Windows Phone 7 Makes Its Splashy Debut
Last January, Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 7, a complete overhaul of its mobile operating system. Windows Phone 7 builds a lot on the Zune HD look and feel, with hubs dedicated to activities such as pictures, office, people, Xbox gaming, music, and video.
With phones launching on all four major wireless carriers--and a few coming in just a couple of weeks--let's take a closer look at what you can find inside Windows Phone 7.
The new home screen, or Start, as Microsoft calls it, contains a series of "live titles" or widgets, which can show you at a glance your missed calls, incoming texts, or e-mail. You can also add "live titles" from friends' social network profiles, such as from Facebook.
The Pictures Hub collects photos you've taken with your Windows Phone 7 camera, photos synced from your computer, and your albums from social networking sites. The Pictures Hub also aggregates any videos you might have.
Microsoft boasts that the Games Hub on Windows Phone 7 is the first and only official Xbox Live app on a phone. It includes Xbox Live games and a spotlight feed, and you can see people's avatars, Achievements, and gamer profiles.
Microsoft has teamed up with big-name game developers such as Glu Mobile and EA Mobile, and so far gaming is shaping up to be one of the strongest features on the phone platform.
One of the most graphically beautiful games we've seen is Ilomilo, which cleverly uses the hardware's built-in accelerometer. Your goal is to unite two pixie-like creatures (aptly named Ilo and Milo) in a dangerous, twisting maze.
Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst
If you're an Xbox 360 addict, you'll find a lot of familiar titles coming to Windows Phone 7. Crackdown 2 is a tower-defense game that smartly integrates Bing Maps: It uses real locations as the gaming world, so you can defend real landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge--or even your own house.
Music and Video Hub
The Music and Video Hub--or the Zune part of Windows Phone 7--is exactly what it says on the tin. It lets you navigate though your music, videos, and podcasts, as well as to listen to FM radio (subject to phone specifications) or to visit the Marketplace for more media.
The Office Hub is the starting point for most business-related features on a Windows Phone 7 handset. It provides shortcuts to Microsoft Office Mobile apps, Office SharePoint, and Office OneNote, for your notes, schedules, or to-do lists.
Windows Internet Explorer Mobile Browser
The updated Internet Explorer browser on Windows Phone 7 handsets features faster Website rendering, adjustable scrolling, and redesigned bottom navigation buttons.
IMDb for Windows Phone 7
Aside from its partnerships in the gaming world, Microsoft has teamed up with some big names to bring other apps specially optimized for Windows Phone 7. The IMDb app has a slew of new features, including daily application tile image updates, panorama views, and the ability to receive IMDb movie recommendations by shaking the phone.
One of the best radio apps, Slacker, comes preloaded on the HTC HD7 phone. The Slacker app takes full advantage of the unique features of Windows Phone 7. According to Slacker, one of these features is a "parallax effect," which allows the foreground and background to move at different speeds as you swipe left and right.
Motolingo for Windows Phone 7
Microsoft has also worked with smaller developers to help them bring new apps to the OS. Motolingo is a helpful app that monitors your driving speed and alerts you when you're driving too fast. In addition, the app tracks traffic jams so that you can avoid them and get home earlier (without speeding, of course).
Microsoft My Phone: Manage Phone Content on the Web
With your Windows Phone 7 handset, you can access the Microsoft My Phone service, which allows you to manage all of your phone's content--such as photos, videos, calendar entries, and contacts--from the Web.
Microsoft My Phone: Find and Secure Lost Phones
The My Phone service also comes with a premium package, which allows you to locate your Windows Phone 7 handset remotely via the GPS chip, as well as to secure your phone.
For a look at the new Windows Phone 7 devices, check out: