Microsoft’s new mobile operating system (OS), Windows Phone 7, is a vast improvement over its current OS, Windows Mobile 6.5. The Windows Phone 7 requires minimal hardware, namely 4 GB Flash on 256 MB of RAM, WiFi (802.11 b/g), an accelerometer, a compass, multi-touch capacity screen (WVGA resolution (800×480 pixels)), and GPS sensors (1). The Windows Phone 7 will also only accept applications that are built in Silverlight, XNA, and .Net, and applications will be supported only through Microsoft’s Marketplace. Testing of the new mobile OS is already underway on devices from Dell, Garmin-Asus, HP, Dell, Samsung, Toshiba, Sony Ericsson, HTC, and LG.
The list of application developers is exciting: The Associated Press, Fandango, Match.com, Photobucket, Electronic Arts, as well as Microsoft Game Studios (i.e., Xbox Live) are all lining up to collaborate with Microsoft’s new OS. Six “hubs,” or common user actions, are set up on the system, including People, Pictures, Music and Video, Games, Office, and Marketplace. These hubs are presented as simple tiles on the home screen. There is also a camera button included on the system, which turns on a device that takes and stores pictures.
Unfortunately, what the Windows Phone 7 will not offer is multitasking, which is the ability to run multiple third-party applications at one time (2). This may place Microsoft at a disadvantage to Apple and its iPhone 4; while the iPhone 4 does have an issue with its antenna, it is advertised as capable of running third-party applications without slowing down the system or draining the battery. Windows Phone 7 will still be capable of running some firmware applications in the background, however.
Unlike the Apple iPhone 4, though, which only allows users to partner with AT&T as a carrier, the Windows Phone 7 has partnerships with not only AT&T, but Sprint, Verizon, Vodafone, T-Mobile USA, SFR, Telecom Italia, Orange, Deutsch Telecom, Telefonica, and Telstra (3). This may place Microsoft at a clear advantage to Apple, especially with AT&T no longer offering unlimited data streaming for one low price.
There are other features of the Windows Phone 7 that make it marketable. On the Pictures hub, one can see not only the pictures that have been taken, but also the ones that have been sent via social media platforms like Facebook (Twitter and MySpace will not yet be available). Pictures sent by social network friends can be extracted and saved. On the People hub, social network status updates can be obtained for contacts. E-mail is considerably easier to scan through on Windows Phone 7 compared with Windows Phone 6.5. On the Office hub, Microsoft’s Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote (for recording audio), and Sharepoint programs are all integrated. One can create and store documents on SkyDrive, and then access those files from any WiFi-ready computer. The OS browser program is Bing.
Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 is currently still in its testing phases, but should be released soon.
1. Windows Phone 7 In Technical Preview http://www.informationweek.com/news/mobility/smart_phones/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=225900109&subSection=All+Stories
2. Windows Phone 7 Won’t Offer Multitasking http://www.informationweek.com/news/software/operatingsystems/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=225800150&queryText=windows%20phone%207
3. Windows Phone 7 Series FAQ