Microsoft has finally launched the long-awaited Windows Phone 7, with a number of new handsets being announced and the full support of all UK networks. The first handsets will begin shipping in just ten days.
Following criticism of Windows Mobile, Microsoft considers Windows Phone 7 to be the result of having done a ‘full reset’ and starting again.
Microsoft must now work with handset manufacturers, networks and developers alike to ensure its success – as well as getting the confidence of the consumer.
It certainly won’t be easy, given the lead that Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android OS has gained in the year since Microsoft released Windows 7 for the PC.
Although Microsoft has continued, and will continue, to support Windows 6.5 for business and enterprise users, Windows Phone 7 is essentially a brand new operating system. The ‘hook’ for Windows Phone 7 is a range of ‘hubs’ that organise your content in a more logical way. Individual manufacturers will offer their own exclusive hubs to allow some differentiation between one manufacturer and another.
It will also bring recognisable brands like Bing, Xbox LIVE and Zune to mobile, along with fully integrated support for Microsoft applications.
To ensure a high level of quality control, handsets must conform to a minimum specification, relating to things like hardware and memory specification, screen size and camera resolution. This does mean you won’t be seeing budget prepay models on sale anytime soon.
At launch, Microsoft will have a number of handsets available from HTC, Samsung, LG and Dell. Every UK network will be selling Windows Phone 7 devices.
The initially confirmed handsets, most on sale from October 21st, will be:
- HTC 7 Surround (to be released later in the year)
- HTC 7 Mozart (unibody design, 8 megapixel camera with Xenon flash)
- HTC 7 Trophy (a small, pocketable Windows Phone 7 phone)
- HTC 7 Pro (with keyboard, to be released later in the year)
- HTC HD7 (huge 4.3-inch display)
- Omnia 7 (4-inch Super-AMOLED display)
- Optimus 7 (with DLNA support)
- Optimus 7Q (the same with QWERTY keyboard, to be released later this year)
- Venue Pro (4.1-inch screen and slide-out keyboard)
More info: Microsoft Windows Phone 7
Finally, we were a little surprised to see Stephen Fry take to the stage to speak about his impressions of Windows Phone 7. As one of the many people who never had a very high opinion of Windows Mobile, it was a real boost to Microsoft. Stephen was quick to point out that he hadn’t been paid to be there, or been given a script to read from.
His verdict? Well, it’s still open – as indeed is our verdict. We’ll be looking at some of the new handsets over the coming days before coming to conclusions.