Rumored Windows Phone 7 details emerge in lead-up to MWC

Windows_phone_7 Last week saw Microsoft catch the headlines in the lead-up to the Mobile World Congress with rumors of a Zune Phone and the upcoming debut of Windows Mobile 6.5.3 in the Sony Ericsson Aspen. Over the weekend another rumor came to the fore concerning what is expected to be one of the company's major announcements at the conference, the next version of Windows Mobile called Windows Phone 7 (WP7).

Shrouded in mystery with Microsoft so far releasing no information, PPCGeeks have got their hands on some credible rumored details of what we can expect when the long awaited update is expected to be finally unveiled at the MWC starting on February 15th.

The rumored details state the OS features a completely redesigned user interface codenamed "Metro," being very similar to the UI of the Zune HD, with a revamped Start homescreen. The new UI is described to be "very clean," "soulful," and "alive." Other promising information reveals that WP7 is likely to have full Zune integration, use the Zune software for syncing with PC instead of Windows Mobile Device Center, allow a "try before you buy" system for Windows Marketplace, and offer full integration of social networking and XBOX gaming integration; including avatars, friends, gamer tags, achievements, merchandise, etc.

Unfortunately, it's not all good news as rumor has it that there won't be any Flash support, at least initially. Multi-tasking will also not be supported, as well as NETCF backwards compatibility, meaning the new OS will be unable to run older applications, although there is a possibility the compatibility may be added later. WP7 will also not allow OEM interfaces to run on the device, so existing WinMo OEM interfaces such as HTC's popular Sense UI may be a thing of the past on future WinMo devices.

Another report on MobileTechWorld adds some additional information including a browser based on Internet Explorer 7 code with some features of IE8, and a browsing experience currently "faster and better" than the iPhone 3G with the aim being the 3GS. Contrary to the earlier Zune Phone rumor, MTW's source indicates that Microsoft will not be manufacturing its own device and will that task to its partners. However, it is believed that the company will be more closely involved, have tighter control over the manufacturing process, and provide all device drivers in an effort to allow over-the-air updates and to simplify the partnership between all parties. Microsoft is said to currently be ahead of schedule and is confident devices will hit the market by September 2010.

After going through the details, some things sound very promising such as the "Metro" interface, improved browsing experience, Zune integration, and closer coordination between Microsoft and its manufacturing partners to create better devices. But I am also concerned that the company has not focused on other areas, notably Flash support, multi-tasking, and backwards compatibility. The inability to run OEM interfaces also puts a lot of pressure on "Metro" to really deliver and be good enough to make them unnecessary. In some ways it seems WP7 is simply trying to catch up with the current competition rather than set new standards.

Will it still be enough when it finally hits the market later this year? It's important to remember these are still rumors and we can look forward to the official word from Microsoft very soon. What are your thoughts on Windows Phone 7 and what we can expect from it?

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Jeremy To

Jeremy is a former editor at Pocketables.

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