Donning its game face, Microsoft has revealed a ground-up redesign of the Windows Mobile operating system with a new platform called the Windows Phone 7 Series. The diffusely named software completely abandons the company's previous mobile strategy -- which largely focused on business users -- and concentrates on uniting everyday users with other consumer electronics and social infrastructures.
Microsoft wants Windows Phone 7 devices to act as a social hub by congregating information about people, such as live feeds from online networks and photos, while also providing one-step Facebook and Windows Live updates. Redmond's new platform offers the first official Xbox LIVE experience on a phone, including LIVE games, Spotlight feed, and the ability to view the achievements and profiles of other gamers. It also brings "the best of Zune," including content from a user's PC, online music services and even a built-in FM radio.
It wouldn't be a mobile handset platform without an app store, and Microsoft will back devices running its software with a marketplace for applications and games. Phones will also have access to Office, OneNote, SharePoint Workspace, and Outlook Mobile. The GUI has been entirely restructured with "glanceability" in mind, allowing users to get data and information without delving in and out of applications. The interface is reminiscent of the Zune HD's -- and that's no surprise, former VP of Zune software and services, Joe Belfiore, is VP and director of the Windows Phone team responsible for design.
It isn't completely certain whether Microsoft will launch its own device, but it is forcing other companies to build handsets with specific hardware specifications (certain CPU and speeds, screen aspect ratio and resolution, memory, and button configurations). Known carrier partners include AT&T, Deutsche Telekom AG, Orange, SFR, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, Telstra, T-Mobile USA, Verizon Wireless, and Vodafone, while Dell, Garmin-Asus, HTC, HP, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba, and Qualcomm are signed on to ship hardware. The first batch of Windows Phone 7 Series devices should land this holiday season.