What is Windows Phone 7 ?
10 December 2010

What is Windows Phone 7 ?

Windows Phone 7 is a mobile operating system developed by Microsoft, and is the successor to their Windows Mobile platform.[2] It is aimed at the consumer market instead of the enterprise market like its predecessor.

Windows Phone 7 is a mobile operating system developed by Microsoft, and is the successor to their Windows Mobile platform.[2] It is aimed at the consumer market instead of the enterprise market like its predecessor.[3] It launched in Europe, Singapore and Australia on October 21, 2010, and in the US & Canada on November 8, 2010, Mexico on November 24, 2010, with Asia to follow in 2011.[4] With Windows Phone 7, Microsoft offers a new user interface with their design language named Metro, integrates the operating system with 3rd party and other Microsoft services, and plans to strictly control which hardware it runs on.[5]

Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 7 on February 15, 2010, at Mobile World Congress 2010 in Barcelona[6] and revealed additional details at MIX 2010 on March 15, 2010. Windows Phone 7 was released to manufacturing on September 1, 2010,[7] and the final SDK was made available on September 16, 2010.[8]

History

Operating system development

Work on a major Windows Mobile update may have begun as early as 2004 under the codename "Photon", but work moved slowly and the project was ultimately cancelled.[9] In 2008, Microsoft reorganized the Windows Mobile group and started work on a new mobile operating system.[10] The product was to be released in 2009 as Windows Phone, but several delays prompted Microsoft to develop Windows Mobile 6.5 as an interim release.[11]

WP7 was developed quickly. One result was that Windows Mobile applications do not run on it. Larry Lieberman, senior product manager for Microsoft’s Mobile Developer Experience, told eWeek: "If we’d had more time and resources, we may have been able to do something in terms of backward compatibility."[12] Lieberman said that Microsoft was attempting to look at the mobile phone market in a new way, with the end user in mind as well as the enterprise network.[12] Terry Myerson, corporate VP of Windows Phone engineering, said, "With the move to capacitive touch screens, away from the stylus, and the moves to some of the hardware choices we made for the Windows Phone 7 experience, we had to break application compatibility with Windows Mobile 6.5."[13]

Naming

Microsoft announced the new platform as "Windows Phone 7 Series", which was criticized for being wordy and difficult to say casually. On April 2, 2010, Microsoft announced that it would drop the word "Series", and the operating system would be called "Windows Phone 7".[14][15]

Launch

Deutsche Bank estimated Microsoft's marketing budget for the Windows Phone 7 launch to be at least $500 million.[16] In February 2010, a Microsoft press release listed the companies that would help make and operate Windows Phone 7. Hardware (OEM) makers were listed as DellGarmin-AsusHTCHP , LGSamsungSony EricssonToshiba and Qualcommmobile network operators included AT&TDeutsche TelekomOrangeSFRSprintTelecom ItaliaTelefónicaTelstraT-Mobile USAVerizon WirelessVodafoneTelusBell Canada and SingTel.

HP later decided not to build devices for Windows Phone 7, citing that they wanted to focus on devices for their newly purchased webOS.[17]

Windows Phone 7 supports five languages: English, French, Italian, German and Spanish. Windows Phone Marketplace allows buying and selling applications in 17 countries and regions: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland,Puerto Rico, United Kingdom, and United States.[18]

Windows Phone 7 was released in Europe in October and released in the USA on November 8, Mexico on November 24, 2010, A release in Asian countries will follow in 2011.[19][20]

On October 11, 2010, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer announced 10 devices operating Windows Phone 7, made by HTCDellSamsung, and LG, with sales beginning on October 21, 2010 in Europe and Australia and November 8, 2010 in the United States. The devices were to be available on 60 carriers in 30 countries, with additional devices to be launched in 2011.[21]

Features

User interface

Windows Phone features a new user interface, based upon Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 design system, codenamed Metro.[22] The home screen, called the "Start screen", is made up of "Tiles". Tiles are links to applications, features, functions and individual items (such as contacts, web pages, applications or media items). Users can add, rearrange, or remove Tiles.[23] Tiles are dynamic and update in real time - for example, the tile for an email account would display the number of unread messages or a Tile could display a live update of the weather.[24]

Several features of Windows Phone 7 are organized into "hubs", which combine local and online content via Windows Phone 7's integration with popular social networks such as Facebook and Windows Live.[24] For example, the Pictures hub shows photos captured with the device's camera and the user's Facebook photo albums, and the People hub shows contacts aggregated from multiple sources including Windows Live, Facebook, and Gmail. From the Hub, users can directly comment and 'like' on social network updates. The other built-in hubs are Music and Video (which integrates with Zune), Games (which integrates with Xbox LIVE), Windows Phone Marketplace, and Microsoft Office.[24]

