Microsoft Announces Windows Phone 7 Series
Given their history with Apple, it’s pretty surprising that Microsoft, the biggest software company in the world, has not released a competitor to the iPhone since it first hit markets 3 years ago. That changed earlier today with the announcement of Windows Phone 7 Series, their response to Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android OS. The new OS has a lot of cool things that set it apart from the iPhone. The name doesn’t seem to be one of them, but the features may make up for it for many people.
The new OS does a lot right, like replacing static app icons with “live tiles” that are actively updated with information related to the app, serving as an intermediate step between it and the thing it represents. For example, a tile for a contact will display information about the person, like recent Facebook updates or uploaded photos. They say it’s “breaking the mold of static icons that serve as an intermediate step on the way to an application.”
The rest of the OS is built around six hubs that represent the different areas you might use your phone for, including People, Pictures, Games, Music + Video, Marketplace (Microsoft’s version of the App Store), and Office (boring work stuff).
One of the weirdest things, however, is the lack of multitasking. Unlike most versions of Windows Mobile before it, Windows Phone 7 Series only multitasks certain core apps like Email. Other apps will have to go through a similar workaround to the one the iPhone has.
The core operating system is a modern multitasking operating system. If you play music for example, the music will play back as you navigate around the experience…if you’re using email, we have great support for push email and that happens in the background.
For third party applications—we’ll get into a lot more detail on this in MIX—but we have a few ways we’re going to make sure that third parties can bring their value to the user even when the app is not running. Live tiles are an example. Data feeds in the hubs are another example for some apps.