Engadget had used Photoshop magic to peel back the official name of the next Windows Mobile OS, and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage at the Mobile World Congress and officially announced the Windows Phone 7 Series. Windows Phone 7 Series is the next major update to the Windows Mobile OS, and it merges WinMo with Xbox Live games with Zune audio and video functionality. This merging of Microsoft products on the smartphone is obviously the company’s attempt to bring the popular entertainment efforts onto the smartphone to bolster its position in the market.
“Today, I’m proud to introduce Windows Phone 7 Series, the next generation of Windows Phones,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer at Microsoft. “In a crowded market filled with phones that look the same and do the same things, I challenged the team to deliver a different kind of mobile experience. We believe Windows Phone 7 Series is a phone that truly reflects the speed of people’s lives and their need to connect to other people.”
Every Windows Phone will have a dedicated hardware button for Bing searches. These searches will return either web results, or information local on the smartphone depending on the search criteria.
Microsoft has implemented an interface concept called “hubs” that display collections of information for easy consumption. These hubs are described in the press release:
- People. This hub delivers an engaging social experience by bringing together relevant content based on the person, including his or her live feeds from social networks and photos. It also provides a central place from which to post updates to Facebook and Windows Live in one step.
- Pictures. This hub makes it easy to share pictures and video to a social network in one step. Windows Phone 7 Series also brings together a user’s photos by integrating with the Web and PC, making the phone the ideal place to view a person’s entire picture and video collection.
- Games. This hub delivers the first and only official Xbox LIVE experience on a phone, including Xbox LIVE games, Spotlight feed and the ability to see a gamer’s avatar, Achievements and gamer profile. With more than 23 million active members around the world, Xbox LIVE unlocks a world of friends, games and entertainment on Xbox 360, and now also on Windows Phone 7 Series.
- Music + Video. This hub creates an incredible media experience that brings the best of Zune, including content from a user’s PC, online music services and even a built-in FM radio into one simple place that is all about music and video. Users can turn their media experience into a social one with Zune Social on a PC and share their media recommendations with like-minded music lovers. The playback experience is rich and easy to navigate, and immerses the listener in the content.
- Marketplace. This hub allows the user to easily discover and load the phone with certified applications and games.
- Office. This hub brings the familiar experience of the world’s leading productivity software to the Windows Phone. With access to Office, OneNote and SharePoint Workspace all in one place, users can easily read, edit and share documents. With the additional power of Outlook Mobile, users stay productive and up to date while on the go.
The focus on the new interface is ease of use, by allowing the user to focus on particular task groups. Rumors had previously stated the existence of two versions of Windows Mobile 7, a Zune-like version for consumers and an enterprise version for business users. The reality has one Windows Phone 7 Series that uses these hubs to serve both camps.
Microsoft is not giving a specific date for availability of the new Windows Phone 7. New phones are expected to be available “by holiday 2010.” This would indicate the phones will be out late in the year, which is in line with previous expectations.