Windows Phone 7 uses multi-touch technology.[24] The default Windows Phone 7 user interface has a dark theme that prolongs battery life on OLED screens as fully black pixels don't emit light.[25] The user may choose a light theme instead, and can also choose from several accent colors.[26] User interface elements such as tiles are shown in the user's chosen accent color. Third-party applications can be automatically themed with these colors.[27][28]

Text input

Users input text by using an on-screen virtual keyboard, which has a dedicated key for inserting emoticons.[29] Spell checking[29] and word prediction[30] are supported, and users may change a word after it has been typed by tapping the word;[31] similar words that may have been the word the user was trying to type will then be suggested as alternatives. Phone manufacturers may also choose to include a hardware keyboard for the purpose of text input.[32]

Web browser

Windows Phone 7 features a version of Internet Explorer Mobile with a rendering engine that is "halfway between IE7 and IE8".[33]

Internet Explorer on Windows Phone 7 allows the user to maintain a list of favorite web pages and show a tile linking to a web page on the Start screen. The browser supports up to 6 tabs, which can all load in parallel.[34] Other features include multi-touch gestures, a streamlined UI, smooth zoom in/out animations, the ability to save pictures that are on web pages, share web pages via email, and support for inline search which allows the user to search for a word or phrase in a web page by typing it.[35] Furthermore, Adobe has announced that Flash Player 10.1 will be released for Windows Phone 7.[36] Microsoft has announced plans to regularly update the Windows Phone 7 web browser and its layout engine independently from the Windows Phone Update system.[37]

In a demo, Microsoft said that users will be able to stream YouTube videos from the browser. Clicking on a video from the mobile YouTube website will launch the video in a standalone app and will also add the YouTube video to the Music + Video Hub.[38]

Multimedia

Windows Phone 7's two multimedia hubs, Music + Video, and Pictures, are similar in appearance and functionality to the Zune HD. Music + Video plays music, videos, and podcasts, and allows users to access the Zune Marketplace to buy music or rent it with the Zune Pass subscription service, and view artist biographies and photos.[29]

The Pictures hub displays the user's Facebook and Windows Live photo albums alongside photos taken with the phone's camera. Users can also upload photos to social networks and comment on online photos directly from the Pictures hub.[29] Multi-touch gestures permit zooming in and out of photos.

Games

Xbox Live on Windows Phone 7 will bring Console-like gaming experience to phones[citation needed] by displaying the user's avatar in a 3D fashion. The user will be able to interact with the avatar, view gamerscore and leaderboards, message Xbox LIVE friends, and Spotlight. Multiplayer (turn-based) gaming with live multiplayer will be released after launch.[39] Microsoft has unveiled more than 50 premium Windows Phone 7 Games titles at Gamescom that will make use of Xbox LIVE on mobile.[40] They have also specified that Xbox LIVE on WP7 will not have real-time multiplayer games at launch, instead opting for turn based gaming, but is currently working on real-time multiplayer integration between Windows Phone 7 and Xbox 360 games.[41] In a recent live chat Larry Hryb outlined some key features of Xbox LIVE on Windows Phone 7.[citation needed] These include ability to be signed in simultaneously on the console and phone, send and receive messages between Console and Phone, unique gamer points only available by purchasing the gaming title on the phone, etc.

Search

Microsoft's hardware requirements stipulate that every Windows Phone must have a dedicated Search button on the front of the device that performs different actions.[24] Pressing the search button while an application is open will allow users to search within applications that take advantage of this feature; for example, pressing Search in the People hub will let the user search their contact list for specific people.[42]

In other cases, pressing the Search button will allow the user to perform a search of web sites, news, and map locations using the Bing application.[43]

Windows Phone 7 also has a voice recognition function, powered by TellMe, which allows the user to perform a Bing search, call contacts or launch applications by speaking. This can be activated by pressing and holding the phone's Start button.[citation needed]

Bing is the default search engine on Windows Phone 7 handsets due to the deep integration of functions into the OS. However, Microsoft has stated that other search engine applications can be used.[43][44][44]

Software updates

According to Microsoft documentation, software updates will be delivered to Windows Phone users via Microsoft Update, as is the case with other Windows operating systems.[45] Microsoft has the intention to directly update any phone running Windows Phone 7 instead of relying on OEMs or wireless carriers.[46] The software component, called Windows Phone Update, exists both on the phone (for smaller updates, over-the-air) and in the Zune PC software (for larger updates, via USB connection). Users will be notified to attach their phones to a PC if such an update is required.[47] Microsoft has said that in the future, all updates, both large and small will eventually support over-the-air downloads.[48] Charlie Kindel, Program Manager for the developer experience of Windows Phone, confirmed that the update infrastructure system for Windows Phone 7 was available and that Microsoft is "in a position where we have the systems in place to effectively and reliably deliver updates to (Windows Phone 7) users".[49]

Microsoft plans to regularly ship minor updates that add missing features, such as copy and paste, throughout the year, and major updates once a year.[50]

All third-party applications can be updated automatically from the Windows Phone Marketplace.[51]

Advertising platform

Microsoft has also launched an advertising platform exclusively for the Windows Phone 7 platform. Microsoft's General Manager for Strategy and Business Development, Kostas Mallios, said that Windows Phone 7 will be an "ad-serving machine", pushing advertising and brand-related content to the user. The platform will feature advertising tiles near applications and toast notifications, which will bring updating advertising notifications. Mallios said that Windows Phone 7 will be able to "preserve the brand experience by going directly from the web site right to the application", and that Windows Phone 7 "enables advertisers to connect with consumers over time".[52] Mallios continued: "you're now able to push information as an advertiser, and stay in touch with your customer. It's a dynamic relationship that is created and provides for an ongoing dialog with the consumer."[53]

Removed Features

Windows Phone 7 lacks some features that were found in earlier versions of Windows Mobile. Among the features that have been confirmed to arrive in the near-future include cut, copy, and paste,[54] full multitasking for 3rd party apps,[55] and Adobe Flash.[56] Windows Phone 7 supports upgradable storage via an SD Card, however it does not support the ability to hot-swap SD cards without having the phone reset to factory settings.[57][58] Windows Phone 7 does not support the ability to connect to hidden wireless (Wi-Fi) hotspots,[59] hotspots with a static IP address,[60] tethering to a computer[61] (although it can be done via hack on the Samsung Focus[62]), videocalling,[63] VoIP calling,[64] USB mass-storage,[65] universal email inbox,[65] universal search,[65] turn-by-turn navigation,[65] a system-wide file manager,[63] Bluetooth file transfers,[63] USSD messages,[66] or custom ringtones.[67]

Windows Phone 7 devices only support syncing with Exchange ActiveSync[68] over the network. There is no support for syncing with Exchange ActiveSync using a cable or cradle.

In the enterprise, Windows Phone 7 does not support Office documents with security permissions,[69] IPsec security,[70] on-device encryption,[71] strong passwords,[60] or internet sockets.[64] While the older Windows Mobile phones supported the full range of Microsoft Exchange Server policies, Windows Phone 7 only supports a small subset of Exchange features.[72] The Calendar app no longer has a 'Weekly' view.[60] The list of past phone calls is now a single list, and cannot be separated into inbound, outbound or missed calls.[60]

Applications

Microsoft created a new division of Microsoft Game Studios (MGS Mobile Gaming) to develop Microsoft games for Windows Phone 7.[73] The company announced in August 2010 a list of Xbox LIVE-integrated games that will be available for Windows Phone 7. These include versions of popular games such as Guitar Hero and UNO.[74]

Among the applications shown during Microsoft VP Scott Guthrie's keynote address were a Netflix search app and the Coding4Fun t-shirt cannon,[75] which is controlled by the phone's accelerometer and has a user interface designed by 352 Media Group.[76]

Windows Phone 7 supports removable SD cards, however when the user replaces the SD card, all of the data on the phone is lost and the device defaults back to factory settings, some of the user's data can be retrieved on the phone by using a Windows Live ID. This is because Microsoft engineered the OS so that there would be one, unified file system used throughout the OS for storage of data.[57][58]

Development

Windows Phone 7 application development will be based on SilverlightXNA, and the .NET Compact Framework 4 only. The Silverlight version will be based on Silverlight 3, with some elements backported from Silverlight 4.[77] The main tools used for development will be Microsoft's Visual Studio 2010 and Expression Blend.,[78] which Microsoft offer as free downloads. More details about app development for Windows Phone 7 were released at the MIX10 conference on March 15, 2010.[79][80] Throughout the course of third-party application development matter, Microsoft was encouraging use of C# until they introduced Community Technology Preview (CTP) for the Visual Basic .NET in late September 2010.[81] On November 29, 2010, Microsoft announced the Release to web (RTW) version of Visual Basic Developer Tool, featuring the support for Silverlight application and games development while currently lacking the support for XNA Framework.[82]

Though the hardware requirements of Windows Phone 7 include an electronic compass, third party developers are not able to develop using it because the application programming interface (API) for the compass is not released yet. In an interview, development team has confirmed that the API will be available to developers in future.[83] Furthermore, at the moment, there is no native development kit (NDK) for the platform. Microsoft has made no announcement if this is coming, but Mozilla said that until there is one, it will not be making a version of Firefox for mobile for Windows Phone 7.[84] The networking API will not give access to sockets when the platform is first launched, though Microsoft has confirmed that this access will be added. Until this access is added, third party developers will not be able to develop Voice over IP applications.[85]

According to Oded Ran, head of Consumer Marketing for Windows Phone, games available to the Xbox Live Arcade service will be easy to port to Windows Phone 7, requiring the addition of only a few lines of code.[86]

Missing APIs

When Windows Phone 7 was released, it lacked a number of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), needed for applications to access some of the handset's functions.

