Revealed: Original Windows Mobile 7 UI

At Mobile World Congress last week, Microsoft revealed that it "reset" the code for Windows Phone 7 approximately two years ago.

Additional screen-shots and a video of Windows Mobile 7 (codenamed Photon at one point) leaked this week after Microsoft revealed the new "Metro" UI inside Windows Phone 7. Leading up to the company's grand unveiling last week, we'd seen various leaks of the "Photon" UI for over a year.

Alongside the leaks over the past months we had also seen persistent rumours about the delay of what was referred to as Windows Mobile 7 and hints that the company was working on a new UI based on the Zune HD. Some rumours were far-fetched and some screen-shots too, but the interface amongst them was always similar. Microsoft never commented on the leaked screen shots officially but before the "reset" in 2008, Photon was being actively worked on. Publicly, most have only seen blurry and small screen-shots but this week a member of the XDA-Developers forum posted a video of an early build of Photon in action. In the video you can see various new UI elements that Microsoft were testing initially. The company scrapped these plans and moved on to using the "Metro" UI which we have seen implemented in Windows Media Center, Xbox 360, Zune HD and now Windows Phone 7. Metro is a UI vision/guidance across all of Microsoft's consumer products. The forthcoming "Project Pink" devices will use the foundations of the Metro UI too and Windows Live Messenger 2010 and other Windows Live products will also see parts of the same UI in their products. Look at Windows Media Center, Xbox 360 and the Zune HD and you'll begin to see the synergy between the products and how Microsoft will implement this across all their consumer products in future.

At Neowin we thought we would round up all the genuine shots of Photon into one place to look at what Windows Mobile 7 may have been. It's a slice of history and like the Longhorn concepts I'm sure Microsoft officials are glad they scrapped it and went with Metro. Enjoy.

Screenshots & Video credits: WMPoweruser.com, Pocketnow.com, XDA-developers.com

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I like this WinMobile 7... its wicked!!!
My only worry is that I hope I can update my HTC with WinMo7 when it is realeased. Why does people keep on posting "fake" pics about Win7...
Lets keep things real, its this what Journalism is about?

I like this look also. Seems more organized to me. Just my opinion...
and I'm with LiquidSolstice, many of these are photoshopped.

It's pretty obvious that this old design was going to rely heavily on the stylus again. Microsoft finally admitted that the stylus is dead with WM7. The only place where styluses have a use is in commercial/industrial applications running on CE.

I just curious to know what MS is going to do for devices that are not 'phones' like the Symbol devices. My company will be greatly affected by this if we have to port our applications to Silverlight because we know MS won't support WinMo 6.5 forever. But there's lots of industrial apps that are built on the old framework and are too costly to port.

ashpowell said,
If I buy a windows 6 phone or whatever is out ATM, can I update it to 7? Or does it have to be a 7 phone?

No ones talking about which of the newest WM6.5 phones can or will get a WP7 update. I'd have to say the list will be very small, or just none at all. All the HD2 owners say they're device should get it cuz it meets the min specs, but then we have to wait for MiX to get MS's take on the hardware more.

Hey folks, when you talk about the new UI it's actually, NUI (Natural User Interface).

I like it, and think it's different enough to be referred to as NUI.

soumyasch said,
Have we seen the file explorer in the new UI?

We haven't actually even seen the whole UI for Metro, I'd say it's like half done, maybe a bit more depending on what else they have planned.

I can't believe that File Explorer wasn't one of their biggest focuses. It looks as appalling as ever. the code reset was vital, IMO. I would've loved and adored backward compatibility, but having any of the old WinCE codebase in there may well have proved too much. If a clean break is what it takes to move Windows Mobile / Windows Phone 7 / whatever the hell it is, then so be it, in my book.

Well I guess it shows lack of focus or direction really in winmo/phone division as a whole I guess. Parts of that are nice but still far from something good/great per-sey but that and what they got now both look bad really.

Thats certainly interesting, suprisingly though I dont mind the phone dialing screen and the keyboard.

The overall problem with this design approach imo is that they appear to be designing for oldstyle candybar phones. Best thing about WPS7 is that theyve pretty much said 'screw that, this OS is for big beautiful touchscreens'.

Ah, so that's what it would have looked like if they had just followed the path set by WM6.

Interesting to see those kind of things. :)

fixxxer2010 said,
i would of bought wm7 if it looked like the above screenshots.

You mean like Windows Mobile 6?
Or even Windows Mobile 5 for that matter, but with the gloss turned up to 11.
You can buy an HTC HD2 which looks somewhat like that anyway.

billyea said,

You mean like Windows Mobile 6?
Or even Windows Mobile 5 for that matter, but with the gloss turned up to 11.
You can buy an HTC HD2 which looks somewhat like that anyway.

i hate the new UI and i pray it is not near finished. naw, thanks ill stick to my htc hero and android.

fixxxer2010 said,

i hate the new UI and i pray it is not near finished. naw, thanks ill stick to my htc hero and android.


Of course you will. You're under contract.

*badumbumbum*

The great thing about this is that Metro is the UI that is displayed in the Office Labs concept videos. Who knows... by 2019 maybe we will have computers that look like that. :P

Silverskull said,
Who knows... by 2019 maybe we will have computers that look like that. :P

Who knows... If you haven't seen this already, the concept of a Locus OS (not related to Microsoft) has elements of the Metro UI in its submenus.
Demo: http://vimeo.com/9281370

Edited by billyea, Feb 20 2010, 9:30pm :

billyea said,

Who knows... If you haven't seen this already, the concept of a Locus OS (not related to Microsoft) has elements of the Metro UI in its submenus.
Demo: http://vimeo.com/9281370

Well Locus OS isn't compleeetely unrelated to Microsoft : "The project was originally intended for the Microsoft Next Gen Computer competition in 2008. Hence I also looked at the project from a branding perspective and how a product like this might become Microsoft's key arm along with Surface etc."

I think Microsoft could really pull another "Windows 7" if they release Windows 8 with less Aero and more Metro, an easy way to use MetroUI in 3rd party software and a LocusOS-ish version of Windows running on netbooks and tablets.

... or I can wake-up.

Edited by DrunkenBeard, Feb 20 2010, 9:44pm : no bbcode in comments :(

same old suffering windows like UI .. good thing they refreshed their ideas and stopped relating it to Windows PC just because it has the same name :P

How is this 'revealed'? Pictures of this interface have been floating around since forever.

In any case I'm glad they opted for a major revamp.

JamesWeb said,
How is this 'revealed'? Pictures of this interface have been floating around since forever.

In any case I'm glad they opted for a major revamp.


"Revealed" is pointing towards the video as we haven't seen it running before like this publicly.

Tom W said,

"Revealed" is pointing towards the video as we haven't seen it running before like this publicly.
Fair point, carry on!

I think a fresh look at the UI was what was needed. Those shots just show yet more building on the existing Windows Mobile UI and still plenty of evidence of what it was like to fall back to 'original' apps...

I hope Microsoft have rewritten EVERYTHING. If you have to ever go back to the old WinMo system at any point, like through some legacy app or control panel, it's gonna wreck the whole experience.

I don't think that layer exists anymore. The framework was overhauled to Silverlight, making it impossible for such legacy apps to run anymore.

billyea said,
I don't think that layer exists anymore. The framework was overhauled to Silverlight, making it impossible for such legacy apps to run anymore.

That's great news!

billyea said,
I don't think that layer exists anymore. The framework was overhauled to Silverlight, making it impossible for such legacy apps to run anymore.

Unless they make an emulator to run the older programs. We just don't know if they will do that though.

Ricmacas said,
I agree, that layer was replaced most likely with Windows CE, like Zune HD.
Not sure you mean that? Previous versions of Win Mobile used CE too.

billyea said,
I don't think that layer exists anymore. The framework was overhauled to Silverlight, making it impossible for such legacy apps to run anymore.

