MWC10: Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Series Press Conference
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer officially unveiled the Windows Phone 7 series interface which divides its integrated services into “hubs” containing your personal information, while also providing access to the Zune and Xbox Live services.
You had to get to the Catalonya Hotel early this February 15, 2010, if you wanted a place in Microsoft’s press conference, with the hotel situated near the Espanya place, not far from the Fira where the Mobile World Congress 2010 is taking place.
Like last year, Steve Ballmer came in person to unveil the group’s latest mobile telephony creations. After many weeks of often contradictory rumours, the product finally announced was Windows Phone 7 Series platform.
The interface was mainly demonstrated during the presentation, with an emphasis on the manner in which the device is easy and enjoyable to use. To provide details about this, Joe Belfiore, vice-president of Microsoft’s Windows Phone division took charge of the show.
The ergonomics are important!
He started out by mentioning the importance of a flexible system, allowing for both personal and professional needs, even if it is this first group which has been widely catered to. Microsoft is looking to generate a great deal of interest with the general public through this new convivial and easy to use interface.
The new interface has been built on "tiles" which connect to "hubs", with these points being centralized according to different themes, with relevant information being continually displayed and permanently kept up to date.
Hubs bring everything together
The hubs are built on pages which bring together different elements which correspond to the defined categories (agenda, music, games, etc), while the hierarchy is displayed in the form of a banner at the top of the screen providing access to configuration options.
Welcome page (left); email (right)
While the agenda can display two different calendars depending on the events which are classified as either the private or professional fields, a lot of attention has been made on simplifying the controls to reduce the number of actions required by the user to arrive at the desired result.
The transition between applications is fluid, allowing you to pass from one to another transparently and without issue. A good example of this was viewing a map firstly in street view and then changing to satellite view, with the zoom being powerful enough that you can easily identify buildings.
In the same way, entering a simple location search will provide the user with information about the corresponding location. Enter "sushi" as a request and the system will answer on multiple levels, performing a web search with the keyword of
“sushi restaurants” so as to provide the user with the closest matching results on the map.
Internet browsing has also been revised, with the browser development following the same track as the PC. Microsoft had already improved their browser (which it certainly required) for the launch of Windows Mobile 6.5, but here it has gone to a whole new level.
Integrating the Flash technology, the browser provides a user experience which closely resembles that of the PC. Still possessing the zoom function by double tapping the screen, it is possible to zoom to greater detail than ever before thanks to "pixel positioning". Once again, the number of commands required to perform an action have been greatly reduced.
In the Hub categories, the communications section and its wide range of associated information linked to community networks can’t be passed over. The "People Hub" is organised in such a way that you will always receive the latest information from the most recently active contact. By tapping on this you will see a full summery of their activity appear, as well as their status updates.
To remain serious and productive, you will find Hub Office, comprised of OneNote (note taking), Documents (Mobile Office) and SharePoint (collaborative tools).
An element that was the subject of rumours over the previous weeks - the Zune interface is present ("each Windows Phone will be a Zune"), with access to the download portal. Access to Xbox Live is also possible, allowing for the development of online games for the Windows Phone.
Optimised hardware and software
While Windows Mobile 6.5 will continue to be present along with the Windows Phone 7 series to assure the best possible user experience, Microsoft has changed the way they work with handset manufacturers, working closer with some of them to optimise the interaction between the hardware and software.
It is for this reason that they teamed up with Qualcomm to assure that Windows Phone 7 Series works optimally on the SnapDragon processors, through the development of specific drivers. Microsoft hasn’t bridled the manufacturers’ creativity though, as they don’t believe that the same handset corresponds to all users.
Microsoft has also developed partnerships with numerous mobile carriers, including Orange and Vodafone/SFR. The first Windows Phone 7 Series handsets should be available in the autumn, in time for the end of year shopping season.
It should be noted that nothing was raised in regards to the Pink project during this press conference, with the subject still just the subject of rumours.
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