Microsoft launches Windows Phone 7, first handsets arrive next month

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Microsoft officially unveiled its new mobile operating system at a press event held this morning in New York City. Rather than an update to its Windows Mobile platform, Windows Phone 7 is an entirely new effort, built from the ground-up to regain market share lost against the likes of Apple, RIM and Google in recent years. The company described its software as "different" and more modern, with a focus on how "real people want to use their phones."

From a user’s perspective the most significant change Windows Phone 7 brings is a user interface organized around what Microsoft calls “Hubs”. Instead of a flat screen offering a series of application icons, live-updating tiles on the Windows Phone 7 home screen will alert users with relevant information such as new text messages, missed calls, voicemails and more. Hubs are grouped according to the tasks they perform and will deliver non-phone related info as well, like live Twitter and Facebook updates, while offering tight integration with other Microsoft products like Office, Bing or Xbox Live.


In total there are six Windows Phone Hubs that will come pre-loaded on Windows Phone 7 handsets: the People Hub, Pictures Hub, Music + Video Hub, Games Hub, Office Hub and the Marketplace. Third-party developers can build their own applications and Hubs using Microsoft's provided development tools and then submit them to the marketplace.

Microsoft’s mobile platform will ship on a variety of hardware devices from multiple manufacturers. The event featured a brief display of nine Windows Phone 7 devices from Dell, HTC, LG and Samsung offering a variety of form factors – check Engadget’s coverage for specs and hands-on impressions. The new software will be available starting November 8 on AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks, with around 60 mobile operators worldwide in 30 countries following soon after.

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