That's my understanding as well. I mean if the development environment is Silverlight, that will be really great...

As for losing all of my apps, of course that is a little disappointing to me as well, but I'm REALLY hoping that Visual Studio 2010 ships with some much improved mobile application controls... This would be much appreciated by developers and end users I'm sure.

Ricmacas said,

I agree, that layer was replaced most likely with Windows CE, like Zune HD.

No, previous versions ran Windows CE. A much older version of it. But it is said that it might not even be running Windows CE at all, no version 6, no version 7, just completely built from the ground up.

Electric Jolt said,

No, previous versions ran Windows CE. A much older version of it. But it is said that it might not even be running Windows CE at all, no version 6, no version 7, just completely built from the ground up.

I hope so. It's had its moments, God knows my last 4 phones have been Windows Mobile 5 - 6.5, and the freedom to install and do what I want has been great. However, the cost - putting up with the abomination that was Windows CE's UI simply was not worth it. While I loved many parts of Windows Mobile, there's no denying the adage "you can't polish a turd" applies to the Windows Mobile UI. There's only so many tricks that can be used to cover the appalling, outdated underlying UI. Code reset ftw, IMHO.

Electric Jolt said,

No, previous versions ran Windows CE. A much older version of it. But it is said that it might not even be running Windows CE at all, no version 6, no version 7, just completely built from the ground up.

WM7 also is based on Windows CE (actually, Windows Embedded CE, which is how Windows CE is now known as). See http://blogs.msdn.com/obloch/archive/2010/02/15/windows-phone-7-series-announced-at-mwc.aspx

What is not known is which version of Windows CE it is based on. But given that it is explicitly mentioned Windows CE 7 will be known as Windows Embedded [b]Compact[/b] 7 and not Windows Embedded [b]CE[/b] 7 ( http://blogs.msdn.com/obloch/archive/2010/02/16/i-see-7-everywhere.aspx ), whereas the earlier post WM7 was mentioned to be based on Windows Embedded [b]CE[/b] ... welll, I'm not speculating any more.

Electric Jolt said,

No, previous versions ran Windows CE. A much older version of it. But it is said that it might not even be running Windows CE at all, no version 6, no version 7, just completely built from the ground up.


Current versions of windows mobile use Windows CE 5.2. The Zune HD uses windows CE 6, and it's been known for a long time that Windows phone 7 would use Windows CE 6.
Windows CE is just a base operating system, you can put any UI on it.

Electric Jolt said,
Probably worked for Apple or something.

Actually, looks a lot like the garbage color schemes and UI elements they shipped with Vista. Go figure they wanted to reset that abortion.

Edited by Serenity76, Feb 21 2010, 2:13am :

Heh, Microsoft sure do like their code resets.

Looks like it was for the better judging by the screenshots.

PureLegend said,
Heh, Microsoft sure do like their code resets.

Looks like it was for the better judging by the screenshots.

the old UI look 10x better IMO.

fixxxer2010 said,
the old UI look 10x better IMO.

You'll like it, until it dumps you back into the old UI. Just look at the ugly file explorer screenshot. It honestly looks like a shoddy skin.
I, for one, am glad Microsoft completely revamped everything, it means developers have to completely revamp everything.

PureLegend said,
Heh, Microsoft sure do like their code resets.

Looks like it was for the better judging by the screenshots.

I have to agree. This doesn't look good at all. I'm glad they moved to Metro...

fixxxer2010 said,

the old UI look 10x better IMO.


I dont believe you. :)

I'm sorry, but that looks awful. Back to the long boring lists of options as seen in WM 6.5 and earlier. I'm so glad they dumped that monstrosity.

M_Lyons10 said,

I have to agree. This doesn't look good at all. I'm glad they moved to Metro...

People have to remember that what they showed of Metra was basic as well, there's probably more UI elements in newer builds we haven't seen. For example, if you look at the start screen they showed there's the huge open space at the top that's empty, you know that's not going to stay that way. I'm sure at MiX we'll get a more complete Metro UI.