Windows Phone 7 In Depth: A Fresh Start for Microsoft

The Windows 7 Phone is a fresh start for Microsoft. Microsoft can use this device as a foundation to build something totally new, and it’s very much different to any other phone you’ve used.

The phone utilises and manages many of the different Microsoft products and services – Bing, Xbox Live, Zune to name a few – and effortlessly bring them together in a single, advanced product. Which is exactly what Windows Phone 7 should be.

The Windows Phone 7 is probably coming out in the US around October and internationally shortly after.

Microsoft will be giving some beta phone units to developers so they can build apps ready for launch.

As present 2 main components: Xbox Live and the Apps Marketplace are still in build by Microsoft.

The Interface

The phone has a clean crisp interface with high resolution graphics and colours.

There are three main buttons that will be on the front of every Windows Phone 7 phone: Start, Back and Search. Start works in a similar fashion to home button the iPhone – it takes you back to the main screen/page. Back is much like Android – it takes you back a screen. The Search is contextual, in Maps, it looks up where you want to go – in People, it looks through contacts and of course Bing search which runs a general web search, local listings, weather and news.

Microsoft wants you to search for things or use voice commands to quickly find them, but the most natural reaction would be to scroll through the phone.

Text message notifications, unobtrusively show up at the top of the screen and you can ignore them or act on them without getting in the way of what your currently doing.

Pressing the volume key neatly brings up Zune player controls at the top of the screen. To access the reception signal you have to tap the top of the screen to make it display. When it’s syncing or updating a number of dots running across the top of the screen.

The touch keyboard is fast, smooth, intuitive and has a totally natural feeling.

The developer beta OS running on prototype hardware is speedy and impressive. It’s similar to the a Zune HD, no stuttering or slowdown, just speedy actions, back and forth between apps and the home screen. However you would expect this as there is no multitasking like the iOS4.

People and Accounts

On the Windows 7 Phone a Microsoft Live ID is the core account that integrates all functions together such as your contacts, Hotmail/Windows Live mail, Office Live, Zune, Xbox Live avatar, Pictures, SkyDrive. Basically all of  Microsoft’s online services are integrated through the LiveID, something the iPhone doesn’t contend with in this department.

Music, Photos, Video

Music and video on the phone is exactly done through the ZuneHD app.

The phone has a dedicated camera button amd photos can be automatically uploaded to Live. Holding down the camera button will give you the option to upload to Facebook, and there is a pinch-to-zoom, which is utilised all over the phone.

Bing, Office, Outlook and the Internet Exploder

Bing Search is really top notch here. Tapping the search button on the main page launches you into a search hub that includes general web searching.

Bing Maps is the navigation service and works very well.

The Outlook email app might be the best mail app on any phone. Big black text on a white background looks great and beats any other phone.

Internet Explorer is surprisingly quick given that it’s built off of the desktop version of IE7. Pinch zooming is fantastic and much better than the Android.

The Windows 7 Phone has a full version of Microsoft Office, in a basic form. Editing is however limited to the most basic text functions. On the phone, you can create basic Word docs and Excel spreadsheets without a problem.

Apps Marketplace and Xbox Live

The Marketplace is one big portal for everything you would want to buy on Windows Phone 7-  Apps, games and music and is tied to your Live account.

Xbox Live games will be approved by Microsoft before release, so the idea is that the phone will be more like a console experience. Many may say the WP7 is an ‘Xbox phone’! with advanced gaming capabilities.


The Bigger Picture

Microsoft has to break a vicious cycle, developers are already engrossed in the iPhone and Android platforms. If anybody can break this cycle, it’s Microsoft. Patience is perhaps one of Microsoft’s greatest virtues. Microsoft has to snag developers and users in mass numbers. However after seeing the phone, the Windows Phone 7 might just be good enough to be a MAJOR contender in the smartphone market.

David Correll : Editor and Founder of I also run a Social Media Agency where I do consulting work and Social Media Management. Connect with me: Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook or contact me here. Alternatively, you can send me an email at