Today, Microsoft announced its newest mobile phone operating system, Windows Phone 7 (or wp7, informally). Along with partner AT&T, they also unveiled several phones that will complete the launch on November 8th in the U.S.
Touted by Microsoft as “less stop and stare, more glance and go,” wp7 is an elegant os that provides powerful integration of your work, family, and social life. Using a “hub” concept, wp7 creates dedicated destinations for like content, intended to speed up social networking and your life. Create a hub for your BFF and an icon shows up on your home screen – touch the icon and everything related to that person becomes available in one place – contact info, pictures, their latest Facebook updates, and so on. A hub can also organize things, like pictures – photos taken with the phone’s camera, online albums, Facebook photos, etc.
Microsoft has integrated Xbox LIVE and Zune into wp7, bringing in favorite gaming and media experiences. Although the Xbox LIVE is a “lite” version of what you have at home, it’s all very familiar territory. Sign in once to your LIVE account and you instantly see your avatar and can start playing games with your friends around the globe, earning points along the way (note that head-to-head play and voice features are still in development). Zune lets you access music and movies on the go.
Other notable features include a top-notch virtual keyboard / error correction experience, U-verse (AT&T specific), fast camera access, MS Office apps (I especially love the “I’ll be late” button in the Outlook calendar that lets you e-mail those you are meeting with to let them know your are a few minutes behind with just one tap), and automatic software updates.
AT&T will initially have 3 phones available, all priced at 9.99 with contract: the Samsung Focus will be available on November 8th, with the LG Quantum and the HTC Surround to follow shortly thereafter. T-Mobile will launch its wp7 lineup later in November, and Sprint will follow in 1Q of 2011. More to follow on the specific phones.
There is no doubt that I am phone obsessed. I mean does anyone else (that is not a drug dealer) have seven active cell phones? This phone-obsessed geek, who has been a staunch iPhone fan since day one and thinks Android is a clunky wannabe, gives wp7 a huge thumbs-up and will be impatiently waiting for November 8th. In the mean time, I’ll be prepping my address book for the initial sync.