Windows Mobile is dead, long live Windows Phone 7
Much to the delight of Windows Mobile haters everywhere, Windows Phone 7 is an entirely new operating system. It's been built from scratch, meaning it's a world away from what went before.
This also means that Windows Mobile apps won't work on Windows Phone 7, but with at least six months until it's launched 'before holiday 2010', there should be plenty of time for developers to start building a reasonable catalogue for launch day.
It's all in the hubs...
At the heart of Windows Phone 7 are six 'hubs' that pull in content from applications and the web. This basically subdivides all content on the phone into 'People', 'Pictures', 'Games', 'Music+Video', 'Marketplace' and 'Office'. In theory these groupings should make it easier to navigate around the phone and your favourite content.
It is the fabled Zune phone
Like the iPod app on the iPhone, Zune now lives within the Music + Video hub in Windows Phone 7, and will look very familiar to anyone who's ever played with a Zune HD. In fact, the whole interface takes a lot of cues from the Zune's with oversized text menus, slick menu animation and punchy block image layouts. Never has a UI made us swoon like the Zune's.
Xbox is game on
While the iPhone and Android marketplaces are fuelling a boom in mobile gaming, Windows Phone 7 has Microsoft's Xbox heritage to draw upon. From the games hub you'll be able to play, er, games and link up with your Xbox Live account. We forsee an explosion in takeaway mini games to earn achievements and credits on full Xbox 360 games.
Top spec hardware only
No more will we have to prod angrily at unresponsive resistive touch screens. Rather than just letting manufacturers put their OS on whatever phone they like, Microsoft is laying out a set of specific minimum requirements to make sure the Windows Phone 7 experience is not let down by ropey handsets.
Capacitive touchscreens and multitouch will come as standard. Each handset will also feature three hard buttons for Start, Back and Search, Bing does the search honours and can be used to perform both local and web searches.
Hardware partners include Dell, Garmin-Asus, HTC Corp., HP, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba and Qualcomm Inc so there's sure to be a Windows Phone 7 handset for everyone.
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