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Windows Phone 7 Series Preview
Microsoft is probably the company that has suffered the most since the launch of the Apple iPhone three years ago. A combination of exceptional ease of use and a highly enjoyable user interface shook up the whole industry, and as manufacturers rose to the challenge by creating new operating systems or improving old ones, it appeared that Microsoft were lagging behind.
In an attempt to "sex up" the Microsoft look-and-feel, partners such as HTC added their own interface on top in an attempt to give Windows Mobile some polish, and Microsoft themselves kept tweaking the user interface, but these efforts only met with a lukewarm reaction.
Ultimately, Microsoft were being out-competed in a market they used to dominate, and perhaps it became clear that playing "catch up" was not going to achieve what Microsoft wanted to achieve.
Windows Phone 7 Series is an attempt to turn Microsoft around, and it does this largely by throwing away what has gone before and coming up with a completely new user interface with a completely new set of ideas behind it.
The new interface is designed around the concept of "hubs" - a sort of home screen that brings together applications and documents following a certain theme, so for example there is a "games" hub and an "office" hub. The hubs themselves are much larger than the screen on the phone, so the user scrolls around to find what they want on the hub. It sounds like hard work, but other handsets have shown that users can easily adapt to this idea. [more of this story after the pictures]
All this scrolling around does require some seriously powerful hardware, so manufacturers are designing smartphones to go with this operating system that will be released later in the year.
The new version of Windows Phone will also integrate Zune and Xbox Live functionality into the handset, although Zune hasn't exactly been a great success for Microsoft recently either.
Be prepared to wait a long time for any devices running Windows Phone 7 though, Microsoft say that they will be ready for the "holiday 2010" which we translate as being by November of this year. That's quite a long wait, although Windows Phone 7 capable devices might be available before then.
Microsoft have taken a brave step by completely changing the way the interface works, but Windows on phones certainly needs some sort of major change to make it sexy again.. perhaps this is it.
Windows Phone 7 Demo Videos
Microsoft have a couple of demo videos showing how Windows Phone 7 works, enjoy!
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