Windows Phone 7 review: First look and hands-on

Microsoft's attempt to reclaim lost mobile market share

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Hands-on with Microsofts new mobile OS, Windows Phone 7

Microsoft appears to have re-found its footing in the mobile market thanks to its upcoming Windows Phone 7 operating system.

Windows Phone 7 marks a breakthrough for Microsoft as it looks to reinvent its portable device offerings following a run of disappointing mobile operating systems in Windows Mobile, something that the company has openly acknowledged saying: “In Windows Mobile, the user experience was not exactly the hallmark of that platform.”

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On first impressions, however, the new OS certainly rectifies these user interface issue with an entirely redesigned slick, sleek and intuitive user experience that revolves around what Microsoft is referring to as interactive ‘hubs’. These hubs display dynamically updated content direct from the cloud to offer a selection of information to users without having to enter the full programme or application.

Whilst these hubs can be created and expanded by developers, something that presents numerous exciting possibilities, all Windows Phone 7 handsets will come preloaded with six standard hubs entitled People, Games, Pictures, Music and Videos, Market Place and Microsoft Office.

Microsoft is hoping that these hubs will rival the static app icons seen on such handsets as Apple’s range of iPhones by bringing content direct to the foreground. On this, Microsoft’s senior spokesperson, Greg Sullivan said: “The idea is that it is all about the content. It’s really about making the content the hero of the interface.”

Through the hubs, Microsoft appears to achieve this. Not only bringing a new take to a slowly stagnating pool of smartphone user interfaces but achieves the “Quality experience associated with the Windows phone brand” outlined by Sullivan as the company’s target.

Gaming fans will be happy to hear that Microsoft will also fully integrate Xbox Live with the Windows Phone 7 gaming experience. Gamer tags and avatars all appear on the new OS in a reformed gaming system that allows for achievements, spotlight and numerous other crossovers from the Xbox’s online home gaming platform.

Control wise, all Windows Phone 7 will host the same three buttons as standard, a ‘back’ button, ‘start/home’ button and a ‘search’ button. That isn’t where the similarities end though. Sullivan declared that all Windows Phone 7 handsets available at launch will fulfil a strict set of minimum credentials that include “A capacitive multitouch WVGA display, 1GHz or greater processor, and a 5-megapixel or greater camera.”

From first impressions, Windows Phone 7 looks not only like a major step forward for Microsoft and its dwindling share of the smartphone market but a serious challenger to the current dominance of Apple and Google Android powered devices.

Although confirming the new operating system would be landing in devices before the Christmas period, Microsoft was remaining tight-lipped during the hands-on as to a precise launch date for Windows Phone 7.

To make sure you don’t miss any updates to Windows Phone 7 and its date of arrival; stay tuned to and the T3 Twitter and Facebook feeds for all the latest news and reviews of Microsoft’s upcoming mobile OS.