Microsoft Unveils Windows Mobile 7 with New Interface, Hubs, & Bing

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Microsoft unveiled Windows 7 Mobile in Barcelona, Spain Monday, at the Mobile World Conference, a major global telecom industry event. The new smartphone operating system attempts to reposition Windows Mobile. It brings both Zune and Xbox Live content to Windows Mobile devices, adds support for Bing searches, and the company has introduced a new "Hubs" concept for organizing and using mobile content and services.

The company is calling the platform of phones that use the new OS the Windows Phone 7 Series. Because Microsoft openly licenses Windows Mobile to all comers, phones using the OS will come in a variety of forms, including touchscreen-only devices, devices with flip out keyboards, devices with Qwerty keyboards laid out similarly to a BlackBerry, etc.

Each device, however, will have a dedicated hardware button for launching Bing, in addition to any other buttons, for instant access to the #3 search engine. This is included in the stricter-than-before hardware reference requirements required by the company in a nod to the more tightly integrated hardware and software model that has worked so well for Apple's iPhone platform.

Windows Mobile 7 StartscreenWindows Mobile 7 devices will also have a Start screen with configurable "tiles," as seen in the image to the left. Those tiles then display dynamically updated information, which Microsoft said, "breaks the mold of static icons that serve as an intermediate step on the way to an application."

In the screen shot provided by the company, the Phone tile shows two calls or messages, and the People tile shows the images of people that have posted to FaceBook. Similarly, the Text tile shows three messages waiting, while the user has 20 e-mails in his Outlook inbox. The Pictures tile shows recent images posted by friends.

Separately from the tiles on the Start screen, Microsoft is introducing a "Hubs" concept for further content, services, and information management. The company showed six Hubs, including People, Pictures, Games, Music + Video, Marketplace (for downloading apps), and Office, all of which are intended to allow users to better manage their smartphones.

Xbox Live integration with the devices will allow users to play some Xbox Live games, as well as to access player information (including avatars) for other players.

Microsoft has posted videos of Steve Ballmer's introduction of the new OS, as well as screenshots and other images from the presentation on its Web site.

Microsoft said that phones will begin appearing with the new operating system by the end of 2010, in time for holiday shopping.

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13 Comments Leave Your Own

FlipFriddle

So you mean unlike my iPod Touch icon which show me how many emails I have unread? Oh.

Well, let the competition commence…

geoduck

An article on electronista is saying that it does not have Multitasking or come with Flash.

http://www.electronista.com/articles/10/02/15/wp7.has.improved.ui.but.notable.drawbacks/

If true this would be an interesting development.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

More than breaking the mold of static icons as gateways to applications, WM7S seems to take a more data centric approach than an app centric approach. For example, when you look at your photos, it will mix in photos from social networking and your own photos on the device. In games, it will mix in “your turn” notifications for offline two-player games.

I’m not sure how tightly the third party “app market” (if you want to call it that) will be controlled by Microsoft. Regardless, I think you’ll see a lot of the data centric DNA of WM7S infect the Android Platform, mostly because it can. Apple has a very big ship to turn if it wants its mobile devices to play this way, as Apple is very committed to an app model where each app plays in a distinct, isolated context.

Rob Fay

I’m kind of surprised by how unattractive it is (I know I may have set myself up there).

daemon

I like it. Now if only it was a shipping product right now…

yuck

We cobbled up better UIs when I was in high school.

25 years ago.

geoduck

I think the word ‘course’ fits. The buttons are big and clunky looking. The lettering looks out of scale to the size of the device. This is just my own opinion of course, but much like the Zune the interface, it just doesn’t look like what I’d think of as a ‘professional’ job. My Motorola basic, no frills, does nearly nothing phone has a cleaner interface. The 4 year old BlackBerry my company gave me has a cleaner interface.

It just looks clumsy, IMO

EDIT: I remember now what it reminds me of. The ‘kids phone’ I saw a few years ago at Target that had four big buttons for preprogrammed numbers and nothing else.

James

Have to agree. They’ve had years, and this is the best they could do? I have to wonder who’ll go for it now that the corporate lock-out on other platforms has eased. I like a world where simply being a ‘me too!’ isn’t enough without genuinely compelling features.

Honestly, I think Google ate Microsoft’s lunch on this one, not Apple, and this is proof positive that Microsoft is incapable of competing in the true sense of the word.

Ruufus

Interface wise: partial yet recognizable words partly falling off screen subconsciously makes your brain remember and therefore think.  Your brain is more active and engaged in the experience.  Also the next menu word cut off on the right (or left) indicates there is more to view to the right (or left).  I believe the Interface VP, Joe something, mentioned a “panorama” of pages during his speech.  I believe its more ingenious than the third dot of five ala the Nexus One.

rjackb

@geoduck - “I think the word ?course? fits.”

Actually, it doesn’t. “Coarse” might be the word you had in mind.

geoduck

@geoduck - ?I think the word ?course? fits.?
Actually, it doesn?t. ?Coarse? might be the word you had in mind.

Quite right. Homonyms are my biggest literary frustration.

Vito Positano

I see three major errors in interface design and one in aesthetics in the current Windows Mobile 7. They are obvious, but I will not name them; I hope that the predatory monopoly, Microsoft, continues to make these errors so that will force it to spend even more money needlessly to promote an inferior UI on a product that has amateur aesthetics.

Lee Dronick

See this story MicroSoft chooses AT&T as their “preferred carrier.”

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