Microsoft Unleashes Windows Phone 7

Microsoft officially took the wraps off Windows Phone 7, the next version of the company’s mobile platform the company is hoping can win back market share from iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry. In its announcement, Big Redmond is emphasizing the idea that the platform has been built around the twin pillars of being “…always delightful” and “…wonderfully mine.”

Windows Phone 7 Screenshot

HTC Surround Windows Phone 7
(available on AT&T)

The OS’s main interface is block oriented, with customizable “live tiles” on a “Start” screen, where users can have quick access to the information they want.

For instance, in the image to the left, the HTC device has blocks for phone calls, Facebook updates, text messages, e-mail, streaming pictures of some sort, Xbox Live access, and quick access to Internet Explorer.

Users can have as many of these large blocks as they want, and scroll through them if there are more than will fit on one screen.

As the name implies “live tiles” can be updated with live information, with real-time content, social networking updates, and more.

Microsoft has integrated Xbox Live for both solo gaming and for multiplayer gaming with other users. Users can access many features from the Xbox’s online service, and points and accomplishments earned on the phone will tie into their overall account.

The OS is also integrated with Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, and its uses the Zune interface for music.

The company said that it is “so committed to the new phone” that it has arranged for every full-time Microsoft employee around the planet to be able to switch to a Windows Phone 7 device as soon as it launches in their local market.

In other words, the company is making it as easy as possible for employees to ditch their iPhones and Android devices as it can.

Microsoft announced a total of nine phones, including three with AT&T (the company offered a video presentation on these new devices for those wanting to see all of them). These phones will begin appearing in the European market on October 21st, and in the US. beginning on November 8th.

You can also watch CEO Steve Ballmer’s press conference announcing the new OS at Microsoft’s Web site.