Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has unveiled the Windows Phone 7 Series at Mobile World Congress 2010, saying it has been designed for "life in motion". The new phone will bring together Xbox LIVE games and access Zune music and video for the first time, with manufacturing partners already building handsets which should be available in stores by mid-2010.
“In a crowded market filled with phones that look the same and do the same things, I challenged the team to deliver a different kind of mobile experience,” Ballmer says. “Windows Phone 7 Series marks a turning point toward phones that truly reflect the speed of people’s lives and their need to connect to other people and all kinds of seamless experiences.”
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Every Windows Phone 7 Series handset will come with a dedicated hardware button for Bing, delivering one-click access to search from anywhere on the phone, while a special implementation of Bing Search provides intent-specific results, delivering the most relevant Web or local results, depending on the type of query.
Cutting out the middle man
The new Windows phone is designed as a holistic system. For instance, on the Start screen, dynamically updated “live tiles” show users real-time content directly, departing from the conventional static icons that serve as stepping stones to an application. Create a tile of a friend, and the user gains a readable, up-to-date view of a friend’s latest pictures and posts, just by glancing at Start.
Live tiles act as a doorway into more detailed pages called “hubs” that connect to Web services, applications, contacts and other items. The live tile displays a synopsis of what’s happening, and tapping a live tile takes the user to the hub where more information is available and the user has the ability to act on it.
Windows Phone 7 Series includes live tiles for contacts, games, calendars, calls and more, and independent software vendors (ISVs) can add their own live tiles for users to customize.
“If you have a calendar appointment, you see what it is and where you’re going. If you’ve got new music or have been invited to play a game, that information appears. And none of this intrudes on what you’re already doing,”says Senior Vice President Andy Lees of Microsoft’s Mobile Communications Business.
A hub of activity (or six of them)
Windows Phone 7 Series integrates experiences on a phone through Windows Phone hubs (six are built into the handsets) – People, Pictures, Games, Music + Video, Marketplace and Office. Hubs bring together related content from the Web, applications and services into a single view to simplify common tasks.
People: This hub brings together relevant content based on the person, including their 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 allows one-step sharing of pictures and video to a social network. Windows Phone 7 Series also brings together a user’s photos by integrating with the Web and PC, making it possible to view a person’s entire picture and video collection on their handset.
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, which should please Xbox’s 23 million-plus active members around the world.
Music + Video: This integrates content from Zune, a user’s PC, online music services and even a built-in FM radio into one place. 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.
Marketplace: This hub that allows the user to easily discover and load the phone with certified applications and games.
Office: Delivers access to Office, OneNote and SharePoint Workspace all in one place and the additional power of Outlook Mobile lets users remain productive and up to date while mobile.
Partners from around the world, including AT&T, Orange, Sprint, Vodaphone, T-Mobile USA, Verizon Wireless, as well as manufacturers Dell, LG, HP, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Toshiba have committed to include Windows Phone 7 Series in their portfolio plans.
The first phones will be available by holiday 2010. Customers who would like to receive additional information about Windows Phone 7 Series and be notified when it is available can register online.
Microsoft's full presentation video can be found here.