Microsoft hits MIX10 with a flurry of Windows Phone 7 Series info

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As if there needed to be another reason to visit Las Vegas besides bright, flashing lights and the sounds of coins cascading out of the slot machines, Microsoft found another one called MIX10. They decided to bring their all-new showpiece, Windows Phone 7 Series, and parade it about for all to see at the 3-day web developers conference. While we already knew some of the basics, and could probably guess with reasonable certainty the rest, it was nice to see some of the more intricate details revealed.

First off, we learned that all apps would be available exclusively through the new Windows Phone Marketplace, which is not a huge surprise considering the huge success of the Apple App Store and the Android Market. The days of having to scour multiple websites to find a certain CAB file look like they are quickly coming to an end, and with the new centralized distribution and developer-friendly revenue sharing, even the small fish will be able to compete, especially with the set of free developer's tools that were released today.

Besides app distribution, we also learned some of Microsoft's initial software partners for WP7S, so keep reading to see some of the highlights during the first day of MIX10.

Some of the initial apps will be very familiar to current iPhone users, with selections such as SlingPlayer, Foursquare, Associated Press, Pandora, and Shazam. In addition, Namco will be bringing their classic gaming expertise and Fandango will be able to help get you into that must-see movie. Speaking of movies, a demo Netflix app was also shown, which not only allows queue management, but for the first time on a smartphone it will be possible to stream or "Watch Instantly" a movie. 

This feature is no doubt because of Microsoft's ability to leverage their Silverlight technology, which is similar to Adobe Flash, and the fact that Netflix currently uses Silverlight as their streaming solution. With devices like the iPhone and the various Android-based handsets either not getting Flash or just barely getting beta versions, it remains to be seen if Microsoft can push Silverlight as the streaming media format of choice. If there was ever a window, this is the time it's pushed wide open.

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Once again, it was made clear that all hardware will adhere to a strict set of guidelines set by Microsoft, and one of those is the screen resolution, due to be 800×480 at launch. Eventually, an HVGA resolution of 480×320 will also be allowed, but other than that, all phones will have the same amount of RAM and the button trio (Home, Windows, Search) that was outlined last month at MWC in Barcelona. It will be interesting to see how things like carrier customizations and firmware upgrades get carried out, but Microsoft is definitely serious about defragmenting their long-stagnant mobile platform, even at the expense of the current king of the hill that doesn't quite meet the exact specs.

There will be much more news over the course of the MIX10 conference, most of it geared toward the developers and programming-types in the house, so we'll mainly be covering the bits that actually affect how we, the consumer, use the device. So far, WP7S looks very promising, and it is just that: promise. The end result will be to see if Microsoft can take the lessons learned from their marketshare drop and apply it to the momentum they started with the Zune HD.

What's everyone's take on WP7S so far, and has it started to encompass everything you were hoping for? Feel free to chime in with any thoughts you may have, including if your next smartphone just might have that sexy Zune interface.

[Microsoft Press Release]

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Chris King

Chris King is a former contributing editor at Pocketables.