Overshadowing many of the new handsets unveiled at Mobile World Congress was Microsoft’s announcement of its new operating system, Windows Phone 7.
The announcement, which was made by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, is an attempt to retake the initiative, following the successful introduction of rival systems such as Google’s Android operating system.
The new operating system has seen Microsoft adopt a radically new approach. It’s built around a series of so-called ‘live tiles’. These pull in real time content, for instance updating contact images from social networks.
The new interface also has a series of ‘hubs’, which bring together the most important related content from the web, applications and services into a single view. The six hubs are people, pictures, games, marketplace, music and office.
The People hub allows one-click interaction with people in your contact book, as well as a live stream of Twitter and Facebook updates from friends, while the Pictures hub pulls together recently synchronised or recently taken photos.
Microsoft also placed an emphasis on Windows Phones as a business tool, so you can access and edit Microsoft Office documents when using it.
Windows Phone 7 handsets
The first phones using the new operating system will be available later this year from manufacturers including Samsung, LG, HTC and Sony Ericsson.
Although Microsoft will only provide the software for the phones, it will specify certain hardware requirements to manufacturers. Each Windows Phone 7 device will have three buttons on the front – Start, Search (using Microsoft’s search engine Bing) and Back. The tile menu interface will also be virtually the same on all handsets and all handsets will be multi-touch (so will be able to pinch to zoom when browsing the web).
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