different things)....I believe we could end up with another platform until WP8 comes...

Yeh there is that possibility, Android being the only realistic choice for myself, however the right 6.5 device like the HD2 or TG01, are the devices which I will probably choose from in August, could easily handle 7

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o a bit laggy with the fps skipping on a really fast CPU with supposed fast graphics hardware

o really bad use of screen space (felt like watching only left-half of a bigger screen or always in zoomed in mode in Opera/Safari Mobile)

o looked really hard to get to any place quickly without a lot of swiping around the interface

o didn't really show off any newer/better OS innovation like webOS did

o the lack of chrome made the UI look unpredictable and difficult to navigate without a lot of memorization

o Zune/PlaystationHome type UI doesn't belong on WVGA when you just magnify up all the UI elements loosing all of the resolution advantage (a screen many times the extravagant PalmOS 320x480 res, it shows LESS information)

o Spring 2011 (you know it for any manufacturer variety) and requiring all new hardware with no target manufacturer deliverables (who's making a compatible phone and I have to throw away all current investment?) is no deal

o new OSs take a really long time to mature

I'm starting to look really hard at Android or iPhone now. If webOS survives and comes to GSM, it's even more ideal.

Edited by NuShrike
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I think that's VERY unlikely...

P

lol. So do I. :D But I am so NOT an Xbox person, and it seems like it would be space completely wasted for me. Do we know if it will be configurable so as to remove unwanted hubs? And to add 3rd party "hubs" (another "unlikely" :D )?

Also, whilst it is good that the OS itself supports social network integration, will this be limited to the current biggies? Namely Facebook & Twitter? Or will it be possible to add other SN engines (who knows what the future brings)? I guess this is the kind of thing that would be more likely to come as an (OTA?) update, rather than being configurable?

Got to say, it isn't really doing it for me yet. Much as the interface does look interesting and kinda ok, I think I would miss that whole user customisation element that we have with 6.x (or as HTC would say "making it mine"). Guess we'll have to wait for release to really see.

Edited by SilentBob
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Posted · Report post

Will I be able to upgrade my Omnia II with a custom and/or official WM7 ROM? It looks amazing.

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So with listening to the presentation will they only be looking capacitive screens from now on?

If this is the case then only the HD2 will be capable of having the new OS, everything else will be out of date.

Then again everything today will be out of date anyway by the time this gets released.

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Posted · Report post

Will there be any hope for i900 omnians? :D

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Posted · Report post

No!

P

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I'd even question HD2 upgrade. MS said that even the 3 HW buttons on the device are a must and are agreed with HTC (home, search and back). And HTC will bring whole new series of WP7 phones in the next months.

Edited by DLCI
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I feel disappointed. Looks a little too basic. That's Samsung's keyboard! :D

There's definitely no "WOW" factor.

Edited by Sb.
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Posted · Report post

looks good so far but what will change in 6 months time?

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Should have done this 3 years ago. Maybe I'd still be using WinMo!

I like it A LOT! Would love to see some non-MS apps on it to see how people develop for it. And not just games.

Don't know about the no ActiveSync part tho...as per this video.

http://channel9.msdn.com/posts/LauraFoy/Fi...-Hands-on-Demo/

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o a bit laggy with the fps skipping on a really fast CPU with supposed fast graphics hardware

o really bad use of screen space (felt like watching only left-half of a bigger screen or always in zoomed in mode in Opera/Safari Mobile)

o looked really hard to get to any place quickly without a lot of swiping around the interface

o didn't really show off any newer/better OS innovation like webOS did

o the lack of chrome made the UI look unpredictable and difficult to navigate without a lot of memorization

o Zune/PlaystationHome type UI doesn't belong on WVGA when you just magnify up all the UI elements loosing all of the resolution advantage (a screen many times the extravagant PalmOS 320x480 res, it shows LESS information)

o Spring 2011 (you know it for any manufacturer variety) and requiring all new hardware with no target manufacturer deliverables (who's making a compatible phone and I have to throw away all current investment?) is no deal

o new OSs take a really long time to mature

I'm starting to look really hard at Android or iPhone now. If webOS survives and comes to GSM, it's even more ideal.

Thank you! That's the first reasonalbe post I read here.

I totally agree.

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Must admit, I tend to agree with NuShrike

For them to announce this so far in advance of it's launch does remind you of IBM and FUD

That large text going off the screen looks awful!

There is a lot that's nice but it does seem too little, too late. The next generation iPhone will be released this summer and I might think about that but to be honest I've still seen nothing better than my iPhone 3G except the 3GS and this doesn't look like it will tempt me back to Windows.

Who knows, it's still a long way off and a lot can happen between now and release.

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The next generation iPhone will be released this summer and I might think about that but to be honest I've still seen nothing better than my iPhone 3G except the 3GS and this doesn't look like it will tempt me back to Windows.

Well, I must admit the current iphone's interface is more suitable for a portable game console, than for a smartphone. Having only XX screens, filled with XX icons is the best colorful eye catchup for teens, but it's a nightmare for anyone that wants fast information access and productivity. Only the lockscreen on the jaibroken devices is useful. We'll see the what the next iphone will bring and how innovative apple really is, but it better go into the right direction this time.

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