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Windows Mobile 7 offers a bright, fresh look that surprisingly bears no resemblance to the iPhone, unlike its competitors.

The new Windows Mobile 7, set to release this holiday season, essentially acts an Xbox handheld, a Zune video/music player, and phone rolled into one. The Music+Video hub looks almost identitcal to the Microsoft's Zune HD software.  (Source: Microsoft)

The phone also offers a clean, rich RSS-like social network feed akin to the new Google Buzz service.  (Source: Microsoft)
New mobile OS from Microsoft to launch this holiday season, hardware will be consistently high quality

There's a sort of beautiful symmetry in Microsoft's mobile phone operating system announcement which aired today at the 2010 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.  Holiday season 2009 Microsoft unleashed Windows 7, a desktop operating system that turned people's preconceptions upside down and fueled unprecedented sales.  This year it will look to do the same, with the release of Windows Mobile 7.

Forget the talk of delays (okay, so the OS will land almost in 2011), forget all the complaints about the past Windows Mobile operating systems, forget Microsoft's slipping market share; you need to look at Windows Mobile with a fresh set of eyes because it is completely different.

The first surprise is in the base operating system.  The past Windows Mobile operating system code base is about to become officially retired, relegated to some forgotten change management repository.  In its place will be an entirely new mobile phone operating system built atop the existing OS on Microsoft's Zune MP3 players.

In that respect Windows Mobile 7 could be hailed as the long awaited "Zune phone" as it shares much of the look of the Zune, with bright, flat square icons, large text and nary a chiclet in site.  The look provides the first true alternative to the iPhone (competitors like Palm and Google have largely emulated Apple's chiclet grid look) and will likely appeal to many customers.

Microsoft's phone is built around six key hubs -- People, Pictures, Games, Music+Video, Marketplace, and Office -- each a colorful and unique digital playground. 

People will stream updates from Facebook and Windows Live, sort of like a RSS feed on steroids (or the recently unveiled Google Buzz).  Despite the reinvention, people will find scraps of similarity; the Music+Video hub is virtually identical to the software on the Zune HD.  It incorporates a music/video store, a media player, and mild social networking.

Games is another place people will find familiar looks.  Games is essentially Microsoft's long awaited mobile Xbox handheld.  With the iPhone tearing up game sales charts, its clear that this is long overdue.

Marketplace will be Microsoft's rival to the App store.  Here's a surprise -- no past Windows Mobile apps will work on the phone or be in the store.  That's right, unlike some (Palm), Microsoft's OS reinvention includes wiping the slate clean with apps.  That downside is that means less apps and some unhappy developers, the upside is that customers can expect cleaner, fresher applications.  Another slight surprise is that there will be no desktop Syncing other than standard Zune syncing; everything else will be done over the air.

Office and Pictures are much like you'd expect -- a photo gallery, and a promising, improved portable version of Microsoft's Office software. 

Another critical piece of the interface is the browser -- the browser will be a multi-touch version of Internet Explorer.  While it's no shocker that it's not blazing fast given how slow its desktop brethren are, the browser still looks pretty nice.  And you can bet Opera and Mozilla already have faster browsers in the works. 

Email will be handled through a mobile Outlook client that looks to be a fusion of beauty and efficiency in a tight package.  The client has full support for Microsoft Exchange.

Microsoft is opting for an approach somewhere in between Apple's as its past mobile phone approach when it comes to hardware.  Previously it had virtually no restrictions.  Now, it's being choosy. While it still is not designing the phone itself, it has made hardware guidelines extremely strict.  Every phone must meet certain speed requirements, support multitouch, have a Bing button (for quick searching), have an FM radio built in, and meet battery life requirements.  Certain alterations, such as custom skins (like HTC's), are banned.

In short Windows Mobile 7 looks to be another dynamic holiday launch for Microsoft.  Former Microsoft VP Dick Brass (see his recent criticism) better be taking note -- because this new phone OS is arguably the most revolutionary thing to happen to the phone market since the launch of the first iPhone in 2007.  Looks like Apple might finally have a true fight on its hands for the title of trendiest smart phone.


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RE: No apple fan here but....
By sxr7171 on 2/15/2010 3:22:04 PM , Rating: 0
Give me a break, that video has nothing. Just some fluffy little screens.

"Find people more easily" well that's bullshit. I'll tell you the fastest way to find people are using either Nokia E-series device or Palm Web OS. You simply type the first 2 or 3 letters of a person's name and all sorts of options about that person pop up. For example "send SMS, send e-mail, see contact card, call etc."

There is nothing faster than to have the keys ready to type out someone's name. I do not think that pulling up a keyboard and the interface only returning LAST NAMES is any good. There's nothing impressive about it.

I do like having a home screen though, but that's nothing new either.

I want to global recognition of contacts (Android does) and options for those contacts, I want to see detailed communication records for each contact.

What that video shows is some new UI that really isn't much different from anything else other than it looks different and has a home screen.


RE: No apple fan here but....
By sxr7171 on 2/15/2010 3:25:52 PM , Rating: 2
Also I expect gesture driven navigation. I don't see it there.


RE: No apple fan here but....
By bodar on 2/15/2010 8:44:14 PM , Rating: 2
There were no fingers in the video, since it is a mockup. How does this indicate that there is no gesture navigation? The Zune HD uses gesture navigation. Why couldn't this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JtMnkNh8jY&feature...


RE: No apple fan here but....
By superPC on 2/15/2010 4:35:26 PM , Rating: 2
ehm, in case you didn't pay close attention to the video: from 38s-1:16, you can see clearly that besides each person contact (which list phone number, email and chat id) WinMo also sync info from their social networking site, their status update, their recent photo upload etc and give option to give comment. i don't see any other phone have such feature (i'm using E52 right now). of course this is can be easily tact on to any phone OS, but if that OS was not design from the ground up to enable this, it would feel tacked on, while as you can see from the video, it feels natural on WinMo7.


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