Neowin sat down with Michael Chang from the Windows Phone team at Microsoft to take a hands on look at a Windows Phone 7 Series device.
The device, whose manufacturer was undisclosed, was a capacitive touch screen device with the new back, start and search buttons at the bottom of the device. Chang took us through the various new "Hubs" that Microsoft has created to organise applications and data.
Windows Phone 7 Series has been built from the ground up using an identical interface to the Zune HD to navigate through the operating system. From our first experiences with the device the operating system seems fast with fluid animations through different hubs and applications. The interface is simple, some may say basic, but it works well and displays information clearly on the screen and most importantly, quickly. We noticed a few graphic glitches and render slow downs as you can see in the video below but this appeared to be the result of an early build of the OS.
A graphical arrangement of "tiles" has now replaced the aged start screen from Windows Mobile 6.x. The honeycomb interface has been replaced with live tiles that interact with services to provide updated data on the Start Screen. People can be pinned to the Start Screen and the interface is fully customisable for OEMs and mobile operators.
People is a hub full of the latest data on your contacts. It will list your contacts details and their latest updates from Windows Live and Facebook. Microsoft has said that other data from third parties could be represented in this view so it's likely that other services, including Twitter, will be available in this view. Microsoft has built a live feed of the latest updates from your contacts into the people hub. This provides an ever changing feed of the latest updates from your friends.
The pictures hub includes support for multi touch zooming and pinch to zoom. Albums are layed out in tiles within the picture hub and albums from PCs and web services can be synced to the device. Microsoft demonstrated Facebook integration in its press conference where users can comment on a particular photo and sync that comment seamlessly to Facebook.
The Office hub provides you with quick access to documents and the SharePoint services.
Music + Video:
The music and video hub is the beauty of Windows Phone 7. The device syncs like a Zune HD straight to the Zune Software on a desktop PC. We questioned Microsoft on the ability to sync wirelessly and they said to expect this feature.
Windows Phone 7 is now fully integrated with the Xbox LIVE network. Microsoft officials refused to confirm what types of games will be available but at present there is avatar support and it's clear that cross gaming from your Xbox 360 to your Windows Phone 7 device is something the software giant is working hard on.
Microsoft wanted to show off the UI today rather than focus on applications. The marketplace will be present in Windows Phone 7 series and Microsoft will be sharing full details on how existing applications and new applications will work in Windows Phone 7 at its annual MIX 2010 conference next month. The Marketplace will be a one stop shop for apps, games and music.
Can my HTC HD2 be upgraded?
Neowin also questioned Microsoft regarding upgrade support for existing devices but Microsoft officials refused to confirm whether devices such as the HTC HD2 will be upgradeable to Windows Phone 7. It seems the company is aware many people are anxious to see if the HD2 will see a ROM upgrade so my initial reaction is that it's still a decision that needs to be made.
Based on the basics that Microsoft demonstrated today, the platform appears to have a bright future. The user interface is simple but extremely useful. It's clear Microsoft has looked at the criticism of Windows Mobile in the same way it did with Windows Vista and has stepped back and made a great product because of this. We'll know a lot more about the developer strategy and applications at MIX 2010 next month but until then the underlying OS is a great start. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, confirmed that we should expect devices in time for the holiday season 2010 but Microsoft officials refused to give exact dates.
For full pictures of our hands on please see Long Zheng's post at istartedsomething.com. He has some fantastic photos.