Third-party apps cannot access many of the camera's video feature, but can still take still images.[87] For example, third party applications cannot access the phone's inbuilt video camera. Application vendors Layar and Fring told Fortune magazine this is the reason they cannot bring their video chat and augmented reality applications to Windows Phone 7.[88]

Microsoft mandated that the compass is a compulsory feature of all Windows Phone 7 handsets. However, lack of a compass API prevents many third party applications from accessing it.[89]

There is no API for the Personal Information Manager (PIM), which prevents third party apps accessing the phone's address book, appointments, task list and calendar. Software vendor WebIS cited this omission as why it could not bring its calendaring application, known as Pocket Informant, to Windows Phone 7.[90]

Content restrictions

Microsoft will be enforcing certain content restrictions on Windows Phone 7 applications. All applications will have to conform to the policies of the Windows Phone Marketplace.[78][91][92][93][94] Applications containing pornography will be prevented from being installed on Windows Phone 7 via the marketplace, as well as applications containing images that fit the definition of "sexually suggestive". Violence and all nudity will be censored from apps. Suggestions or depictions of prostitutionsexual fetishes, or anything that "a reasonable person would consider to be adult or borderline adult content" will be forbidden from Windows Phone 7 Marketplace.[95] Microsoft elaborated that it would disallow apps containing "images that reveal nipples, genitals, buttocks, or pubic hair".[96] This is the same content policy that applies to the current Windows Mobile platform. Users are free to sync whatever content they want to their phone or view any website from the web browser.[citation needed]

Hardware

Minimum requirements

Microsoft has said that it is issuing "tough, but fair" hardware requirements to manufacturers.[97] All Windows Phone 7 devices, at minimum, must include the following:[98][99]

Minimum Windows Phone 7 device requirements
Capacitive, 4-point multi-touch screen with WVGA (800x480) resolution
1 GHz ARM v7 "Cortex/Scorpion" or better processor
DirectX9 rendering-capable GPU
256MB of RAM with at least 8GB of Flash memory
Accelerometer with compass, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor and Assisted GPS
5-megapixel camera with an LED flash
FM radio tuner
6 dedicated hardware buttons - back, Start, search, camera, power/sleep and Volume Up and Down.[100]

Reception

In July 2010, Microsoft issued a beta version of Windows Phone 7 running on prototype reference hardware to certain media outlets for review. The handset prototype, a Samsung Taylor, will never be released to the public.[29] An Engadget preview of the software noted that despite the lack of cut and paste support and multitasking for third party applications:

"Windows Phone 7 is easily the most unique UI in the smartphone race right now, and the real perk here is that it doesn't just seem like an arbitrary decision to make things look different than other OSs -- there is real purpose and utility to a lot of what Microsoft has come up with."[29]

Gizmodo described the virtual keyboard as "a wonderful keyboard: fast, smooth, intuitive and totally natural".[101] A ZDNet reviewer praised in a preview in July 2010 the experience and fluidity of the software, saying "The current experience is amazingly stable and fluid and I am quite impressed with what they have done.".[102] However, he concluded after having a hands-on with the first Windows Phone 7 smartphones on October 2010 that "I think Microsoft has done a valiant job with Windows Phone 7, but I am not yet sold on using it as my only device. There seems to be too much flipping, sliding, fold over animations, and lengthy times of loading when launch things like the Marketplace".[103] AnandTech concluded "The OS isn’t perfect but aside from the lack of apps, it’s competitive today".[104]

Information Week's Galen Gruman received it negatively: "Windows Phone 7 is now failing both its intended customers and the company's historic customers" [105]

Sales and Market Share

Microsoft has not release any sales figures. In an on-stage interview at Dive Into Digital on November 7, 2010, Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg asked Microsoft VP Joe Belfiore for sales data. "We're not talking about numbers yet,", replied Belfiore.[106] The Street reported an estimate of 40,000 phones sold on the first day of sales in the US. [107]eWeek reports that Windows Phone 7 is being outsold in the UK 15:1 by Android-based phones, and 3:1 by Symbian-based phones. [108]

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