Microsoft Windows Phone 7 will launch on Monday, October 11 – with Microsoft rumoured to be revealing a whole range of Windows Phone 7 mobile phones, reportedly from HTC, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Dell.
Microsoft will use Windows Phone 7 to take on the likes of Google’s Android mobile phone operating system, and iOS – the operating system of Apple’s iPhone, iPod and iPad range. Early reports include promises to link up to Xbox Live gaming, and a new interface design. See our Windows Phone 7 video review first look below.
For Microsoft, Windows Phone 7 can’t come soon enough. Its previous mobile phone operating system – Windows Mobile operating system for mobile phones – was panned by critics. Even Steve Ballmer, head of Microsoft, admitted that the company had ‘missed a generation’ with its recent OS developments.
Read our free guides to choosing the best mobile phone for you
Which? is reporting directly from the Microsoft event on Monday, October 11 – and here’s a list of the top five features that we reckon could be heading the Windows Phone 7 features list.
1. Xbox Live gaming
When Windows launched its Windows Mobile 6.5 OS, one critic described it as being an ‘aging hipster trying to look cool around an increasingly younger and smarter crowd’. With the inclusion of Xbox Live integrated into Windows Phone 7, the new handsets should appeal to young, tech-savvy gamers who have been crying out for a mobile gaming device. Nokia attempted it with the N-Gage, and Apple has made headway with its iPhone, but Microsoft could steal a march here and build on its hugely successful Xbox Live brand and service.
2. Microsoft Zune music
Microsoft’s Zune is both a music playing product and an all-you-can-eat music download service. It’s been well-received in the US, but hitherto unavailable in the UK. Critics of Microsoft’s earlier mobile phone operating systems have wondered how Microsoft could get it so right with Zune but so wrong with Windows Mobile. Zune coming to Windows Phone 7 will mean Zune coming to the UK, which is going to please many music fans – particularly at £8.99 for unlimited streaming and downloading per month.
3. Windows Phone 7 interface
Nokia’s recent unveiling of the Nokia C6-01, the Nokia C7 and the Nokia E7 have been described as existing Nokia handsets with a paint job. The new user interface on the Windows Phone 7, however, offers a more refreshing and re-energised design. And what’s more it hasn’t just mimicked its main competitors, Android and Apple. The iPhone has its fans, but there are some users who would rather go anywhere but Apple, which means Google Android-powered mobile phones. Anything but an iPhone now may mean Android or Windows Phone 7, and the imminent launches may slow down Android’s rapid smartphone market share growth.
4. ‘Hubs’ and finger-friendly control
Microsoft has done away with its deep, labyrinthine menus and honeycomb interface. The new Windows Phone 7 features a large tile layout providing access to ‘hubs’ of information. Previous Windows Mobile operating systems were described as ‘glutinously slow’ with typing being comparable to ‘trying to sew with your feet’, but the new minimum hardware specifications for the Windows Mobile 7 handsets, including a capacitive touchscreen, should mean that the devices are easier to use, and certainly won’t require a stylus.
5. Windows Phone 7 Office integration
Previous Windows Mobile phones had links to Microsoft Office, but expect Windows Phone 7 to take its Office connectivity to a whole new level – a boon for business users. Many people are used to using Windows-based PCs and a top-end handset that comes with the ability to view and edit Office documents such as Word and Excel on Windows Phone 7 will appeal to many users.
Has Microsoft turned a corner with Windows Phone 7, Internet Explorer 9 and the XBox Kinect? Let us know your thoughts to this question and this article on Which? Conversation.
Windows Phone 7 rumours
There have been a number of Windows Phone 7 handsets rumoured, including the HTC Mozart, the Samsung GT-i8700, the Dell Lightning, the HTC HD7 and HTC Mondrian. Next week we also expect to hear of mobile phones from LG and even some PC tablets running the new Microsoft OS.
We’ll keep you abreast of developments as we hear them, and while we hope Windows Phone 7 lives up to its expectations, we’ll bring you a more detailed look at any of its shortcomings once we’ve seen a mobile phone running the new OS.
Windows Mobile 7 preview video
How to follow the latest Which? Tech news
Are you a Twitter user? Follow WhichTech on Twitter for regular tech tweets.
Prefer RSS? Don’t miss a thing with the Which? tech RSS feed.
For just the main headlines in newsletter form, sign-up to our weekly Which? tech email.
Apple iPad 2 3G data plans compared – find the best 3G plan for your iPad
Best Android tablets round-up – we look at the best iPad alternatives around
Best cheap laptops for under £500 – find the best laptop deals