Windows Phone 7 Series finally becomes a reality

Win7series_1 Mark the date down because the final piece of the smartphone OS puzzle has arrived, or at least it will before we know it. At the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, Microsoft finally took the wraps off probably the worst-kept secret of the past year, Windows Mobile 7.

The official new name is Windows Phone 7 Series, not to be confused with the BMW sedan running with the same name. In the new OS, Microsoft has finally come to grips with the fact that they were getting severely beaten in the mobile space that they helped to create in the mid-to-late 90s with the original Pocket PCs, and they have now entered into the rarified air shared by Apple, Google, and Palm.

Completely new from the ground up and sharing basically nothing with prior versions of Windows Mobile, 7 Series has much more in common with the Zune HD user interface. Gone is the much-lamented Start menu, replaced with graphical panels for everything from missed calls and messages to pictures and Xbox LIVE integration.

Follow past the break for more info and screenshots of what we can expect from Microsoft's latest jewel come Q4 2010, and hopefully by then we will know which, if any, current handsets will be on the upgrade path.

Besides the long-awaited tie-in with Xbox LIVE, which will include games, avatars, and profiles, pretty much the full Zune HD experience will now be included in 7 Series. These two features alone should help stem the tide of iPhone and Android defectors, but there is so much more.

In addition to the easier and more intuitive navigation, there will now be a more standardized set of hardware specs that partners will have to follow, such as processor speed, memory, and screen resolution. Not only that, the actual hardware buttons will remain consistent across all different brands, and carrier and partner customizations will be a thing of the past. By doing this, Microsoft is finally addressing one of the biggest problems with their mobile OS, and that is the fragmentation that has taken place over the years. Google is currently dealing with similar issues of fragmentation with the various builds of Android, and for anyone to seriously challenge the iPhone juggernaut, Microsoft is definitely taking the right approach.

Initial hardware partners will be Dell, Garmin-ASUS, HTC, HP, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba, and Qualcomm, which is no huge surprise since most on that list have been long-time supporters of Windows Mobile. For now, the development units are of unknown origin, but my guess would be HTC since they are the market leader in this area.Win7series_2
[Microsoft – Windows Phone 7 Series portal]     

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Chris King

Chris King is a former contributing editor at Pocketables.

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